Business intelligence is a vast field and includes many jobs that use data analytics to make smarter business decisions. In the twenty-first century, when businesses have to consider technical aspects like cybersecurity and online business dealings, business intelligence has grown as a field.
Though some business intelligence professionals may get a business or management degree, others opt for a specialized degree in business intelligence itself. In online programs for business intelligence, students learn the nuts and bolts of big data, including data analysis, data management, business administration, and base programming, to develop their analytical skills.
Online programs are a great alternative to traditional in-person degree programs, especially at the master’s degree level. Online students don’t have to interrupt every other aspect of their lives to start an online program. School search results for business intelligence degrees show that there are many online degree programs out there offering optimum flexibility.
Make sure to cast a wide net when starting your program and school search. You want to make sure you consider all the different kinds of degree programs that will help you get to where you want to be professionally. An online business intelligence degree might be just what you’re looking for.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence is an interdisciplinary field with a simple goal: to help businesses make better, smarter, more data-driven decisions. Business intelligence is often abbreviated to BI for those in the know.
Though it’s become much more popular since the tech boom and the birth of the Internet, business intelligence has been around since the 1960s. Business professionals started sharing best practices for safe and smart information sharing across departments and companies. It developed in the 1980s to resemble what it is today, a combination of business analytics, data mining, data visualization, and data tools to help companies make optimal, efficient business decisions.
Because it is so data-focused, business intelligence is a field that typically attracts numbers-minded people. Business intelligence professionals need to have a knack for recognizing patterns in data sets, analyzing information, and drawing conclusions based on that analysis.
Students who are good at math and lab sciences are also typically great at numbers-based analytical thinking. If this sounds like you, consider where an online degree in business intelligence might lead you.
What Is the Difference Between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics?
The fields of BI and BA (business analytics) are intertwined. Though there are technically some concrete differences, many use the term interchangeably. You might find online degree programs in business analytics that offer many of the same courses that you would take in a business intelligence program. So, what’s the difference?
Business intelligence focuses on historical data to mine insights and create business strategies moving forward. Meanwhile, business analytics uses data modeling techniques to predict future events. That said, the difference is minimal and the fields continue to see significant overlap. Some of the programs listed in this article below are technically business analytics programs.
Business Intelligence Degrees Online: An Overview
Online schools and degree programs offer a few different kinds of degree programs online in business intelligence. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet and you are sure you want to study business intelligence, you might want to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence. That said, if you’re interested in business intelligence but think you might want to pursue a broader foundational bachelor’s degree, you should consider online or classroom programs in related fields like business administration or computer science.
If you already have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence or a related field, the next step would be to pursue a master’s degree. A Master of Science in Business Intelligence is by far the most popular and widely-offered degree program in the business intelligence field.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence
A Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence will give you the foundational tools you need to pursue entry-level and mid-level jobs in business intelligence. Because coursework is highly technical, an online format is perfect for lectures and collaborative seminars.
Your courses will likely be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes. In addition to core courses, programs include general distribution requirements in liberal arts courses like math, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Depending on the program, its flexibility, and your time restraints, you should be able to complete an online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence in four years of full-time study. Accelerated programs may enable you to graduate more quickly, while part-time studies will allow you to stretch your program.
In addition to online coursework, some programs may also require internships or professional practicum experiences toward the end of the program. Below is a sample of the kind of required and elective coursework within a Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence:
- Information Systems
- Data Analytics
- Financial Risks Analysis
Some programs may also offer concentrations within the bachelor of science. Possible concentrations include Operations Management, International Business, and Accounting.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence Programs
There are several top online bachelor’s programs to choose from in the business intelligence department. Check out this list as an introductory guide to just some of the top programs available. During your ongoing school research, be sure to consider factors like the quality, cost, and rigor of programs, which have influenced our own picks below. All options listed below are for schools with accredited programs.
Grand Canyon University offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis on business intelligence. This is a great option for students who want to gain a foundation in business overall by getting a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration while pursuing a concentration in the more specific field of business analytics. The emphasis within the BSBA includes courses in business programming, strategic management, and ethics.
