Data analysts work in a number of industries where they gather and interpret data, as well as check for accuracy, such as sales figures, statistics and company projections.
There are a number of degree options available for aspiring data analysts. Degree options include a bachelor's degree in computer science, a master's degree in information science and a graduate certificate in applied statistics. Each of these programs includes intense studies in mathematics, statistics and data analysis. Graduates are prepared for careers in technology, finance, economics and more.
A bachelor's degree program in computer science teaches students to manage and analyze data. Traditional coursework is combined with hands-on experience working with computer hardware, applications and software.
A Master of Science in Information Science program is research oriented. The curriculum consists of traditional coursework, directed readings, workshops and an internship experience. Research and study areas include database and network design, operating systems, search languages and electronic communications. A bachelor's degree, satisfactory GRE or GMAT scores, letters of reference, and a personal goal essay is necessary for admission. Prerequisite math coursework may also be expected.
A graduate certificate in applied statistics is a post-bachelor's program is designed for both degree and non-degree seeking students. Studies in data analysis teach students about design structures and solutions for organizing inefficiently stored data. For entry, a bachelor's degree and completed prerequisite coursework in linear algebra and calculus is mandated. In some cases, students must be enrolled in a master's degree program.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
The computer science major consists of studies in statistics, information systems design and management, programming databases and more, and takes four years to complete. Computer science courses are comprised of studies in telecommunications, system architecture, database design and more. Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students learn about topics such as:
- User interfaces
- Computer-aided design
- Network systems
- Digital networks
- Storage device analysis
Master of Science in Information Science
Students in these 2-year programs gain critical thinking and research skills, professional ethics and tools for developing information systems. Courses in the program include studies in web programming, systems analysis, information architecture and more. Other focus areas are:
- Data creation
- Information retrieval systems
- Web development
- Markup languages
Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics
Intensive studies in statistics prepare students to be effective researchers and data analysts. Applied statistics courses consist of studies in quantitative data analysis, statistics for economics and forecasting. Topics that are covered in this program are:
- Interval estimation
- Hypothesis testing
- Linear models
- Variance analysis
- Block designs
Popular Career Options
In addition to advanced careers in data analyst, graduates are prepared for a number of other jobs where they can use statistics and data analysis. Common job titles include:
- Computer programmer
- Information manager
- Business analyst
- Operations research analyst
- Computers system analyst
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Although specific employment statistics for data analysts are not available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 21% employment growth for computer systems analysts between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that computer systems analysts earned $85,800 as an annual median wage.
A bachelor's degree in computer science focuses on the management and analysis of data, while master's in information science students build relevant research skills. Those in an applied statistics graduate certificate program will receive a concentrated education in quantitative studies.