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Our Guide to Business Analytics Degrees

Over the next decade, the business analyst job market will see growth well above average compared to the US job market as a whole: while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects around 5% growth nationwide by 2031, it predicts anywhere from 11% to 23% headcount growth for those positions with responsibilities typical of a business analyst.

Leaf through the pages of the Wall Street Journal, FT, or Economist, and it’s no surprise why: with its influence continuing to increase, the era of big data is here to stay. With an average salary in the US, $79,770, coming in at almost 50% higher than the average American’s annual wages in 2021, many interested in harnessing data to drive business growth consider a business analyst role to be both an entry-point into this data economy and a promising career path in its own right. 

If you’re looking to become a business analyst, how do you begin? While online microcredentials and data analytics bootcamps certainly offer relevant training and a resume boost, for those with the time and money to invest in a traditional university degree, a business analytics bachelor’s or a business analytics master’s program can be a great option.

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into business analytics and the kinds of opportunities out there for a business analyst, and then cover what you can expect from each degree program, along with some of our favorites to get your research started.

What is business analytics?

According to research outfit Gartner, business analytics comprises:

“solutions used to build analysis models and simulations to create scenarios, understand realities and predict future states. Business analytics includes data mining, predictive analytics, applied analytics and statistics...”

Put more simply, business analytics leverages analytical tools and statistical techniques to extract valuable, business-relevant insights related to the past, present, and future from the vast amounts of raw data collected by human activity, the environment, and a business’ operations.

You can learn more about business analytics, including its main subtypes of descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics, in our long-form article “What is business analytics?

What does a business analyst do?

While exact responsibilities vary, a business analyst’s typical day generally includes identifying business needs in collaboration with others, designing and executing analysis projects to meet these needs, interpreting the results of this analysis, and communicating these findings to relevant stakeholders. Within the business analyst job family, there are a number of specializations, including:

  • Management consultant or management analyst: management consultants (sometimes known as management analysts) perform analytics projects for clients in order to improve efficiency or performance or to serve a specific initiative like entering a new market or introducing a new product line.

  • Market research analyst: market research analysts analyze markets and consumer behavior to support business and product decisions.

  • Business intelligence analyst: business intelligence analysts develop internal and external intelligence products like reports and dashboards.

  • Financial analyst: financial analysts assess investment opportunities and make recommendations based on their assessments.

What doesn’t a business analyst do?

Although often mentioned within the business analyst career family, computer systems analyst, information security analyst, and solutions architect are essentially information technology jobs. These roles primarily involve designing, implementing, maintaining, and securing information systems, rather than conducting the quantitative analysis that characterizes business analytics.

What skills are needed to work in business analytics?

Business analytics professionals need a diverse skill set that includes computer science and information technology skills, statistical analysis skills, data management skills, data visualization skills, business acumen, and certain soft skills.

  • Computer science and information technology skills: Excel & SQL, potentially Python or R programming language, potentially basic software development skills, potentially basic machine learning skills

  • Statistical analysis skills: cohort analysis, regression, optimization, factor analysis, and cluster analysis

  • Data management skills: data collection (including big data mining), data processing, and data storage

  • Data visualization skills:  dashboards and other visualizations using software like Tableau

  • Business expertise: accounting, economics, and finance basics

  • Soft skills: critical thinking, communication, leadership, project management, and teamwork

At first glance, this skill set can be intimidating. In the next sections, however, we’ll dive into the degree programs that can get you up and running — and ready for your business analytics career. We’ll start with business analytics bachelor’s programs.

Business Analytics Bachelor’s Degree Programs

What are they?

Bachelor’s degrees, in the US at least, are typically four-year undergraduate degrees during which students focus on a declared major, or academic focus. These days, there are a number of universities and colleges out there with specific business analytics majors — we’ll preview a couple below — but students interested in going into business analytics also have the option to major in a related field like applied mathematics, statistics, computer science, business, economics, or finance, provided the particular curricula will give them sufficient training in computer science, applied statistics, and business fundamentals.

Who are they for?

Typically, bachelor's degrees are intended for students to pursue immediately after finishing high school, but individuals from nontraditional educational backgrounds are often also encouraged to apply. Additionally, international students may apply for bachelor's programs in the US as long as they can prove their English proficiency through an exam like TOEFL or Duolingo.

Aspiring business analysts pursue bachelor’s programs looking for broad training in the theory and practice of business analytics. They also pursue these programs because a bachelor’s from  an accredited university is a strong credential that can support an entry-level job application.

How much do they cost?

It’s no lie that higher education in the US is expensive. While tuition for bachelor’s programs varies widely depending on the reputation and location of the school and whether it is a private or public college or university, these degrees are generally still priced quite high, and so must be considered investments that will hopefully see returns once the graduate moves down their career path. According to Education Data Initiative, the average undergraduate paying in-state tuition at a public university pays a total of $102,828 over four years to attend (including books, fees, and housing), while an undergraduate at a private university pays $218,004 to attend for four years.

If you’re interested in business analytics and looking into bachelor’s degree programs, get your research started by checking out some of BA-specific programs:


George Washington University’s Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics

Washington, DC

George Washington University’s business analytics major comprises 10 courses offering rigorous training in descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics as well as specific applications in different industries and business areas. Within the program, undergrads have the option to concentrate in accountancy, finance, information systems and technology management, or marketing strategy and analytics.

To further functionalize the skills taught, GW recommends students consider double-majoring or minoring in a complementary field such as computer science, economics, math, or statistics.

