Earning a Master’s in Business Analytics Online

Businesses rely on data and analytics to improve efficiency and increase profits. The rise of the chief data officer (CDO) as an executive manager speaks to demand in the field. A master’s degree in business analytics prepares graduates for lucrative careers with growth potential. By earning a master’s degree in data analytics online, professionals increase their salary potential and qualify for advanced positions. This article explains how to gain admission to an online MBA in business analytics program, how to fund your master’s degree, and how to successfully transition from graduate school to the workforce.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online MBA in Data Analytics?

A master’s degree in data analytics or an MBA with an analytics focus helps professionals advance their careers. Undergraduates in business or a related field may pursue graduate education to broaden their career paths. Working professionals may find that a graduate degree in analytics expands career prospects and increases salary opportunities. Graduate students may also select a master’s program over a professional certification for additional career opportunities.

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics?

Pursuing Specialization

A master’s in data analytics includes specialized courses in business analytics, market intelligence, and data systems. Graduate students also take classes in project management, supply chain analytics, and customer analytics, depending on their program. The curriculum builds valuable skills in analysis, business practices, and research, which graduates can apply to many professional areas. A specialized graduate education demonstrates advanced knowledge in high-demand fields like data analytics, allowing professionals to pursue specialized career paths.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Many professions require candidates to hold a graduate-level degree before advancing into management positions. An online MBA in business analytics demonstrates specialized knowledge of data analysis, business research, and data systems. Professionals working in these fields, or those seeking to change careers, may pursue an online master’s program in data analytics to earn a promotion, qualify for a higher salary, or receive additional responsibilities at work.

Online Learning Technology

During a master’s in data analytics online, graduate students learn to use the latest in online learning technology. They also build valuable skills in other communication technologies, helping graduates stand out in the job market. Staying up-to-date with communication technology furthers the professional development of people working in data analytics, marketing, economics, or a related field. As an evolving field, business analytics requires technological proficiency, which an online program builds.

Prerequisites for Online MBA BA Programs

Before applying to an online MBA in business analytics program, prospective students must meet the program’s prerequisites and provide required application materials.

    • Work Experience: Many MBA and master’s in business analytics programs prefer candidates with work experience, and some require a minimum number of years of professional experience. Other programs offer bridge programs for bachelor’s students majoring in business or other fields. When researching programs, prospective students should ensure that they meet the work experience requirements.
    • Exams and Test Scores: Applicants typically must provide GMAT scores with their application. Many programs publish average or minimum GMAT scores, helping prospective students determine whether their scores are aligned with the program’s guidelines. Some programs may also accept GRE scores or waive the test score requirement. GMAT and GRE scores remain valid for five years.
    • Coursework: Incoming students may need to take prerequisite courses before beginning graduate coursework. Programs may require undergraduate statistics, business, or analytics courses, and some offer these prerequisites online for admitted students. Most programs also set a minimum GPA for an applicant's undergraduate education.
    • Recommendations: Applicants typically provide two or three letters of recommendation, which speak to their academic and professional qualifications for a graduate program. Prospective students should ask for letters from former professors or supervisors, giving letter writers at least three weeks’ notice.
    • Essays: The application may require a personal statement or essay speaking to the candidate’s professional goals and purpose for pursuing a graduate degree. Some programs also request a writing sample to assess applicants’ analytical and writing abilities. The requirements vary by program, so prospective students should carefully research each program's application process.
    • Interviews: MBA programs may conduct interviews with applicants to determine whether they fit with the program’s focus and the incoming cohort. Admissions advisers or professors may conduct the interviews, which may be through a video conference.
    • International Students: International students may need to provide proof of English language proficiency, often by providing TOEFL scores that meet the program’s minimum requirement. They may also need to provide translations of non-English language college transcripts or provide an explanation of their undergraduate GPA if their institution did not use the 4.0 scale.

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics?

Professionals with a master’s degree in analytics work in a variety of industries. Depending on their interests, graduates may work in accounting-related fields, as an actuary or forensic accountant, or as a chief data officer. Many of these careers offer median six-figure salaries and job growth opportunities. The degree also prepares graduates for careers requiring analytical or problem-solving skills, such as analytics software developer or machine learning engineer.

Traditional Careers for MBA BA’s

Career Stats Description

Chief Data Officer

Median Pay: $104,700

Job Growth: -3.9%

An up-and-coming position in executive-level management, CDOs capture available data and use it to make informed business and strategy decisions for a company. This is generally an office-based, full-time position.

