Analytics MBA vs MS in Business Analytics: Which Is More Technical?

Two coworkers stand in an open office, analyzing orange sticky notes on the glass wall in front of them.

Business analytics — the use of data and mathematical models to evaluate business problems and develop corresponding strategies and plans — plays a critical role in modern business. U.S. News & World Report notes that it is "relevant in nearly every field, whether it's medicine, technology, retail or real estate." The steady influx of more, and more detailed, data strongly suggests that the field should grow ever more essential in years to come.

Analytics is already pervasive across business sectors and functions, from human resource management to supply chain operations to marketing strategy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for management analysts should grow 14 percent from 2020 to 2030, from just over 900,000 jobs to 1.25 million. That's near twice the growth rate of the overall job market in the U.S.

"Applications to business analytics master's programs increased 34 percent year-over-year in 2020, by far the most significant increase for any degree type tracked."

The mathematical, computing and analytical skills necessary to succeed in business analytics require training, which helps explain the popularity of master's degree programs in the field. Poets & Quants identifies business analytics as "among the fastest-growing master’s programs in business," while the Graduate Management Admissions Council report titled The Global Demand for Graduate Management Education indicates that applications to business analytics master's programs increased 34 percent year-over-year in 2020, by far the most significant increase for any degree type tracked.

Many employers require analytics hires to hold a master's-level degree. Others may not insist on a graduate degree but nonetheless favor candidates with a master's degree or a Ph.D. Indeed reports that employers prefer business analytics candidates with a master's degree in business administration or computer science.

The higher you hope to ascend the corporate ladder, the more likely you need a master's degree. But even lower-level analysts are more likely than ever to hold a post-baccalaureate degree. According to Burtch Works, "89 percent of working data analysts with less than three years of experience have master's degrees." These are the candidates against whom you'll complete when you go looking for a business analytics job.

If you are looking to bolster your business analytics credentials, a master's-level business analytics degree is an excellent choice. But which degree? It turns out you have options. A Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics (MSBI&A), like the one offered by Stevens Institute of Technology, teaches how to use Big Data in business while diving deep into the technology that makes it possible. The degree "leans heavily on the high-tech infrastructure at Stevens," simulating the sort of challenges students will eventually face in their professional lives.

An Analytics Master of Business Administration (AMBA) — also offered by Stevens Institute of Technology — provides another choice. AMBA programs also teach technology and business applications but with a stronger emphasis on management and leadership. The Stevens AMBA trains students to collect and interpret data, anticipate and exploit technological innovations, and communicate complex technical and mathematical information to stakeholders who lack the requisite STEM expertise.

Both the MSBI&A and the AMBA require technical skills. Both are available as online master's programs. Which business analytics program is the more technical degree? Read on to find out.

What Is an Analytics Master of Business Administration (AMBA)?

An Analytics MBA combines instruction in management and analytics to train managers fluent in analytics technology, processes and results.

Goals

The Online Analytics MBA at Stevens is a STEM program designed to build students' technical skills and managerial capabilities. It trains them to:

  • Recognize and gauge opportunities to use data and data tools to create value and drive decision-making
  • Use statistical software like R and SAS to analyze multivariate data
  • Communicate and interpret findings to peers through data visualization and written presentations
  • Utilize design thinking to drive novel solutions to complex challenges

Industry leaders and accomplished academics lead this part-time online program.

Curriculum

Stevens' AMBA consists of a 13-course, 39-credit-hour MBA curriculum that emphasizes management and leadership skills in the context of business analytics and technology. Management courses include classes in marketing, finance, strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation and service management. The program covers analytics with coursework in modeling and decision-making, applied analytics, multivariate data analytics, machine learning and human-centered design thinking.

Admission Requirements

Candidates for the StevensOnline AMBA program must have completed courses in financial management, accounting and economics before commencing degree work. Undergraduate courses qualify to fulfill these requirements, as do specific non-credit online courses.

