Business Intelligence & Analytics

Searching For an Online Big Data Master’s? Start With These 13 Top Programs.

Searching For an Online Big Data Master’s? Start With These 13 Top Programs.
Information is power, and data is pure information. Image from Unsplash
Tom Meltzer profile
Tom Meltzer May 1, 2019

In government, business, academics, health care—basically, everywhere—Big Data is the hot trend. If you're thinking about pursuing a Big Data master's degree online, we have some programs to recommend.

Data Science Programs You Should Consider

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In 2011, the global consulting firm McKinsey declared Big Data “the next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity.” While businesses have begun to settle that frontier in the ensuing years, there’s still plenty of opportunity there for those who can harness the power of Big Data to yield novel, disruptive insights.

The reasons are obvious: information is power, and data is pure information. Computing power and bandwidth have grown exponentially in the years since McKinsey’s pronouncement, creating ever richer veins for data miners. With nearly every facet of business computerized and networked, Big Data specialists today have the resources to answer just about any question management can pose. They only need to figure out which data address the question and how to compute the solution.

The call for experts is great, and academia has risen to that call with a host of disciplines. There’s business analytics, business intelligence, operations research, data science, and statistics, all addressing businesses’ need to make sense of the Big Data they generate.

Online programs abound in all these disciplines. We’ve listed some of the best below, using the following criteria to identify standouts:
The school’s overall reputation and the reputation of its departments of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and business, which in various combinations teach these programs

  • The amount of contact students experience with faculty and fellow students, because it is our experience that interactive learning is more effective than passive learning; we favor programs that require students to attend weekly live classes online
  • The amount of flexibility allowed students to specialize through elective courses
  • The quality of the program’s learning management system, the online interface through which students do most of their learning

Top programs offering an online Big Data master’s

Boston University

  • Degree: MS in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Database Management & Business Intelligence
  • Tuition: $880 per credit
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours/10 courses
  • Core courses: Business Data Communications and Networks; Database Design and Implementation for Business; Information Systems Analysis and Design; IT Strategy and Management; either Information Structures with Java or Information Structures with Python
  • Concentration courses: Introduction to Probability and Statistics; Data Mining; Advanced Database Management; either Database Security or Designing and Implementing a Data Warehouse
  • Electives: Students take one elective. Choices include Foundations of Analytics with R; Agile Server-Side Web Development; IT Security Policies and Procedures; Web Analytics and Mining; Network Security; Digital Forensics and Investigations; Enterprise Architecture
  • Features: Small course sections ensure access to faculty and peers; hands-on experience with SQL using Oracle and similar tools; hands-on experience in design and implementation of databases; Blackboard platform with Zoom live classrooms

Brandeis University

  • Degree: Master’s of Science in Strategic Analytics
  • Tuition: $1,179 per credit hour ($35,370 to complete program)
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours; 21 hours required courses, 9 hours electives
  • Core courses: Foundations of Data Science and Analytics; Business Intelligence, Analytics and Strategic Decision Making; Statistics and Data Analysis; Strategic Analytics and Visualization for Big Data; Predictive Analytics; Data Quality and Governance; Analytics Strategy and Management
  • Electives: Three electives, select from: Communication for Effective Leadership; Data Analysis and Decision Support for Health Informatics; Advanced Healthcare Data Analytics; Cloud Security; Marketing and Customer Analytics; Data Security, Privacy and Ethics; Project Manager for Analytics; Special Topics in Strategic Analytics; Database Management; Data Warehousing and Data Mining; Cloud Computing
  • Features: Seminar-style online classes with class size capped at 20 (average class size: 12); institutional focus on training faculty to teach effectively online; content tailored to online delivery media; interpersonal contact facilitated through review sessions, office hours, online presentations, and group projects

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Degree: Master of Business Administration with a concentration in operations research
  • Conferring department/school: Tepper School of Business, Carnegie-Mellon University
  • Tuition: $134,000 to complete the program
  • Core courses: Probability and Statistics; Management Presentations; Financial and Managerial Accounting I and II; Corporate Strategy; Managerial Economics; Optimization; Marketing Management; Finance; Operations Management; Statistical Decision Making; Interpersonal Communication; Managing Networks and Organizations; Global Economics; Managing People and Teams; Ethics and Leadership
  • Concentration electives: Applications of Operations Research; Optimization for Interactive Marketing; The Art and Science of Prediction; Operations Research Implementations; Business Analytics Project
  • Features: Hybrid program requiring six in-person “access weekends” per year; fast-paced program with 6.5-week long mini-semester calendar; two live online classes per week per course; core curriculum emphasizes analytics; ranked number three online MBA by US News & World Report; ranked number four online MBA by Poets&Quants