Selected courses:

  • Business Leader Foundations

  • Introduction to Econometrics

  • Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Ethics

Length: four years, on campus

Tuition: $64,700/year


The University of Texas at Dallas’ Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics

Dallas, TX

UT-Dallas’ business analytics major emphasizes data management, descriptive analytics, big data, and machine learning, as well as business fundamentals. Students specialize in one of five tracks: marketing analytics, operations and supply chain management, finance and risk analytics, information technology, or data science.

In addition to coursework, students majoring in business analytics are required to complete an internship, a community engagement project, and a capstone. Select undergraduates are invited to join the Management Honors Program, which provides closer access to professors and leadership training.

Selected Courses:

  • Making Choices in Free Market Systems

  • Database Fundamentals

  • Object Oriented Programming with Python

Length: four years, on campus

Tuition: $39,776/year (out-of-state), $14,564/year (in-state)


Pace University’s Bachelors of Business Analytics

New York, NY

Pace University’s Bachelors of Business Analytics program allows students to study data analysis, information technology, and quantitative modeling in small-group settings with Pace faculty members. Students also learn important technical skills like R, SQL, Excel, Tableau, and Python.

Due to Pace’s location in New York City, many students have the opportunity to complete internships at companies like American Express or on Wall Street. Graduates of the program have gone on to work at companies like JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.

Selected Courses:

  • Introduction to Programming for Data Science

  • Machine Learning for Business

  • Applied Regression Models

Length: four years, on campus

Tuition: $48,152/year

Business Analytics Master’s Degree Programs

What are they?

Business analytics master’s degrees provide advanced training in analytics skills and concepts and business fundamentals and often include opportunities to take specialized courses in a particular industry or capability.

Colleges and universities are increasingly offering business analytics master’s degrees online. This follows a broader trend in higher education: almost 6x as many master’s students attended online programs in 2016 than in 2000, according to Urban Institute. The COVID-19 pandemic has likely only accelerated the migration of these kinds of programs online.

Who are they for?

Business analytics master’s degree programs are for those who already have a bachelor’s degree who are looking to advance their current business analytics career or are coming from a different background and trying to break into the field.

How much do they cost?

According to the Education Data Initiative, the typical master’s of science degree in the US costs $61,200, but ranges from $30,000 to $120,000 once fees are factored in. As was the case with bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees offered by public universities are significantly more affordable — averaging around $29,000 — especially if a graduate student can take advantage of in-state tuition discounts. Online programs offer additional cost savings, assuming their flexibility allows a student to continue to work and forego relocation and housing expenses. 

For more on the financial side of an analytics master’s degree, see our article on the topic.

For more on what the degree entails, check out our full guide to business analytics master’s programs. If you’re interested in online opportunities, we have a specific guide on that too. In the meantime, here are some of our favorite programs to get your research started:

MIT seal

MIT Sloan’s Master of Business Analytics

Cambridge, MA

MIT Sloan’s Master of Business Analytics (MBAn) program offers students a rigorous 12-month business analytics degree taught by field-leading faculty covering tools for data science, optimization, and machine learning, all with an emphasis on real-world business application.

In addition to 8 required courses and 3–6 electives, students have the opportunity to complete a capstone project. They can also compete against a diverse group of peers to win a research assistantship to conduct further research alongside MIT faculty.

100% of job-seeking graduates of MIT’s business analytics program received full-time job offers within 6 months, with an average base salary of $128k.

Selected Courses:

  • Optimization

  • Analytics Lab: Action Learning Seminar on Analytics, Machine Learning, and the Digital Economy

  • From Analytics to Action

Program Length & Modality: 12 months, in-person

Tuition: $64,300 (student responsibility for 2022-2023 academic year)

university of michigan seal

The University of Michigan’s Master of Business Analytics

Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan’s Master of Business Analytics program offers high-achieving students an accelerated, on-campus course of study covering the basics of data analytics and data management paired with foundational courses in business. At the program’s close, students attend the Business Analytics Consulting Studio, an immersive capstone experience that gives students access to partner companies for site visits and final presentations.

In addition to their studies, students have a host of co-curricular opportunities available to them to support their professional development, including leadership, communication, and business problem-solving skills. Students are also able to join a number of student-run clubs such as the Asia Business Conference, the Private Equity Club, and the Design+Business Club.

Selected Courses: 

  • Data Architecture & Acquisition

  • Unsupervised Learning

  • Software Teams and Project Management

Program Length & Modality: 10 months, on-campus

Tuition: $59,063 (in-state); $64,063 (out-of-state)

johns hopkins university seal

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

Baltimore, MD

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 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 illinois seal

The University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign’s Masters of Science in Business Analytics

Champaign, IL

The University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign’s Masters of Science in Business Analytics program offers students accelerated core and elective instruction and hands-on training along one of four specialized tracks: marketing analytics, algorithms in analytics, financial analytics, or accounting analytics.

With the bulk of the curriculum distributed among electives, not core courses, students have substantial freedom to craft their own program of study. Students also have the opportunity to complete a business practicum.

In their career-search, students are supported by on-campus recruitment and comprehensive career resources through the Office of Career and Professional Development. 2022 graduates received offers from companies such as Amazon, Ernst & Young,  and State Farm.

Selected Courses:

  • Enterprise Data Management

  • Data Analytics for Management Accounting

  • Advanced Data Science and Python for Finance

Program Length & Modality: 9 months, in-person

Tuition: $40,946 (in-state); $54,272 (out-of-state)

What’s next?

In this guide, we’ve covered a lot: the basics of business analytics, a business analyst’s basic job responsibilities and the skills needed to succeed, and the kinds of degrees that colleges and universities offer to help students skill up and launch into business analytics careers. If you’re interested in pursuing any of these degrees, we’d recommend clicking the relevant links to head to the course pages to learn more. If you still want to know more about business before doing so, check out the following articles: