computer screen with lines of code

Our Guide to Online Master’s in Business Analytics Programs

With so many Fortune 1000 and other industry-leading companies leveraging the informational advantages of big data analytics to enhance performance, it’s no surprise that demand for business analysts is so high. How high? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, headcount in business analytics will grow anywhere from 11% to 23% headcount over the next decade, with business analysts earning an average of $79,770 annually, well above the $58,260 the average American earned in 2021.

An increasingly popular path for those looking to transition into business analytics or move up in the field is a business analytics master’s, and for good reason: a recent Burtch Works study of the adjacent field of data science suggests that over two-thirds of that field holds a master’s degree or doctorate.

But for many it’s not so easy to put life on hold and relocate to a college or university for one to two years to pursue a graduate education. Not only are there direct costs to doing so, but there’s a hefty near-term opportunity cost: time spent studying on campus is usually time you can’t work and, thus, pull a salary. For many this represents an obstacle that fundamentally changes the financial calculus of investing in a master’s in business analytics degree.

Luckily, there are now a variety of online business analytics master’s programs that can be attended from the comfort of home, often part-time or asynchronously. This can substantially reduce the costs associated with graduate study and, for many, make the path into business analytics more financially viable. In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into what these programs entail, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to get started finding a program that’s a good fit for you. At the end, we’ll also suggest some of our favorite business analytics master’s programs to help you get started on your research.

What is business analytics?

Business analytics is a multidisciplinary field where statistical analysis, machine learning, data management, and business acumen come together in service of extracting insights from data that can support business decision-making, streamline business operations, and further business goals.

There are four primary types of business analytics:

Descriptive analytics, in which business analysts analyze data to determine what has happened in the past.

Diagnostic analytics, in which business analysts analyze data to determine why past events have occurred.

Predictive analytics, in which business analysts analyze data to predict future events.

Prescriptive analytics, in which business analysts analyze data to determine the best future course of action.

To learn more about the different types of business analytics, see our article detailing “what is business analytics?

Why pursue a master’s in business analytics?

A master’s in business analytics is an advanced degree, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have existing experience in business analytics to pursue one. While many business analysts will go back to school to advance their careers, those working in another field frequently use the degree to break into business analytics.

Career advancement

For those who already possess skills in programming, statistical analysis, and data management, pursuing a master’s in business analytics gives them the opportunity to gain more advanced skills, practice new software, and learn more about the latest practices in the field. This can not only help a business analytics professional perform better at their existing job, it can also help them access more senior roles either at their current company or elsewhere.

Career transition

Given the above-average salaries in business analytics, many see a master’s degree in the field as a way to increase their lifetime earning potential. While programs do frequently have prerequisites for entering students, many times these can be met by showing an aptitude for mathematics and working with data, online certificates, or even pre-program courses offered by the college or university. 

What kinds of jobs are available to those with master’s degrees in business analytics?

Graduates from an MS in business analytics program find employment in a number of quantitative and analytics-based roles, including business analyst, business intelligence analyst, data analyst, and data scientist. All salary estimates are from

Business analyst

A business analyst collects, prepares, and analyzes data to extract insights that can help their company improve performance, make key decisions, and become more efficient.

As we noted above, the average business analyst salary in the US is $79,770.

Business intelligence analyst

Like a business analyst, a business intelligence analyst analyzes data to support a business, but their work product takes the form of informational reports and dashboards related to markets, industries and business performance.

The average business intelligence analyst salary in the US is $85,278.

Data analyst

A data analyst also collects, prepares, and analyzes data, but the insights they produce are often less narrowly focused on business operations, goals, and decision-making, potentially supporting product development, customer experience, or some other capability.

The average data analyst salary in the US is $81,719.

Data scientist

A data scientist uses their advanced data management and machine learning skills to design, develop, and deploy new methods and techniques of big data extraction and analysis.

The average data scientist salary in the US is $139,631. To learn more about what it takes to become a data scientist, check out our guides to the typical data science career path and data science master’s programs.

Why pursue a business analytics master’s degree online?

As you can see, going to graduate school for business analytics can allow you to advance your analytics career or transition into a role with an above-average salary. Now, we’ll dive deeper into why a graduate student might opt for a business analytics online program instead of studying on campus. First, let’s look at the state of online learning in higher education overall.

The state of online learning

While online learning came to the forefront during the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, two decades ago earning a master’s degree online was a rarity. According to data collected by Urban Institute, in 2000, just 5% of American master’s students pursued their program online. Since then, however, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic, online master’s programs saw a stunning rise in popularity. By 2016, for example, the share of graduate students studying entirely online had grown six-fold to 31%, with an additional 21% of graduate students reporting attending at least some distance courses.

