Getting a Master’s in Data Management: What to Expect

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Master’s degree programs can help you break into a professional field or advance the career you already have. Find out if a master’s in data management is right for you.

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Today, businesses rely on the wealth of data produced by their customers to make impactful, data-driven decisions. But as more and more data is produced daily, the need for professionals capable of managing it also grows.  

One way to enter the field or advance your career is by obtaining a master’s degree in data management. But is a master’s degree right for your goals? 

In this article, you’ll learn more about master’s degree programs in data management, including what they cover, how they compare to bachelor’s programs, and whether they’re worth it.

You’ll also find a list of jobs for which the degree prepares you and explore some cost-effective, online courses that can help you develop job-relevant skills today. 

At a glance: Master’s of Science in Data Management

Businesses employ data management professionals because they ensure data is properly stored and easily accessible for business intelligence and data analytics purposes. 

A Master’s of Science (M.S.) in data management, or a related subject, prepares degree seekers for a career working with big data, overseeing data security, and managing data solutions for businesses. Graduate programs focused on data and information management equip students with the technical skills they need to design data systems and to maintain them securely. 

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The exact curriculum that you follow will vary from one database management degree program to another. Nonetheless, you will likely take courses covering the following core topics:

Master’s vs. bachelor’s in data management 

Master’s and bachelor’s degree programs in data management both provide degree seekers with the core skills needed to perform jobs in the field. However, the exact program that you pursue will likely depend on your current education level, available resources, and professional goals. 

What skills do you want to build? A bachelor’s degree in data management will equip you with the skills you need to become a qualified data professional. In addition to gaining job-relevant skills like data analysis, data wrangling, data systems administration, programming languages, and IT fundamentals, you’ll also explore other subjects like natural science, math, history, and writing. A master's program is more focused and tends to be more project-based.

Do you already have a bachelor's degree? To enter a bachelor’s degree program, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. They typically take four years to complete. To enter a master’s degree program, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in either a related subject or be able to demonstrate that you have the prerequisite knowledge despite majoring in a different discipline. Master’s programs typically take one to two years to complete. 

Are you looking for a well-rounded or job-relevant program? Much like a bachelor’s degree program, a master’s degree in data management will prepare you for a career as a data professional. Unlike a bachelor’s degree, however, a master’s degree will focus solely on developing job-relevant skills and advancing the ones you already possess.

Alternative names and degrees

There are few master's programs focused solely on data management. Instead, you’ll most likely pursue a Master of Science in Information Systems Management with a concentration in data management or a master’s in another data-related discipline. 

Some of the graduate degree programs you might pursue to enter data management include: 

- M.S. in Information Systems Management 

- M.S. in Data Science 

- M.S. in Data Architecture and Management 

- M.S. in Data and Information Management (DAIM)

- M.S. in Computer Information Systems

Read more: Master's in Data Science: Your Guide


Is a master’s in data management worth it? 

While a master’s degree is rarely required for data management positions, having one can make you a more competitive applicant and possibly increase your earning potential. According to Zippia, 67.8 percent of database managers possess a bachelor’s degree, while only 12.5 percent possess a master’s degree [1]. This disparity suggests that master’s degrees are not required to enter the field but that having one could possibly help you stand out from the pool of similarly qualified applicants. 

According to research conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers with graduate degrees earned more and had lower levels of unemployment than those with less advanced degrees in 2021 [2]. At a glance, they found the following: 

Median weekly earningsUnemployment rate
Master’s degree$1,5742.6 percent
Bachelor’s degree$1,3343.5 percent
Associate degree$9634.6 percent

This combination of factors suggests that while a master’s degree is not required to become a data management professional, it can potentially improve your chances of employment and increase how much you’re likely to earn. 

Read more: Is a Master's Degree Worth It?

Related jobs and salaries 

Data management is integral to ensuring businesses have a stable and reliable data source. Whether they’re designing the architecture of the databases that businesses use or maintaining the structure on a day-to-day basis, data management professionals are much sought after in the work world. 

Here’s what you can expect to earn in various different data management-related roles, according to Glassdoor:

Learn more about data management 

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in data management, then you might consider taking a cost-effective, flexible course through Coursera today. With IBM’s Data Warehouse Engineer Professional Certificate, you’ll acquire the essential skills you need to work with a range of tools and databases to design, deploy, operationalize and manage Enterprise Data Warehouses (EDW). 

Article sources


Zippia. “What is a Database Manager?,” Accessed August 7, 2023.

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