Master’s in Business Intelligence Program Guide

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Published on August 13, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Professionals with a master's in business intelligence can help executives at companies and public agencies make sound business decisions. These professionals use analytics to measure past performance and project future scenarios. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for business and financial occupations to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026. The BLS also projects computer and information technology jobs to grow 13% during the same timeframe.

The BLS projects employment for business and financial occupations to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026.

Students earning a business intelligence master's degree gain skills in business and technology. Coursework covers topics such as data management, quantitative analysis, corporate communication, and scenario planning. The ideal business intelligence students needs insatiable curiosity and a passion for technology.

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Should I Get a Master's in Business Intelligence?

Earning a master's in business intelligence can be an excellent path for a curious individual with strong communication and qualitative-thinking skills. As companies and agencies accrue large amounts of unstructured data, they need professionals to organize that information, analyze it, and apply it to the decision-making process. Business intelligence professionals often work in business, healthcare, education, and the public sector. Professionals in the field may specialize in supply chain management, project management, market research, or consultancy.

Recent graduates of bachelor's programs in technology or business often pursue on-campus business intelligence master's degrees. On-campus students can build relationships with professors, meet potential employers at career fairs, and secure recommendations. Professionals already working in the industry, however, frequently choose online programs, which allow learners to advance their careers without moving, spending time away from family, or quitting their jobs.

Students earning a master's in business analytics explore the theories and applications of functionality, prediction, statistics, and optimization. Coursework typically includes classes in cyber analytics, decision making, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and programming languages. Students can join technology or business clubs and can take advantage of their university's career services office for assistance with resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence professionals work with business and technology. Positions in the field combine computer science work with quantitative analysis and the application of business principles. Successful business intelligence professionals need intellectual curiosity, the ability to visualize information, and a big-picture perspective. The careers below are only a few of the variety of business intelligence positions available.

Management Analysts

Sometimes called management consultants, these business intelligence professionals help organizations improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase revenue. Management analysts handle data, interview stakeholders, analyze financial reports, and recommend organizational changes. A master's in business intelligence provides aspiring management analysts with the required background in analytics, data, and finance.

Median Annual Salary: $82,450*

Operations Research Analysts

These professionals work in industries such as business, logistics, and healthcare. They solve problems by using advanced analytical and mathematical methodologies, such as predictive modeling and simulations. Operations analysts also use databases and statistical software to create models of future trends and analyze the effects of potential scenarios.

Median Annual Salary: $81,390*

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts help guide the investment decisions of individuals and companies using knowledge of the current performance of investment vehicles such as stocks and bonds. These analysts review and evaluate investment performance data, study current financial trends, recommend investment strategies, and write reports for corporate or individual clients. Financial analysts can focus on the buy side or sell side of investments.

Median Annual Salary: $84,300*

Computer Systems Analysts

Also known as systems architects, computer systems analysts advise companies on purchasing new technology, help them keep hardware and software up to date, and improve technological functionality for better cost-benefit ratios. They may focus on programming or software quality assurance.

Median Annual Salary: $88,270*

Database Administrators

Database administrators organize financial data and customer records to protect information from unauthorized access while making it accessible to company leaders. These professionals manage the operations and security of a company's database and oversee the development of new data management systems and tools. Their work may emphasize system architecture or specific applications.

Median Annual Salary: $87,020*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Choose a Master's Program in Business Intelligence

Pursuing a business intelligence master's degree requires many hours of study time each week for one to two years. Students invest in their education by paying tuition, purchasing books, and commuting to campus. Before making the large investment of time and money, students should choose the best master's in business intelligence program for them. Factors to consider include degree completion time, availability of part-time options, undergraduate prerequisites, and the institution's transfer policy. Applicants should also review and compare their top schools' curricula, practicum options, and capstone project requirements. Available concentration options and internship opportunities can also impact a student's decision.

Cost is a major consideration for most prospective students. Considering their budget helps students determine which schools are affordable before submitting applications. By selecting an online program, business intelligence students can maintain their current level of income, avoid transportation costs, and fulfil household or community responsibilities. On-campus students, however, can save money by choosing a school in an area with a low cost of living. Additionally, on-campus learners studying near major employers in the field may have additional job opportunities after graduation.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Business Intelligence

Accreditation determines the value of a degree in the job market. In the U.S., accreditation is a voluntary process through which an educational institution demonstrates that it meets or exceeds standards of quality in relevant areas. Accreditation allows schools to offer federal, state, and private financial aid and to transfer credits smoothly. Regional agencies provide accreditation to entire institutions, while programmatic accreditation only applies to specific departments.

Master's in business intelligence programs are often located in the university's business school, for which primary accrediting bodies include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. Programmatic accreditation from one of these agencies demonstrates commitment to business education. However, unlike regional accreditation, this type of accreditation is not required for the degree to be recognized by employers.

