Data science MBAs are in high demand. With most companies maintaining a focus on big data–the analysis of which allows them to identify trends, plan business strategies, measure performance, and conduct market research, among other things–it’s important that professionals have an increased understanding of data management, storage, and retrieval.
To that end, data science has become a popular choice for some students seeking a degree that will help them develop this knowledge in addition to analytical and critical thinking skills. Advanced degrees in this field could lead graduates to pursue executive or senior management positions in IT, business analytics, data analytics, or data management.
A master of business administration (MBA) in data science combines studies in business management with courses in data visualization, analytics, programming, and machine learning. Some might opt for this type of program to help them gain the advanced analytical skills and the knowledge of managerial processes in various business areas they would need to obtain the highest levels of leadership within many organizations.
By combining MBA and data science studies, students might come away with a deeper knowledge of how data analytics improves business outcomes, policies, production, and performance. Check out our “What is data science?” guide for more context.
We will take a closer look at the MBA in data science to give readers a better understanding of what courses might be taken, in what formats such a degree program is offered, what the learning expectations of such a program might be, which career options might be best for those who hold an MBA in data science, and other pertinent information regarding this graduate degree program.
What is an MBA in Data Science?
Although the master of science in data science is more widely available, several schools in the United States currently offer data science as an area of concentration or specialization within their MBA programs. Some MBA programs offer a concentration in data analytics or business analytics rather than data science. However, many of the same or similar courses would be taken in these programs. Still, other schools might offer a combined MBA and MS in data science degree program.
In an MBA program, students will have the opportunity to study various managerial processes and responsibilities in marketing, production, finance, operations, information technology, and communications. Students could also take core courses addressing organizational behavior, strategic management, statistics, business ethics, and business economics.
Data science or data analytics courses then delve into data mining, modeling, and visualization. Students generally have the opportunity to learn how to collect data, use data visualization software and data analytics tools such as Python and R Programming, identify patterns and trends through data examination, and apply data research and mining methods in decision-making processes. They might also take courses in business intelligence, text mining, and predictive modeling. Some programs might offer additional electives that address analytics in specific areas, such as financial analytics, marketing analytics, or healthcare analytics.
Other topics that could be addressed in an MBA in data science program include:
- Data programming
- Project management
- Predictive analytics
- Business analytics
- Strategic information systems
- Database design
- Applied statistics
- Web analytics
Some programs might include a capstone course wherein students examine a case study to apply concepts and theories discussed in the program to address a business organization’s issues and policies. Other MBA programs might require the completion of an extensive project or a field study or internship in which students are involved in a corporate project or assist in data collection and analysis responsibilities.
Online MBA in Data Science
Many MBA in Data Science programs are offered online; in this format, it is easier for professionals who are likely to be pursuing a master’s degree to adhere to their work schedules while attending classes. Online programs are more often flexible and allow for full- or part-time studies. Students might access classes on an open rather than fixed schedule.
Many schools offer online MBA studies with the same courses and professors found in the on-campus format. In this way, there is generally little difference between on-campus and online programs.
Some might see a disadvantage of an online MBA in Data Science as being the possible lack of field studies or internships. These offerings provide hands-on learning experiences that allow for the complete application of concepts and methods studied in the program in actual business settings. Some online MBA in data science programs might contain simulations, virtual workshops, one-on-one coaching or mentoring, or integrative case study examinations. Still, for those looking for the benefit of real-life experiences found in internships, online studies might not be for them.
Data Science MBA Program Tuition and Financial Aid
The cost of an MBA in data science program will vary according to school, full- or part-time status, resident or non-resident status, format, and whether the school charges a flat rate or per credit.
For example, Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO, has a per-credit-hour rate of $754 for graduate tuition, plus fees that vary according to full- or part-time status. At the same time, Louisiana State University Shreveport charges $349.85 per credit for a total program cost of $12,473.90 for all US residents.
Many schools offer both needs- and merit-based scholarships for MBA students. For example, Augsburg University allows students to use one of several tuition grants to help offset costs; each grant offers $80 per credit off the program’s cost. Saint Leo University has an MBA Academic Achievement Scholarship where qualified students can save $6,000 throughout the program. At Baruch College, there is a merit-based MBA scholarship that ranges from $10,000 – $30,000.
MBA in Data Science Career and Salary Expectations
What career might await after earning an MBA in data science or a similar program?
Typical roles for those who hold this type of MBA include management analyst, operations research analyst, business analytics manager, business intelligence manager, IT systems analyst, or market research analyst.
Let’s take a closer look at the responsibilities of each of these roles:
- Management analyst: typically assess various business processes and policies, make suggestions for improvement, and implement new systems
- Operations research analyst: similar to the management analyst, an operations research analyst, uses software and tools to advise corporate leaders through decision-making processes and solve organizational problems
- Business analytics manager: these managers oversee a team of data analysts who use the evaluation of collected data to make decisions in areas of marketing, customer service, and production
- Business intelligence manager: with more of a focus on raw data and real-time analysis, business intelligence managers tend to work more in data architecture and project management to generate reports and develop long-term business strategies
- IT systems analyst: these professionals manage databases and resolve issues, review systems innovations, conduct upgrades, and advise corporate leaders on the implementation of improved systems
- Market research analyst: responsible for assessing consumer behavior, sales trends, and marketing campaign effectiveness to help companies determine the best markets in which to offer their products or services
So, how much can you earn once you’ve chosen your career path? In many cases, holding an MBA could increase job responsibilities and salary in most organizations.
According to May 2020 information provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts, including business analytics managers, earn a median annual salary of $87,600 and have a projected job growth rate of 11 percent over 2019-2029 period. Operations research analysts earn only slightly less ($86,200) but enjoy a much larger projected job growth rate of 25 percent over the same period.
Statistics regarding computer systems analysts from the BLS, including IT systems analysts, show that these professionals earned a median annual wage of $93,730 as of May 2020 and have a job growth projection of 7% from 2019-2029. The BLS says that market research analysts earned a median yearly salary of $65,810 as of May 2020 and expect a job growth rate of 18 percent (2019-2029).
While the BLS does not report specifically on business intelligence analysts, O*Net Online reports a median annual wage of $98,230 for these professionals in 2020 and an 8 percent job growth projection for the 2019-2029 decade.
If you focused on a particular area in your studies, other career options could include pricing analyst, supply chain analyst, financial analyst, or marketing manager.
MBA in Data Science FAQs
Do you still have questions about the MBA in data science, possible careers, similar programs, or any other details not covered in the above sections? Here you’ll find additional information to answer any further questions regarding this graduate degree.
In most cases, no. You may be required to hold a bachelor’s degree, but it is not always necessary to have an undergraduate degree in business or data science. Familiarity with basic computer systems and functions would be a plus.
Some schools might prefer MBA candidates to have experience in a professional setting. Check with the school’s admissions office where you hope to enroll to find out about work experience requirements and guidelines.
Mostly, you will be able to enter an MBA program without such a background. However, familiarity with statistical analysis, research methodologies, and management software would benefit your studies.
Some online programs might be conducted online, while others might be hybrid programs combining virtual studies with on-campus or in-person internships.