What Degree Do I Need to Become a Data Analyst?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Do you need a degree to become a data analyst? If so, which one? Learn these answers and more.

[Featured image] A data analytics degree student works on his laptop in a university library.

Getting an in-demand job as a data analyst often starts with getting the right skills and qualifications. For many, this might mean a degree. In this article, we’ll discuss whether you need a degree to become a data analyst, which degree to get, and how a higher-level degree could help you advance your career.

Do I need a degree to become a data analyst?

Many entry-level data analyst jobs require an undergraduate degree. It’s possible to develop your data analysis skills—and potentially land a job—without a degree. But earning one gives you a structured way to build skills and network with professionals in the field. You could also find more job opportunities with a degree than without one.  

Data analyst degrees: Which degree subject should I choose?

Not all universities offer a bachelor’s degree in data analytics. So what should you select for your BA or BSc if you want to pursue a career as a data analyst? Even if your university doesn’t have this specific degree, it likely offers other options with overlapping skills.

Possible degree course for data analysts

Here are some degree options that typically teach common data analysis skills. If you’re looking toward a career as a data analyst, these degree subjects could be a good fit:

  • Data science: In response to the increasing demand for data professionals, more and more universities are offering undergraduate degrees in data science. In this degree program, you’ll typically take courses in computer science, statistics, and mathematics. Some programs let you specialise in fields like economics, finance, business, or health care.

  • Computer science: The emphasis on statistical and analytical skills in many computer science programs makes them a good fit for aspiring data analysts. This degree is also widely available. Depending on the modules you choose, you might study artificial intelligence concepts, algorithm design, and programming languages that you can use in your future career.

  • Applied mathematics or statistics: Traditional mathematics degrees generally prepare learners for careers in academia. Applied mathematics and statistics degrees shift the focus to real-world applications, like helping businesses make data-driven decisions. The curriculum might include other important skills, like programming languages or statistical software packages.

  • Finance/economics: If you think you might be interested in working as a financial or business analyst, consider getting your degree in finance or economics. Many of these degree programs include coursework in statistics and analysis, and some offer modules in business analytics. 

  • Psychology: It might not seem obvious at first glance, but psychologists use data to describe, explain, and even predict human behaviour all the time. A Bachelor of Science in Psychology might expose you to maths and statistical analysis coursework.

  • Management information systems (MIS): With this degree, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at databases and how they work. That information often proves useful to a data analyst. MIS coursework typically covers topics like database design, data management, and business theory. With some degrees, you can take modules in data analytics, business intelligence, or data management.

No matter what you choose to get your degree in, be sure to take modules in statistics, maths, and linear algebra, as well as some computer science modules that cover database and statistical software. If you already have an industry in mind, it can help to take some industry-specific modules (finance, health care, or business, for example).

Learn more about earning your bachelor’s degree online through Coursera.

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Is a master’s in data analytics worth it?

Whilst an undergraduate degree is the most common entry-level qualification, some companies look for candidates with a master’s degree in data analytics or a related field. Some IT companies start candidates with a postgraduate degree higher up the pay scale. Overall, across all occupations, employees with a master’s degree are 18 per cent more likely to be in a professional role than those without and also reach more senior positions [1]. 

If you’re looking to advance your career in data analytics or move into data science, earning your master’s degree could set you up for success.

Get started as a data analyst

Take the next step toward a career in data analysis, no matter where you are in your learning journey.

Build a foundation of job-ready skills with a Professional Certificate in data analytics from industry leaders like Google with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate. Cultivate skills that will get you job-ready in six months, learning how to analyse data with key analysis tools and create visualisations to inform essential business decisions.

Article sources

  1. FindaMasters. “Masters Degrees, Employment, and Earnings—A Guide, https://www.stitchdata.com/resources/the-state-of-data-science/.” Accessed February 23, 2023.

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