Is MSBA the Business Analytics Master’s Program for You?

students walking

There’s a lot of nuance to sift through if you’re researching business analytics master’s programs. Some are more tech-heavy, some focus on marketing, and all of them target students with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. With the endless options and expanding popularity of data analytics programs, how do you can you tell which program was designed with you in mind? It’s a struggle. We get it. And we’re here to help. We sat down with MSBA’s Faculty Director, Oliver Rutz and Program Director, Sara Jones, to talk about what makes the program unique and to learn who would make an ideal candidate.

Q: How is this program different from other business analytics master’s programs?

Oliver: Our program is roughly 50/50 in terms of business management and hard data science skills versus many other programs that have a greater emphasis on the data science part. We know from talking to employers that if you can’t use data storytelling to communicate the benefit of your analysis correctly, if you don’t understand the business environment and what questions to ask, often the analyses you’re spending time on aren’t really aiding your organization. This is a unique combination of skills that we’re bringing to the table. Everybody we talked to is very, very excited about this type of student entering the marketplace in a year from now.

Q: What kind of student is the MSBA program meant for?

Oliver: The perfect candidate would be somebody with a strong hard sciences background; especially someone that used math and statistics, not necessarily extensively but as a big part of the core of their studies. People with backgrounds in engineering, economics, math, statistics, bioengineering or biostatistics would be excellent candidates. If you’re a numbers person, this is the program for you.

Sara: The ideal applicant also has some exposure to analytics tools such as R, Python, Excel and SQL, but needs to hone those skills for business and learn to tell compelling stories with their data that can get stakeholder buy-in and drive business value.

Q: What type of career ambitions should an MSBA student have?

Oliver: We see them becoming analysts who can move beyond executing on projects designed by others, and take on projects by themselves – understand the business problem, set up the analytics issue based on the business problem and execute fully. In the long-term, they’d be in leadership positions answering questions about how to drive business using analytics as a key tool and not simply using it to understand what worked and what didn’t.

I often say a good model should really tell you what to do differently tomorrow. We’re teaching the strategic vision on the use of data and analytics. That’s why we focus on team leadership, communication, and general management skills. Because at some point you will need to sell the result of your study and you can only sell it well if you understand the business context that the study lives in.

Ready to jump in to a career in business analytics? Check out the UW Foster School of Business Master of Science in Business Analytics


Written by Victoria Pinheiro, MSc.
MSBA Content Strategy Writer