The Rise of Masters in Business Analytics |

The Rise of Masters in Business Analytics

By Nunzio Q

Updated September 13, 2022 Updated September 13, 2022

The rise of masters in business analytics (MSBA) at top business schools around the world is one of the most exciting happenings in management education. Educators listened to employers, who are demanding more hires with data analytics skills. An increase in MSBA programs represents the halls of academia responding to corporate recruiters.

QS as a rankings pioneer

In 2017, as a result of this burgeoning degree and rapidly-evolving career path, we launched our QS World University Rankings: Masters in Business Analytics Rankings 2018 – representing the first time a major ranking was compiled for this degree. In fact, we recently celebrated publishing our QS World University Rankings: Masters in Business Analytics Rankings, further demonstrating this is a masters program that is holding steadfast in the business world.

We wanted to reflect what is happening on the ground, both in academia and industry. Our ensuing list of top programs is a goldmine, both for applicants researching where to apply, and employers looking for places from which they can recruit.

MIT Sloan School of Management – which has landed the top spot for the past three years since our ranking launched – kicked its program as recently as 2016. In fact, many – if not most of the programs – are still in their infancy.

What was a US dominated field when our MSBA rankings launched (with 14 programs based in the US), the UK has seemingly updated and improved its programs. Of the top 20 on the MSBA list, eight programs are based in the US and UK respectively.

Supply and demand

Across the world companies are drowning in data produced by the digital age. Therefore, employers will seek to hire those with advanced data analytics skills more aggressively. As a result, business schools will have no choice but to adapt and create relevant curriculum.

The jobs are calling us. IBM reported in “The Quant Crunch: Demand for data science skills is disrupting the job market” that we will see 2.7 million new data and analytics job openings every year by 2020. If that doesn’t get people moving to garner these skills, I’m not sure what will.

Higher education is right to create MSBA programs, and applicants are correct to pursue this hot career. But data scientists aren’t the only ones who need these sorts of skills. Other emerging fields include data engineering and data governance.

Data analytics beyond the MSBA

Of course, managers and executives will need to understand the basics of data-enabled decision making. This means institutions of higher learning must think beyond a single program. Data analytics should appear within MBA programs in courses, hands-on learning opportunities, or even specializations. You could offer courses in executive MBA and executive education programs for veteran professionals, who may be new to data analytics. In fact, MIT Sloan recently announced the launch of a certificate program in data analytics, designed to help narrow the skills gap the marketplace is currently experiencing.

In its report “What’s next for 2017 data science and analytics job market?” PwC relays that 67 percent of the job openings are analytics-enabled, which means they require expertise outside the realm of data science, too. It describes analytics-enabled jobs as requiring “hands-on experience with reporting and visualization software to aid in the collection and examination of data.” These jobs could include human resources manager, IT director, or even CEO.

However, in PwC’s more recent report “Investing in America’s data science and analytics talent” addresses the skills gap which students and graduates should ensure they are aware of. When focussing on data science and analytics skills by 2020, 23 percent of educators say all graduates will have data science and analytics skills, whereas, by a whopping comparison, 69 percent of employers say they will prefer job candidates with these skills over ones without. Meaning, there is still an ongoing desire – if not a heightened one – to employer more employees competent in data analytics and science.  

The near future

PwC warns companies that creating in-house training programs might not be the most flexible or adaptable way to get employees up to speed. “Consider other education and training providers that are designed to be more nimble in updating or revising data analytics courses,” according to the PwC report. This is good news for business schools, who can step in to fulfill the need.

Indeed, I have no doubt that more business schools will be creating relevant coursework. This is just the beginning of the proliferation of MSBA programs and the jobs that will be available to degree holders. QS is proud to be a pioneer in the ranking of these programs, and we expect them to grow and flourish alongside this field. 

Let me know your thoughts on the rise of business analytics programs in the comments below and check out the methodology and tables.

*This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Please feel free to follow me to share your thoughts and comments.

This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in September 2022

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Written by

Nunzio is the founder and CEO of QS. Following completion of his own MBA from the Wharton School, he has gone on to become a leader in education management with over 25 years of experience in the industry. He is truly passionate about education and firmly believes in the QS mission to help young people to fulfill their potential through educational achievement, international mobility and career development. 


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