Master's in Business Intelligence Program Admissions

Admissions standards vary widely between graduate schools. Students who apply to highly competitive programs need to meet rigorous standards for prerequisite knowledge, grades, and admission test scores. Some schools accept applications on a rolling basis, while others establish deadlines for spring, summer, and fall admission.

Most students apply to at least three schools to improve their chance of acceptance. However, students rarely submit more than eight applications, since application fees and the cost of requesting official transcripts can add up. Plus, securing multiple letters of recommendation and writing many unique admissions essays can feel overwhelming.

Students typically consider factors such as reputation, program length, cost, financial aid, and philosophical perspective and apply only to their top-ranked schools. Other factors to consider include available concentration options, faculty strengths, and whether the program's curriculum aligns with the applicant's career goals.


Applicants need a bachelor's degree, usually with a major or significant coursework in a STEM or business discipline. The degree should showcase the applicant's analytical and quantitative skills. Applicants should have prerequisite knowledge in basic engineering, Python, and R gained through coursework, experience, or a combination of the two. Students should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and strong grades in math and science coursework. Some schools accept high GRE quantitative scores in lieu of a minimum GPA.

Admission Materials

Students can typically complete an application in 30 minutes to one hour, but essay questions and resumes may take much longer. Most schools provide all required forms online. Applicants should submit transcripts from all previous schools, including at least one transcript showing the conferral of a bachelor's degree. The process for requesting transcripts varies by school. Most schools require applicants to submit two to three letters of recommendation from professors or others who can speak to the student's capacity for graduate studies. Applicants typically need strong GMAT or GRE scores. Requirements vary, but competitive applicants typically score in at least the 75th percentile. Application fees for business school typically cost about $50, though they can cost as much as $300 per school. The fee is often nonrefundable but may be applied toward tuition for students who enroll.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence may be a concentration in a general business or data analysis degree. Other schools offer business intelligence as a major and offer concentrations in specific areas of the field. Some concentrations focus on data and analysis, while others emphasize career outcomes or technology. Below are concentrations available in many business intelligence master's programs.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Business Intelligence
Concentration Description Careers
Data Analysis This concentration covers data management, mining, mapping, and munging. Students may also gain experience with Oracle Database SQL, SAS statistical business analytics, and SAS base programming for SAS 9. Courses often include data mining for results, data-driven decision making, and analytical reasoning and data presentation. Business Intelligence Analyst, Information Research Scientist, Advanced Analytics Expert
Programming Languages Nearly all business intelligence professionals need to know at least one programming language, such as Python, Java, or SAS. Students in this concentration learn both closed- and open-source languages. Classes include R statistical language, business process modelling and analysis, and Python programming language. Programming Analyst, Senior Business Intelligence Developer, Business Intelligence Analyst with SQL
Cyber Analytics Professionals with degrees in cyber analytics use their knowledge of data and analysis to prevent and respond to cybercrime. These professionals address phishing scams, identity theft, cyberterrorism, and human trafficking. Students learn to protect systems and fight intrusions. Courses include analytics and decision analysis, applied statistics and visualization for analytics, and big data warehousing and analytic systems. Cyber Security Data Analytics, Lead Information Security Analyst, Chief Security Officer
Data Management This concentration emphasizes data mining, cloud computing, and data visualization. Students learn the basics of information technology and gain knowledge in specific data systems and programming languages. Courses include database management using SQL, data structures and algorithms, and system modeling and design. Data Migration Engineer, Credit Risk Manager, Database Administrator
Healthcare Analytics Digitization is reorganizing both American and global healthcare systems. Professionals with degrees in healthcare analytics can help improve healthcare using the high volume of data that digitization is creating. Courses in this concentration include statistical foundations of data analytics, healthcare operations research, and advanced application of healthcare data analytics. Public Health Data Analyst, Technology Program Manager, Pharmaceutical Technology Consultant

Courses in a Master's in Business Intelligence Program

A business intelligence master's program can focus on technology, business development, mathematical analysis, or even the application of business intelligence principles to a specific field. However, courses in all programs draw from the disciplines of data, statistics, and business. Below is a sample curriculum.

Quantitative and Qualitative Decision Making

Students explore quantitative and qualitative analysis theories, descriptive statistics, and basic probability theories. The course also covers the overlap of theory and practice; students explore goal setting and planning and rational decision making models. Learners consider cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment to evaluate outcomes.

Predictive Analysis

Analytics is the process of transforming raw data into actionable insights. Predictive analytics involves determining future trends using relationships discovered within existing data. Students in this course learn the tools, methods, and cycle associated with predictive analysis.

Introduction to Data Mining

Data mining is the process of extracting new or unique information from large amounts of data. Students in this course examine two data mining functions: cluster analysis and pattern discovery. Topics include data preparation and feature selection, clustering, classification, scalability, evaluation, and validation.

Enterprise Risk Analytics

This course provides fundamental knowledge and skills related to enterprise risk analytics. Students learn how to implement the enterprise risk framework and to use tools such as analytics models, interlinked data-inputs, simulations, and optimization techniques. The course covers strategic and operational risk analytics.

