Data drives business plans and decision-making strategies worldwide. By earning a business intelligence degree, students gain the theoretical understanding and applied skills necessary to collect raw data and transform it into useful information. An interdisciplinary field that synthesizes management, marketing, technology, and data analytics, business intelligence enables individuals to pursue diverse and growing careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of financial analyst and management analyst positions will grow by 11% and 14%, respectively, between 2016 and 2026. Additionally, the number of market researcher positions should experience even greater job growth, with a projected increase of 23%. With additional training and work experience, workers can advance into leadership positions or pursue consulting and entrepreneurial opportunities.
This guide provides in-depth information on different undergraduate program types, business intelligence courses, and specialization options. It also covers several career options and professional development opportunities. Individuals entering college for the first time, as well as returning students, can find a degree track that meets their particular interests and goals.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence majors cultivate computer technology and data analytics skills through lecture-style classes and collaborative seminars. Students can expect to take introductory coursework in economics, business statistics, marketing fundamentals, and database structures. Many programs also feature practicum and internship requirements. These allow students to gain hands-on work experience and build professional relationships. Programs typically culminate in a capstone project, where degree candidates apply theories and best practices to tackle a pertinent challenge in the business field.
Bachelor's in business intelligence programs also provide participants with networking opportunities through campus groups and student organizations. For example, many colleges and universities work with national associations, such as Beta Gamma Sigma. Students can also attend conferences to interact with peers, learn from experts, and discover opportunities related to graduate school or future careers. Furthermore, each school operates its own career services, helping students find jobs, write effective resumes, and prepare for interviews.
An undergraduate diploma shows prospective employers that a candidate possesses basic knowledge and skills related to their field, typically resulting in higher pay and more job opportunities. According to 2017 employment projections made by the BLS, bachelor's degree holders benefit from lower employment rates (2.5% unemployed) than individuals who only hold a high school diploma (4.6% unemployed).
A variety of business intelligence degrees exist to accommodate all student types. Adult learners may find distance education options more appealing; this format tends to offer more flexible course schedules, allowing students to juggle school, work, and family responsibilities. Alternatively, recent high school graduates may prefer on-campus programs, which offer direct access to university resources, including technology labs and internship placement programs.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Business Intelligence?
Bachelor's in business intelligence programs prepare students to work at nonprofit organizations, small businesses, multinational corporations, and government agencies. Career options include financial, management, and market research analysts. Graduates may also work as supply-chain logisticians and professional buyers. Business intelligence professionals typically gain advancement opportunities by building work experience and pursuing specialized certification. Many enroll in graduate programs to develop the leadership skills needed to work as sales managers, marketing directors, and postsecondary instructors.
- Financial Analyst
These professionals help companies make investment decisions. Financial analysts evaluate a business' portfolio to locate trends and develop strategies to maximize returns on stocks and bonds. They also apply data analytical skills to make projections. In addition to a bachelor's degree, analysts can gain certification from professional organizations like the CFA Institute.
Median Annual Salary: $84,300*
- Management Analyst
Working predominantly in consulting roles, management analysts come up with strategies to make a company more efficient. These professionals assess a company's current business model by going through its financial history and interviewing employees. Analysts then recommend strategies to reduce costs and increase revenue. Management analysts generally hold an undergraduate degree and certification from organizations like the Institute of Management Consultants USA.
Median Annual Salary: $82,450*
- Information Research Scientist
These workers create new technologies and methods to apply to existing systems. Those who work in business bolster organizational efficiency, financial growth, and information security. They may also improve company networks and software. Information research scientists need at least a bachelor's degree, although many go on to pursue a master's or doctoral degree.
Median Annual Salary: $114,520*
- Market Research Analyst
Through data collection methods, these analysts examine current market conditions. They then parse and evaluate information to discern what consumers want, projecting the potential sale of a particular service or product. Market research analysts may work for a firm or as freelance consultants. To assume this position, professionals need a bachelor's degree and additional certification from organizations like the Insights Association.
Median Annual Salary: $63,230*
- Operations Research Analyst
Working in fields like corporate finance, logistics, and healthcare, these analysts help organizations cut costs and boost efficiency at all levels. They work with managers and directors to set prices, manage supply chains, allocate resources, and train employees. Individuals may qualify for some of these positions with a bachelor's degree, although employers increasingly prefer graduate-level credentials.
Median Annual Salary: $81,390*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Business Intelligence
As students research prospective schools, they should consider several variables, including the length of a program and curricular options. Bachelor's in business intelligence programs generally take four years of full-time study, requiring candidates to earn around 120 semester credits. Some schools provide accelerated pathways, enabling students to earn their degree in less time. Beyond general education and prerequisite requirements, business intelligence courses differ based on institutional goals and faculty expertise. Some programs emphasize project management and team leadership, while others operate a more technology-focused curriculum with classes in data mining, geographic information systems, and predictive analytics.
Cost represents another major consideration for students interested in higher education. In addition to flexible course scheduling, online business intelligence degrees may feature less expensive tuition. Many colleges and universities attempt to attract distance learners by offering flat tuition rates, discounts, and/or distinct scholarships and grants. Some schools also ignore residency status when calculating tuition, charging all distance learners the same price. On-campus students also benefit from financial assistance, including work-study positions; these awards typically exclude distance learners due to their on-campus job obligations. Additionally, campus-based programs often provide more course and specialization options.
Finally, students should factor in a school's location and how this affects the cost of living and future employment opportunities. Location can also influence a graduate's pursuit of professional certification because many programs require state-specific training, examination, and/or work experiences.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Business Intelligence
Colleges and universities need to hold national or regional accreditation to confer valid degrees. Students who earn an accredited degree can rest assured that potential employers, government bodies, and industry organizations will recognize their diploma. Vocational schools and for-profit institutions typically earn national accreditation. Alternatively, nonprofit colleges and universities generally receive regional accreditation, which is bestowed by one of six organizations based on a school's location. For example, Georgia colleges gain regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Individual programs may also obtain programmatic or specialized accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) represent the main bodies that accredit business intelligence degrees. In general, AACSB-accredited schools emphasize research, while those that hold ACBSP accreditation focus more on teaching and educational outreach.
Bachelor's in Business Intelligence Program Admissions
Bachelor's in business intelligence programs require applicants to submit typical admissions materials, such as an application form, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and transcripts. Many schools also ask candidates to provide a personal statement that details their academic history, personal achievements, and career goals. Degree-completion tracks require applicants to possess at least two years of relevant work experience, and students may need to complete prerequisites prior to formal enrollment. Additionally, online programs may require candidates to demonstrate that they possess the drive and discipline necessary for self-motivated learning.
The college application process can feel overwhelming due to its many moving parts and deadlines. To make the process more manageable and less costly, students should narrow their school choices down to around five or six, including at least one "safe" school.
- Minimum GPA: Colleges and universities often require undergraduate candidates to hold a minimum GPA (typically between 2.0 and 3.0). However, some schools allow students to make up for an unsatisfactory GPA if an applicant holds exceptional test scores or ample work experience.
- Application: All candidates must submit a general application, which includes information such as their address, academic history, and major interests. Many undergraduate institutions use The Common Application, which enables students to apply to multiple schools at the same time.
- Transcripts: Applicants need to send in official transcripts for all prior academic work. Certain institutions require high school students to submit pre- and post-graduation reports. Applicants can request these documents through their school's student services office.
- Letters of Recommendation: Prospective students typically need to submit two to three letters of recommendation. These should come from teachers and mentors who can describe a student's achievements and qualities. Some schools specify who can write letters of recommendation.
- Test Scores: While colleges and universities increasingly disregard ACT and SAT scores, many schools still ask for these results. Students should give themselves plenty of time to prepare for these exams, and they typically receive official scores about a month after taking the test.
- Application Fee: Students should expect to pay around $50 for each application; this can become a burden for those applying to several institutions. Fortunately, many schools offer fee waivers to students who demonstrate financial need. The The Common Application also provides financial assistance.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Business Intelligence?
