If you’re reading this post, you’re likely doing your homework when it comes to selecting a Master of Science in Business Analytics program. (Here at Bentley we like to refer to it as the “MSBA” program.) By now you’ve probably come to realize that no two programs are alike. Depending on your interests, MSBA programs run the gamut, from those that focus primarily on technical training to others that emphasize business skills. The question is, what’s right for you?
At Bentley, we designed our program around real-world skills that successful business analysts need. We looked to our industry advisors for help, and combined their insights with our more than 20 years of experience in business analytics education. The end result is an MSBA program that blends everything the industry needs with the flexibility and personalization you want.
Courses In Bentley’s MS In Business Analytics Program
Bentley has a long history in business analytics education. It began offering business analytics courses as far back as 1990, which have been evolving ever since. Our more than 94 percent job within three months of graduation placement rate for graduates speaks not only to the relevancy and rigor of our coursework but also our reputation in the industry.
Today, Bentley has a robust MSBA program made up of six required courses and four electives. Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences Mingfei Li explains that the program was originally designed around — and continues to evolve based on — the following question: What does a successful business analyst need to know?
A Bentley MSBA student has comprehensive skills, with knowledge of databases, programming and statistics as well as a broader understanding of business concepts. “Companies everywhere, of all kinds, are looking for people who can help turn data into insights, who also understand business,” says Li. In fact, data analysis is an invaluable skill for an increasing number of jobs — particularly when paired with business acumen.
The required courses in the Bentley program cover four main areas:
- Computer science skills (students are required to know Structured Query Language, or SQL; SAS; and R)
- Applied statistics and operation research
- General concepts of business
- Business “soft” skills, like communication
The fourth component, soft skills, differentiates a Bentley graduate from other MSBA students. While almost every business has a technical team and a business team, the two groups rarely communicate, which creates a competitive disadvantage in today’s tech-centric environment. Every Bentley MSBA graduate has the savvy to understand this deficiency as well as the skills to address it.
Our six required courses for the MS in business analytics program include:
- Data Management and System Modeling: This course focuses on data management and includes proven techniques for modeling system requirements and managing organizational data resources. Here you’ll learn about the SQL database for data management. You’ll also find out how to discover and document database requirements.
- Optimization and Simulation for Business Decisions: This operation research class features traditional and modern optimization and simulation techniques that are commonly used to aid in decision-making. It includes linear and nonlinear programming techniques with applications as well as portions of game theory and agent-based modeling.
- Quantitative Analysis for Business: This class offers in-depth coverage of regression modeling. Simple and multiple linear regression techniques are covered. You’ll use statistical analysis software such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS.
- Intermediate Statistical Modeling for Business: The central focus of this class is on constructing and interpreting statistical models. Here you’ll focus on factor analysis, decision trees and logistic modeling as well as the applications of these methodologies. Traditional and specialized software are utilized in this class.
- Data Mining: As the most advanced class of the core, this introduces six or seven of the most recent data mining methods. You’ll learn how each method works, how to choose appropriate software, and how to interpret results. This includes web mining, text mining and social networks.
- Time Series Analysis: This course offers an overview of time series data forecasting models, including regression, smoothing and decomposition models, Box-Jenkins analysis, and other commonly used modeling techniques.
The MS In Business Analytics Curriculum
Just as every MSBA program is different, so is every student. That’s why our curriculum is flexible and can be designed by you.
In addition to the six required classes, students choose four elective courses from six “clusters.” The clusters are each based around a particular professional arena, and the classes within each cluster reflect more in-depth learning about that area.
If a student wants to know more about marketing, for example, he or she might choose to take two classes from the marketing cluster, such as E-marketing or Customer Data Analysis and Relationship Marketing. Similarly, a student more interested in finance might choose the Investments or Fixed Income Valuation and Strategies elective courses.
Most students create their own mix of electives by picking and choosing courses from more than one cluster — for instance, a combination of marketing and management. However, students who want to be very strong in one particular area might choose to take four courses from a single cluster. Ultimately, the choice is yours based on your background and your future plans.
Recently, the electives offerings in our business analytics degree program have expanded to include a greater emphasis on analytic skills. Three new classes include:
- Data Science in R: This elective covers R programming and data visualization in R.
- Machine Learning: Taking a step further into data mining, this course covers the use of Python, a useful tool for scientific computing and data analysis.
- Design of Experiments in Business: This course covers experimental research for business applications, including options for design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of results.
We’re striving to continually update and enrich our electives to give you more options and more flexibility so you can build a program that’s perfectly tailored to you.
Careers For Graduates
Data analyst, product manager, business analytics consultant — the list of possible job titles that are within reach of the Bentley MSBA program graduate is long and varied.
As the time for job hunting approaches, most of Li’s students are inclined to search for business analytics jobs by title. “When students ask me about this, I tell them, ‘Don’t search by job title. Sometimes two people with the same title will do totally different work. Or, sometimes people with different titles do almost the same work. Search by job content and job responsibility rather than job title.’”
The range of positions held by Bentley’s MSBA graduates — some have been working in the field for more than 10 years now — bears out this idea. Some are working as managers or consultants. While data analysis is within their job scope, people with these titles aren’t necessarily hands-on or “in the weeds” with data. They are combining analysis with broader consulting or managerial work.
Others with an MS in business analytics work as data scientists and enjoy gathering, analyzing and interpreting data on a daily basis. For example, one recent graduate joined the data team at CVS Health, a Fortune 500 health-care company. Her team works closely with the company’s business leaders to improve the experience of CVS customers. In her job specifically, she analyzes customer service data that the company then uses for various purposes, ranging from providing more personalized services to predicting customers’ future purchases.
Another recent graduate went on to work at a hospital. Her job is analyzing business data that supports hospital management. The management team uses data to enhance the hospital’s quality of care as well as make decisions that boost financial performance overall and affect daily operations, like reducing waste and improving internal processes.
These are just a few specific examples of jobs that MSBA graduates may hold, but Bentley graduates have landed jobs in the service industry, manufacturing, technology, and more.
Data Analysis In Every Industry
Just as there is no single title that encompasses jobs in business analytics, Bentley’s MSBA graduates don’t just flock to any “typical” industry.
Every company benefits from data analysis, which leaves the door wide open for students to choose jobs based on their interests rather than any particular industry. Our graduates are working at health-care companies, retailers, financial services firms and tech businesses. And the “business” in business analytics doesn’t mean for-profit companies only; many of our graduates also go on to work at nonprofit companies or in the government.
The typical starting salary for recent Bentley MSBA graduates in jobs across the nation is $80,000. Currently there is high demand for workers who are skilled in data analysis, and we expect those skills will remain in demand for the foreseeable future due to the huge volume and complexity of data generated by continual advances in technology.
What Are The Top 17 Careers In Big Data?
Big data isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a reality that more and more businesses are capitalizing on. If you’d like to find out more about which big data careers are the most in-demand, we encourage you to check out the short ebook 17 Careers In Big Data. Find out which role you’re best suited for, the key skills you’ll need to get there, and the average salary you can expect to receive. You’ll be one step closer to getting the job of your dreams.