Crucial to the rise and ongoing success of online master’s programs has been a shift in employer sentiment. According to a study by Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, a majority of human resources professionals (61%) see online degrees as no different than in-person degrees when it comes to quality of education. 

The US Department of Education cautiously concurs, even finding in a 2010 study of online learning that “[s]tudents in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.” In short, it’s not just that hiring managers are increasingly accepting online degree programs as producing qualified job candidates — students learning online might also learn better than those learning face-to-face.

This acceptance and efficacy — no doubt due in part to the technological progress in online education delivery systems — serve to only heighten the appeal of the most commonly cited advantages of online programs: their flexibility, accessibility, and potential cost savings. We’ll move on to discussing these now.

Advantages of Online Master’s Programs


  • Many online programs offer on-demand pre-recorded lectures or live video-sessions available anywhere with an internet connection.

  • Part-time options, when offered, allow graduate students to continue working while studying.


  • Online learning means even those who would be unable to attend in person are able to access the world’s best universities.

  • Accommodations like closed captioning, on-demand video, and speech input make graduate education more accessible for those with cognitive and physical impairments.

Potential Cost Savings

  • No relocation fees, added housing costs, or increases to cost of living.

  • The ability to continue working or caring for loved ones means no lost income potential or added costs, improving the return on investment and, in decreasing near-term outlays, raising the financial feasibility of a course of study.

Disadvantages of Online Master’s Programs

Of course, even though there are significant advantages to studying online, there are certain disadvantages you should consider if you’re deciding whether to pursue an online degree.

No Campus Experience

  • Studying online means you’ll miss out on everything that you find on a college campus: cultural events, parties, and academic resources.

Digital-Only Networking

  • The last 15 years have taught us that you can certainly network online, but this can be a problem for those who find themselves unable or unwilling to socialize over Zoom, message boards, or other social networks.

  • Since the relationships you make in graduate school can be crucial to your future success, your ability to network successfully is something to take seriously.

Potential for Lower Engagement

  • For some, it can be difficult to stay engaged and motivated online. If this is you, think seriously about whether you’d be able to make the most out of your online degree.

Online Master’s in Business Analytics: Pros & Cons



More flexible

Loss of campus experience

More accessible

Limited or no in-person networking

Potential more affordable

Potential for lower engagement

What’s the basic curriculum of a master’s in business analytics program?

In a business analytics master’s program, students can expect to cover the following:

Computer science skills: Excel spreadsheets, database querying with SQL, and potentially coding with Python or R programming languages

Applied statistics: optimization, regression, and decision trees, plus machine learning techniques in certain cases

Data management: data collection and data mining, data preparation, and data processing

Data visualization: dashboards and other visualizations using software like Tableau

Business topics: marketing, human resources, accounting, operations, finance

Online business analytics programs often also offer career support services and practical opportunities to apply skills and concepts such as capstone projects and internships.

What should you look for in an online business analytics master’s program?

If, after considering the career opportunities, advantages and disadvantages, and what you’ll learn, you think an online business analytics master’s might be right for you, how do you find a program that will be a good fit?

Program profile

While the core curriculum between one program and the next will likely be similar, different programs emphasize different things. Some might focus more on one aspect of business, big data, or machine learning techniques, for example. Before you start applying, take an inventory of your interests and make sure that a particular program’s strengths line up with these.


Big-name institutions can certainly give you an advantage if you are applying to certain jobs or in certain industries. But is the price-tag that comes with an elite, private university education always worth it? You can often find instruction on par or even exceeding that found at elite institutions for a fraction of the cost at state schools. One way to decide whether reputation is worth it is through LinkedIn. Where do alumni of the programs you are interested in end up? This way you see for yourself whether paying up for a big-name pays off.


It goes without saying that cost should be a factor in your decision. Take into account not just the cost/reputation tradeoff we just discussed, but also whether a program would allow you to continue working, whether graduates successfully land high-paying jobs, and whether you think that you are equipped to get sufficient return on investment down the road. Also take into account any scholarships or grants available to you, and interest if you plan to take out loans to fund your education.

Career support services

Even if you get a great education, it can be hard to land your first business analytics job. That’s where career support services come in. When looking into graduate programs, note what services they offer. See also if they can provide outcome information: how successfully are they placing graduates in jobs?