Ideal for: Master data managers, often with math and marketing experience, transition into this position

Actuary

Median Pay: $101,560

Job Growth: 22%

Actuaries assess financial costs, manage risks, and help businesses minimize the cost of risks. Many work in the insurance industry, and actuaries must pass certification exams to practice.

Ideal for: Professionals with strong abilities in mathematics, statistics, and business

Economist

Median Pay: $102,490

Job Growth: 6%

Economists analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues. They may collaborate with statisticians. Most economists work full time during business hours.

Ideal for: People with mathematics, statistics, and analytical strengths

Industrial Engineer

Median Pay: $85,880

Job Growth: 10%

Industrial engineers analyze the production process to reduce wastefulness. They design systems to make a product or service as efficient as possible. Many work in offices or industrial settings.

Ideal for: Analytical thinkers with a strong attention to detail

Non-Traditional Careers for MBA BA’s

Career Stats Description

Forensic Accountant

Median Pay: $69,350

Job Growth: 10%

Forensic accountants use accounting skills to investigate fraud. They often work in accounting firms, insurance companies, government agencies, or law enforcement agencies. Forensic accountants help stop financial fraud.

Ideal for: Analytical thinkers with strong investigative and mathematical skills

Machine Learning Engineer

Median Pay: $111,465

Job Growth: 6.4%

Machine learning engineers use data science to improve the practices and products created by engineers and other businesses. They write machine learning algorithms to increase accuracy and improve efficiency.

Ideal for: Analytical thinkers with strong math and data science skills

Small Business Owner

Median Pay: N/A

Job Growth: 3.6%

Small business owners open and run their own business. They may act as consultants, analysts, accountants, or actuaries, depending on their strengths and training. Small business owners may work independently or employ other workers.

Ideal for: Organized, motivated people with entrepreneurial abilities

Analytics Software Developer

Median Pay: $103,560

Job Growth: 24%

Analytics software developers create models and programs to solve problems and design software programs. They often have data analytics experience, and many work in the tech industry.

Ideal for: Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Payscale,2017-2018

Paying for an Online MBA in Data Analytics

Graduate students can pay for their master’s in data analytics online using a mix of financial aid, savings, and scholarships. By researching tuition rates, the length of the program, and credit requirements, prospective students can save money. Some accelerated programs cost less than a full-time or part-time master’s degree in analytics. Prospective students should also research competitions and scholarships in data analytics to lower costs.

Tuition Timelines

Master’s programs in business analytics offer several timelines, including part-time, full-time, and accelerated options. Online students may be able to complete their degree in just nine months.

Part-Time Path

Many programs offer a part-time path in addition to a full-time path. In most cases, part-time students take one or two classes each term, completing the degree in two or three years.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Indiana University at Bloomington
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: IU-Bloomington offers an online master’s in business analytics, which part-time students can complete in two to three years.

Full-Time Path

The full-time path typically requires between 12-18 months to complete a master’s in business analytics.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Arizona State University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: ASU’s online master’s of business analytics requires 16 months of using a five-week term schedule.

Accelerated Path

On an accelerated path, students can complete the master’s degree in less than 12 months, often dividing coursework over two semesters with a summer term.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: University of Alabama
Total Credits Required: 33
Summary: The master in marketing analytics at the University of Alabama offers a nine-month accelerated path.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Data analytics students qualify for several specialized grants, scholarships, and competitions that can provide thousands of dollars in funding for their degree.

What to Expect from a Master’s Level Online Data Analytics Program

Most data analytics graduate students complete their degree in less than two years, with some accelerated programs offering a nine-month track. During a master’s in data analytics online, graduate students pass required and elective classes, complete an internship or capstone course, and meet the graduation requirements for their program. Because each program sets its own curriculum and requirements, prospective students should carefully research potential online MBA in business analytics programs.

Major Milestones

  1. Admission Process:

    MBA and master’s students in analytics provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and GMAT scores when applying for admission. The application process may take several weeks or months.

  2. Coursework:

    After gaining admission, graduate students complete coursework according to the program’s curriculum and schedule. Some programs offer a set curriculum, which students must complete in order, while others let students design their coursework.

  3. Internship:

    Some business analytics programs include an internship component, which lets graduate students build hands-on experience and expand their professional network. Online programs work with students to arrange a local internship.

