How Hot Are Master’s Degrees In Data Analytics? Pretty Hot.

Everyone knows that the master’s degree in business analytics is hot. After all, it’s rare when a month passes by and yet another business school fails to launch a new degree program in the subject. Class profiles and placement reports show an incredibly robust market for the degree. Schools are reporting increased enrollments, often requiring new sections of classes, and 90% plus placement for graduates with data analytics degrees.

Just how popular it has become is evident in the latest report from the Graduate Management Admission Council on the interests and preferences of prospective students. Though the MBA remains the most popular degree in graduate management education, one in five candidates are exclusively considering a specialty master’s degree in business.

While finance remains the most considered business master’s program with 24% of candidates thinking about applying to a finance program, data analytics has shown the biggest jump in consideration over the past five years since being added to the survey in 2013.

GMAC 2019 Prospective Students Survey

Interest in the degree has now risen to 19% of the candidates surveyed by GMAC, up from just 7% in 2013. That’s an increase of 12 percentage points in five years, compared to a four percent-point increase in the master’s of finance, which was at 20% in 2013. It is not inconceivable that a master’s in data analytics could soon become the most popular specialty master’s degree at business schools after the MBA–at least when it comes to the consideration phase.

That prospect raises one inevitable question: Is a degree in data analytics becoming a replacement for the MBA? For some candidates, it appears that it, in fact, is. According to GMAC, 44% of would-be students who are considering a master of data analytics are also thinking of betting a one-year MBA while 41% are considering a two-year MBA program. Not surprisingly, perhaps, a chunk of them are also looking at specialty master’s degrees in finance (39%) and info technology (32%).

Indeed, Poets&Quants is hosting a May 7th webinar at 2 p.m. EST with Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business that will cover the topic: Is A Specialized Master Degree Right For Me? Join the live discussion as we assess alternatives to the MBA and help you decide if a specialized master degree is right for you.

GMAC 2019 Prospective Students Survey

The GMAC study also measures preferences, besides considerations. Candidates preferring a finance degree outnumber those who prefer a degree in data analytics by a two-to-one margin, 10% vs. 5% (see chart on right). About 4% prefer a master’s in accounting, while 3% each said they are zeroing in on a master’s in management or international management. GMAC’s reports are based on responses from 9,617 individuals who register on the organization’s website. They were surveyed between January and December 2018, although the research also includes responses from more than 126,000 individuals surveyed between the years 2009 and 2017.

Here’s what the specialty master’s degree market looks like in 12 more charts:

Trends In Program Consideration: Data Analytics Takes Off

GMAC 2019 Prospective Students Survey

The fastest growing master’s degree at business schools these days is clearly the master’s in data analytics. Interest among prospective students considering a graduate business degree hit a record 19% last year, after five consecutive years of rising consideration. Last year, the master’s in management degree also caught the eye of more candidates, rising three percentage points to 14% from 11% in 2017, but still below its peak 17% level of interest in 2014.

Trends In Consideration: Finance Still No. 1

GMAC 2019 Prospective Students Survey

Meantime, the master’s in finance has never been more popular in the ten years of tracking data published by GMAC. Last year, nearly one in four prospective students expressed interest in getting a graduate degree in finance, up two percentage points from 22% in 2017. Consideration of the master in international management also rose by two percentage points last year to 14% from 12%, a level of interest last seen in 2014.


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