In the business world today, the “how” and “why” of data analysis is everywhere. Whether scrolling online or signing into LinkedIn, you will notice pop-ups for multi-degrees in the field of analytics. There are offerings from a wide range of universities.
Your intention may be to gear up for an advanced degree in analytics or weigh its growth in popularity. Either way, it makes sense to see what the buzz is all about. A master’s in data analytics is still relatively new in higher ed. The field is cutting-edge for good reason. Michael Shulman, head of machine learning at Kensho explains, “Since most of the world’s data is unstructured, an ability to analyze and act on it presents a big opportunity.”
Data Analytics on the Rise
In the past two decades, analysis has become a buzzword. This is not just widespread in corporate America but around the world as well. You don’t have to look far in your job search to find a company that is seeking a professional who is skilled in analysis. Most occupations these days call for a deep dive into the root cause of any given problem.
Being analytical is a must-have and spans an array of disciplines. From small to large businesses, all see the benefit of gaining insight into their data. If you are already thriving in almost any industry, you can expand your repertoire. With some focus, you can build the analytical side of your business savvy.
In this Age of Information, companies have made a concerted effort to improve their capabilities. They are in tune with first capturing and then storing data. Many interpret historical data or advance to real-time. Business leaders know this is the fast path to improve their decision-making. Think about the words of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. He proclaims that “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”
What is a Master’s in Data Analytics?
Before embarking on your journey to selecting the right program and approach, it’s important to define “what is a master’s in analytics?” Analytics on its own is the art and science of taking raw data, i.e., data points, and mining these to extract data gems. The end goal is actionable intel.
A master’s degree in analytics has many arms. It is a blend of Management Information Systems (MIS), Finance and Economics, Computer Science, and Statistics. For this reason, it attracts students with STEM know-how and strong business acumen. It touches on programming, BI, and data science.
Concentrations will vary. Some students want to learn more about data engineering and modeling. Others may vie for data architecture or computer science. Roles range from the back-end, more technical perspective to the front-end, outward leaning.
Data Analytics Online Master’s Program Format
Professionals may look to hone their skills at different chapters in their lives. Some will be moving directly from college and into an advanced degree program. Others will have worked for a period and are ready to acquire new skills. With both paths, it’s important to assess the online curriculums that are out there.
At this stage, you may have more questions than answers. You are smart to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Insight into coursework and projects is a good first step in making a decision.
Advantages to Think About
There are many pluses. Choose that which is most important to you:
Quality: One of the advantages of online education is its high-quality learning. With the refinement of best practices, the industry has yielded digital learning tools that make learning easier. These better connect students with their professors and classmates.
Flexibility: Nowadays, the choice is not only whether to choose online or in person. You can also opt for the type of schedule that works best for you. In the online world, there are two formats, asynchronous and synchronous.
Online communications: With the movement of workers to remote, students aim to sharpen their communication skills. Education through an online platform is a value-add. Professionals need to become practiced in conveying complex concepts in this new work setup.
High ROI: It’s easy to prove the business case here. The correlation between a master’s level degree and higher pay is strong. Advancement from a bachelor’s to a master’s is studied to be as high as 20 percent.
An online master’s program calls for dedicated time and a real commitment. Consider the minuses before you move forward:
Style and format: Despite the growth in all things online, it’s not for everyone. It can be challenging to adapt to the remote style of learning.
Absence of face-to-face contact: You may miss the subtle nuances and engagement that takes place in a classroom. It can be hard to thrive in an environment where you can’t see the facial expressions of your peers and professors.
Lack of discipline: Some may perceive an online program as too flexible. There can be distractions from home and family life that thwart concentration. It can be difficult to focus on the subject material.
Online Data Analytics Courses Overview
The programs that are offered will vary by institution. You will often see a master’s in data or business analytics. A master’s in science in analytics is also commonplace. Regardless of the name, the crux is that is stands as an interdisciplinary degree.
The types of courses may also differ. A graduate program of this kind is made up of multi-focuses. These range from business and computation to operations research and statistics. Depending on your interests, you may lean towards a program that is business-oriented or more tech-based. You can even choose from accounting, healthcare, supply chain, and social media.
There are an array of core subjects and electives. It is up to you to select the concentration. You pick out in which area you desire a high-level understanding or a narrower focus. As you assess things like value and ranking help navigate. Choose from a wide range of topics like these:
- Intelligence methods
- Data mining
- Machine learning
- Business ops
- Programming of computer languages
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
Tools and programming languages may change with the times. At present, Python, R, SQL, and Tableau are commonly studied.
