Online Master of Science in Analytics
Master of Science in Analytics In Context

A Master of Science in Analytics is officially classified as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject degree and fuses interdisciplinary topics such as computer science, statistics, business, information theory, market research, and operations research. [1] It can be used as part of an overall career strategy by those looking to gain rewarding employment analyzing vast sets of data to provide unique and invaluable insights into business strategy.

A master’s degree in analytics is a great way for those looking to excel in organizations that are highly data-driven, including major competitors in the tech, sporting, and media worlds.

The Institute for Advanced Analytics found that there are currently over 100 MS programs in analytics, business analytics, or data science at U.S. institutions; over 40 of those offered are in pure analytics, a field that has seen exponential growth since 2011. [2] As of 2016, there were at least 23 online and part-time master’s programs in data analytics. [3]

Why study analytics at the master’s level?

Analytics relies on the study of data to provide real-world insight into problems affecting businesses. In 2011, research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office found that a retailer utilizing big data could improve their profit margins by over 60%. [4]

This means that a Master of Science in Analytics is already invaluable in many workplaces. In fact, the Harvard Business Review announced in 2012 that data scientists would have the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” owing to increased demand for analysts and statisticians. [5] While the wording may have been tongue-in-cheek, the demand is very real. As such, many master’s programs have been developed in response to the anticipated shortage of analysts.

The McKinsey research estimated that there would be a need for 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills and 1.5 million managers and analysts with big data knowledge. [6] Tableau Research reported how a senior lecturer in business analytics at the University of Texas believed large firms’ “crushing need for talent” was the principal reason for the creation of their master’s in analytics program. [7]

For those who are interested in a potential lucrative salary and job security, a master’s in analytics is highly recommended.

What can I learn during this degree program?

Students in a Master of Science in Analytics program will learn how to use data, methodology, and technical toolkits to provide vital analytical acumen into a range of deep-rooted problems. They will also learn to develop corresponding solutions to restore or enhance the competitive edge of businesses.

The master’s degree in analytics involves reviewing large sets of information and determining patterns and trends to predict future outcomes in a range of industries. Students can learn how data analysis makes up a key part of business strategy and how insights can typically help businesses and organizations make better-informed decisions.

What are some common areas of study, skills, takeaways, and goals?

Different programs have different objectives. Some tracks focus on particular areas of analytics for those with considerable experience to date and can include any of the three main disciplines: [9]


Descriptive analytics is used to summarize historical data regarding the performance of a business or organization. It also uses algorithms to interpret customer behavior to make predictions about future activity. Approximately 80% of business analytics is descriptive.


Predictive analytics utilizes methods such as statistical analysis, data mining, data modeling, game theory, and even machine learning to gain insight and make predictions about future events or trends.


Prescriptive analytics blends descriptive and predictive techniques to assess possible outcomes or steps to take. It suggests what course of action should be taken and then uses a feedback system to evaluate the outcome of that action.

All three elements combine to produce great insight and hone decision-making skills.
In general, a master’s in analytics program — whether taken online or on campus — gives you the ability to identify key patterns and trends, including:

  • Making specific and targeted recommendations based on comprehensive evaluation
  • Increasing your acumen of vast quantities of data
  • Presenting your findings
  • Developing your skills for practical use in the business world
What are typical career fields?

Completing a Master of Science in Analytics degree can position you for analytics and data management positions in a range of business-related industries. These can include:

  • Financial analyst
  • Management analyst
  • Statistician
  • Operations research analyst
  • Market research analyst
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Market analyst
  • Consultant
  • Actuary
  • Database administrator
  • Budget analyst
  • Financial examiner
  • Software engineer

It can also lead to further study at a master’s or Ph.D. level.

Why earn a master’s in analytics?
Undertaking a Master of Analytics degree provides some terrific benefits:

Earning potential

Undertaking a Master of Science in Analytics program can greatly increase earning potential. PayScale puts the national average salary for those with a Master of Science degree between $65,090 and $156,157, while those with a Bachelor of Science degree is between $58,712 and $151,197. [10] Other research suggests related analytics careers see an increase in salary, including: [11]

  • Software engineers: 17.57% increase
  • Database administrators: 21.06% increase
  • Web designers: 21.21%

In 2014, management analysts were the highest paying roles in the financial sector, with a median pay of $78,600 quickly followed by financial analysts earning $76,950. [12] By 2015, the median pay had risen to $81,320 [13] and $80,310, [14] respectively.


