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Data Science vs Business Analytics – Which is Better?

So which one is the right choice for a successful career? A master’s degree in data science vs business analytics? Both programs draw insights from data using statistics and software tools. But both are very different in their end goal. But, which one has better job prospects? Which one is right for you?

Let’s evaluate this step by step in this guide to understand the key differences between master’s programs in data science vs business analytics.

Definition and Curriculum

Let us first define these degrees and understand their curriculums.

A Master’s in Data Science focuses on training students in the skills needed to analyze and interpret complex data sets. This typically includes courses in machine learning, statistical analysis, data visualization, and programming. MS in Data Science at Columbia University includes hardcore CS courses like ML and Algorithms, Stats courses like Probability and Statistical Modeling and ton of electives.

A Master’s in Business Analytics, on the other hand, focuses on using data to inform business decisions. They have no interest in data unless it can lead to an actionable insight for the business. Cornell’s MSBA curriculum includes fewer tech courses that cover basics of Data Management in SQL, Statistical Programming in Python and R and some level of ML. There is a larger variety of business courses such as Introduction to Finance Analytics, Management Writing for Business Analytics and Conversations in Business Analytics.

Career Outcomes

Let us now talk about the kind of career paths that emerge from these two programs.

Good news is that both programs can lead to rewarding careers, and there is a strong demand for professionals with skills in both data science and business analytics. So, you cannot go wrong with either of them but the kind of jobs you can aim for is different. So, it is important that you understand the difference.

It is clear that MSBA is geared entirely towards application of data science and analytics to solve business use cases. That is why it is called Business Analytics. The course is designed to help you turn data into actionable decisions. You will learn more about visualization and communicating the data in an easy to understand format. You will be trained on storytelling and generating reports which make it easier to decide how to proceed.

On the other hand, data science is a much broader field. While we have seen data science being regularly used in business, it has ton of applications in other areas. For e.g. healthcare – Data science can be used to analyze patient data to identify trends and patterns that can inform the development of new treatments or help healthcare providers make more informed decisions about patient care.

Career Pathway for Master’s in Data Science

A graduate from DS program will have more technical skillset and be spending more time programming, coding and scripting. Some of the career paths include:

  1. Data Scientist
  2. Data Engineer
  3. Machine Learning Engineer
  4. Business Intelligence Analyst
  5. Data Analyst
  6. Research Scientist
  7. Statistician

Career Pathway for Master’s in Business Analytics

A BA graduate will get training on quantitative and analytical tools for decision making as well as business communication. Following job opportunities are available:

  1. Business Intelligence Analyst
  2. Data Analyst
  3. Management Consultant
  4. Marketing Analytics Manager
  5. Operations Research Analyst
  6. Financial Analyst
  7. Risk Analyst

Check out these courses and universities to study in USA

What is better for you – Data Science vs Business Analytics?

A calculative decision between master’s in data science vs business analytics really depends on your career goals. If you’re interested in a career in data analysis or data-driven decision making in a business setting, a Master’s in Business Analytics may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in working with data in a research or technical capacity and are not really interested in business side of things, a Master’s in Data Science may be a better fit.

Good Universities for master’s in Data Science

Good Universities for master’s in Business Analytics

Lastly, a word of caution – don’t go by the name alone. Some programs may call it business analytics and may be more technical in nature and vice versa. Study the curriculum carefully before you apply to make sure you get what you are looking for. You don’t want to end up in a soft and less technical program if your goal is to become a data scientist.

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