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Data Analytics Programs and Majors Explained: Degree Levels, Specializations, and Common Data Analytics Courses

Daisy Waithereo Wambua - May 27, 2022


If you’ve considered pursuing the field of data analytics, you might be wondering what is a data analytics degree and whether it’s required to fulfill your ambition. A data analytics degree is earned by students who want to develop relevant skills and prepare for data-related careers, such as business intelligence analysis, big data engineering, and operations research analysis.

Throughout this guide, you’ll learn more about data analytics degrees, the best data analytics programs, schools, types of degrees, and payment options to cover tuition and fees. We’ll also go over some data analytics jobs, salaries, and job growth projections.

What Is Data Analytics?

Data analytics is the process of analyzing data to find meaningful insights. There are different types of data analytics fields, including descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics. The main goal of data analytics is to increase efficiency and improve performance through the discovery of patterns in data.

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Data scientists and analysts use data analysis processes in their research to optimize the decision-making process. These professionals play a massive role in business improvements. They rely on relevant techniques to enhance customer engagement, evaluate marketing campaigns, create content strategies and improve customer segmentation.

Data Analytics Quick Facts: Job Outlook and Average Salaries

  • The employment of operations research analysts is projected to grow by 25 percent between 2020 and 2030.
  • The average salary of operations research analysts is $82,360 per year .
  • According to PayScale, the average salary for skills in big data analytics is $116,000 per year .

Is Data Analytics Hard?

No, data analytics is not hard. Analyzing data is a very straightforward process. It involves extracting, transforming, and loading data. These steps are essential in converting raw data into useful insights. With data analytics, you can expect to learn and perform data mining, data management, data analysis, and data presentation.

Is Data Analytics a Good Major?

Yes, data analytics is a good major if you want a data-driven career. By pursuing data analytics as your major, you will develop essential skills in areas such as machine learning, linear algebra, MATLAB, data mining, data cleaning, and data visualization. You should also expect to learn R and Python. In addition to the contributions you’ll make to organizations, it’s a field that compensates well and steadily increases in value and demand.

Why Should You Get a Degree in Data Analytics?

You should get a degree in data analytics because it will open up a plethora of career opportunities, qualify you for high salaries, and maintain its relevance as time goes on. Below are some of the reasons you should get a degree in data analytics.

  1. More career opportunities. Whether you pursue an Associate Degree in Data Analytics or a bachelor’s or master’s degree, there are plenty of career opportunities available to you. With a formal education in data analytics, you can become a business analyst, data analyst, data scientist, data engineer, or operations analyst.
  2. High demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for operations research analysts will increase by 25 percent by 2030. This is a good indication that related professions are also likely to increase in demand.
  3. Good salary. A degree in data analytics prepares you for high-paying jobs. For example, data analysts earn an annual salary of $62,967 . This amount can increase based on your location, organization, level of education, and experience.
  4. Certification preparation. A degree in data analytics can help you prepare for professional certification exams. These certifications demonstrate a specialization, which is an attractive asset to employers.
  5. Vast professional network. You can expect the degree program to open up a wide range of professional networking opportunities. You can easily make important professional connections during classes and extracurricular activities.

Data Analytics Major: What Degree Can You Get in Data Analytics?

The degrees you can get in data analytics include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Each degree features a different curriculum and level of education. Most data analytics majors pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree before considering higher education, such as a master’s degree. Below, we’ll discuss these options in more detail.

Types of Associate Degrees in Data Analytics

The types of data analytics associate degrees are Associate of Science in Data Analytics, Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics, and Associate in Applied Science in Data Analytics Technology.

1

Associate of Science (AS in Data Analytics)

An Associate of Science in Data Analytics program will take you through foundational concepts and skills to prepare you for a four-year degree program. An associate of science degree is a general credential compared to an associate of applied science degree. It’s often pursued by students who intend to transfer to four-year institutions to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

Common Associate of Science in Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Database Foundations
  • Data Visualization
  • Data Management

2

Associate of Applied Science (AAS in Data Analytics)

An Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics program aims to prepare students for relevant careers upon graduating. This type of degree is ideal for students who wish to enter the workforce immediately after earning their associate degrees, as opposed to continuing to earn their bachelor’s degrees. This program provides students with career-specific skills that employers seek during recruitment.

Common Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Intro to Python
  • Business Statistics
  • Excel for Data Analytics and Visualization

3

Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics and Management (AAS in Data Analytics Technology)

An Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics and Management program focuses on statistical methods, classification, factor analysis, and clustering. It's an excellent degree program for students who are interested in the management of data and databases. Similar to the Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics, this degree program focuses on preparing students for employment immediately after graduating.

Common Associate of Applied Science in Data Analytics and Management Curriculum

  • Data Policy
  • Data Management
  • Data Warehousing

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Analytics

The types of data analytics bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics, Bachelor of Arts in Data Analytics, and Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Analytics. Below, we’ll detail each program option.

1

Bachelor of Science (BS in Data Analytics)

A Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics program focuses on math, data science, and the more technical aspects of data analytics. Through this program, you will acquire hands-on experience with Tableau, SQL Database, and Microsoft Excel. One of the program objectives is to prepare students for careers as data analysts, business analysts, or data technicians.

Common Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Programming with Python
  • Data Analytics Ethics
  • Database Management and Warehousing

2

Bachelor of Arts (BA in Data Analytics)

A Bachelor of Arts in Data Analytics program focuses on the applications of data analytics with an emphasis on social and legal contexts. With this degree, students can pursue careers as research data analysts, sustainability analysts, and social sciences research specialists, depending on their concentrations. This degree is ideal for students who want to work in social science fields.

Common Bachelor of Arts in Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Applied Research Methods
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Media Law and Ethics

3

Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Analytics (BBA in Business Analytics)

A Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Analytics program is designed for students who want to apply their data analytics skills to the business sector. Some of the professions you can pursue with this degree include management analyst, business data analyst, or project manager. Unlike the bachelor of arts program, this program focuses on business applications, particularly monetary profit.

Common Bachelor of Business Administration in Business in Analytics Curriculum

  • Business Analytics
  • Principles of Accounting
  • Quantitative Business Analysis

Types of Master’s Degrees in Data Analytics

The types of data analytics master’s degrees are Master of Arts in Data Analytics, Master of Science in Data Analytics, and Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics. Below, we’ll discuss the differences between these three types of master’s degrees.

1

Master of Arts (MA in Data Analytics)

A Master of Arts in Data Analytics program focuses on humanities. It covers advanced applications of data analytics within a social science context. Students pursuing this type of degree will conduct extensive research by combining the data analytics and social science fields.

Common Master of Arts in Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Computational Linguistics
  • Decision Support Systems
  • Python Scripting for Social Science

2

Master of Science (MS in Data Analytics)

A Master of Science in Data Analytics degree program is highly technical and qualifies graduates for relevant managerial positions. This program generally covers SQL, R programming, cloud computing, and collecting, analyzing, presenting, and managing data for various uses.

Common Master of Science in Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Descriptive Statistics and Analytics
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Agile Scrum Management Techniques

3

Master of Science (MS in Applied Data Analytics)

The Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics program prioritizes real-world applications over theoretical knowledge. It trains students through hands-on projects and assignments with less of an emphasis on research. Students pursuing a Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics can expect to directly apply what they learn in the classroom to the workplace.

Common Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics Curriculum

  • Advanced Machine Learning and Neural Networks
  • Data Visualization Tools
  • Advanced Database Management

What Will You Learn in a Data Analytics Degree Program?

In a data analytics degree program, you will learn foundational concepts in data analytics tools, technologies, and best practices. Depending on the level of the degree you pursue, you can expect to gain knowledge and skills in data policy, database foundations, data analytics ethics, applied research methods, predictive modeling, and data visualization tools, among many other things.

Depending on the degree you earn, these essential topics will prepare you for entry-level, mid-level, or senior-level positions as a data analyst, business analyst, database architect, data engineer, or research operations analyst. Earning your degree in data analytics also allows you to choose a career within a wide range of fields, as data analytics applies to nearly every industry.

Popular
4

Specialization

s for Data Analytics Degrees

Popular specializations for data analytics degrees are data visualization, data engineering, business intelligence and strategy, machine learning engineering, database management, and database architecture. You can also choose to specialize in operations data analysis or statistical analysis.

The 5 Most Popular Data Analytics Concentrations

  1. Operations Data Analysis
  2. Database Architecture and Management
  3. Bioinformatics
  4. Applied Statistics
  5. Business Intelligence and Strategy

Common Data Analytics Courses Across All
4

Specialization

s

The common data analytics courses across all specializations are Data Visualization, Data Ethics, Python or R Programming, Big Data Analytics, and Database Design. Find out more details about these courses before committing to a degree program below:

  • Data Visualization. This course focuses on fundamental data visualization processes and techniques. It aims to ensure that data is being correctly interpreted through graphic representations for easy communication, particularly to non-technical audiences.
  • Data Ethics. This course focuses on the legally and socially appropriate parameters around data collection, preparation, visualization, and management. It also explores common ethical dilemmas and how to handle them.
  • Python or R Programming. Although programming isn’t a significant duty for data analytics professionals, most degree programs, regardless of specialization, require students to learn either or both Python and R.
  • Big Data Analytics. This course prepares students to work with exceptionally large datasets at every stage, from collection to visualization.
  • Database Design. In this course, you’ll learn about the design and development of databases. You’ll learn what components are required for a well-structured database and why it’s important for data access and management.

