Business course

Who Should Pursue a Masters in Business Analytics?

THROUGH Rich Griset26 January 2022, 15:42

A student studies in an outdoor seating area on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, seen in August 2020. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

The potential benefits of data analysis are virtually limitless. For many organizations, people who can analyze raw data sets and draw conclusions, for example, in sales data, customer data or employee data, have become indispensable. Whether an employee goes by the title of “business analyst” or “data analyst,” they will rely on similar skills and analytical tools to make sense of all that data.

According to Glassdoor numbers. Meanwhile, data analysts and scientists are the most in-demand roles across all industries, according to Report “The future of work” from 2020 published by the World Economic Forum, an international non-governmental and lobbying organization. And business analytics will likely be among the top skills required in data jobs of the future, according to the same report.

Just as the demand for professionals trained in data or business analytics has increased, so has the training itself. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently received 2,000 applicants for 80 spots in its Master of Business Analytics program. And The wealth The first-ever ranking of the best online master’s programs in business analytics prepares the next generation of business analysts.

Data analytics is “a process, starting with data, to build models that lead to decisions in an organization that add value to the organization,” says Dimitris Bertsimas, associate dean of business analytics, Boeing Professor of Operations Research and faculty director of the Masters in Business Analytics program at MIT’s Sloan School. “Data analysis emphasizes, in particular, the science from data to predictions.”

If you want to pursue a Masters in Business Analytics, read on to see if it’s right for you.

The difference between business analytics and data science

The terms data analytics, business analytics, and data science are sometimes used interchangeably. While data scientists focus on designing, developing, and modeling data, data analysts themselves examine trends within large data sets to draw conclusions and often create visualizations to help organizations to make strategic decisions. Using a variety of tools, data analysts can answer real business needs, such as why a marketing campaign failed or why sales increased year over year.

Bertsimas thus establishes the link between data science and data analysis: “The two may not be brothers, but cousins. First cousins.

Often people who pursue data or business analytics studies tend towards functional jobs, like becoming a business analyst or marketing analyst. These analytical skills involve taking real-world data, building mathematical models to understand what the data is saying, using models to analyze that data, and then creating real-world solutions and predictions, says Joel Sokol. , director of the interdisciplinary master’s degree in analytical sciences. at Georgia Tech and a professor at the university’s H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

What makes a good candidate for a Masters in Business Analytics and what prerequisites should they have?

“The best candidates are those who have a real curiosity to discover things,” says Sokol. “Problem solving skills, creativity, good communication and interpersonal skills [are] important, because in many cases once you’re done [those computations], you have to try to convince people that your analysis is correct.

For Sokol, the ideal candidate for a master’s program in analytics possesses certain abilities, but not necessarily a solid background, in the fields of mathematics, statistics and computer science. Courses in calculus, basic linear algebra, probability and statistics are good introductions to the degree, he adds. Finally, applicants should be at least a fairly proficient computer programmer and should be open-minded and willing to consider the ideas of others.

Bertsimas says candidates for MIT’s Master of Business Analytics program often come from STEM fields, such as engineering, physics, math, and computer science, and often have some working knowledge of the general-purpose programming language. Python. Compared to MBA students, Bertsimas says master’s candidates are generally younger.

As different master’s programs may have different emphases, Sokol stresses that prospective students should research each potential school to see what a particular program’s curriculum entails. At Georgia Tech, for example, Sokol says half of the courses in the master’s program in analytical sciences are electives, and there are about 80 electives on the Atlanta campus. “You can really do a lot of customization for your own interests and your own career goals.”

What career prospects are offered to this master?

There’s a “wide range” of careers for people who earn a master’s degree in data analytics or business analytics, including everything from theme parks and professional sports teams to agricultural businesses, Sokol says. Holders of these degrees can advance to leadership and management positions, and many companies now have chief analytics officers, he adds.

“Almost every industry uses data analytics in one way or another, so we’ve placed students in pretty much every economic sector there is,” Sokol says.

Bertsimas agrees, citing the popularity of MIT’s Masters in Business Analytics program: “They’re finding really good jobs, high-paying jobs,” he says. “They find jobs in consulting companies, they find jobs in technology companies, [and] startups where analytics is a big part of what gets done.

Finally, people often don’t realize the wide range of career paths a graduate-level analytics degree can lead to, Bertismas says.

“That’s the beauty of analytics. It addresses a very broad set of human activities,” he says, adding that he prefers it to data science. “Data analytics is broader. It has a much greater penetration in the economy.

Find out how the schools you’re considering landed in Fortune’s ranking of top business analytics programs, data science programs and part-time, executive, full-time, and online MBA programs.