Columbia University

  • Degree: Master of Science in Operations Research
  • Conferring department/school: The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University
  • Tuition: $2,018 per credit hour; total cost (including fees) $90,391
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credits; four core courses, six electives
  • Core courses: Introduction to Probability and Statistics; Optimization Models and Methods OR Optimization Models and Methods (FE); Stochastic Models or Stochastic Models (FE); Simulation or Monte Carlo Simulation
  • Electives: Six, chosen in consultation with faculty advisor
  • Features: Program is delivered 100 percent online, asynchronously; three entry points (fall, spring, summer) per year; program-wide strength in finance and consulting; core/electives balance means greater-than-usual flexibility in shaping your degree

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Degree: Master of Science in Analytics
  • Tuition: $275 per credit hour ($9,900 to complete program)
  • Graduation requirements: 36 credit hours, 11 courses
  • Core courses: Data and Visual Analytics; Data Analytics in Business
  • Electives: Two electives in statistics (choices include: Machine Learning/Computational Data Analytics; Design and Analysis of Experiments; Regression Analysis; Bayesian Statistics; Data Mining and Statistical Learning); one elective in operations (choices include: Simulation; Probabilistic Models; Deterministic Optimization); two additional courses in Digital Marketing and Data Analysis for Continuous Improvement; up to three additional electives (choices include: Computational Science and Engineering Algorithms; Web Search and Text Mining; Nonparametric Data Analysis; Simulation; Deterministic Optimization); six hours of applied analytics practicum
  • Features: Content is primarily video capture of live (on-campus) classes, supplemented by other videos, discussion boards, and meetings facilitated via web conferencing; three track options (Analytical Tools; Business Analytics; Computational Data Analytics); program can be completed in two-to-three years; SACSCOC accreditation

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Degree: Master of Science in Operations Research
  • Conferring department/school: H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, GIT
  • Tuition: $1,100 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours; 12 credit hours required core; three hours computing elective; 15 hours technical electives
  • Core courses: Deterministic Optimization; Probabilistic Models; Simulation; Statistics I
  • Computing elective: Choose one from: Computational Complexity; Design and Analysis-Algorithms; Computational Methods; Computer Science and Engineering Algorithms
  • Technical electives: Choose five, choices include: Engineering Economy; Economic Decision Analysis; Design and Analysis-Experiments; Production and Service System Engineering; Real-Time Interactive Simulations; Multivariate Data Analysis; Intro to Graph Theory; Numerical Analysis; Automation and Complexity; Computability and Algorithms
  • Features: Program can be completed in 12 to 16 months; concentrations available in optimization, statistics, stochastics, computational science, and similar disciplines

Indiana University-Bloomington

  • Degree: Master of Science in Business Analytics
  • Tuition: $1,330 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours
  • Core courses: Introduction to Business Analytics; Quantitative Analysis; Data Warehousing and Visualization; Operations Management; Simulation and Optimization for Business Analytics; Business Econometrics; Predictive Analytics for Business Strategy; Developing Value Through Business Analytics Applications; Thinking Strategically: Game Theory and Business Strategy; Strategic Marketing Management
  • Electives: None
  • Features: Program can be completed in 15 months to three years; top ranked online MBA and MS programs according to US News & World Report

Johns Hopkins University

  • Degree: Master of Science in Applied and Computational Mathematics
  • Conferring department/school: Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
  • Tuition: $4,400 per course
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours; four cour courses, six electives
  • Core courses: Statistical Methods and Data Analysis; Matrix Theory; Theory of Statistics I and II
  • Electives: Numerous electives for each of the following focus areas: Applied Analysis; Information Technology and Computation; Operations Research; Probability and Statistics; Simulation and Modeling
  • Features: Many, but not all, electives available online; program can be completed fully online if student chooses only online electives; course content largely/entirely asynchronous, can be engaged 24/7; student-faculty and student-student interaction facilitated by discussion boards, group assignments, and occasional online live events; Blackboard-based learning management system