Best Minors for Data Analytics Students

The best minors for data analytics students are economics, statistics, engineering, mathematics, and social sciences. The minor you choose should align with your educational or professional interests.

The 5 Best Data Analytics Minors

  1. Economics
  2. Statistics
  3. Engineering
  4. Mathematics
  5. Social Sciences

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How to Choose the Right Data Analytics Degree Program for You

In order to choose the right data analytics degree program for you, there are several factors you should consider, including cost, student-to-faculty ratio, the reputation of the school, specializations offered, and accreditation. Below, we’ll explore these factors more closely.

1

Cost

1

Cost

is easily the biggest challenge students face when pursuing a data analytics degree program. For this reason, you should compare the prices of different institutions’ programs to ensure you’re choosing an option that is affordable for you. In addition, you should consider the financial assistance offered, such as financial aid, scholarships, and low-interest student loans. You might also consider an online program as it tends to be cheaper than on-campus programs.

2

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

A student-to-faculty ratio refers to the number of students assigned to one instructor. It’s best to choose a data analytics degree program that has a low student-to-faculty ratio, as this ensures you’ll receive more individualized attention and instruction.

3

Reputation of the School

The reputation of a school illustrates the quality of its programs. Oftentimes, prospective students check school reviews to get an idea of what to expect and make sure it aligns with what they’re looking for. It also helps them plan and prepare for any prevalent challenges.

4

Specialization

Most data analytics degree programs allow you to choose a specialization, which is often chosen based on your career goals. Not all schools offer the same specialization options in their data analytics programs. For this reason, you should review the curricula of different programs to ensure the one you choose offers the specialization you want.

5

Accreditation

Always choose a degree program from an accredited institution. Unaccredited degrees are not as widely accepted by employers as accredited degrees are.

5

Accreditation

ensures your degree program meets regional or national education standards, which is vital to ensuring the level and quality of education you receive is widely applicable. It also allows you to pursue higher education at accredited universities, should you choose to.

Best Data Analytics Colleges and Universities: Where to Find the Top Data Analytics Degree Programs

The best data analytics colleges and universities can help you achieve your educational and professional goals. Below are some of the best institutions you should consider for an Associate, Bachelor’s, or Master’s Degree in Data Analytics.

Best Schools to Get an Associate in Data Analytics

  1. Bismarck State College
  2. Coastline Community College
  3. Community College of Allegheny County
  4. Gateway Technical College
  5. Great Bay Community College

Best Schools to Get a Bachelor’s in Data Analytics

  1. Bethel University
  2. Calvin College
  3. Drexel University
  4. Purdue University
  5. University of Colorado

Best Schools to Get a Master’s in Data Analytics

  1. Columbia University
  2. Drexel University
  3. Georgia Institute of Technology
  4. Northeastern University
  5. University of Chicago

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How Can I Pay for a Data Analytics Degree Program?

You can pay for a data analytics degree program through government financial aid, scholarships, work-study programs, student loans, and grants. Below are the details of these financing options.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Students who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form are automatically considered for federal, state, and college financial aid. Students who qualify can receive all three forms of financial aid, which can significantly or fully cover tuition and fees. Additionally, when financial aid exceeds the amount needed for tuition and fees, students receive the remaining balance through checks or direct deposits.

Scholarships

Scholarships are an excellent way to pay for college tuition. There is a plethora of federal, state, college, or private scholarships that can partially or fully cover tuition. With over 1.7 million scholarships and no limit on how many you can apply for, there’s a good chance of fully or significantly covering tuition with this option.

Work-Study Programs

The federal government offers a work-study program in partnership with participating colleges and universities. This program allows students to work part-time for the school, either on-campus or remotely while studying. Some schools are also partnered with private non-profit organizations or public agencies to offer work-study programs that are relevant to students’ majors.

Loans

Students who don’t qualify for financial aid or can’t fully cover tuition with the aid they receive often apply for student loans. You can apply for federal or private student loans. Generally, federal student loans have better terms and conditions, particularly regarding interest fees.

Grants

Similarly to scholarships, grants can be offered by the government, your school, or private organizations. Unlike scholarships, grants are typically awarded based on financial need rather than academic performance, athletic ability, community service, or any other criteria. Most grants do not need to be repaid, unlike student loans.