After earning a master’s in analytics, j the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports indicate that candidates are more fully equipped to advance from entry-level or junior analyst roles to more senior positions. This may also depend on practical work experience within a chosen industry.


Many master’s programs in analytics provide Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) or SAS certification or similar industry accreditation, giving students an advantage that may set them apart in their field.

Career change

On the other hand, some students might choose to study analytics in order to make a career change. This is usually from a related field in which data played a large role, such as business or computing.

An online Master of Analytics degree can be a practical way to achieve this for those already in employment because it allows for home learning and flexibility of class scheduling.

There is no shortage of demand for analytics professionals in the technological world of today and the future. As such, analytics professionals are required in a number of different industries, including:

  • Computation and database management
  • Health care
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Technology and software design
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Human resources
  • Marketing and media
  • Energy and utility services
  • Retail, leisure, culture, and sport
  • Town planning and government
  • Hospitality

With the rise in the reliance on big data, jobs in analytics are becoming more prevalent. Popular jobs with a master’s degree in analytics today include:

  • Operations research analyst
  • Management analyst
  • Financial analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Market research analyst
  • Statisticians
  • Data analyst

Job Security

Many people are choosing analytics positions because they are a fast-growing industry. This often translates to job security as organizations become increasingly reliant on data-driven insights to respond to changing markets and behaviors.

In 2015, there was a 162% growth in demand for management analysts, and the use of big data is trickling down from large organizations to increasingly smaller firms. [15]

As technology plays an even bigger role in industry, there is an anticipated 40% growth in data generated globally per year that will require thorough, experienced, and professional analysts to manage it. [16]

Personal Satisfaction

For many, the sense of personal satisfaction from earning any degree is also a key benefit. Graduating with a Master of Science in Analytics conveys discipline, commitment, drive, great acumen, and the ability to merge theoretical knowledge with experience.

How do I choose a Master of Science in Analytics program?

When it comes to choosing a Master of Analytics program, there are several considerations to make. You’ll need to assess whether a particular institution is right for you in terms of proximity to home and family. If this is problematic, an online Master of Science in Analytics degree could be ideal.

However, you should determine if you will be required to undertake a short residency, internship, or practicum as this may still influence your decision should your chosen online institution be located in another state.

Program fees, costs of living, learning resources, and opportunities for part-time learning should also be assessed. Also consider your ultimate career goals, including your desired industry. All of these factors will help you decide whether an analytics program is right for you.

Curriculum, specializations, and/or opportunities

There are many pathways to explore when studying for a master’s degree in analytics. When choosing a program, ensure it matches your desired learning outcomes and specialization. For example, studying a niche area such as predictive analytics may not be practical if you’d prefer to gain a broader overview of all areas. However, not all institutions offer a comprehensive program of study, so review the curriculum closely. Programs within a Masters of Analytics program typically include:

  • Big data
  • Marketing analytics
  • Financial analytics
  • Visual analytics
  • Operations research
  • Statistical analysis
  • Database design
  • Programming
  • Data mining


There is no overall accrediting body for analytics degrees. Instead, programs will be accredited by the body that accredits the school or campus under which the program is placed.

Many Master of Science in Analytics degrees fall under a business school. Most campus and online programs residing under a school of business are accredited by either the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Accreditation ensures the school adheres to recommended learning outcomes and best practices.

Accreditation means you can have faith that your program is being taught to set standards. However, it’s also important to ensure your school is authorized to teach — whether it offers a master’s in analytics degree on campus or online.

Departmental focus

The specific department that houses the Master of Analytics program might also influence your decision. This will give you an indication as to the program’s specializations, including its on-site research knowledge.

In many full-time on-campus programs, a master’s degree in analytics comes under mathematics, business, economics, or engineering colleges or is offered as part of a universitywide institute. Many flexible part time and online programs are housed under continuing or professional faculties.

Although you won’t necessarily be able to choose your professors or guarantee they will be available when you go to study, it’s worthwhile to contact the institution to see if particular faculty have upcoming research trips or sabbaticals.

School rankings

Of course, it’s wise to take into account the reputation and ranking of the school you intend to study at, as well as the success rates of previous graduates. This might involve some research reviewing league tables and student profiles.

