Businesses rely on technology to operate efficiently, creating demand for innovative professionals with skills in data analytics and network security. The BLS projects the creation of 28,500 new positions in information security analytics by 2026.
Earning an online master's in business intelligence helps professionals change careers or improve their analytical skills to expand their professional opportunities. Graduate degree holders are more likely to secure supervisory positions with higher earning potential. According to PayScale, entry-level business intelligence analysts earn an average salary of $63,000 per year, and professionals with 5-10 years of experience earn an average of $78,000 annually. Below, we discuss key features of the best MS in business analytics online programs.
What are the best business analytics and intelligence programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Boston University||Boston, MA|
|2||University of Maryland, College Park||College Park, MD|
|3||Texas A&M University||College Station, TX|
|4||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, IL|
|5||William & Mary||Williamsburg, VA|
|6||Stevens Institute of Technology||Hoboken, NJ|
|7||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Worcester, MA|
|8||Southern Methodist University||Dallas, TX|
|9||American University||Washington, DC|
|10||The Ohio State University||Columbus, OH|
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Business Analytics and Intelligence Programs
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
BU's master's in applied business analytics program features a 40-credit curriculum with core coursework in operations management, financial concepts, and data mining for business analytics. Students personalize their degree by selecting two electives from six options, including cybercrime and terrorism.
Over 95% of recent BU graduates have found a job or started another academic program. Students can research job openings and doctoral programs and receive resume reviews on BU's website.
Prospective students must submit undergraduate transcripts, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement. Full-time and part-time students pay different tuition rates. Most learners graduate in 18-24 months. This program is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
University of Maryland, College Park
|College Park, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 86%||
Distance learners can earn UMD's online master's degree in business analytics in 20 months. Core courses include models and decisions, database management, and decision analytics. Program alumni often begin careers in healthcare and consulting.
UMD's School of Business features multiple career resources for business analytics students, including one-on-one coaching sessions. Online learners can also attend virtual career fairs and review job opportunities on HireSmith — a private job board for business students.
Admission requirements include filling out a short form, speaking with an advisor, and submitting transcripts. UMD does not charge out-of-state tuition to graduate students. The university's funding website contains links to external fellowship opportunities. This program holds specialized accreditation from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Texas A&M University
|College Station, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Texas A&M's master of science in analytics program includes a part-time curriculum that most students can complete in five semesters. The program features synchronous courses, allowing online learners to interact with their on-campus counterparts. Graduation requirements include a capstone, in which students apply data to solve a problem that affects actual companies.
The university's career center provides students and alumni with virtual advising sessions, cover letter and resume templates, and professionalism tips. Degree-seekers can also review salary negotiation best practices.
Admission requirements include three years of work experience and GMAT or GRE scores. Approximately 75% of Texas A&M learners who work while earning their degree receive some form of tuition reimbursement.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
|Champaign, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
U of I offers an online MBA with a concentration in business analytics. In addition to the standard MBA curriculum, degree-seekers take courses like data and the firm, business data modeling, and analytics applications across business functions.
The university's College of Business offers excellent career services to business analytics students, including Handshake software, career fairs that attract over 250 companies, and resume workshops. Learners can also sign up for one-on-one interview practice sessions.
Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores, and at least three years of professional experience. Learners who live outside of Illinois do not pay a higher tuition rate for this online MBA program.
William & Mary
|Williamsburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
W&M's online master's in business analytics program features a 32-credit curriculum that emphasizes four academic pillars: business acumen, math modeling, computing technologies, and communicating with impact. The university launched this online program in 2018, and students enroll as part of a cohort.
The university's recent business analytics graduates enjoy an average starting salary of almost $76,000 per year. W&M's career advisors help learners find lucrative jobs and provide one-on-one and group professional development courses.
Admission requirements include two years of professional experience or extensive academic coursework in business topics. Applicants must also submit two recommendation letters and an essay. W&M awards the Kyle J. Milliken Memorial Scholarship to eligible online students.
Stevens Institute of Technology
|Hoboken, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
Stevens' online master's degree in business analytics and intelligence includes a robust core curriculum with courses in financial decision-making, process analytics and optimization, and experimental design. After completing the core, students select two electives from five options. The program blends synchronous and asynchronous coursework.
