Online Data Analytics Degree Overview
Data analytics has grown exponentially over the past few years and, according to the World Economic Forum, data analysts are one of the most in-demand jobs of the 2020s. Data analysts do more than just analyze data. They collect data to maximize an organization's efficiency, create new data procurement and processing programs, research and create models to analyze problems within an organization and study the results of the data to present to their company. Programs in data analytics prepare students for a career in a wide range of fields including government, healthcare, supply chain management, sports management, and business. Programs are available in online formats at many levels.
Online Associate Degrees in Data Analytics
An online Associate in Data Analytics can prepare students for an entry-level career in data analytics or data management. An associate degree can also function as a pathway to a Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics. Most online associate degrees in data analytics are 60 credits and take two years to complete. While the number of online associate degrees in data analytics is relatively small, there are some available.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Data Analytics
Those who pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics will learn how to turn raw data into usable information. They will build a portfolio of data analysis that will appeal to future employers and learn how to use data to help businesses grow successfully. There are numerous online Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics degrees available. Many programs consist of 120 to 180 total credit hours and can be completed in four years.
Online Master's Degrees in Data Analytics
While a bachelor's degree will prepare students for a career in data analytics, many choose to pursue a master's degree in order to further their careers. There are a number of online Master of Science (MS) in Data Analytics programs available. Some programs require a thesis component, but not all, and normally can be completed within two years. An MS in Data Analytics strengthens the skills that were developed in a student's bachelor's program and prepares its graduates for a solid career.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Data Analytics
Fully online doctoral degrees in data analytics are rare. Typically, more online doctoral degrees are offered in data science, which is an umbrella term that data analytics falls under. These programs tend to be research-heavy and take between four and seven years to complete. Many who choose to pursue a doctorate plan to go into academia.
Online Certificates in Data Analytics
Because of the massive growth in digital data over the past few decades, many schools offer online graduate certificates in data analytics. These certificates aren't master's degrees, but still provide students with sought-after skills in data analysis that can help them in a variety of different careers. These certificates often take between 1 to 2 years to complete and are fully online.
Data Analytics Specializations/Concentrations
While a specialization or concentration is not required for a career in data analytics, it may appeal to future employers. Some schools may have specializations or concentrations specific to their institution, but many schools offer a supply management concentration. This concentration helps to prepare students for their future careers by teaching them to apply qualitative and quantitative methodologies that are used in global supply chain management.
Curriculum/Coursework for a Data Analytics Degree
While universities have their own specific classes for data analytics that were developed individually by their professors, many universities have overlapping curriculums and coursework. Some of the types of courses in data analytics that students may see from a variety of different institutions are as follows:
- Introduction to Big Data
- Data Analytics Using SAS
- Machine Learning
- Introduction to Business & Data Analytics
- Introduction to Social Media Data Analytics
- Business Intelligence & Data Mining
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Data Analytics?
An online bachelor's degree in data analytics typically takes four years to complete. However, students can often finish in less time. Schools offer the ability to take self-paced courses, which help to lessen the time it takes to complete a degree. Colleges and universities also offer part-time programs. Though it takes longer to complete, this route might be beneficial for those who are working and pursuing a degree at the same time.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Data Analytics Degrees
Accreditation is extremely important for schools and students. A school that is accredited means that it is held to acceptable qualities of higher education and that it is reputable and recognized. Schools are periodically reviewed in order to keep their accreditation status.
There are three different types of accreditation: regional, national, and programmatic. Regional and national accreditation are both for the entirety of the program. The accrediting body must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education because this impacts the institution's ability to accept federal financial aid.
Programmatic accreditation is when the program within an institution is accredited by an organization or society and that the program is held to the standards of that specific organization. There is currently no programmatic accreditation for the data analytics field.
How to Choose a School & Program
There are many different programs and schools available for those who wish to pursue an online data analytics degree. There are several things students should consider when looking into various schools and programs.
What are the benefits of the program? Many programs have certificates built into the program or prepare students to take the certification exam. Certifications help to show potential employers what skills the prospective employee has and shows that they are capable of doing the work required of them.
Does the program offer the ability to specialize? Many schools do not offer specializations. So if a student has aspirations in the data analytics world, they should make sure that the school offers classes in that subject or specialization in that subject. Some schools offer a supply management concentration. Students who aspire to go into a supply management analytics career should look for schools that offer such a minor. Some students are more drawn to the concept of big data and wish to pursue a career involving it. Big data analytics involves data that is too big for relational databases to capture and process. Schools may offer courses specifically in big data, and students should take that into consideration if that is where their interest lies.
Where are some of the places that students might work? While this is of lesser importance than other considerations, students might want to keep this in mind. It helps to determine the notoriety of the school, which helps when looking at the job market.
Data Analytics Licensure & Certification
There are a large number of certifications available that may help one's career in data analytics. Not all of the mentioned certifications are required in order to have a career in data analytics. Having a few of these certifications, however, may appeal to future employers. Some colleges and universities have different certifications built into their curriculum, but students may wish to branch out on their own.
- Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
- Cloudera Certified Professional: CCP Data Engineer
- EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate (EMCDSA)
- Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
- SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9
- SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9
- Open Certified Data Scientist
- Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA®)
- Associate Big Data Engineer Credential from DASCA
- Senior Big Data Engineer Credential from DASCA
- Certified Analytics Professional
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certifications
Data Analytics Career Information
Those who study data analytics tend to go on to become certified data analysts. However, data analytics is in every corner of society. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day, according to Purdue. Those who study data analytics can go on to work as database administrators, health data analysts, clinical data analysts, and functional analysts. They can go on to work for the government, schools, healthcare, law, and in multiple other fields.
How to Become a Health Data Analyst
One possible career for those studying data analytics is to become a health data analyst. Most health data analysts need experience in the medical field to be considered for a health data analytics position. This can come by way of working in medical economics, health information technology, or managed care finance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2019, the median salary for medical records and health information technicians was $42,630. The field is currently projected to grow by 8% according to the BLS. Another possibility for those interested in healthcare but want to study data analysis is to become a clinical data analyst.
How to Become a Data Analytics Manager
Some people who study data analytics go on to become data analytics managers. They are responsible for coordinating analytically-based tasks for the company they work for, they develop analytical approaches to answer questions, and they run a team of data analysts. They are often entirely in charge of the team from the hiring decisions to the developmental processes that the team must go through. On average, according to PayScale.com in November 2020, analytics managers make around $96,369 per year.
Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Data Analytics Degrees
Students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form every year prior to the start of school. The student's college then uses the FAFSA to determine what kind of aid the student is eligible for. There are many types of aid available including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans.
Grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back. Grants are need-based while scholarships are based on an application or some other qualifying standard. There are many need-based, merit-based, or major-based scholarships available. Work-study programs are available for those who qualify. They are where students work part-time to pay for their education. Loans are when a study borrows money and they must be paid back with interest.
Professional Organizations in Data Analytics
There are many professional organizations in data analytics that help to provide their members with networking and educational opportunities. Having an industry name or organization on a resume helps to enhance potential employment opportunities and shows commitment to the field. Some professional organizations include:
- Digital Analytics Association (DAA) - The DAA was founded with the purpose of advancing the use of data and improving the digital world. Its plan to do this is through professional development and community.
- Association of Data Scientists (ADASCI) - While more broad than just data analytics, ADASCI is for all those involved in data science and machine learning. It is one of the premier global professional bodies for the field of data science.
- The Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (SIGKDD) - SIGKDD was formed primarily for the field of data mining, which overlaps with data analysis. SIGKDD works to promote research and development in knowledge discovery and data mining as well as urges the advancement of the field and education.