Institutions accredited by AACSB tend to be higher-ranking MBA schools since this is considered the highest standard for business program accreditation worldwide, giving these schools a level of prestige. [20]

Also, if an institution scores lower in overall rankings, don’t be discouraged. The school may perform better in your chosen field than other institutions, which may be a crucial factor.

Program delivery method

Many traditional institutions — as well as dedicated online learning centers — also offer online versions of a Master of Science in Analytics degree. This is an ideal alternative if travel is an obstacle due to distance, personal circumstance, or cost.

The topics learned and the certification awarded upon completion of an online Master of Analytics degree is in many instances exactly the same as a campus-taught program.


Costs can run high when studying on campus, so choosing a program in line with your budget may be a determining factor. Based on an analysis of several Master of Analytics programs, typical tuition fees for studying a Master of Science in Analytics on campus range from $500 to $1,579 per credit or $18,000 to $52,107 in total.

While the same study materials will be required, online programs don’t incur the costs of student housing or transportation to lectures. The part-time or flexible learning style of online Master of Analytics programs also means you can work alongside your studies.

Success of previous students

Looking at the success of previous students who undertook your chosen program will be crucial. Many institutions list this information on their webpages and often highlight some of the better-known organizations students have gone on to work for.

Some of the companies cited by the North Carolina State University’s Institute for Advanced Analytics include Bank of America, Deloitte, Disney, JPMorgan Chase, PwC, and United Airlines. [23] Some of these same and similar companies approach other institutions too.

A search on social media sites such as LinkedIn can also help you discover possible career pathways.

Common areas of practice

Graduates from analytics degree programs throughout the U.S. have gone on to work for some of the most successful companies and agencies in the world.

However, analysts are needed in all types of industries and sizes of corporations — from financial, investment and banking firms to education and health care providers, as well as media, marketing and software companies — at local and global levels.

Who might pursue this degree?

This program is for those looking to take their career using data to the next level. This can include management positions, such as leaders of finance and analytics teams.

Those eager to gain better and more in-depth insight into how analytics can be used for decision-making and strategy will benefit from this degree.

Following this program, students can enter the workplace or specialize in specific areas such as business analytics, predictive analytics, applied analytics, and data analytics.

Master of Science in Analytics Careers and Advancement

Students of the master’s in analytics degree typically enjoy good success rates when it comes to finding jobs in analysis. Universities often boast a job placement rate nearing 100%, and the jobs that students take tend to be lucrative.

Data is becoming more important to the growth and success of a range of industries and businesses. This is evident through our increasing reliance on technological advancements and a demand for adaptability to real-time global and market events.

In 2011, global business consultancy McKinsey predicted there would be a shortage of around 1.5 million managers and analysts by 2018, who could provide in-depth analytical insight for businesses. [30]

This means those holding a master’s degree in analytics will be well placed in industries where quantitative skills are a top priority, including software, technology, marketing, business, and economics.

For those looking to add to their skills, an MS in Business Analytics could further improve career success. Across the board of analyst careers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the growth rate to be high. This is mirrored through the increase of Master of Science in Analytics degree programs throughout America to meet industry demand.

The rate of growth for a number of key analyst roles is expected to rise much faster than the average 2014 through 2024, including:

  • Statisticians (34%) [31]
  • Operations research analysts (30%) [32]
  • Market research analysts (19%) [33]
  • Management analysts (12%) [34]
  • Financial analysts (12%) [35]
What careers are available in this field?

There are a number of career paths available to master’s program in analytics graduates in a variety of industries. All of these provide stimulating and rewarding opportunities to help improve business strategy across job sectors. Here are some of the most popular career options available to those with a Master of Science in Analytics degree:

Operations research analyst

Operations research analysts are often employed full time and use their expert analytical know-how to enable organizations to identify and solve difficult issues within the business or workplace and make better and more efficient decisions.

The BLS forecasts that technological advancements mean companies will seek to appoint more operations research analysts in order to improve business strategy, planning, and decision-making. They will be expected to use analytical software to turn data into practical suggestions for improvements in operations and logistics.

Areas where this demand is expected to grow include government departments and the armed forces. The median pay for an operations research analyst is $78,630 per year.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement along with significant experience in business and/or related fields of industry, such as government departments or the armed forces. Those with master’s and Ph.D. degrees will find it easier to gain access to these roles.