The university's career center provides learners and alumni with numerous virtual resources, including advising sessions and workshops through Zoom. Degree-seekers can also sign up for InterviewStream — a free service that helps users hone interviewing skills.
Prospective students must submit recommendation letters and GMAT or GRE scores. Stevens uses a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA cutoff. The university allows accepted students to sign up for a monthly tuition payment plan.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
|Worcester, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
WPI is one of only a few colleges that offers an online master's degree in data science. The 33-credit curriculum includes required coursework in integrative data science, data analytics and mining, and business intelligence and case studies. Although the curriculum does not offer a concentration, degree-seekers gain knowledge and skills that relate to five data science subfields.
WPI's career advisors connect students with virtual resources that include advising, workshops, and career fairs. These services have helped over 92% of WPI's recent data science alumni find jobs, and these workers earn an average salary of more than $88,000 per year.
Admission requirements include undergraduate coursework in data science, calculus, and statistics. Applicants must also submit GRE scores. WPI charges the same tuition rate to all learners, and incoming students may qualify for the Gateway Scholarship.
Southern Methodist University
|Dallas, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 78%||
SMU's master's in data science program builds upon learners' previous education in computer science and data visualization. Participants can choose a specialization in business analytics or machine learning. Courses in the business analytics pathway include machine learning, network security, and time series analysis. The program culminates in a capstone course.
SMU provides data science students career coaching sessions, in which advisors teach interviewing skills and resume best practices. The university's Virtual Career Hub hosts live webinars and maintains a job board.
Applicants can have a bachelor's degree in any subject, but they should have some sort of academic or professional background in mathematics and programming. Prospective students must also submit a recommendation letter and a resume.
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
AU's online master's in analytics program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The curriculum features coursework in business insights through analytics, big data, and statistics. Program graduates often begin careers in management and consulting.
Nearly 95% of AU's School of Business graduate alumni achieve a positive career outcome just months after graduation. The university's Office of Career Engagement provides online students with virtual webinars and access to Handshake software.
This program does not require GRE scores for admission. Applicants must submit a personal statement and two recommendation letters. Financial aid opportunities include federal loans and institutional scholarships.
The Ohio State University
|Columbus, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
Ohio State's specialized master's in business analytics program is delivered through a blend of asynchronous and synchronous learning. Students can complete all of their coursework online; however, they must attend 25% of their courses either on campus or through synchronous livestreams on Saturdays.
Notable courses in the curriculum include prescriptive analytics, predictive analytics, and descriptive data analysis and visualization. Students can earn their degree in 10 months.
Applicants must submit letters of recommendation, GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, and a personal statement. A committee evaluates these materials and invites certain applicants to participate in an interview. Prospective students with a minimum 3.2 GPA and at least four years of work experience do not need to submit test scores. All students in the program pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Business Intelligence Program?
Although curricula vary by program, the courses below are common to most online master's in business intelligence programs. The selected courses illustrate the variety of skills business intelligence students develop during their studies. While earning a master's in business intelligence online, students take courses that integrate business concepts and data analysis.
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Business Intelligence
- Business Intelligence Foundations: This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of the field and introduces students to strategic and tactical levels of operation. Students explore topics in management information systems and customer service management to prepare for careers in management analysis.
- Data Mining: This course covers processes of data discovery through data pattern analysis. Students learn about machine learning algorithms, cluster analysis, and discriminant analysis. Students gain skills necessary to draft reports and articulate findings to corporate management and are prepared for careers in business and computer analytics.
- Risk Management: This course examines mathematical models used in risk analysis and provides skills necessary to address business issues, such as portfolio optimization and pricing. The course prepares students for careers in financial analysis.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Business Intelligence?
Most MS in business analytics online programs require 30 to 36 credits, and full-time students typically earn the degree within two years. Students without a background in business or technology may need to take additional foundational courses, which extends completion time.
Additionally, program structure impacts the time required to graduate. Cohort-based programs are often highly selective and typically admit students once or twice per year. Students in these programs advance through the curriculum in small groups, completing courses and assignments together.
Individually paced programs often feature start dates throughout the year, and students complete courses at their own pace. While students in individually paced programs customize their plan of study, they still meet deadlines and complete weekly assignments.