Prospective students can often find business intelligence as a concentration option within a general business administration degree track. Other schools offer business intelligence in conjunction with a data analytics and visualization degree. However, standalone bachelor's in business intelligence programs do exist, and some come with their own specializations, including healthcare information services and operations management.
|Operations Management||This specialization prepares undergraduates for leadership positions in service and manufacturing industries. Students learn to develop products while considering government laws and regulations. Participants also build skills related to cost management, ensuring projects get done on time and under budget. Additional topics may include financial performance, supply chain management, and contract procurement and negotiation.||Management consultant, industrial production specialist, operations research analyst|
|Accounting||This specialization consists of classes like auditing and federal individual taxation. Students learn to analyze financial data, create records, and maintain documents in accordance with government regulations. They also develop the communication skills needed to present information to diverse audiences. An accounting specialization typically prepares graduates to sit for professional certification exams.||Financial analyst, stockbroker, forensic accountant|
|eCommerce||As one of the fastest-growing business fields, eCommerce focuses on the creation, marketing, and distribution of electronic services. This specialization trains students to apply general business strategies to online markets. Courses may include project management, global business policies, and information systems design. In addition to corporate careers, the eCommerce specialization enables students to become entrepreneurs.||Market research analyst, business adviser, eCommerce management specialist|
|Healthcare Administration||In this specialization, students learn the management and analytical skills needed to ensure organizational sustainability and quality patient care. Course topics include population health, risk assessment, and government policy. The healthcare administration specialization prepares students to work at hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, community health organizations, and research facilities.||Operations research analyst, insurance negotiator, hospital department manager|
|International Business||With advancements in communication technology and increasing support from the World Trade Organization, international business professionals enjoy ample job opportunities at government agencies and multinational corporations. This specialization helps students understand various organization models with respect to specific cultural norms. Participants also learn to adapt expansion opportunities to international markets.||Market research analyst, information research scientist, foreign exchange consultant|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Business Intelligence Program
Although advanced business intelligence courses can vary widely depending on the individual program or specialization, many schools teach similar foundational topics. The list below details five possible courses that students pursuing a bachelor's in business intelligence might take.
- Data Analytics
Through case study analysis and collaborative projects, students learn to distill, interpret, visualize, and manipulate data. They also develop the skills needed to ask effective research questions, verify sources, and present reports to diverse audiences. Training in data analytics stands as a requirement for all business intelligence professionals.
- Information Systems
This class covers the role information technology plays in an increasingly globalized business environment. Students learn to evaluate data, assess needs, and develop systems to meet specific challenges. They also delve into information security. Information systems knowledge is key for professionals seeking careers in financial or research analysis.
- Business Statistics
In this course, students apply inferential and descriptive statistics in business settings. Using software like SPSS, SAS, and Strata, students learn to determine marketability, enterprise performance, and quality effectiveness. Additional topics may include probability distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. Business statistics classes greatly benefit accountants and financial analysts.
- Financial Risk Modeling
Students learn the tools, techniques, and principles of financial quantitative risk analysis. Through case studies and practical examples, learners familiarize themselves with various modeling environments. They also investigate time series, Markov chains, and autoregressive models. Financial analysts and business consultants may find this class especially useful.
- Strategic Management
This course teaches students how to lead teams and allocate resources to meet goals and improve overall business efficiency. By reading about research-based best practices, students develop their own leadership style and learn to analyze shifting industry structures. Program directors and other business leaders need to possess strong strategic management skills.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Business Intelligence?
Undergraduate business intelligence degrees typically take four years of full-time study and require students to earn roughly 120 semester credits. However, a student's course load can significantly affect this timeline. Students looking to hasten graduation can take the maximum number of credits each term and/or enroll in optional winter and summer sessions. Learners can also look into accelerated pathways or degree-completion tracks, which enable candidates to complete their bachelor's in significantly less time.
Some colleges and universities offer combination degree plans that allow students to obtain undergraduate and graduate credentials in five years. These intensive programs necessitate a student's full dedication. Working professionals who need to juggle school, career, and family obligations can take fewer classes each term. However, part-time enrollment comes with drawbacks, including limited financial aid and the possibility of higher overall tuition prices. Students can also expedite degree completion by transferring in previous college-level coursework. Additionally, many schools allow degree candidates to earn credits for previous volunteer/work experiences and professional training.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Business Intelligence?
A college degree requires a substantial investment of time and money. According to a 2017 report by College Board, undergraduates attending an in-state public school pay an average annual tuition of $9,970, while those enrolled at an out-of-state public school pay more than $25,000 per year. Private universities cost significantly more, charging almost $35,000 in annual tuition.
Prices vary by school, but learners can often pay less by pursuing an online business intelligence degree. For example, Bellevue University, Colorado State University, and Southern New Hampshire State University each boast low online tuition; these schools charge all of their distance learners the same tuition, regardless of residency status.
To limit student debt, individuals should seek out financial support from multiple sources. They can apply for institutional aid or look for scholarships and grants from local business and professional associations. Furthermore, nonprofit organizations like College Possible and National College Access Network help underserved students pay for their education. Beyond tuition, students need to budget for room and board. Those planning to move for school can consult websites like PayScale, which enables students to calculate and compare the cost of living in different states and cities.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Business Intelligence Prepares For
- TDWI Certified Business Intelligence Professional
TDWI offers a popular certificate for business intelligence specialists. To earn this credential, candidates must pass two mandatory exams and one specialty exam. Candidates who score 50-69% earn practitioner status, while those who score 70% and above obtain mastery status. Each exam costs $400. TDWI offers paid guides, practice tests, and prep courses to help individuals prepare.
- DAMA Certified Data Management Professional
DAMA facilitates four certification levels. Each level requires organizational membership, a college degree, and an increasing amount of work experience. New business professionals can apply for an associate certificate, which requires a passing score on the data management fundamentals elementary exam. Upon earning associate credentials, professionals must advance to the next level within five years.
- NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional
This certification serves as an important career advancement tool for international business professionals. To earn this credential, individuals must pass a four-hour exam that consists of 165 multiple-choice questions. Covered topics include supply chain management, trade finance, regulatory compliance, and intercultural awareness. Exam fees total $395. NASBITE International provides accredited training programs and certified trainers to help professionals prepare. The organization also hosts free study materials on its website.
- PMI Certified Associate in Business Management
PMI offers business management certification at two levels. The associate program lets new professionals demonstrate their knowledge of global business standards and showcase their ability to work in project teams. To earn this credential, professionals must pass a three-hour exam comprised of 150 multiple-choice questions. Upon earning at least 7,500 project leadership hours, professionals can apply for the project management professional certificate. PMI also offers certification programs in business analysis and risk management.
- IIBA Business Analysis Certification
IIBA provides three certification levels. Recent college graduates can earn an entry certificate in business analysis by passing a one-hour, knowledge-based exam. Questions relate to information technology, process management, and business architecture. Candidates can take advantage of free sample questions and test guides found on IIBA's website.
Resources for Business Intelligence Students
AIS operates three global branches, each providing region-specific research and education. This association connects information professionals through conferences, community leadership programs, and student chapters. Additional resources include career services and webinars.
With members in over 137 countries, RDA creates open and ethical data-sharing networks that span industries, disciplines, and domains. This organization provides skill development programs and research guidance, and professionals can connect based on their work and interests.
This organization's website acts as an information hub for business and technology professionals. Users can access current news and research related to analytics, big data, finance, and supply chains. IE also facilitates summits and webinars.
IEEE offers research-based publications and digital libraries. Individuals can connect through student chapters, regional communities, and industry-specific societies. IEEE also provides continuing and professional education opportunities.
AMA helps business professionals pursue career advancement through training webinars, skills development programs, topic-specific podcasts, and a resource library. The association also operates a leadership certificate program for female professionals.
Professional Organizations in Business Intelligence
To pursue advancement and cultivate career longevity, business intelligence students and professionals should seek the support of professional organizations. While membership typically entails an annual fee, the resulting benefits include a variety of career resources, such as self-assessment and job search tools. Members can also access up-to-date research, best practices, and support for their own projects.
Established in 1986, SCIP provides business intelligence professionals with strategic tool kits, assessment guidebooks, and a large knowledge center. Through SCIP University, members can access in-person skill development bootcamps. The organization also helps members publish their research.
The DAA helps professionals by developing strategic and ethical data applications. Members can connect through local symposia and a national marketing evolution summit. They also gain access to webinars, certification programs, and onsite workshops.
Founded in 2003, IIBA maintains global standards for business intelligence through industry research and advocacy. Membership provides access to professional development webinars, leadership programs, and a career center.
INFORMS supports its members by offering continuing education classes and workshops. The institute also oversees career services, mentorship programs, and fellowship opportunities. Business intelligence majors benefit from academic scholarships and a national student union.
A vendor-neutral organization, ABPMP provides on-demand webinars, online courses, and certification programs. Members can collaborate through local educational meetings and international conferences. Membership also comes with discounts on the association's services and products.