California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia top the list of states with the highest levels of employment in this sector. [36]

Management analyst

Otherwise known as management consultants, management analysts improve organizational efficiency and profitability through streamlining resources to increase revenue.

Demand for these roles — particularly in a consulting capacity — is expected to grow, especially within the health care and insurance sector as well as government departments looking to cut spending. The BLS also anticipates that markets will become fiercer, requiring more analyst roles, especially for businesses in need of a strategy to expand overseas.

The median pay for a management analyst is $81,320 per year, and it is possible to achieve this role with at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Years of work experience in information technology, human resources, and management or business will also help a candidate succeed, as might the Certified Management Consultant designation.

California, Virginia, Florida, New York, and Texas all top the list of states with the highest level of employment in this sector. [37]

Financial analyst

A financial analyst helps guide businesses when it comes to making investments. They assess the market and the performances of various types of investment including stocks, bonds, and shares. They typically have a very strong grasp of markets across geographical locations.

As investment portfolios and financial products become more complex and while opportunities for investment overseas expand, a growing number of financial analysts will be needed. These positions may arise increasingly in hedge funds and private equity groups.

Strong analytical skills are required as well as at least a bachelor’s degree and experience in a financial or business setting. For more advanced positions, a master’s degree will be required.

The median salary for a financial analyst is $80,310, and the top states for employment in this sector are New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois. [38]

Market research analyst

A market research analyst helps businesses to better understand which products and services will be successful, identify the customers who will buy them, and determine the best price for sale.

Jobs growth in this area will be driven by the increasing reliance of retail and hospitality industries on data and market research. Market research analysts will be called upon to analyze trends and identify patterns and customer insights to predict future behavior. This data will be used by companies to better target customers through marketing strategies.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for this position as well as strong skills in analytics and mathematics. A master’s degree may be required for senior positions.

The median salary for a market research analyst is $62,150, and the top states for employment in this field are California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. [39]


Statisticians are required to use data to help address and solve problems in engineering, technology, health care, retail, finance, and related fields.

Data used by statisticians is gathered from digital and mobile devices, which can be used by those looking to better improve their business processes, products, and offerings, as well as marketing.

With an aging population, the BLS also forecasts that increased research into medical treatments will require a rise in clinical trials, requiring the services of statisticians.

Statisticians work closely with data analysis software, so experience with information services and computer programming may prove invaluable. A master’s degree is the minimum requirement to gain entry into this field, and candidates will need a strong background in analytics and mathematics.

The median pay of a statistician is $80,110 per year. The states topping the list for the highest levels of employment in this field are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Texas. [40]

Master of Science in Analytics Curriculum
Master of Science in Analytics degrees first rose to prominence in 2007. They usually comprise a mixture of applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, and business disciplines. A master’s degree in analytics curriculum is often broken down into three main parts:
  • Core courses and coursework
  • Elective courses and/or focused coursework
  • A mandatory capstone course, thesis, and/or practicum
Some program providers also arrange summer internships for students.
What are the overall learning goals and outcomes?

Studying for a master’s in analytics program can endow students with a vast range of practical and theoretical skills:

  • Students should be able to apply statistical theory and methodology to real-world problems.
  • After completing the program, graduates may be on the path to a career in data analytics and be able to demonstrate industry knowledge, practical experience, and focused analytical and quantitative knowledge to recommend positive solutions in a broad range of sectors.
  • Other skills the Master of Analytics teaches include clear and engaging communication, analytical database knowledge, and the tools to design, develop, and maintain these.
  • Students also can master competencies such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of statistics.
What should I look for in a curriculum?

When choosing a Master of Science in Analytics program, the ranking of your university or school should be a top priority. Of course, you’ll also need to consider things such as geographical location, course fees, learning hours, and learning methods.

If you would prefer to study from home or part time, there are plenty of online Master of Analytics degrees to choose from that offer the same experience, learning outcomes, subject material, and certification as campus-based degrees.

Another major consideration should be the curriculum. Some analytics master’s degrees have focused disciplines and might revolve around any of the three areas of analytics: predictive, prescriptive, and descriptive analytics (as defined earlier).

They might even call their degree program Master of Science in Applied Analytics or Master of Science in Analytics with Data Science. Many online Master of Analytics programs also offer opportunities to study a comprehensive degree or more focused specialization.

