Data analytics master’s degrees are great options both for those who are already in data analytics and looking to advance their careers and those working in another field who are looking to transition into a data analytics career.
A data analytics master’s is an excellent way for someone who already has some experience in data analytics to improve their skills and learn the latest industry-leading practices in order to be a more attractive candidate for promotion at their current company or for a more senior role elsewhere. In fact, for these more-senior roles, many companies list a master’s degree as either a required or a preferred qualification in job postings.
For someone holding a bachelor’s degree either just out of college or working in a different field, a master’s in data analytics can provide the skills, expertise, and experience needed to land a data analyst job. Some programs require that graduate students arrive with some basic experience in programming, statistics, or other quantitative analysis, but many will provide summer bootcamps or introductory courses to allow students of any background to attend, provided they show aptitude for the course of study and for data analytics.
Data analytics vs. business analytics vs. analytics: What’s the difference?
Those researching data analytics master’s programs and perusing data analyst job descriptions frequently come across the fields of “business analytics” and “analytics” and the roles of “business analyst” and “analyst,” respectively. Taken at face-value, these can seem distinct from data analytics and data analysts.
The truth is, there’s a lot of overlap. “Analytics” is often used as an umbrella term into which both data analytics and business analytics would fall. And the difference between data analytics and business analytics is often more about emphasis than essence. Look deeper into all three and you will see a core set of skills, techniques, and expertise with some weighed more heavily depending on the particular use-case.
The same can be said of “analysts,” “data analysts,” and “business analysts.” Some companies — especially large ones — will distinguish between these, with business analysts focusing more on big picture business goals, data analysts focusing more on day-to-day operations, and analysts falling somewhere in between. Oftentimes, however, they are used synonymously. Importantly, any one of these jobs is available to someone holding a master’s in data analytics.
Below, we’ll dive deeper into these positions and what you can expect to earn in them. If you’re interested to learn more about our thoughts on the distinction between a business analyst and a data analyst, we’ve devoted an entire article to it.
What kinds of jobs are available to those with master’s degrees in data analytics?
Those holding a data analytics master’s degree usually find employment in one of four roles: data analyst, business analyst, business intelligence analyst, or data scientist. We’ll give brief summaries of each below, and you can also check out our article on analytics jobs to see some real-world job descriptions.
A data analyst’s responsibilities center on gathering and preparing data for analysis and analyzing it to extract insights related to operations, a product, or some other initiative. Often, the analyst will communicate their findings to relevant stakeholders using data visualization.
Salary.com estimates the average data analyst salary in the US to be $81,719.
A business analyst’s responsibilities center on collecting, preparing, and analyzing data to yield business insights to inform future business actions.
Salary.com estimates the average business analyst salary in the US to be $79,770.
Business intelligence analyst
A business intelligence analyst’s responsibilities resemble those of a business analyst, but they analyze data not to directly determine future actions, but rather to produce informational reports and dashboards on markets, industries, or business performance.
Salary.com estimates the average business intelligence analyst salary in the US to be $85,278.
A data scientist’s responsibilities overlap with those of a data analyst — collecting, preparing, and analyzing data — but a data scientist is also responsible for ideating and executing new approaches to data analysis of big data sets, often using machine learning.
Salary.com estimates the average data scientist salary in the US to be $139,631. While some with data analytics master’s degrees land in data science jobs, if you’re looking to become a data scientist, you should also check out our guide on data science master’s programs.
What are the prerequisites for master’s-level study in data analytics?
As we noted above, data analytics programs differ in the prerequisites they require for applicants. Some programs will require applicants to have at least rudimentary skills in statistics or programming, while others will instead require applicants to have some work experience. We always recommend checking with each program’s website or admissions office prior to applying to ensure that you are a viable candidate.
For master’s programs, applicants are required to hold a bachelor’s degree at the time of matriculation. Schools will generally ask to see your college transcripts and GPA, as well as proof of English fluency if you’re an international student. Though some programs are loosening their requirements for GRE scores, many will still want to see them. Additional application components typically include a statement of purpose and a personal statement.