For business schools, big data is big business.
Specialist masters degrees in business analytics have exploded since first bursting onto the scene a few years ago. Elite institutions meanwhile are bringing data analytics into their MBA programs. Many more are rumoured to be doing so.
But which are the best data degrees?
There are few reliable, comprehensive rankings of masters degrees in business analytics. The bellwether rankings providers — the Financial Times, The Economist and Bloomberg — focus on full-time MBA programs.
TFE Times’ 2016 Master of Business Analytics Rankings are among the best. The publications’ latest league table places USC Marshall’s MSc in Business Analytics at the top.
USC’s program takes 18 months to complete. Tuition is estimated to be $51,300.
Yehuda Bassok, USC professor of data sciences and operations, said it’s crucial for all business students to have an understanding of big data to solve management conundrums. But, he said, “we are not training students to become data scientists”.
In a ranking of US programs, NYU Stern’s analytics-focused degree and Lally School of Management’s MS in Business Analytics take second and third places, respectively.
“Data is the backbone for all business decisions,” said Roy Lee, assistant dean of global programs for NYU Stern. He said that jobs for graduates abound: “We can’t develop experts in business analytics fast enough.”
About 86% of Lally’s 2014-2015 graduates had jobs within three months of graduation, with an average salary of $71,500. Companies snapping them up include IBM, Cisco Systems, and Accenture.
At no 4 in the ranking is Rochester’s Simon School, whose graduates have gone on to work at PwC and insurance group Nationwide; no 5 is Texas’ McCombs School of Business. McCombs’ course takes 10 months to complete. Tuition costs up to $44,000. Among the top employers are Deloitte and Walmart.
Michael Hasler, director of the MSc in Business Analytics at McCombs, said that companies have recognized the need for deeper analytical rigor in decision making.
“The internet and lower cost computing and data storage have enabled organizations to gather and store much larger amounts of data,” he said, revealing important insights.
Meanwhile, programs at Arizona’s W.P Carey School, Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management, Villanova’s School of Business, and the Stevens Institute of Technology are all ranked highly.
Michael Goul, chair of Carey’s Department of Information Systems, said that to truly utilize big data, business students “need to have more than an occasional acquaintance with what data science is about”.