MBA vs Master of Business Analytics: Which should you choose?

A majority of sizable corporations have been refining their everyday workflows to incorporate big data capabilities. Executives are now relying on data to guide their decision-making, drive their business strategies and enable key strategic initiatives on behalf of their organisations.

However, they’re facing several key barriers to success with data. One of the most crucial problems they’re up against is a shortage of talent.

Academia has been quick to respond to this particular challenge in a couple of ways. One is that they’ve updated some Master of Business Administration degree programs to include the option of a concentration in business analytics. Another recent response has been the addition of data-driven degree programs such as the Master of Business Analytics and the Master of Data Science to university course catalogs.

Both the MBA and the Master of Business Analytics are useful for working professionals who wish to advance their careers by gaining an understanding of how to incorporate data into their overall business strategy. Yet, there are critical differences between these two degrees, and there are clear reasons you might want to choose one over the other. Let’s take a look at the most important things that differentiate the MBA from the Master of Business Analytics:

There are different learning outcomes between these two types of programs

Both types of degree programs will teach you valuable methods and strategies for conducting business in today’s data-driven environment. However, there are key differences in the learning outcomes you’d expect to achieve:

The MBA tends to focus most prominently on business theory, business operations and business management. Analytics will be presented within this framework as a strategy to incorporate, but it will not typically be the sole focus of the curriculum.

In contrast, data and analytics tend to be central to the focus of the Master of Business Analytics degree. The coursework will include more in-depth coverage of the most up-to-date methodologies and analytics tools that you’ll need to know how to use for implementing a data-driven strategy on behalf of the organisations you’ll work with in the future. The focus is on solving business problems using analytical, quantitative and computer modelling techniques. Managing others is not typically a focus of the core curriculum.

There tend to be different employment outcomes resulting from your choice of MBA or Master of Business Analytics

Either type of degree could prepare you well for a broad range of job titles in the corporate world. For example, it is possible to become a top executive such as a CEO, CIO or COO at a company holding either type of degree. However, the nuances specific to your overall career aspirations should guide your choice of degree programs.

Other key differences

The prerequisites for these programs tend to be different. The specific differences can vary greatly depending on the academic institution and admissions counsellors involved. But, it isn’t unusual for MBA programs to have stricter entrance requirements than Master of Business Analytics programs have.

Depending on the degree program, an MBA is likely to require a significant amount of work experience; in contrast, an interested candidate can pursue the Master of Business Analytics after completing a bachelor’s degree program in a relevant major such as business or information technology.

The verdict

Choose the MBA with a Business Analytics concentration if you:

  • want to pursue a management career, and you don’t already have a deep enough understanding of how to be successful with leadership and management of others
  • want to gain an overall understanding of how a business culture can succeed with incorporating data analytics strategies, without making analytics the sole focus of your career
  • want to become a business operations manager, management consultant, health services manager, financial manager, marketing manager, sales manager, human resources manager or project manager
  • have already been participating in the workforce for at least four years.

Choose the Master of Business Analytics concentration if you:

  • want to become a business operations analyst, financial analyst, senior digital marketing analyst, predictive modeller or quantitative analyst
  • are firmly convinced data can be the key to solving the most compelling problems that today’s business executives face, and you want to be positioned at the forefront of solving those problems.

Do you have any questions about the Master of Business Analytics degree program? Please feel free to learn more at the UTS website, where you can download a course guide and direct your enquiries to their team of admissions counsellors.

The Good MBA Guide allows you to explore, compare and enquire to more than 100 MBA and related executive programs from over 50 education providers.