Getting A Master’s in Data Analytics: What You Need to Know

Written by Coursera • Updated on

A master’s in data analytics can prepare you for a new career or make you a more competitive candidate in one you’ve already started. Learn more about this potentially impactful degree today.

[Featured image] Data Analytics Master's Degree graduate in cap and gown sitting at a laptop

A master’s in data analytics is a graduate degree that prepares degree holders for a professional career in the field. Designed for established data professionals looking to advance their careers or individuals that are looking to pivot into the field, master’s of science (MS) in data analytics programs cover introductory to advanced courses. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about master’s degrees in data analytics, whether you should consider pursuing one, and the different types of degrees available to you. At the end, you’ll also find suggested courses to help you get started today. 

Overview: Master’s Degree in Data Analytics

A master’s degree in data analytics is a graduate degree that typically takes one to two years to complete, depending on the program and the degree seeker’s course load per term as either a part-time or full-time student. 

Master’s degrees in data analytics are typically designed either for individuals who are looking to enter the field through a career shift or are hoping to advance their current career by attaining a higher educational qualification. As a result, a master’s degree in data analytics can either supplement undergraduate study in the same area or provide the groundwork for a career change for individuals who have studied another discipline. 

Master’s vs. bachelor’s degree in data analytics 

A master’s degree shares many similarities with a bachelor’s degree in data analytics. But, there are some key differences that degree seekers should keep in mind. First, both a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in data analytics will cover much of the same material, such as data analysis, computer science, and statistics. Depending on the program, however, some master’s may cover these topics with a greater depth or complexity while others may match what was covered in an undergraduate course of study. 

Second, a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree operate on very different timelines. As noted earlier, a master’s degree usually takes one to two years to complete. A bachelor’s degree, meanwhile, usually takes four years to complete and covers additional topics of studies through course requirements like liberal arts, sciences, and electives.

Curriculum

The exact curriculum that you’ll follow as a graduate student in data analytics will vary from program to program, but you can expect to take courses in such common topics as data analysis,  statistics, computer science, and machine learning.  

To help you better understand what you can expect from a master’s program, here is the curriculum for Oregon State University’s Master of Science in Data Analytics program [1]: 

  • 45-credits worth of courses on topics such as computer science, statistics, and statistics electives. Required courses include: 

    • Foundations of  Data Analytics 

    • Data Analytics 

    • Data Analytics II

    • Multivariate Analytics 

    • Time Series Analytics

    • Capstone Project 

    • Programming and Data Structures

    • Data Science Tools and Programming 

    • Applied Machine Learning 

    • Plus 12 credits of electives 

  • Oral examination in which the master’s student defends their capstone project. 

Is a Master’s in Data Analytics worth it? 

Depending on your own goals, resources, and background, an MS in data analytics could be well worth the effort. Or, it could be an unnecessary detour that you don’t need to take to get to where you want to be. Typically, a master’s is well-suited to individuals who don’t already possess a bachelor’s degree in data analytics or who wish to continue studying data analytics from an academic perspective. Individuals who previously received a bachelor’s degree in a related field like statistics or computer science, for example, might consider obtaining a master’s in data analytics in order to gain a deeper understanding of the field and to market their skill set to potential employers. 

According to research conducted by Career One Stop, the percentages of data scientists with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree are as follows [2]:

  • Bachelor’s degree – 37%

  • Master’s degree – 35% 

  • Doctoral or professional degree – 14%

This educational breakdown suggests that a bachelor’s degree could be sufficient for job seekers to land a role. However, a master’s could positively highlight your skills and abilities to employers, making you a more competitive applicant overall. In some cases, an employer may even explicitly require a master’s degree for senior positions. 

Read more:What Degree Do I Need to Become a Data Analyst?

Master’s in data analytics salary 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the higher a degree someone holds, the more they’re likely to earn. In their “Education Pays, 2021” study, for instance, the BLS breaks down the median weekly pay for various degrees as follows [3]: 

DegreeMedian weekly earning
Doctoral Degree$1,909
Professional degree$1,924
Master’s degree$1,574
Bachelor’s degree$1,334
Associate’s degree$963

While this research is not specifically focused on master’s degrees in data analytics or a related profession, it does suggest that a graduate degree could have a positive impact on your earning potential. Other factors that impact what you can expect to earn include work experience, geographic location, and employer. 

Jobs in data analytics

There are a variety of jobs that a degree in data analytics can prepare you for. While some of these jobs can be attained with a data analytics bachelor’s degree, more senior roles may require an advanced degree, such as a master’s. 

Here are some of the positions you might consider pursuing with a master’s in data analytics: 

  • Data analyst 

  • Business analyst 

  • Data scientist 

  • Statistician 

  • Business systems analyst

  • Business intelligence analyst

Masters in data analytics program comparisons

Just as there are numerous reasons that you might pursue a master’s degree in data analytics, so too are there a wide range of different types of master's degrees that you can pursue. If you’re considering a future as a graduate student, then you’ll want to consider these three types of programs before applying: 

In-person master’s degree in data analytics 

An in-person master’s degree is a program in which you attend classes alongside your peers in a real-world classroom. As a result, this option provides a more traditional college experience, which includes more face-to-face time with your peers and instructors, often allowing you to have more direct guidance and networking opportunities. However, in-person degrees often cost more and are more rigidly structured than other program types. 

Master’s in data analytics online

Online master’s programs are becoming increasingly popular due to the flexibility they provide coursetakers and their often lower cost of attendance. While some programs may follow traditional application timelines, others might have more relaxed admissions requirements that allow applicants to apply on a rolling basis. However, while these programs usually provide more flexible schedules and cost less, there may be less opportunity for networking and mentorship than more traditional options. 

Hybrid programs 

A hybrid graduate program pairs elements of in-person and online programs to provide a greater degree of flexibility in completing course material while also allowing for more networking opportunities. Depending on your circumstances and personal objectives, a program of this nature could either offer the best of both worlds or be a more compromised version of your ideal program that doesn’t fit your needs.  

Learn more about data analytics 

To master data analytics, you need to learn all you can. Whether you decide to pursue a master’s degree or pursue new work experience, you might consider taking an online data analytics specialization through Coursera. 

The University of Michigan’s Data Analytics in the Public Sector with R Specialization equips course takers with fundamental technical skills using the R programming language to gather, manipulate, analyze, visualize, and interpret data to inform public policy and public administrative functions.

Macquarie University's Excel Skills for Data Analytics and Visualization Specialization, meanwhile, teaches course takers how to bring data to life using advanced Excel functions, creative visualizations, and powerful automation features. 

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Article sources

1

Oregon State University. “Data Analytics: MS or Certificate, https://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/graduate/data-analytics/curriculum.htm.” Accessed September 29, 2022. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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