Arizona State University has one of the most extensive and highly-rated online catalogs of bachelor’s degrees in the country. Its Bachelor of Science in Business Data Analytics is a business intelligence degree program within the W.P Carey School of Business. The program prepares students to work as analytical change-makers at large and small businesses through their knowledge in data gathering, integration, management, and analysis.
Capella University’s business school offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence. Students will take foundational business courses like Introduction to Organizational Communication and Supply Chain Management. Graduates of the program are prepared to take the SAS Certified Base Programmer professional certification exam.
Online Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence
A Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence could be the next big step in your business career. Master’s degree programs make sense if you have a bachelor’s degree and are looking to deepen your knowledge in a specific subject to advance your career. This is especially appropriate for business or data professionals who have experience in the field.
A master’s degree program will cover many of the same disciplines as the bachelor’s degree. Students should expect to take a deep dive into data analytics, data mining, and information systems.
Programs will focus on established and emerging technologies. Some online programs can be completed in just one year of full-time study.
Best Online Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence Programs
The best online master’s degree programs in business intelligence are the most flexible ones. Some students may choose to continue working while they pursue their online degrees. This means that optimal flexibility is key. Master’s degree programs also require intensive research and capstone project work that prepares graduates for continuing work in the field.
Following its bachelor’s degree offerings, ASU also offers a master’s degree in the business intelligence world: A Master of Science in Business Analytics. ASU offers the same program as a classroom program but it does not make changes to the online courses. The same instructors teach the same courses in both programs. Students can expect to develop expertise in data mining and decision modeling.
This Colorado state school offers a Master of Science in Information Systems with a concentration in business intelligence. The program is a 30-credit degree that students complete entirely through online coursework. They can enter with any bachelor’s degree. Students will take courses in networking, security, data systems, business strategy, project management, and governance and ethics.
Boston University, one of Boston’s largest and most prestigious private universities, offers many online degrees through its Metropolitan College. Its Master of Science in Applied Business Analytics prepares students for careers in business intelligence. Boston University also offers an identical program in-person, ensuring that the online program is top quality. Students will become experts in web analytics and analyzing metrics. Ultimately, coursework will support the goal of understanding how to best use internal and external data to understand operations, markets, and the business as a whole. This understanding and data analysis leads to intentional business strategy and ultimately, optimal data-driven results. The Associate to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or the AACSB International, is the program’s major accrediting body.
Accreditation and Financial Aid
Before committing to any kind of degree, online or in person, you should always do your research about accreditation. Individual schools and sometimes even individual programs hold different accreditations, including regional and national ones. Accreditations are like stamps of approval that will make sure your degree is considered rigorous, legitimate, and valid.
Cost and financial aid is another very important consideration. You wouldn’t want to put time and effort into applying for a degree program only to find out that it is way too expensive for you. Do your research around cost and then make sure you apply for financial aid. You can apply for federal financial aid and school-specific grants and scholarships.
What Can I Do With an Online Business Intelligence Degree?
Career prospects in business intelligence are excellent. As technology continues to develop at a fast pace, business intelligence is one of the fastest-growing fields out there.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management analyst jobs are expected to grow much faster than average: 14 percent by 2028. The average annual salary for a management analyst is over $85,000. If you include other job titles in data and business analytics overall, the rate of job growth and earning potential is even greater.
Most business intelligence professionals apply their knowledge to the finance industry, though there is room for their expertise in the tech field, too. Consider this list below of just some of the career tracks you could follow with an online business intelligence degree:
- Data Architect
- Project Manager
- Business Intelligence Analyst
- Management Analyst
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Research and Data Analyst
If you’re interested in business and data, and bringing them together to optimize business strategy, business intelligence is the perfect degree for you. Luckily, schools are offering business intelligence degrees online at the bachelor’s and master’s level. A degree in the field will help you gain the data analysis skills and technical expertise you need to thrive in the field of business intelligence.