Here are some things to consider about a program:

  • Core competencies and options for specialization
  • Scope of coursework
  • Opportunities for practical experience/internships and how the school facilitates these
  • Career ambitions
  • Research knowledge within a faculty
  • Learning facilities offered by the school, whether on-site or online
What is the standard set of core courses?

Every program will have standard core courses intended to give you a guided overview and introduction to more focused study at an advanced degree level.

If there is a particular field you are interested in, always verify that it is provided by the institution’s program before applying.

Master of Science in Analytics is a relatively new degree program, which means there is currently no standardized curriculum. Core courses will vary from program to program, school to school. However, they generally will focus on some of the following topics:

  • Big data
  • Data management
  • Data mining
  • Financial analytics
  • Geospatial analytics
  • Heuristics
  • Logic
  • Mathematics
  • Operations research
  • Predictive analytics
  • Programming (Java, C++, Python, SAS, SQL)
  • Statistics
  • Visual analytics
Are there other types of degree programs that are similar to this degree program or provide a similar course of study?

Those who choose to study a Master of Science in Analytics often find themselves considering other similar fields. These include:

  • Master of Science in Data Analytics
  • Master of Science in Data Science
  • Master of Science in Business Analysis
  • Master of Science in Predictive Analytics
  • Master of Science in Applied Analytics

Similarities and differences

There are many similarities in terms of content. In fact, since the master’s degree in analytics is a relatively new degree title, many other MS programs — such as data science — closely resemble this pathway. Some graduate programs may have outdated names and may be in the process of upgrading their title to Master of Science in Analytics.

However, the Master of Business Analytics could be considered a little less technical than the Master of Analytics and is more geared toward commercial application and business planning. It may also teach mastery of a specific coding language, such as R, Python, SAS, or SQL.

Those who undertake a degree in predictive analytics will also specialize in this field of analytics, rather than looking at the whole spectrum. Some institutions also offer a hybrid discipline, allowing students to study analytics with data science, for example.

Do programs of this nature require a thesis or capstone projects?

Most Master of Analytics degrees include required capstone courses. A capstone course is a project that requires intensive independent study over one or two semesters. The student will choose the research topic and be facilitated by an adviser. These courses often present students with the opportunity to undertake industry experience with a sponsoring organization or public body.


Not all master’s programs in analytics offer electives. Those that do will typically focus in the following areas:

  • Business foundations: Ideal for those looking to continue to study for an MSBA or to work in business or consultancy after graduation, this elective course could cover topics such as business forecasting, risk analytics, customer relationship management, business process analysis, and design.
  • Cybersecurity: Of major importance to retail and software companies with the growing demand of data and technology, as well as the rise in sophisticated hacking software, cybersecurity courses will likely focus on data privacy, legal issues, forensic analysis, and review and analysis of security features and breaches.
  • Financial analytics: Again, more geared toward working in a business setting, financial analytics may cover topics such as review of financial markets, risk management, forecasting, and portfolio management.
  • Marketing analytics: With a focus on analytics as applied to the world of retail and hospitality, marketing analytics will look at customer insights, market segmentation, big data, targeted marketing via database marketing, and ROI. This is ideal for those going to work in entertainment, tourism, hospitality, media, retail, and market research sectors.
  • Health care analytics: For those looking to specialize in analytics applied to the health care industry, topics in this elective may cover research design strategies, predictive analytics for health care, factors affecting patient care, and application of methodology to improve care.
  • Information systems: This elective course will likely address data visualization, applied probability, data mining, and web analytics. It is ideal for those seeking work in software and technology firms as well as consultancy roles.
  • Computational methods: This elective will cover areas such as predictive analytics, statistical analysis, machine learning, time series and forecasting, and database systems.
What’s the difference between a program that does not have elective or concentration options and one that has these options?

For those looking to tailor their learning to their particular interests, choosing a program that is already aligned with a desired discipline — such as market research analytics — or the ability to choose elective courses is important.

If you would rather gain a more generalized insight into all aspects of analytics, a standard analytics program might be best for you.

A detailed curriculum is usually listed on a program’s webpage, which also provides information on different tracks available.

However, those degrees simply named “Master of Science in Analytics” will generally provide a standard track, whereas those with “descriptive,” “predictive,” or “prescriptive” in the title will be more focused in that area.