Southern Methodist University

  • Degree: Master of Science in Operations Research
  • Conferring department/school: Lyle School of Engineering, Southern Methodist University
  • Tuition: $1,350 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours; 12 hours required courses; 9 hours restricted electives; nine hours concentration electives
  • Core courses: Probability and Statistics for Scientists and Engineers OR Statistical Design and Analysis of Experiments; Analytics for Decision Support; Production Systems Engineering; Operations Research Models
  • Restricted electives: Data Mining; Computer Simulation Techniques; Supply Chain Operation and Control; Advanced Data Mining; Engineering Economics and Decision Analysis; Stochastic Models; Queuing Theory; Integer Programming; Network Flows; Optimization Models for Decision Support; Mathematics of Optimization; Nonlinear Programming; Advanced Logistics
  • Features: Lectures are recorded live in state-of-the-art tele-studio classrooms, then uploaded to the learning management system within 24 hours; curriculum emphasizes mathematical modeling, systems optimization, and predictive analytics; concentrations in optimization, systems engineering, engineering management, information engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, telecommunications or another engineering discipline; three entry points (fall, spring, summer)

Southern Methodist University

  • Degree: Master of Science in Data Analytics, Business Analytics Specialization
  • Tuition: $1,704 per credit ($57,084 to complete the program)
  • Graduation requirements: 33.5 academic credits
  • Core courses: Statistical Foundations for Data Science; Doing Data Science; Applied Statistics: Inference and Modeling; File Organization & Database Management; Data and Network Security; Data Mining; Visualization of Information; Quantifying the World; Capstone Collaborative Group Project
  • Specialization courses: Business Intelligence; Time Series Analysis with R
  • Features: Multidisciplinary degree draws from the Dedman College of Humanities and Science, Lyle School of Engineering, and the Meadows School of the Arts; project-based assignments and case studies promote student engagement and interaction; two mandatory three-to-four-day on-campus immersions

University of Maryland-College Park

  • Degree: Master’s in Business Analytics
  • Tuition: $1,566 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: ; 30 credit hours to graduate (12 core, 12 advanced, 6 specialization)
  • Core courses: Data, Models, and Decisions; Data Mining and Predictive Analytics; Database Management Systems; Decision Analytics
  • Advanced courses: Social Media and Web Analytics; Big Data and Artificial Intelligence; Strategy Analytics; Data Processing and Analysis in Python
  • Specialization Courses: Intro to Financial Accounting; Corporate Finance; Financial Analytics; Healthcare Operations Management and Marketing; Marketing Management; Consumer Behavior; Advanced Marketing Analytics; Health Informatics and Information Technologies
  • Electives: None
  • Features: Graduate in as few as 20 months; specializations in finance analytics, marketing analytics, and healthcare analytics offered; curriculum blends synchronous and asynchronous content; accredited by AACSB

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

  • Degree: Master of Business Administration with a concentration in data analytics and decision making
  • Conferring department/school: Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Tuition: $125,589 for entire 62-credit program
  • Graduation requirements: 62 credit hours; 30 hours of core courses, 32 hours of electives
  • Core courses: Analytical Tools; Business Communication; Business Strategy; Leading and Managing; Strategic Economics; Financial Accounting; Finance; Marketing: Analysis and Development; Operations
  • Electives: Electives in concentration: Digital Marketing: Executive Approach; Information, Technology, and Analytics; Business Modeling; Pricing; Negotiation; Information for Decision-Making, Incentives and Strategy
  • Features: High production values; small weekly live classes led by adjunct faculty; aggressive career placement services; not entirely online: students are required to attend two weekend-long immersions; option to enroll in pre-approved courses offered by partner programs

Stevens Institute of Technology

  • Degree: Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics
  • Tuition: $1,620 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 36 credit hours/12 courses
  • Core courses: Financial Decision Making; Data Management; Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence; Process Optimization and Analytics; Multivariate Data Analytics; Experimental Design; Data Analytics and Machine Learning; Social Network Analysis; Big Data Technologies; Practicum in Analytics
  • Electives include: take two of the following: Risk Management and Simulation; Advanced Data Analytics and Machine Learning; Web Mining; Cognitive Computing; Data and Information Quality; Risk Management: Methods and Applications; Marketing Analytics; Supply Chain Analytics; Data Stream Analytics: Internet of Things
  • Specializations: Data science
  • Features: 100 percent online; capstone project using real data, with guidance provided by an industry mentor; programming language boot camps; Hanlon Financial Systems Center, featuring state-of-the-art data management software and Bloomberg terminals

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About the Author

Tom Meltzer began his career in education publishing at The Princeton Review, where he authored more than a dozen titles (including the company's annual best colleges guide and two AP test prep manuals) and produced the musical podcast The Princeton Review Vocab Minute. A graduate of Columbia University (English major), Tom lives in Chapel Hill, NC.

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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