The Rise of Masters Programs in Data Analytics and Related Fields

As companies and institutions are increasingly able to collect vast amounts of information about their suppliers, processes, and customers, they have sought to recruit professionals who are able to extract, represent, and interpret this “big data,” transforming it into usable patterns that can help them enhance their performance. This newfound ability and need have given rise to the fields of data analytics, data science, business intelligence, and business analytics, each of which provides its own nuances and approaches to the opportunities presented by unprecedented amounts of information and the computing power to analyze it.

Do You Need This Degree?

While many of the skills necessary for a career in data analytics can be acquired in ways other than a masters (e.g. books, online free courses, “bootcamps” and certificates), the career impact of attending a graduate program in data analytics cannot be underestimated. As a general rule, the most desirable companies to work for will look for a track-record in the field and/or reputable educational credentials. While self-taught candidates can eventually acquire excellent job experience, it may take years to build a portfolio that will take them beyond the first cut when being considered by the top companies. Self-education is also not for everyone, and faculty at top graduate programs will guide you through the intricacies of the different disciplines involved in data analysis and expose you to cutting-edge ideas in relevant fields.

Why Companies Like These Degrees

According to PwC’s report on the job market, two-thirds of the job openings for data scientists and business analysts require expertise outside of data analysis itself; more than just analytics skills, most companies are looking for “business people with analytics skills.” While you certainly can learn data analysis skills on your own, masters programs with a strong track record in business, statistics, engineering, and computer science are well positioned to provide the multidisciplinary preparation that the top companies demand from their new hires, while access to elective classes in other areas can help you round up your skill set with a view to your target industry. Burtch Works Executive Recruiting found that, as of 2017, 89% of data scientists with less than three years of experience had earned a graduate degree, and that the proportion of early-career data scientists that enter the job market with a masters degree has steadily increased from 48% in 2015 to 64% in 2017. These numbers indicate that masters-level qualifications are becoming the de-facto norm in the field.

Just as with any other graduate degree, the quality of the program matters. The benefits of obtaining a graduate degree from a reputable program goes beyond the credibility of your credentials and learning from top experts in the field, but also can include access to internships arranged in partnership with the industry’s big players, state-of-the art infrastructure, electives in other areas that will round out your preparation for your intended field, well-established alumni networks, support from career-services, on-campus recruiting, and so on.

Explosive Growth for Data Analytics Masters Programs

Masters programs in data analytics are relative newcomers to the field of graduate management education, but their growth has been nothing but explosive. In its 2015 edition, GMAC’s Application Trend Survey reports only 11 respondents for Masters in Data Analytics, going up to 16 in 2016. In the 2017 edition, the number of respondents jumped to 36, with potentially many more programs that did not respond to the survey. According to GMAC’s survey, in every one of those years a large majority of programs reported growth in applications over the previous year. About three-quarters of the reporting programs planned to admit more students, but even with this increased capacity, the average ratio of applications per available seat was 5 to 1, which means that the acceptance rate is even lower for the most coveted programs; for example, MIT’s Master of Business Analytics has an admission rate of less than 4%.

In their report “The Quant Crunch,” IBM estimated that by 2020 there will be over 2.7 million jobs for data professionals in the U.S. alone. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, the yearly growth rate for jobs in this area is expected to reach 11% by 2024. As demand for professionals in this field continues to rise, and as general awareness of the availability of graduate degrees in data analytics becomes widespread, programs are becoming increasingly selective in the evaluation of application packages and, consequently, applicants are becoming savvier about the way they go about the application process. For example, at Accepted we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of clients seeking advice for applications to masters programs in data analytics, data sciences, and business analytics within the last year. Everything seems to indicate that this trend will continue, and that admission to these programs will become ever more competitive.

How Can We Help?

As an experienced admissions consultant who has successfully guided applicants to masters in data analytics programs, I can assist you in every aspect of the application process to Masters Programs in Data Analytics, Data Science, Business Intelligence, and related fields. I can advise you in:

• Choosing the program that best fits your profile and professional objectives

• Brainstorming and selecting information to be included in your statement of purpose, as well as editing your essay

• Prepping for your interview by providing a mock interview that will not only calm your nerves, but will also familiarize you with the questions you are most likely to encounter during the real interview

• Critiquing your letters of reference

• And last but not least, providing an overall analysis of your candidacy and comprehensive mentorship to help you get ACCEPTED.

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