The Master of Science in Analytics degree is a highly competitive program. In addition to offering the degree, many programs also offer students certification in a variety of specialized areas upon completion. Some of the most common of these include Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) and SAS certification.

Other similar forms of certification include MCSE certification, Oracle Business Intelligence, MongoDB certification, EMC certification, CompTIA certification, and CCP:DS certification.

Certification means graduates may be able to demonstrate to prospective employers that they are qualified to a certain standard and have been rigorously assessed throughout their course of study.

Experiential learning

Experiential learning opportunities enable students to put their theoretical knowledge to practical use in an industry setting.

This is particularly essential for a Master of Science in Analytics student because their long-term objectives are to work in an in-house or consulting capacity, providing insights to businesses to forecast growth, analyze risks, and streamline resources and funds to provide a more targeted and efficient model for success.

When it comes to Master of Science in Analytics programs, most programs offer some kind of practicum, often a six-hour credit session in the summer following the end of the program. There are usually two options from which to choose.

  • Internship: This gives students the opportunity to work on an analytics project on site with an organization. They will acquire the knowledge and skills to do a specific job role and problem-solve an industry issue while gaining vital practical job skills and experience.
  • Cross-disciplinary project: This option gives students the opportunity to work with other students from different pathways or tracks within the program.

The nature of this project is interdisciplinary, so students will come together on campus to work on an analytics problem presented by a company. The intended outcome is for all students to bring their own specialization to the project so that knowledge is shared.

Many online programs offer this kind of experiential learning, while others might offer a short-term residency instead. Others might not offer any experiential learning. If you wish to gain practical experience, ensure your institution offers some type of experiential learning.

In some institutions, a practicum and/or industry capstone project will take part each semester, with students coming together to problem-solve industry-supplied coursework, with an internship taking place in the summer at the end of the program.

A school will usually arrange a practicum by appealing for sponsorship from companies and organizations. These can include financial, software, engineering, and marketing companies. They will also often help arrange internships, along with input from the student.

Analytics is a broad field, and students can take part in a variety of internship opportunities at world-renowned tech companies, in sports industries, with government, and more.

Practicum learning is important for master’s in analytics students because it gives them the opportunity to gain real-world experience. You will work in focused teams under the supervision of a faculty member and pool your analytics knowledge, mathematical theory, and business experience.

Master of Science in Analytics Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Science in Analytics Admissions Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Science in Analytics Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Specialized accreditation

While there is no one governing body for accreditation of master’s in analytics degrees, the program will be accredited by the body that accredits the school or college under which it is taught.

For example, in the U.S., there are two key accrediting bodies that govern an analytics degree at the master’s level that is taught under a school of business. These are:

  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which accredits degree programs in business administration and accounting at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels
  • The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), which accredits business, accounting, and business-related programs at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctorate levels worldwide

AACSB accreditation is the highest standard of achievement for business schools to aspire to worldwide. [20]

However, all schools, colleges, and faculties have their own accrediting body. Those Master of Analytics disciplines placed under engineering and computer science schools are accredited by bodies including the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology [17] and the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering. [18]

Master of Science in Analytics Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study

If you are pursuing a Master of Science in Analytics, then you likely already have a good concept of mathematics and computer programming and are looking to extend your skills so that they can eventually be applied in a business environment.

While a master’s degree in analytics is a relatively new degree, the uptake by students has grown over the past decade since its introduction. There are now more than 40 master’s in analytics programs, a rise of 4,000% in 10 years. [8]

Of course, students may also be interested in pursuing other fields of study. For those wishing to specialize in a particular area of analytics, these programs may be of interest and will provide similar opportunities for Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) or SAS certification; some may even be better suited to a certain industry:

Master of Science in Business Analytics

This advanced degree is ideal for those looking to enter finance or business environments, as this degree will more closely look at data with a view to how it can be applied commercially.

Master of Science in Data Science

Individuals looking to strengthen their analytical skills in relation to their application in a range of industries, including computer programming and statistical analysis, might be better suited to this degree.

There is a lot of overlap with the master’s in analytics but this program will more closely hone interests toward scientific or web-based analysis of databases rather than taking a holistic approach covering a wide range of industries.