  4. Capstone:

    Graduate students in business analytics may complete a capstone course the semester before graduation. During this course, students apply the knowledge gained during their program to a project or real-world problem.

  5. Apply to Graduate:

    Many programs require graduate students to submit a form declaring their intention to graduate, which lists the graduation requirements and the intended graduation date. Students may need to submit the form several months before graduation.

Coursework

While business analytics programs set their own curricula, many offer a version of the courses listed below. These classes build valuable skills in data analysis, research, and decision-making with data.

Business Analytics

Many programs begin with a survey course in business analytics, which covers the use of data, analysis, and fact-based information in management. The course covers data handling, decision-making, and performance analysis.

Data Analytics

In data analytics courses, graduate students learn about predictive analytics, decision analytics tools, and analytics software. They may also explore data-driven decision-making and data manipulation.

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analysis courses cover statistical modeling, confidence intervals, hypothesis tests, and other tools required for graduate-level data analysis. Students may also learn about regression analysis, variable analysis, and statistical computing.

Data Systems

Graduate students learn critical data system technologies for business analytics, including the creation, storage, and use of data. The course covers accessing and leveraging information, creating dashboards, and various data systems.

Supply Chain Analytics

Classes on supply chain analytics introduce students to the design and management of supply chains using data analysis. The course may cover forecasting, inventory theory, risk management, and scheduling, using data analytics tools.

Requirements to Practice

Professionals with an MBA in business analytics online typically do not need a license to practice, though many positions require work experience. Many professionals complete certificates to demonstrate advanced knowledge in their field, such as the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) and Professional in Business Analysis credential. A certificate may help candidates stand out in the job market and expand job opportunities. However, certification remains optional for most positions.

    • Certified Analytics Professional - Applicants for the CAP credential must have a master’s degree and three years of professional experience. Candidates who meet the eligibility requirements complete a 100-question exam and the credential remains valid for three years.
    • Professional in Business Analysis - Offered by the Project Management Institution, business analysts qualify for this credential with a bachelor’s degree and three years of relevant professional experience. Candidates pass an examination and must meet continuing education requirements every three years to renew the credential.
    • Project Management Professional - Professionals with at least 4,500 hours of project management experience qualify for this credential. Applicants must demonstrate at least a bachelor’s degree plus 35 hours of education in project management; a master’s in business analytics meets the hours qualification. Candidates take a four-hour exam.
    • Chartered Financial Analyst - Business analytics graduates going into finance can pursue the Certified Financial Analyst credential, which features three levels. Candidates must pass an examination to advance to higher levels, with most exams offered once per year. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations help business analytics students build a professional network and connect with potential employers and future colleagues while earning the degree. Many associations offer annual conferences and networking events, certification programs, and continuing education programs. Graduate students also benefit from career services, such as job boards, career counseling resources, and resume tips offered by professional organizations.

  • Digital Analytics Association: With individual and corporate membership, the DAA offers professional development resources, career resources, and networking opportunities for professionals in digital analytics. The organization offers a membership discount for students.
  • International Institute of Business Analytics: A global organization, IIBA creates professional standards, offers certifications, provides industry research, and hosts events. Members benefit from career resources, including a job board.
  • American Management Association: Graduates planning management careers benefit from the seminars, events, and webcasts offered by AMA. The association offers networking opportunities and professional development resources.
  • Data Science Association: A nonprofit association of data scientists, the DSA provides resources for data professionals, establishes ethical codes, and works to enhance diversity in the field. Members benefit from networking opportunities and conference discounts.
  • Project Management Institute: A professional association for project managers, PMI offers credentials in fields like financial management and risk management. Students receive a membership discount.
  • Financial Times: Financial Times is an international newspaper focused on business, economics, and finance. It also publishes articles on work and career, which can help new business professionals build valuable skills.
  • IIBA Career Center: Job seekers can use the IIBA career center to search for job openings, post a resume, and set up job alerts. The career learning center also offers advice on networking and creating a compelling resume.
  • LinkedIn: Business professionals, including those in data analysis, benefit from the networking opportunities offered by LinkedIn, which also provides information about job openings.
  • MBA Exchange: Graduate students and MBAs benefit from the job posts, leadership development information, and online events offered through MBA Exchange. The site also helps job seekers connect with potential employers.
  • Harvard Business Review: HBR publishes research on business, business news, and videos. The site also offers webinars, which help data analytics professionals stay current in the field.