Data Analytics Scholarships

There are numerous data analytics scholarships offered by universities, private organizations, and the government. Before starting the application process, you should check the application deadline and ensure you meet the criteria. Below are three data analytics scholarships you should apply for.

1

MinneAnalytics Scholarships

This scholarship is for students who are majoring in STEM subjects to pursue careers in analytics. While multiple departments and schools within a college or university can offer this scholarship, the scholarship limits winners to one per department or school.

  • Eligibility Requirements: Pursuing an undergraduate degree in STEM, passionate about a career in data science and analytics, committed to community
  • Amount: $1,000

2

GMiS Stem Scholarship

To apply for this scholarship, you must fill out an application, write a personal statement geared toward the topic chosen by Great Minds in Science (GMiS) , and provide your resume, two letters of recommendation, official transcript, and a photo of yourself.

  • Eligibility Requirements: Pursuing a STEM degree, 3.0 GPA (for merit-based scholarship) or 2.5 GPA (for non-merit-based scholarship), demonstrate service to an underserved community
  • Amount: $500-$5,000

3

Women in Technology Scholarship

This scholarship aims to inspire and encourage women to pursue STEM education and careers. While applicants must be enrolled in an accredited US, Canadian, or Mexican college or university, they are not required to be on-campus. This means students living abroad while meeting that requirement are still eligible.

  • Eligibility Requirements: Enrolled in an accredited US, Canadian, or Mexican college or university, enrolled in the current and upcoming academic years, majoring in a technical field, identify as a woman, are a freshman, sophomore, or junior
  • Amount: $7,000

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Student Loans for Data Analytics Majors

Private and federal student loans are a popular way of covering college tuition, especially for students who don’t qualify for financial aid. Below, you will find the average student loans for a data analytics associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs.

What Is the Average Student Loan for Data Analytics Associate Degrees?

The average student loan for data analytics associate degrees is $20,030, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The average federal loan for an associate degree is $19,500, while the average non-federal loan is $10,740.

What Is the Average Student Loan for Data Analytics Bachelor’s Degrees?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average student loan for a data analytics bachelor’s degree is $32,920. The average relevant federal loan is $29,210, while the average non-federal loan for a bachelor’s degree program is $20,180.

What Is the Average Student Loan for Data Analytics Master’s Degrees?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average student loan for a data analytics master’s degree is $54,290. The average public loan is $45,700. Lastly, the average private non-profit loan is $60,840, while the average private for-profit loan is $66,940.

How to Get Into the Best Schools for Data Analytics

To get into the best schools for data analytics, you should meet the admission requirements. Each institution has unique admission requirements. It’s always best to check the official website of the school and program to ensure you meet the requirements. Below are five tips to get into the best programs at data analytics schools.

Top 5 Tips to Get Into the Best Programs at Data Analytics Schools

  1. Have a high GPA.
  2. Start the application process early.
  3. Gather letters of recommendation.
  4. Provide a strong resume.
  5. Write a strong and unique statement of purpose.

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How Can You Get a Data Analytics Internship While in College?

You can get a data analytics internship while in college by visiting job boards, networking, calling companies, or using your college’s resources. Below are three of the most common and effective ways to secure a data analytics internship while in college.

1

Visit Job Boards

There are many reputable job boards that employers use to promote vacant internships. Some of the most popular job boards include Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Google for Jobs, and CareerBuilder. These websites allow you to sort through opportunities based on location, company, industry, and other relevant filters.

2

Use Your Network

Many students land internship opportunities through personal recommendations. You should ask friends, family members, colleagues, or classmates to help in the search. Networking is one of the best ways to find internships, as employers often favor recommended candidates.

3

College Career Center

Most colleges and universities have career centers that feature exclusive job and internship opportunities for students. Many organizations are well aware that students who are studying relevant subjects are excellent candidates for their vacancies. As a result, they partner with institutions, allowing both parties to benefit from the arrangement.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Data Analytics Degree?

The jobs you can get with a data analytics degree include data analyst, operations analyst, business intelligence analyst, or data engineer. The type of job opportunity you land depends on the level of your degree. The higher your degree level, the more job opportunities you qualify for.

To land entry-level opportunities in data analytics, you only need an associate degree. If you want to have more data analytics job opportunities available to you, earning your bachelor’s degree is typically a standard requirement. With a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics, you’ll become eligible for managerial positions, which also means a significant increase in salary.

Data Analytics Degree Salary Outlook

The average data analytics degree salary ranges between $62,967 and $80,000, according to PayScale. However, this range varies based on location, company, level of education, level of experience, and industry. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that operations research analysts working in finance, manufacturing, the management of organizations, the federal government, and professional, technical, and scientific fields earn the highest salaries.