There are also a lot of other avenues for study available following graduation from the master’s in analytics program. Some students go on to study another master’s degree, such as in business analytics, or progress to postdoctoral study with a Ph.D. in analytics or another related discipline. Others may choose to pursue a graduate certificate.

Many of these professional certificates still require a bachelor’s degree in a related quantitative subject. However, they make advanced analytics study available online, may be much cheaper, and can be ideal for someone looking for a career change.

Master of Science in Analytics Relevant Industry Associations and Organizations

There are several professional associations and organizations that students and graduates may wish to join when studying, during placement, and after securing a position. Each organization is specific to an industry or job role within which the candidate is working.

They may require an exam to be passed in order to join, which verifies the candidate’s knowledge and expertise as well as certifies them as a member of a professional body. In turn, they can provide much valuable advice, support, and new and enriching industry opportunities. Relevant analytics organizations include:

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
  • Digital Analytics Association (DAA)
  • Data Science Association (DSA)
  • American Statistical Association (ASA)
  • Data Mining Section of INFORMS
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD)
  • National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO)
Master of Science in Analytics Licensure and Certification

On top of earning your degree, many master’s in analytics programs come with product certification. Licensure or certification can be an invaluable benefit of your program. As such, it might be one of the most important considerations when choosing a program provider.

Certification can qualify you for working with a certain system and can help when applying for jobs as it will satisfy the employer that you can meet industry standards of best practice and knowledge.

Some of the most common certifications include:

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
  • SAS
  • SQL
  • MCSE
  • Oracle Business Intelligence
  • MongoDB
  • EMC
  • CompTIA
  • CCP:DS

SAS certification is one of the most popular forms of certification available with a Master of Analytics degree. It proves in-depth competency, knowledge, and experience working with SAS programming software.

SAS certification is defined according to strict international standards. As such, it is highly respected in the field of analytics. Not only can this globally endorsed accreditation prove you have a high proficiency in this area of programming, it can also give you and your potential workplace a competitive edge. [28]

Other programs may also lead to this certification, and it is worth checking with your institution to find out what they offer. Programs such as Master of Science in Data Science, Data Mining, and Predictive Analytics from specific institutions currently offer SAS or OSU certification.

SAS and other certifications are not an industry requirement; however, research suggests they could lead to better pay. A report by MONEY and PayScale found that SAS skills, in particular, are among the most in-demand data skills and are linked with a +6.1% pay increase. [29]

If your program does not offer this certification, there are options to become self-accredited directly through SAS, for which you will need to pay a fee and take an exam.

The History and Evolution of Analytics

Formal analytics study is a relatively new academic field, with the Master of Analytics degree only occurring in the late 2000s. However, the origin of study goes back much further than the rise of big data is merely a confluence of different analytical studies such as mathematics, statistics, computer science, and business.

With the advent of computer technology in the 1960s, data became a much more valuable resource. In 1962, John W. Tukey wrote “The Future of Data Analysis” and predicted that data science and analysis would become of “vital” importance in the decades to come. [24]

A more in-depth understanding of data and its application to everyday personal and corporate life grew as personal computers gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. By 1997, the journal Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery was launched, showing just how much this field had become an ingrained and much-respected area of educational research.

The term “big data” first started being used in the ’90s, showing the reliance of companies on the explosion of technology to gain insight and customer metrics, make predictions, and more. [25]

Since the turn of the century, advancements in software such as Microsoft Excel and Hadoop have made it possible to research and make sense of vast sets of highly intricate data. It has only continued to grow with the rise of personal devices, social media, digital marketing, and technology applied in a range of fields.

Now data can be used to track failures and plan for success, read customer information for better engagement and targeting, provide warnings of risk, understand patterns of usage, predict and respond to demands on resources, and provide personalized services. [26]

In short, “Business analytics is the determining winners and losers in most industries,” said Dr. Kenneth Gilbert, head of the University of Tennessee’s Statistics, Operations and Management Science department. [27]

Master of Science in Analytics Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Data analysis has become an essential business strategy. According to Forbes, data will continue to grow at an exponential rate, especially when taking into account the number of handheld, internet-connected devices to which we have access. [41 A strong foundation in management, finance and accounting are recommended, but as technological advances continue, analytics professionals will also need advanced skills in data capture, organization, and analysis to guide business decisions.The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports in its Year-End Poll of Employers that 98% of employers believe business school graduates need to know how to use data to drive decisions. [48]

A Master of Science in Analytics generally covers advanced data collection, organization and analysis providing graduates with a competitive advantage over others in the job market.
Before investing in an MSA, it is advised that you define your goals. A good place to start is by asking others who have analytics positions what experience and education they have received. [42]

The time to completion varies depending on the program. Most online MSA programs will take about two years of full-time study. Many MSA programs allow flexibility with your courses, allowing you to take longer than two years if necessary. An online MSA degree provides the additional benefit of flexibility often needed by those who continue to work while studying for their graduate degree.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees.

