While MBAs continue to be a popular offering for executives looking to take their careers to the next level, the fairly new master’s of science in business analytics has become a strong competitor.
The degree has seen a surge in popularity within the past five years, with top-ranked schools like MIT Sloan, Carlson at the University of Minnesota, and McCombs at the University of Texas offering the program. Global applications have grown 300%, according to education research firm QS Quacquarelli Symonds. Deans of these schools say graduates can expect jobs in data science, quantitative analytics, and data business analytics at top companies like Apple and Amazon.
In exclusive interviews with Business Insider, several experts listed why the MSBA might be a better fit for some than an MBA. Here are the top three reasons.
Think about how much time and money you’re willing to spend.
MSBA programs tend to be a year in length instead of two or more, so students generally save half the cost and time required by an MBA.
The initial investment leads to starting salaries upwards of $70,000 for graduates. That number could be even higher if you’re a domestic student.
“The interesting thing is that if you have a US student who’s coming to this program, starting salaries are often significantly higher than the international average,” said Sri Zaheer, dean of the Carlson School of Management. “In one year, many of them are getting the kinds of salaries that MBAs would normally get.”
Then consider work experience.
Applicants to an MSBA usually have one to two years’ work experience, compared to the four or five years’ of work experience many MBA programs require.
Daniel Kahn, senior research executive at QS, tells Business Insider that job candidates recognize the potential of the skill set they can acquire through an MSBA, even when they have very little job experience themselves.
“The employment industry wants people who can program, who can do business analytics,” Kahn said. Potential employees can now meet that need earlier on by obtaining this master’s.
Finally, look at the resources you’ll be able to access.
Business schools also promise students access to better work experience. MSBA students interact with the same big names as MBA students, as they work with similar career advisors.
“You go into MIT and you’ll find yourself having access to the same employers that MBAs are looking at,” Kahn said.
Students at Carlson have access to the Carlson Analytics Lab, through which they can work to solve data-driven problems for companies like $15 billion Land O’Lakes.
“You know, it’s not theoretical,” Ellen Trader, the director of the lab, told Business Insider. “These are real problems the companies are coming to us with, and they really do intend to deploy the work.”
Teddy Bekele, CTO of Land O’Lakes, told Business Insider that he’s hired at least one person from the Carlson MSBA class every year since working with the analytics lab.
“As far as new talent, this is our predominant pipeline,” he said.