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Is a Degree in Data Analytics worth it?

If combining the best of statistics, data analysis, and computer programming sounds like an amazing career path for you, a Master’s in Data Analytics may be a wise investment in your education and professional development. However, there’s a lot to factor in when weighing your options. Choosing to enroll in a master’s program can be a big step—one that warrants some reflection before diving in.

So, perhaps a better question: is a Master's in Data Analytics worth it for you?

The answer may depend on your interests, your current situation, and your aspirations. If you are thinking about becoming a data analyst, this blog post is for you. 

To help you make an educated decision about your future, let’s look at what you may expect from an advanced data analytics program. Then, let’s dive into some of the potential advantages and drawbacks of completing a Master’s in Data Analytics.

What Does a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics Look Like?

Whether you’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree in STEM or you’re just beginning your educational journey in data science, you may have questions about the details of a master's program.

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Timeline

Typically, master's programs take two years to complete. However, there are usually options for finishing your data science degree sooner or for extending the timeline—it all depends on the program you choose and their offerings. Sometimes, you can take courses throughout the summer to speed up the process. Additionally, some institutions may offer self-paced or online classes, which may reduce the overall time it takes to complete your degree.

Typical Subjects to Study

A Master's in Data Analytics may build on many of the skills learned in a bachelor’s program, such as statistics, information technology and computer programming. But you may also explore completely new topics and technical skills related to data analysis.

Before you commit to a data analytics degree, it may be wise to be prepared to cover subjects such as:

  • Machine Learning – Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI). At its core, machine learning involves the use of algorithms that can refine themselves over time. The future of data analysis may be shaped by computers, so this is a vital skill to have.
  • Data Mining – Data mining is the practice of transforming enormous data sets, including big data analytics, into usable information. Through specialized software, companies can mine data to find and capitalize on observable patterns.
  • Predictive Modeling – Data analysts often use historical data and statistics to try and predict future events—a process known as predictive analytics and modeling. As new information becomes available over time, analysts make changes to their models.

Because these data analyst skills are instrumental to data and business analytics, it’s not enough to be proficient with them; a passion for these topics is equally important.

Courseload

Required courses vary from college to college, but any data analytics masters may include classes like:

  • Advanced Programming with Python
  • Big Data Tools
  • Database Design Principles and Technologies
  • Data Analytics and Decision Making
  • Data Visualization
  • Foundations of Data and Decision Algorithms

Students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree may have grown accustomed to taking four or five classes per term. With a master's data analytics degree, you may have only two or three courses each term, as the work is more focused.

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The Potential Advantages of a Master’s Program

When expanding your knowledge through higher education, there can be countless benefits. These are some of the specific advantages of enrolling in a master's analytics program for data analytics.

Furthering Your Understanding

Many of the topics in data analysis are theoretical, while others are concrete yet complex. In some cases, bachelor’s degrees only scratch the surfaces of these subjects.

A data analytics master's degree program may allow you to practice these important skills and study new ones in depth in an environment that’s conducive to learning. Because graduate programs can focus on real-world skills, you may be able to prepare yourself for the workplace before ever setting foot in one.

Opening New Doors

In some cases, a relevant bachelor’s degree in information systems technology will only take you so far in the field of data analytics. Though many careers accept an undergraduate degree, some data analyst jobs may either require or strongly recommend having a master's, such as:

  • Healthcare analysts
  • Data scientists
  • Analytics managers
  • Data mining analysts
  • Analytics architects

A master’s in data analytics may make your resume even more attractive to potential employers and may expand your opportunities. 

Increasing Credibility

Acquiring a master's degree may set you apart from other potential hires. While almost 50 million Americans over 25 hold a bachelor’s degree, only 21 million have completed a master's.1

As a competitive student, adding a master's degree to your resume may show your future employer that you’re willing to put in the work. The truth is that graduate programs can be challenging, and anyone who has completed one is likely to make a hard-working, dedicated employee.

The Drawbacks of a Master’s Program

While a Master's in Data Analytics can bring about new opportunities for any recently-graduated student, a graduate program isn’t for everyone. Depending on your goals, these are some of the drawbacks you might find in a master's program.

Complicated Topics

Simply put, the content covered in a master's degree program can be demanding. Advanced computer programming, artificial intelligence, and applied statistics all require hard work to fully grasp.