Business Analytics Foundations

Students explore key concepts related to business analytics and learn how to apply them to practical problems facing enterprises. Topics include describing and summarizing data, sampling and estimation, hypothesis testing, and regression. Students learn to recognize trends and analyze relationships between variables.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Business Intelligence?

Most master's in business intelligence programs require 30-39 credits. Full-time students typically earn their MS in business analytics in one to two years. However, students can graduate in more or less time, depending on factors such as program format and enrollment status.

Cohort-based programs require students to move through a prescribed series of classes with a small group of peers, which means students in each cohort graduate at the same time. Other schools allow learners to choose classes each semester. While this can mean some students miss out on their preferred classes, it allows learners to take more courses per semester and graduate more quickly. Students with work or family obligations can also take a smaller number of courses each semester, although this may result in a higher total cost.

How Much Is a Master's in Business Intelligence?

Tuition for a master's in business intelligence typically costs $16,000-30,000. Total cost depends on factors such as credit requirements, cost per credit, and the student's eligibility for discounts. Most business analytics master's programs require 30-39 credits, and tuition usually costs $530-780 per credit. Public institutions generally offer special tuition rates for state residents, and many schools charge online learners in-state tuition rates, regardless of the student's residency status. Typically, private schools and for-profit colleges charge higher tuition rates than public institutions.

When budgeting for higher education, prospective students should consider costs other than tuition. On-campus learners may need to pay for housing and program fees, while online students must often pay a technology fee for each course. However, many online learners can work full time while earning their degree. Additionally, veterans and military members may receive tuition discounts, scholarships, and prior learning credits that can reduce tuition costs.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Business Intelligence Prepares For

IBM Certified Data Architect - Big Data

This certificate is designed for big data architects who convert customer requirements into data solutions. The certificate requires an exam, which includes questions on topics such as data monitoring, scalability, cluster management, and personally identifiable information.

EMC Data Science Associate

Dell offers this product-agnostic educational program for developing information technology professionals. Applicants can download a starter kit to prepare for the exam, and seasoned professionals can elect to take the data science specialist exam instead of the associate exam.

Certified Business Intelligence Professional

Applicants must have at least two years of relevant experience and a bachelor's or master's in business intelligence or a related field. This industry-recognized certificate can lead to career advancement opportunities in data analysis and design, business analytics, data integration, and leadership and management.

Certified Management Consultant

The Institute of Management Consultants offers this credential at three levels: basic, experienced, and management. The basic certification requires three years of recent experience and a degree, and it involves both a written and an oral exam. This certification demonstrates competency in consulting standards, ethics, and techniques.

Certified Analytics Professional

Early- to- mid-career professionals can earn this designation. Candidates must have five years of professional analytics experience or three years of experience plus a business analytics master's degree. The exam includes 100 multiple-choice questions.

Resources for Graduate Business Intelligence Students

Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit

This thought leadership summit includes sessions on building a world-class analytics strategy, the internet of things, exploring diverse data sets, and modernizing infrastructure.

Disney Data and Analytics Conference

Each year, about 1,500 people attend Disney's conference, where they hear more than 30 presentations and interact with 60 attending vendors. Attendees explore topics such as marketing analytics, data management, and decision science.

Business Analytics, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn is a valuable resource for any student or professional. This group provides access to conversation with some of the top minds in business analytics, data mining, artificial intelligence, and predictive modeling.

Information Management's BI blog

SourceMedia maintains this blog, which publishes articles on security, data management, data governance, and big data and analytics. Website visitors can also engage with sponsored content, including white papers, ebooks, and web seminars about business intelligence.

BizTech Magazine

CDW, which is a Fortune 500 multitechnology producer, publishes BizTech Magazine. The publication includes resources on topics such as business intelligence, the internet, cloud, and digital workspaces. Many articles introduce trending or upcoming technologies.

Professional Organizations in Business Intelligence

By joining a professional association, business intelligence professionals can position themselves as leaders in the field. These associations help members stay updated on current research and provide opportunities to network through online portals and global conferences. Some professional associations also sponsor certifications and foster mentoring relationships. Recent graduates with a master's degree in business analytics can access job boards and other career resources through most associations.

An international association headquartered in Hong Kong, BIIA maintains a library of more than 10,000 resources about business information and credit risk. The organization also provides online networking opportunities and hosts a biennial conference. SCIP is a global networking organization that publishes white papers, analyst reports, and competitive briefs relevant to business intelligence. Members can attend the organization's local, national, and international conferences and complete online training programs through SCIP University. CRA comprises more than 200 North American industry, government, and education associations. CRA offers career mentoring, a summit on technology and jobs, and an online job board. With nearly 60,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society offers resources including 200 technical conferences and an online library of more than 500,000 articles. The organization publishes 17 journals and 13 magazines. INFORMS is the largest organization devoted to understanding and advancing management science, operations research, and analytics. The organization hosts an annual meeting and publishes a journal. Students can take advantage of scholarship opportunities and a career center.
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