The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and the course. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

Generally speaking, candidates with experience working with data, numbers, pattern recognition, and similar topics, either in academia or a professional setting, can find success and enjoyment in an MSA program. Critical thinking skills are invaluable, and many programs prefer candidates with demonstrated capabilities in statistics, research analysis, and business intelligence.

An aptitude for mathematics is another strong determining factor of student success. [46] Although analytics software is constantly improving, a high degree of proficiency in programs like Excel along with a solid understanding of statistics is usually necessary to enter most MSA programs.

Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. [50]

As more analytics graduate degrees and specializations emerge, the need to discern which program may be right for you becomes ever more important. One of the first things you should consider is the caliber of the program’s teachers. Are the professors tenured faculty or adjunct? Do they teach on-campus programs as well as online? What are their accomplishments, and what recognition have they received?

It’s also critical to compare the curriculum. Although many analytics programs have similar core courses, they may differ from one another through their specializations, concentrations, tracks, and electives. Ask yourself what your goals are. This will help determine which program best suits your needs.

Finally, check to see if the program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).This accreditation represents the institution’s dedication to excellence and continuous improvement. These distinguishing factors and many more are important attributes when considering which path is right for you.

Yes, reputable master’s programs require an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. Although an MSA is technical in nature, student backgrounds vary and don’t necessarily have to be primarily quantitative.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE for acceptance. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.

Yes, many institutions offer MSA degrees online.

Online and on-campus degrees typically look identical. Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.

Yes, schools typically follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.

Master of Science in Analytics degree may have different variations of its name that indicate a specialization in curriculum. For example:

  • Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics
  • Master of Science in Strategic Analytics
  • Master of Science in Predictive Analytics

The demand for analysts has already exceeded the supply of qualified experts and continues to expand as big data becomes bigger, growing at an unsurpassed rate. Degree specializations are expanding as well, giving graduates an even greater competitive advantage.

Although each program is different, MSA students can expect to study intermediate and advanced statistics, regression analysis, data mining, probability, programming, data models, structured analysis, multivariate data analysis, business intelligence, simulation, business applications, and more.

Most programs incorporate business analytics, data analysis, data mining, web mining, and analytical methods for optimization.

Data analysis enables you to make strong inferences that guide critical business decisions. [43] Modern business practices are dependant upon the skilled analysis of complex and varied data, as well as the creation of actionable strategies that result from that analysis. An MSA program can prepare graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to have an immediate impact on critical business decisions.

A Master of Science in Analytics program is a business degree, and the most reputable business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Its accreditation standards challenge business programs to pursue excellence and continuous improvement. [47]

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [49]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.

Some of the most common analytics career paths for MSA graduates fall under the categories of predictive analytics professional, business analytics professional, and data analyst. [44] There are many titles and positions that someone equipped with an MSA degree can choose to pursue, such as logistician, management analyst, benefits and job analysis specialist, market research analyst, marketing specialist, budget analyst, financial analyst, credit analyst, operations research analyst, statistician, and many more.

Yes. There is a growing need for analytics professionals. A report by McKinsey Global Institute states that by 2018, individuals with analytical skills will be in high demand due to a shortage of about 140,000 to 190,000 people with knowledge of analytics. The report also suggests a deficit of 1.5 million analysts who have the proper business sense to function with big data. [45] MSA graduates will be poised to fill these analytics roles across many industries.

A Master of Science degree isn’t the only pathway to gaining knowledge and expertise in analytics. Many MBAs have concentrations in analytics, allowing students to hone their general business studies with a greater understanding of big data management and decision-making. Graduate degrees in computer science also share similar curriculum with MSA degrees, but may have different outcomes for graduates. Consider these degrees and others carefully when determining which is right for you.

No, attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.