Technology has made a mind-blowing amount of data available to companies over the past decade. It’s no wonder that 98 percent of employers believe business school graduates need to know how to use and interpret data. But no matter how robust the data, understanding which data is relevant and useful in a swirling sea of facts and statistics is one of the most important business skills you can offer an employer. Analytics MBA programs teach students how to gather, organize and optimize data to understand trends and forecast future risks and opportunities.
Should you get an MS in Analytics or an MBA with business analytics?
That depends on whether you want to focus your career on a business management path or focus on business intelligence. If you’re already familiar with analytics, you need to determine which degree program will expand your knowledge. An MS in Analytics is geared toward students who want to specialize in the technical aspects of data analytics. An MBA with business analytics provides a depth of knowledge in analytics that allows you to expand your understanding of analytics for successful use of big data. A company’s analysis is only as good as its chief data analyst’s ability to determine which metrics are useful among the massive amounts of available data. This type of graduate program helps you understand and use data as tools to drive important business decisions.
What do students learn in analytics MBA programs?
Courses in analytics MBA programs fall into three categories: descriptive, prescriptive and predictive. Some business schools’ curricula may focus on one area over the others, but most schools offer a range of courses that cover all three. The main topics covered include the use of databases and warehousing, data-driven decision-making strategies, the use of statistical techniques to solve business problems, data manipulation and predictive modeling. The most valuable part of an MBA with business analytics, though, is when you can tie your learnings together with real-world experience by completing projects that apply data analytics tools.
What should I look for in analytics MBA programs?
One of the most important factors to consider in your MBA with business analytics is the faculty. For starters, you want to make sure the professors teaching your courses also work in the field or are heavily involved in field research. The world of big data changes so quickly that current, up-to-date knowledge is a key faculty qualification. Also, if you’re considering online analytics MBA programs offered by a university with an on-campus program, be sure to ask who teaches the courses and choose a program in which the same faculty teach both the online and traditional courses.
Are there analytics MBA programs available online?
Many well-respected business schools have responded to the demand for analytics MBA programs online. The advantages to pursuing your MBA with business analytics online are manifold, starting with how quickly you can graduate. Some programs offer accelerated courses that allow you to complete your degree in less than 18 months and continue working full-time. This is both a financial and professional advantage since you can maintain both your income and your position while you’re in school. Also, the online format provides incredible flexibility to complete your coursework around your own schedule.
No matter how robust the data, human behavior is complex and nuanced, and therefore only tells part of the story. Business leaders who can balance their approach to data analysis with in-depth field research offer the most sought-after skill sets to potential employers. Earning an MBA with business analytics-concentrated courses helps you understand which analytics are relevant and useful to your organization with respect to both.
Smith-Barrow, Delece. “3 Questions to ask about business analytics programs,” U.S. News & World Report, January 17, 2014.
“Which MBA? Driving Big Data,” The Economist, August 31, 2012.
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