Key Points in Admissions
Most online master’s programs in the field of data analysis are rigorous. Some institutions require a BA/BS in a STEM-related field. Others ask for hands-on experience (work) in the field. A computer programming certification can also serve as a supplement. The magic formula is a background in math and/or IT.
It’s important to point out that a standardized test is not needed. There is no requirement for a GRE or GMAT. Students applying from outside of the US may need to provide additional items. Most admissions offices will request a resume/CV and an SOP (statement of purpose) as well. These are essential and should be presented as well-edited and polished.
The checklist for fulfilling a masters will also diverge. For many, a master’s thesis or research is needed. Some require what’s referred to as a “capstone project.”
There are distinctions in terms of credit or class requirements. At a minimum are 11 courses. Others call for 30 to 36 credits. Depending on whether a part or full-time program, classes average no more than three to four during a semester. Completion ranges vary, from 12 to 16 months to 23 months. The good news is that there is an abundance of programs or different types and specs that can meet a wide range of needs and goals.
Online Degree and Career Prep
There is much to consider when choosing to advance your career path by earning a degree in a highly sought-after field. Laid out below are three reasons why an online degree is the 100 percent smart route to level up your future:
- Save a significant amount of money. No travel or room and board costs. Most online master’s programs have standard tuition rates. This reduces costs for out-of-state.
- Save time and energy. No need to waste time in the car and rush to your class. With your laptop in hand, classes can take place anytime, anywhere.
- Save on stress. No more worries about fitting in classroom time and homework. Make the most of the autonomy and flexibility.
The biggest benefit of an online master’s program is that working professionals can kill two birds with one stone. You can level up your education in a convenient and economical way and at the same time, up-skill your resume.
As you well know, experiential learning goes hand and hand with the traditional style. The relationships that you forge through the years will propel your career forward. The building of a robust professional network is part of the journey to earning your dream job.
Lucky for you, there are a number of opportunities that have been introduced in recent years.
The New Networking
Career services: This department’s single focus is to connect students with people and resources. They can advise on jobs and internships in the area. Take advantage of these resources to put you in touch with alumni that are hiring.
Professors: This important group should be your first to ask when it comes to plotting a career path, writing recommendation letters, or offering advice.
Social media and virtual networking events: Keep your profiles updated, and be on the lookout for events in your field. Commit to putting business dates on your calendar. Start building relationships through your peer group.
It’s important to think about which type of analytics master’s program is best for you. This will impact the credits required, the length of time to complete, and the overall cost. There are many from which to choose.
For example, GA Tech’s top 10-ranked program for its master’s degree in analytics calls for a tuition rate of $9,900. At Southern New Hampshire University, a master of science (MS) in business analytics will put you at $12,000 in total tuition. There are other kinds of programs as well. LSU touts an (MBA) in data analytics. The total is $12,474.
How to Pay
As mentioned previously, the ROI is proven. That said, you still need to figure out the best and most cost-effective way to pay the tuition fees. Make sure to consider every option before your rack up debt with student loans. For starters, review these options:
Outlook on Salary
Now that you have calculated the return, you should start looking at some real numbers. It’s important and exciting to look at how your hard-earned work can pay off in dollar amounts. It’s easy to find job sites that show the high demand for professionals with advanced know-how in data analysis.
Salary levels are no secret. The most widely used career resources offer stats on wages. You can check out your earning potential. According to Payscale, the average salary with a master’s in business analytics is $72,000. BLS cites earnings of up to $84,000. Elite schools show even higher numbers, i.e., $103,000 or a 22 percent lift from the previous salary. You can begin to assess how these average rates compare to your current pay.
The Final Analysis and Next Steps
It is key to learn as much as you can about what a master’s in analytics means and where it will take you. You have done your homework. The specs and requirements of every program will differ greatly. You are now in tune with the wide range of formats and styles of learning in the realm of online education. It is an exciting time to be a student.
There are multi-ways to create an education plan that meets your career, expense, and long-term goals. Keep in mind the insight of Keith Bachman, Wall Street analyst at BMO Capital. He shared that “In times where small instructor-led classrooms tend to be the exception, electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers, as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative.”
Whichever route you take, move forward. Plot out your next steps and follow them to the “t.”