Our picks for the best online master’s in business analytics program

In putting together our picks for online MS in business analytics programs, we strove to put together a list of great programs we think can offer lasting value to students from a variety of different backgrounds. We focused in particular on:

Reputation: Will the program’s name be an asset when dealing with recruiters and hiring managers?

Program profile: Does the program not only teach the basics, but open opportunities for you to specialize?

Career support services: Does the program offer career support services, and, if so, do these seem effective?

Cost: Does the program offer good value for money? Is there a high likelihood of a sufficient return on investment?

Georgetown University seal

Georgetown University’s Online MS in Business Analytics

Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program, offered by its McDonough School of Business, is a part-time, lockstep online master’s that emphasizes machine learning, cloud computing, and practical business analytics applications. Students learn through a combination of asynchronous materials and twice-weekly live meetings of students and faculty. Students also meet in person on campus for two five-day residencies.

Georgetown’s MSBA program culminates in a capstone project that students design and execute from end-to-end under faculty supervision. In addition to this capstone project, Georgetown readies students for the workforce by providing career services including a personalized career assessment, opportunity databases, and resume support.

Selected Courses:

  • Predictive Analytics

  • Strategic Marketing Analytics

  • Visualization and Data Storytelling

Program Length & Modality: 16 months part-time online, with two five-day campus residencies

Tuition: $66,680


Carnegie Mellon’s Online Master of Science in Business Analytics

Carnegie Mellon’s Online Master of Science in Business Analytics program, offered by its Tepper School of Business, emphasizes innovative, cutting-edge analytics applications and compelling data storytelling. Through Carnegie Mellon’s flexible learning modality, students are able to continue working while completing asynchronous coursework and meeting for weekly live sessions in the evening. 

Among the advanced analytics techniques taught are machine learning fundamentals, optimization, and marketing analytics. Students also receive training in business fundamentals and business communication.

Carnegie Mellon’s program is a great option for those who wish to complete the bulk of their studies online, but still want to gain on-campus experience. Online students meet in Pittsburgh for three in-person experiences: an orientation, an analytics immersion, and a capstone experience.

Selected Courses:

  • Statistical Foundations of Business Analytics

  • Modern Data Management

  • Data Analytics in Finance

Program Length & Modality: 2 years part-time online, with three on-campus components

Tuition: $69,412 (excludes on-campus components)

johns hopkins university seal

Johns Hopkins’ Masters of Science in Business Analytics and Risk Management

Johns Hopkins’ Masters of Science in Business Analytics and Risk Management program, offered by its Carey Business School, allows students to hone their quantitative skill-sets and build business foundations through part-time online and full-time in-person options.

In addition to core courses, students have the opportunity to explore machine learning and big data as well as business topics like corporate governance and cybersecurity. Students can also take advantage of co-curricular activities like impact sprints, case competitions, a student startup lab, and a community consulting challenge.

Johns Hopkins also provides substantial career services, including industry connections and internship and job preparation. Graduates of Johns Hopkins’ business analytics master’s programs have gone on to work at places like Google, Deloitte, and UBS.

Selected Courses: 

  • Corporate Finance

  • Python for Data Analysis

  • Deep Learning with Unstructured Data

Program Length & Modality: 1 year full-time in-person in Washington, DC; 2 years part-time online

Tuition: $79,800 (in-person); $62,280 (online)

university-of-maryland seal

University of Maryland’s Online MS in Business Analytics

The University of Maryland’s Online MS in Business Analytics program, offered by its Robert H. Smith School of Business, focuses on advanced concepts like neural networks, natural language processing, cluster analysis, and classification and regression trees. 

The program can be completed in as few as 16 months through a mixture of asynchronous and live learning content. Students who don’t have formal analytics experience or need a refresher have the opportunity to take bridge courses in calculus and statistics, programming, and data skills before they begin the course.

Graduates of Maryland’s Online MSBA have received jobs at Deloitte, wayfair, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Selected Courses: 

  • Big Data and AI for Business

  • Data Mining and Predictive Analytics

  • Strategy Analytics

Program Length & Modality: 16 months part-time online

Tuition: $25,000 if program completed in 16 months

What’s next?

In this guide, we’ve gone over the basics of business analytics, examined the reasons why people are pursuing business analytics master’s programs online, provided tips for what to look for in a program, and presented some of our favorite programs to get you started in your research. So what are the next steps? If you see a program that interests you, be sure to click through to learn more. If you’re interested in learning more about whether a business analytics master’s is worth it, check out our article on data analytics where we attack a similar question. To learn more about where a master’s in business analytics can get you, see our articles on the typical business analyst career path and our deep dive into business analytics salaries.