What Is an MSBA (Master of Science in Business Analytics)?

IDC, the global marketing intelligence firm, forecasts that by 2025 more than 150 billion devices will be generating and collecting data around the world. Six billion consumers — about 75 percent of the global population — will interact with data at least once every 18 seconds. From social media interactions and purchase histories to medical devices and supply chain technologies, the sheer volume of available data is creating tremendous opportunities for businesses and organizations to gain a deeper understanding of their customers, markets, patients and other elements that are vital to their success.

The data boom is also creating significant challenges for organizations that hope to make sense of this wealth of information. To be competitive, profitable and secure, today’s businesses need leaders who have the ability to analyze and convert raw data into actionable strategies. Earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) can help professionals cultivate the technical skills and analytical prowess to thrive in an increasingly data-driven world. So, what is an MSBA and how can it help professionals move forward in their career?

A Master of Science in Business Analytics provides advanced instruction in how to research, collect and interpret large data sets that inform wise business decision-making. MSBA courses focus on developing students’ familiarity with concepts such as data mining, quantitative modeling, predictive analytics and business application development. MSBA graduates are often well-positioned to seek data management jobs in a number of fields, including health care, sports management, media, and marketing.

As such, professionals interested in taking the next step in their data management careers should consider earning a graduate degree, such as the online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Students can complete the fully online program in 20 months, and the program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).

For Whom Is an MSBA Best Suited?

Pursuing an MSBA at Maryland Smith can provide valuable preparation for professionals who aspire to establish a career at the crossroads of business analytics and business strategy. The program caters to students who have strong quantitative skills and aptitude coupled with a passion for data-inspired storytelling. Those who thrive most in this environment embrace the challenge of deriving insights from complex data and persuasively communicating their findings to the top decision-makers at their organizations.

For example, students who complete application courses in healthcare analytics develop a greater understanding of health information technology (HIT) and health informatics (HI), learning how to present the results of their work to health care facility managers. Equipped with this analytical evidence, the organization’s leaders can create and implement more effective methods to achieve key goals, such as improving patient outcomes or reducing costs to a nursing department.

Goals and Possible Outcomes

The goal of the MSBA program is to provide students with the skills and acumen they need to advance in data-driven career paths. Sample careers include market research analyst and management analyst. In addition to augmenting their quantitative, data mining and technical skills, the MSBA at the Robert H. Smith School of Business develops enhanced communication and leadership skills, increasing their confidence in their ability to effectively communicate data-driven insights and drive strategic business decisions.

MSBA degree holders from Maryland Smith may also enjoy increased earning potential. According to a 2019 PayScale report, the average annual salary for MSBA degree holders is $72,000, and earners in the top 10th percentile report an annual salary of approximately $110,000.

Skills, Traits and Characteristics Common Among MSBA Graduates

Those asking “What is an MSBA?” should note that the online MSBA program at Maryland Smith teaches a number of skills that professionals in the field need. The curriculum has been designed to help students hone the skills employers are looking for, including programming skills, critical thinking, documentation skills, and communication skills.

  • Programming Skills: Students develop competencies in Python, R and SQL with coursework in quantitative modeling, infrastructure management, data mining and more. Students also learn how to use Python to complete basic regression, optimization and simulation models.
  • Critical Thinking: Coursework in the online MSBA program allows students to strengthen their critical thinking capabilities. They learn how to use statistical analysis models effectively and how to collect evidence to make conclusions relevant to a business.
  • Concise Documentation Skills: Data analysts often need to write reports and make presentations to team members, managers and company stakeholders. The MSBA curriculum emphasizes the importance of writing clearly and concisely. It also focuses on preparing documents using language that can be understood by nontechnical staff.
  • Leadership Skills: The MSBA program teaches students how to be better leaders. Maryland has designed its “Leadership and Teamwork” course to help students develop the confidence they need to provide organizations with strategically-minded solutions and to offer direction to team members regarding company processes and goals.

Sample Core MSBA Courses at Maryland Smith

Core courses in the online MSBA curriculum teach data management and analytical skills that are essential to meet the data needs of modern businesses. This foundational instruction also prepares students for the program’s advanced coursework. Data Mining and Predictive Analytics and Decision Analytics are two of four required core courses in the University of Maryland’s online MSBA program.

  • Data Mining and Predictive Analytics: This course provides students with an overview of the data mining process and the use of machine learning methods like linear regression and logistic regression. Students learn to use a number of data mining techniques, including classification, text mining and prediction. With a focus on the use of algorithms to collect and organize data, students use tools such as classification trees and clustering to determine which data they can apply in a business setting, such as in health care, marketing or operations.
  • Decision Analytics: This course explores basic analytical principles that can help managers make data-informed business decisions, such as determining how best to utilize the given resources of a company, including limited staff or funding, to meet goals. Focusing on optimization and simulation, the course prioritizes the ways a company might address highly complex situations. For example, a manager might need to determine how to manage inventory levels and audit several company departments while undergoing a company restructuring. The course focuses on advanced analytics techniques and uses application-oriented cases to facilitate student development. Students learn to create simulation models, interpret their results and communicate their recommendations to company stakeholders.

Application Courses at Maryland Smith

The University of Maryland offers a number of application courses that allow students to customize their coursework to align with their career goals. These courses take the fundamental and highly developed skills practiced through core and advanced coursework and apply them in a specific field, such as marketing, supply chain or health care.

Advanced Marketing Analytics

Students will learn how to acquire, track, analyze and interpret primary and secondary marketing data that can inform business decisions. The knowledge gained in this course is applicable in a number of areas, including sales promotion analysis, sales force analysis and direct marketing campaigns.

Supply Chain Risk Management

This course teaches students to use Resilinc and other cloud-based software to reduce the chance of supply bottlenecks by evaluating sources, transportation challenges and inventory needs. Students who complete this class can use their business analytic acumen to help supply chains maintain operating status.

Health Informatics and Information Technologies

Health care consultants, professionals and managers will explore current and emerging health care IT concepts and tools, and will gain an understanding of health informatics. Students also learn about how cybersecurity and cloud computing are changing the way hospitals and other health care entities provide patients with care.

Learn More About the MSBA Program at the University of Maryland

Government bodies and companies alike are depending more and more on the application of big data to solve problems, reduce risks and maximize positive outcomes. Professionals with an interest in the relationship of data to solutions-driven strategies designed to optimize results should consider the online MSBA at Maryland Smith. Discover more about the online MSBA today.


Recommended Reading

Master’s in Business Analytics Salary: Enhance Your Earning Potential

Examining the Importance of Business Analytics

Is Business Analytics a Good Career?



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IDC, “Data Age 2025: The Digitization of the World, From Edge to Core”

PayScale, Master of Science (MS), Business Analysis Degree

TOEFL, About the TOEFL iBT Test

University of Maryland, Online Master’s in Business Analytics

University of Maryland, Online MSBA Admission Requirements

University of Maryland, Online Master of Science in Business Analytics Curriculum

University of Maryland, “Learn Why a Master’s in Business Analytics Is Worth It”

World Economic Forum, “How Much Data is Generated Each Day?”