Do I Need A Business Bachelor’s To Study A Master In Business Analytics?
What does it take to get accepted into a Master in Business Analytics, how should you prepare for the program, and what can you expect after graduation?
A Master in Business Analytics will help you develop the hard skills and business acumen it takes to find data-driven solutions to business problems across a range of industries.
The program typically lasts for one year, and students tend to enroll straight after their bachelor’s degree.
According to Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) research, about 17% of all business school candidates consider this type of program, making it the second most popular business master’s degree after the Master in Finance.
But do you need a business bachelor’s to study a Master in Business Analytics, what else does it take to land a spot in the program, and what career prospects will you have after graduation?
Master in Business Analytics entrance requirements
To apply for a Master in Business Analytics, you’ll need a good undergraduate degree. Some programs require you to have a degree in a quantitative discipline like mathematics or computer science, but many accept any bachelor’s degree.
At Nanyang Technological University Singapore’s Nanyang Business School (NBS), for instance, you can apply to the MSc in Business Analytics with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline.
According to Regine Wong (pictured below), assistant director of outreach and admissions for specialized master’s programs at NBS, this makes for a diverse classroom.
“Over 60% of applicants come from a non-technical background,” she explains.
“This could be business related like accounting and finance, or arts, humanities, economics, or languages.”
Alongside a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need a good GMAT or GRE score, and English language qualification if your bachelor’s was in a different language.
You can also apply to the program without work experience, notes Joanna Tan, manager of graduate careers development at Nanyang Business School.
“About 70% of our MSc Business Analytics students don’t have work experience, and the remaining 30% have less than five years’ experience,” she says.
Acing your Master in Business Analytics application
You don’t need a business background to apply to a Master in Business Analytics, but you do need certain traits and interests to stand out to an admissions team.
For Regine, the most important thing you can have is a strong sense of what you’ll get out of the program.
“We want someone who has thought through what they want from their career and how the program will help them get there,” she says.
“Although we accept students from all disciplines, they must have an interest in analytics, and be comfortable with programming.”
At NBS, Regine adds, new students have the chance to complete a programming ‘bootcamp’ before the program officially starts.
But hard skills aren’t everything when it comes to business analytics. Regine and the rest of the admissions team are looking for strong communicators, who can not only draw insights from data, but also explain trends and proposals convincingly to others.
“The ability to get their point across and contribute to the cohort is important,” she emphasizes.
Pivoting into a business analytics role
Employers are looking for these same abilities in their Master in Business Analytics hires.
“Employers are looking for graduates who can provide good insights with data and help to make good business decisions, help advise their managers, colleagues, other teams, and senior management,” Joanna (pictured below) explains.
After graduation, Master in Business Analytics students enter roles including data analyst, business analyst, and risk analyst, across a broad array of industries.
“With the increasing popularity of big data, and data-related jobs, we’re seeing roles related to analytics gaining more traction,” says Joanna.
As the industry changes, the curriculum at NBS is regularly refreshed to include burgeoning topics such as AI and blockchain.
Notable employers for NBS grads include tech giants in China such as Alibaba and Tencent, as well as Shopee in Singapore.
To help develop the communication skills these employers are looking for, students at NBS regularly give presentations, working with peers from a wide range of academic backgrounds and countries.
“We all live in an interconnected world now, so this really is a life skill,” comments Regine.
Students also take part in a business practicum during the program's final trimester, which involves working on a real world business problem with local organizations. Students get to choose their employers, and in the past have have collaborated with Singapore businesses such as Shopee, A*STAR, Grab, Seamoney, and CapitaLand.
This hands-on experience can help them get a foot in the door if they’re pivoting from a non-analytical background.
“I think increasingly we’ll see more demand for talent in this area,” Regine concludes.
“It’s getting more popular, and students who study the topic earlier can reap the benefits of applying it to the workplace sooner.”