Business analytics graduate programs focus on how organizations might use data in decisions and strategy. It's applications can be fairly broad. Business analytics encompasses everything from collecting and storing that data in the first place, to analyzing it, learning from it, and using it.
Therefore business analytics graduate courses might include everything from statistics and predictive analytics to data management and more. As such, business analytics graduate programs might also be broad. Programs may vary in areas of focus, degree level, and even the delivery format, potentially enabling students to find options that meet their needs.
In the field, business analytics touches on a wide array of skills and work areas. That’s one reason various business analytics graduate programs may treat their material a little differently from one another—because they have unique goals in mind. Now, in some cases, those differences might be related to individual school preferences or quirks. However, many business intelligence programs may design their curriculum to focus more narrowly on certain skills or business intelligence roles. That means that you could choose a program that aligns with the kinds of things you want to do.
While individual programs may vary, in general, they might fall into three categories.
- like the ones above, in general, they might look at them within a wider business context. For example, they might focus on using data to make educated decisions through predictive analytics. These programs might also spend time on a variety of other business skills outside of analytics.
- Some business analytics schools might also take a broader approach. These programs may survey the whole business intelligence process. That could range from acquiring data in the first place and storing it, to analyzing it and learning from it. They may aim to establish a more generalized expertise with coursework from each of the two categories above.
Remember that these are guidelines, and individual programs may vary from these descriptions. Some schools may even offer similar programs under different names. This can include options like data science graduate programs, data analysis graduate programs, and even big data degree programs online. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to the schools you’re thinking about attending to learn more.
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Graduate Business Analytics Degree Levels
Two factors in choosing your business intelligence graduate program are your level of education, and your target degree. In other words, have you been to graduate school before? What type of credential do you want to earn? Generally, business intelligence programs might be offered at three levels. Each of these may come with its own unique criteria and vary in their depth of study.
- Business Intelligence Masters Programs: These are generally open to those who have earned a bachelors degree, but may not have attended graduate school. Some programs may also ask for a certain amount of professional experience. Business analytics masters programs may include several different degree types. In particular, this includes MS in Business Analytics (MSBA) and Business Intelligence MBA programs. MS programs may tend to focus a little more technical skills. MBA programs, meanwhile, may discuss analytics in the context of business management.
- Business Analytics Doctoral Programs: A doctorate degree in business analytics may allow students to dive even deeper into business intelligence. As with masters programs, doctoral programs might confer a few different degree types upon completion. This may include PhD in business analytics, and DBA in Business Intelligence programs. PhD programs, as with MS programs, might tend to focus on mathematics and technical skills needed to manage and analyze data. DBA programs, which are often seen as an extension of the MBA, may focus more on the role of analytics in leadership.
- Graduate Certificates in Business Analytics: Graduate certificate programs tend to be shorter than degree programs. That's why some programs may focus on specific topics within business intelligence. Students might be able to build specialized expertise on one topic, in less time. In some cases, credits earned could even be transferable to a graduate degree program later. Business analytics graduate certificates might be offered at the masters or doctoral level.
As you search, keep in mind that programs may vary from the above descriptions in a variety of unique ways. Remember to follow up with the programs you’re considering for more information about that and other elements.
Business Analytics Graduate Programs Formats
Finding the right preferred degree or program level isn't the end of your search process. Finding a business analytics masters program that fits into your lifestyle may also be crucial. Luckily, a variety of programs may be available that suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for flexibility, personal support, or a balance of both, you might find programs that work in your life.
- Business Intelligence Graduate Schools: These programs are anchored on a local campus. Classes tend to be offered on an established schedule, in face-to-face format. This can be an advantage in a few different ways. Studying in the classroom, you may have the opportunity to work with other business analytics professionals. That could bring a unique networking element to your education! You may also have access to campus resources. Those could range from computer labs—which could support your more technical courses—to libraries, tutoring, and more. Plus, many graduate schools offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate your busy schedule.
- Online Business Intelligence Graduate Programs: Earning your business analytics degree online could add an element of flexibility to your education. Online programs might enable students to access course materials on the go. Whether you’re on a business trip, have a busy schedule, or prefer to learn solo, online programs could adapt to your life. Some programs are even associated with campus programs. Courses may be taught by the same faculty. That means you might pursue your analytics degree without compromising on your career or the quality of your education.
Individual programs may vary from these descriptions. Some schools may also offer additional program formats. Programs might have other requirements like compatible laptops, field experience, and more. If you have any questions, contact your school for more details.
Take the Next Step with our List of 4 Business Intelligence Graduate Programs
Now you're equipped with the information you need to start your search for a graduate program in business intelligence. The academic path you choose may depend largely on what you plan to do after you complete your degree. To a certain extent, you want to not only prepare yourself with an education but also the ‘right’ education for the type of career you want to lead.