Degree Level Average Salary
Data Analytics Associate Degree $62,967
Data Analytics Bachelor’s Degree $66,000
Data Analytics Master’s Degree $80,000

Data Analytics Degree Jobs and Career Outlook: What Can You Do With a Data Analytics Degree?

With a data analytics degree, you can find a job in a variety of industries, such as marketing, information technology, manufacturing, entertainment, and retail. Below is a list of different data analytics jobs you can get at different degree levels.

Top Data Analytics Associate Degree Jobs

  1. Operations Research Analyst
  2. Business Intelligence Analyst
  3. Information Officer
  4. IT Systems Analyst
  5. Business Analyst

Top Data Analytics Bachelor’s Degree Jobs

  1. Statistician
  2. Quantitative Analyst
  3. Database Manager
  4. Data Engineer
  5. Management Analyst

Top Data Analytics Master’s Degree Jobs

  1. Analytics Manager
  2. Senior Data Engineer
  3. Business Systems Analyst
  4. Data Scientist
  5. Big Data Architect

Highest-Paying Data Analytics Jobs

Highest-Paying Data Analytics Jobs Entry-Level Salary (0-12 Months) Early-Career Salary (1-4 Years) Mid-Career Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Salary (10-19 Years)
Big Data Engineer $77,735 $88,494 $105,107 $117,669
Data Architect $72,201 $86,162 $112,715 $137,572
Business Intelligence Analyst $60,617
$69,329 $79,605 $94,599
Data Security Analyst $58,638 $67,410 $86,631 $80,000
Database Manager $49,934 $50,045 $57,227 $105,404

Professional Data Analytics Organizations and Resources

There are many professional data analytics organizations and resources to help you remain competitive in the field. You can use these platforms to develop a professional network, increase job opportunities, improve salary potential, and keep abreast of developments in the industry. Below you will find top professional data analytics organizations and resources.

1

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)

INFORMS is an excellent association for professionals working in statistics, artificial intelligence, applied mathematics, operations research, and analytics. The association champions best practices to improve operations, processes, and outcomes through meetings, networking communities, professional development services, and publications.

2

Data Science Council of America (DASCA)

Data Science Council Of America offers multiple professional certifications to data analytics professionals. You will find professional certifications for big data engineers, data analysts, and data scientists. It's an excellent way to showcase your knowledge and skills in different technologies and tools.

3

American Statistical Association (ASA)

American Statistical Association is a community of statisticians founded in Boston. The professional association features publications, membership services, education, accreditation, and meetings. This professional association has continuously operated since its founding in 1839.

Data Analytics in 10 Years: Is Getting a Data Analytics Degree Worth It?

Yes, getting a data analytics degree is worth it. Once you complete a degree program in data analytics, you can choose to become a data analyst , big data engineer, machine learning engineer, programmer, or operations research analyst. Earning your degree in this broad field also allows you to choose the industry you want to work in.

In addition, data analytics is only increasing in value and relevance as businesses are more reliant on the use of data for improvements than ever before. Earning a degree in data analytics guarantees you career stability, a high salary, and the opportunity to make significant contributions to whichever industry you choose.

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Data Analytics Degree FAQ

Can I learn data analytics from a bootcamp?

Yes, you can learn data analytics from a bootcamp. There are multiple data analytics bootcamps offering online and in-person programs. These bootcamp programs will take you through foundational to advanced data analytics concepts to help you start your career.


Are data analytics degrees relevant?

Yes, data analytics degrees are relevant. Data analytics degree-holders are in high demand as  more organizations than ever before are utilizing the skills of these professionals. Through a data analytics degree, you can become a data scientist , data analyst, business intelligence analyst, or big data engineer.

Do I need a data analytics bachelor’s degree to become a business analyst?

No, you don’t need a data analytics bachelor’s degree to become a business analyst. There are multiple education pathways you can choose to begin a career as a business analyst. However, it’s important to know that the qualifications required for this position vary between organizations. While some organizations will accept a bootcamp certificate, others may require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

Do I need to learn programming to become a data analyst?

No, you don’t need to learn programming to become a data analyst. However, there are multiple degree programs that teach programming with Python or R as part of the curricula. Additionally, while you aren’t required to learn programming to become a data analyst, it certainly is beneficial.

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Daisy Waithereo Wambua

About the author: Daisy is a seasoned writer with a decade of experience in writing, proofreading, and editing. She has spoken at Maseno University to help young women explore new careers and learn more about technology. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and Public Relations, a Certificate in Web Development, and a Master's Degree in International Studies.

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