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Is a Master's in Business Analytics Worth It?
October 7, 2019 | Read Time: 3 Minutes
By Elizabeth Atwater
500 million tweets. 294 billion emails. 5 billion internet searches.
This isn’t a futuristic forecast—it’s just the amount of data generated in a typical day. And the trend is only intensifying. By 2020, the entire digital universe is expected to reach 44 zettabytes. For context, that’s 40 times more bytes than stars in the observable universe!
If navigating, translating, and deriving insights from data isn’t part of your job yet, chances are it will be soon. Analytics in business exists in every industry. Consider how wearable tech bridges fashion and health care, or how connected cars draw from both manufacturing and software.
One way to master technical data analytics skills is through a graduate school program. Many schools offer master’s degrees in business analytics, data analytics, and/or analytics in business. Today, the data footprint is ever expanding and career success hinges on agile, analytical skill sets and mindsets. A Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from a top school of business is worth it, now more than ever.
What Is Business Analytics?
According to Tom Davenport, the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology at Babson College, business analytics applies to all industries. “Any industry that moves things, has employees, has customers—that amounts to every industry.”
Broadly speaking, analytics in business improves an organization’s decision making through data and analysis. It can be found in companies of all sizes, in all sectors, and can span a range of job titles, including:
- Business Intelligence Analyst
- Data Specialist
- Data Integrity Analyst
- Information Technology Analyst
- Marketing Analyst
Set Yourself Up for Career Success
Choosing to pursue a graduate degree is a personal decision, and one of the biggest motivators for going back to school is accelerating your career. Employers provided input on the Babson MSBA curriculum. It covers data analysis languages such as R and SQL/no SQL, visualization software including Tableau, and marketing analytics.
Companies seek employees who can bridge the technical team that collects data and the decision makers who need data to plan business strategy. Those with tech skills may be great at their jobs, but they sometimes lack business and communication expertise. So, MSBA graduates must be storytellers. They can look at the data, see what’s important, and relay the information in a concise and compelling way to business leaders. “You have to tell a story with data and communicate effectively with decision makers,” says Davenport. “That is a rare skill.”
You have to tell a story with data and communicate effectively with decision makers. That is a rare skill.”
Get the Top Job
Glassdoor, the job search site, publishes an annual report of the 50 best jobs in America. The list is calculated based on the number of job openings, salaries, and overall job satisfaction ratings. Data scientist was the No. 3 best job in 2022. Data science professionals have a median salary of $120,000, which is up $30,000 in just three years.
In a survey of prospective employers, MSBA graduates with some prior work experience were the most sought after for their blend of technical and business skills. Lily Awad works with recruiters and employers on a daily basis as senior associate director of the Graduate Center for Career Development at Babson. The message she hears from recruiters at machine learning, AI, and analytics firms is consistent. “When they are looking to hire, they’re looking for people who are super comfortable with statistics, but also have client-facing experience,” she says.
A master’s in business analytics can be worth it as a smart and efficient way to gain the technical and team skills employers want. In organizations, business analytics experts can be like detectives, using data to reveal important insights. For example, they explore how to save the company money, investigate customer attrition, or connect the data points that pave the way for new product offerings.
Along with strong quantitative skills, it’s equally important that analysts bring creativity and an entrepreneurial viewpoint to the analysis. Consequently, the MSBA is especially worth it for students who like the challenge of solving puzzles and proposing creative, data-driven solutions.
Explore Babson College’s Master of Science in Business Analytics
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What About an MBA with an Analytics Concentration?
If you’re asking yourself whether a master’s in business analytics is worth it, you might also be considering options like an MBA with an analytics concentration or a master’s program in statistics.
“Analytics concentrations in an MBA program will give you a high-level understanding,” says Awad. “An MSBA takes a way deeper dive into the technical pieces. Graduates coming out of these specialized programs are able to roll up their sleeves and make concrete recommendations immediately.”
Moreover, Babson’s master’s degrees are more streamlined than the MBA. MSBA students who know they want to pursue an analytics career can earn their degree in as little as nine months.
“I think analytics is one of the hardest roles to hire for,” says Awad. “There’s a huge gap in the market in terms of talent for data analytics, and it’s only becoming more and more important.”
So, is a master’s in business analytics worth it? Ultimately, it’s a question everyone must answer on their own. But between the market need for data scientists and the speed of a one-year program, you have the potential for a high ROI.
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About the Author
Elizabeth Atwater is an associate director on Babson College’s Marketing team. Her writing has appeared in print and online in a wide range of outlets including Forbes, The Atlantic, Reuters, Chief Learning Officer, BostInno, and Seventeen magazine. She earned a Babson MBA in 2019.
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