Certifications and Licenses
- Analytics Professional Certification: The Certified Analytics Professional credential improves professional opportunities and encourages continuing education. Master's-level candidates must have three years of professional experience. The exam comprises 100 multiple-choice questions.
- Management Consultant Certification: The Institute of Management Consultants offers this certification to assess technical skills, ethical conduct, and knowledge of management consulting. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree and three years of relevant work experience. In addition to a competency exam and oral review, candidates complete an ethics exam and oral interview.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Business Intelligence Degrees
Students pursuing a business analytics master's degree online should look for accredited programs. The two major types of accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national. Regionally accredited schools comprise more than three quarters of the nation's colleges and universities and receive accreditation from one of six regional accrediting bodies. Nationally accredited schools often provide specialized education, such as vocational training, and typically offer lower tuition rates. However, regionally accredited schools generally accept only credits and degrees earned through other regionally accredited institutions.
In addition to regional or national accreditation, students pursuing an online degree should look for accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Field-specific accrediting agencies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board, promote high standards among MBA and STEM programs.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Department of Education oversees the nation's accrediting bodies. With 3,000 participating universities, CHEA promotes quality assurance through recognition standards, which include measures of accountability, equality, and self-improvement. The Department of Education implements measures that require accrediting agencies to demonstrate the enforcement of standards by their accredited schools and programs. CHEA and the Department of Education provide databases of all recognized accrediting bodies in the country.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Business Intelligence Graduates
Master's in Business Intelligence Salary
The following table lists the top-paying states in the nation for computer and information research scientist positions. The BLS projects the occupation to grow nearly three times as fast as the economy as a whole; graduates from online business analytics master's programs will have career opportunities throughout the country. In addition to offering some of the highest salaries, Virginia is among the five states with the highest employment rates for computer and information research scientists.
Top 5 Paying U.S. States for Computer and Information Research Scientists
Master's in Business Intelligence Careers
Students earning their business intelligence master's online take courses in business and IT to prepare for careers in industries such as healthcare, government, and software development. Many graduates pursue management positions in areas such as fund management and information security. Business intelligence professionals need strong analytical and problem solving skills to communicate effectively with interdisciplinary team members, stakeholders, and upper management.
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
These professionals advance technologies in areas such as data science and programming. Entry-level positions typically require a master's degree. Master's in business analytics online programs familiarize students with tasks necessary for computer and information research scientist positions, such as writing algorithms for data analysis and enhancing software applications
Median Annual Salary: $111,840
Projected Growth Rate: 19%
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
These managers actualize an organization's IT goals and oversee computer operations to improve efficiency. Earning a business analytics master's online allows professionals to transition into management positions without decades of work experience.
Median Annual Salary: $135,800
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
- Financial Analyst
Financial analysts facilitate sound investment decisions by examining money markets. These professionals evaluate financial data and economic trends and manage corporate portfolios to help companies seize opportunities while minimizing risk.
Median Annual Salary: $81,760
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Information Security Analyst
These professionals ensure the safety of an organization's computer systems. Responsibilities include improving network impenetrability, developing innovative methods to protect data, and implementing security protocols. Earning a master's in business intelligence online improves a candidate's marketability for this position.
Median Annual Salary: $92,600
Projected Growth Rate: 28%
- Management Analyst
Management analysts lead teams to develop solutions to organizational problems and to improve efficiency. These professionals may be self-employed or may work for a consulting firm. Some projects require management analysts to work with a team of specialized consultants. Management analysts with an online master's in business analytics often specialize in financial data analysis.
Median Annual Salary: $81,330
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
Professional organizations allow students and recent graduates to connect with professionals in the field. Members have access to job listings, scholarly materials, and continuing education programs. Professional organizations often host annual conferences to address trends and issues in the field, and many organizations offer reduced membership fees for students.
Financing Your Online Master's in Business Intelligence Program
The most common type of financial assistance is federal financial aid, including low-interest loans with flexible deferment options. To receive federal loans or participate in work-study programs, students must complete the FAFSA.
Other forms of financial assistance include scholarships and grants, which do not require repayment. Students earning a business intelligence master's online can apply for field-specific scholarships, such as the Izenda Embedded BI and Analytics Scholarship. Students should check with their academic program for scholarship, grant, and graduate assistantship opportunities.
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