Applicants must also submit:

  • Academic transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Official scores for the GMAT or GRE
  • A professional resume that highlights:

    • Academic record
    • Leadership abilities
    • Professional aspirations
    • Work and internship experience
  • International students also must include TOEFL or IELTS scores as part of their applications
"The AMBA may better serve analytics professionals looking to advance as managers. Those who prefer to immerse themselves in data science or deep-dive data crunching may find the MSBI&A a better fit."

What Is a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics (MSBI&A)?

A Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics (MSBI&A) offers a deep dive into business analytics. Like AMBA students, MSBI&A candidates learn management skills but with a stronger emphasis on programming, information systems, data mining, artificial intelligence and advanced mathematics.

Goals

The StevensOnline MSBI&A prepares business leaders highly trained in business analytics technology. The curriculum covers management and leadership skills, emphasizing advanced computing, mathematics and their business applications.

The program arms students with such diagnostic and predictive tools as artificial intelligence, deep learning and predictive analytics to challenge assumptions and make evidence-based business decisions. It trains them to:

  • Use and understand multivariate analysis using R
  • Identify and mitigate risk using mathematical models
  • Utilize computing and mathematical optimization models to analyze and improve processes
  • Manage data warehouse and business intelligence systems throughout their life cycles
  • Solve real-world problems using supply chain analytics

Curriculum

Over its 36-credit-hour, 12-course curriculum, StevensOnline's Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics at Stevens probes such technical fields as data modeling, data warehousing, business intelligence, data management, multivariate data analytics, machine learning, cognitive computing, software skills, big data technologies and AI management. It also includes courses covering data analysis applications to specific business areas: marketing analytics, supply chain analytics, social network analytics and optimization analytics. Seminars, workshops and lectures by industry leaders supplement technical instruction with content focused on business, leadership and communication skills.

Admission Requirements

The advanced technical and mathematical content of this program requires students with a background in calculus and statistics. They also must know a programming language. Students may have acquired these competencies while earning their bachelor's degree or through non-credit online courses, boot camps or certificate programs.

Applicants must also submit:

  • Academic transcripts
  • A professional resume highlighting:
  • Academic record
  • Leadership abilities
  • Professional aspirations
  • Work and internship experience
  • Official scores for the GMAT or GRE
  • International students also must include TOEFL or IELTS scores as part of their applications

Which Degree Is More Technical?

Both the AMBA and the MSBI&A include technical courses. The AMBA devotes significant time to management and leadership skills; its technical coursework requires mathematics and programming skills but primarily focuses on strategy, long-term planning and managing engineers.

The MSBI&A, in contrast, includes more courses in analytics processes and applications. Further, it probes the technical aspects of analytics more deeply. That's why only the MSBI&A program requires a background in calculus and statistics. The MSBI&A is the more technically oriented of the two degrees.

Choosing the Right Analytics Degree For You

Which business analytics degree better fits your career goals? Stevens' websites for its AMBA and MSBI&A programs list prospective careers for those earning the AMBA and the MSBI&A.

Stevens AMBAs often go on to become:

  • Financial analysts
  • Financial managers
  • General and operational managers
  • Management analysts
  • Market research analysts
  • Marketing managers

Graduates of Stevens' MSBI&A program typically work as:

  • Business analysts
  • Data analysts
  • Data scientists
  • Financial analysts
  • Operations research analysts

These lists are hardly comprehensive, but they do provide some guidance on which degree better suits particular career trajectories. Unsurprisingly, they indicate that the AMBA may better serve analytics professionals looking to advance as managers. Those who prefer to immerse themselves in data science or deep-dive data crunching may find the MSBI&A a better fit.

No matter which degree you choose, you can earn your degree in a 100 percent online program from Stevens Institute of Technology, a proven leader in online learning. Its online MBA is recognized among the best in the state of New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report, which also ranks the school's online business analytics program among the nation's top 20.

You can learn more about these programs on the Stevens AMBA and MSBI&A websites. If you're ready to apply, you can start your AMBA application or MSBI&A application today.