The Other MBA: Master of Science in Business Analytics vs. Master of Business Administration

A shorter, focused and less expensive MBA. Explore how Master of Science in Business Analytics can serve as a career launchpad!

While the Master of Business Administration is a popular degree for aspiring managers and consultants, there is another “MBA” that can serve as a career launchpad and provide a high ROI: the Master of Science in Business Analytics.

Often a one-year program, it offers a shorter, more focused, and less expensive curriculum than a traditional MBA. The degree prepares students to become data scientists, analysts, and researchers in a wide variety of industries including consulting, accounting, finance, and tech. People in these roles trawl through reams of data to identify trends, risks, and opportunities for the organizations they work for. The average starting salary of a business analytics graduate is $72,000, according to Payscale, making it a good early-career option.

Students who have just completed undergraduate studies might benefit most from an MS in Business Analytics because many competitive MBA programs prefer candidates with at least two years of work experience. Business Analytics programs, on the other hand, are often designed for fresh graduates and early-career professionals. In fact, students tend to enroll in the program straight out of undergrad.

The courses teach a mix of data science, management, and communication skills that are useful in careers beyond analytics. Students learn technical skills such as coding in Python, SQL, and R, as well as statistics and business intelligence research, but they also might take courses that teach them how to synthesize and communicate their findings to their target audience.

In addition to being well suited for fresh grads, the MS in Business Analytics is a shorter time commitment and lower-cost program. MS in Business Analytics programs last from 12 to 14 months, while a Master of Business Administration might be a two-year full-time commitment. The cost of an MS in Business Analytics ranges from $20,000 to $70,000, versus $50,000 to $200,000 for an MBA.

That said, some MS in Business Analytics graduates eventually go on to get an MBA because of the salary boost it provides. Students might use the MS in Business Analytics to get their foot in the door and start as an analyst or data scientist at a company. As they rise through the ranks and earn promotions to managerial roles, they might enroll in an MBA program to learn soft skills such as managing teams, communicating goals, and solving higher-level business problems. A study by TransparentCareer found that MBA graduates raised their salary by 50% after earning their degree. So while the MS in Business Analytics can help students kickstart a career, an MBA can help accelerate one.

Aspiring MS in Business Analytics applicants might assume they need an undergraduate background in STEM, but that’s not always the case. Schools have admitted students with arts and humanities backgrounds, and some even offer programming bootcamps for those without computer science experience. What admissions committees do want to see is demonstrated interest in analytics and some familiarity with statistics. It helps, too, to have taken some outside courses in basic coding. If you’re interested in honing your application and choosing the right program, Crimson can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of Crimson’s expert advisors. We can’t wait to meet you!


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