With that said, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Work closely with peers and instructors, study regularly, and ask for help when you need it, and you may be able to soar through a Master's in Data Analytics.

Tuition Fees

With two more years of education comes two more years of tuition fees—and that may not always be possible for some students.

However, financial aid and scholarships may be available. Plus, a master's program is an investment in your future. 

More Time Before Entering the Workforce

A bachelor’s degree can take four years of full-time schooling; a master's degree typically takes an additional two. Naturally, then, if you enroll in a master's program, you may be entering the workforce two years later than your colleagues with bachelor’s degrees. 

With that said, you may be able to work as a data analyst and finish your master's at the same time. Many data analyst jobs may accept undergraduate degrees. Paired with the flexibility of online college and night classes, there may not be a need for master's students to delay their entrance to the workforce.

Is a Master’s in Data Analytics Worth It?

Ultimately, the value of a master's degree will depend on your long-term plans. Some people may have no need for an advanced degree. But for most students interested in rewarding data analysis careers, a master's may be worth it.

You should consider a Master's in Data Analytics if:

  • You’re fascinated by the power of data
  • You enjoy fully exploring topics, leaving no stone unturned
  • Your dream job requires a master's degree (such as data scientist or data mining analyst)

Explore our Data Analytics Degree

Of course, before you can start your master's, you’ll have to first complete a bachelor’s degree. The years in a bachelor’s program will give you a chance to explore data analytics and should allow you to see whether or not a master's will be right for you.

What to Consider

  1. Assess your fit for a data-driven career - Explore key attributes that make an individual successful in data analytics. Know the importance of curiosity, analytical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a knack for storytelling with data.
  2. Understand your options - Compare and contrast data analytics with related fields like business analytics. Highlight the differences in curriculum, skill sets, and career paths of the business analytics program or other data science program you found.
  3. Look for alternatives and practical skills - Delve into alternative educational paths like data analytics certificate boot camps. Check how they differ from traditional degree programs regarding time commitment, cost, and focus areas. Detail the practical skills and experiences students gain from an on-campus or online master data analytics program, such as real-world project work, internships, and collaborations.
  4. Identify practical skills that set you apart - List specific job roles and industries where data analytics and business intelligence skills are in high demand. Include potential salary ranges and job growth statistics to view the data analytics career landscape comprehensively.

Here are 10 of the most popular data analytics job prospects you can pursue with your MA data science degree:

  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Management and Business Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Analytics Manager
  • Logistician
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Financial and Investment Analyst
  • Risk Analyst
  • Big Data Architect 

Here are some of the skills any data analytics degree should focus on:

  • Handling numbers - Applied data science relies heavily on statistics and mathematics, forming integral components of your degree program. Ensure your curriculum covers essential topics such as variance, covariance, correlation, probability, and expectation.
  • Coding - It requires basic coding knowledge. The most commonly used programming languages are Python and R. SQL is also important for building databases and handling data. You should know Hadoop, MS Excel, Tableau, and other data analysis tools.
  • Effective Communication - Translating numbers into a compelling narrative is important, especially in business data analytics. You should feel confident in, reporting and presenting to the teams and the management of your organization.
  • Collaborate with other members - Data analysts work within a collaborative environment where they coordinate with fellow team members specializing in data-centric roles.

Earn Your Master’s Degree Today

If you’ve decided that a master's degree in data analytics is worthwhile for you, it’s time to take action and apply. The MS in Data Analytics from the California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) at Alliant International University can help you hone the skills needed to collect, interpret, and present vast amounts of data in an ever-changing world.

Whether your interests lie in marketing, logistics, finance, or computer science, you’ll gain unique experience at Alliant. And if you’re passionate about healthcare, you can concentrate on this growing industry with an MS in Healthcare Analytics.

Our California School of Management & Leadership (CSML) has recently been designated an Approved Education Partner (AEP) by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). 

No matter your specific interests, a Master's in Data Analytics from Alliant will set you up for success in an exciting, expanding field. Apply today, or call to learn more about our programs.


Sources: 

  1. “Number of People With Master’s and Doctoral Degrees Doubles Since 2000.” United States Census Bureau.  https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/02/number-of-people-with-ma…, Accessed Dec. 14, 2021. 
  2. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Market Research Analysts.” BLS. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts…, Accessed Dec. 14, 2021 

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