Updated 3/26/20: This post has been edited to reflect that the FlexWeekend MSBA program runs on Saturdays.
For the fourth year in a row, the job search website Glassdoor reported that Data Scientist is the best job in America. “This is due to the high demand, high salary, and high job satisfaction,” Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain told CNBC. Several other data-driven roles also made the list: including data engineer at #8 and data analyst at #31.
There’s no denying that data is very much en vogue.
“All organizations are collecting more and more data. It’s never going to be less,” says Vincent Nijs, Associate Professor of Marketing and co-director of the Rady School of Management’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program. “In this competitive environment, what skill set do you bring?”
According to a 2017 report by IBM, 39% of data scientists and advanced analyst positions require a master’s or PhD. “I think of business analytics as data science specifically for business,” says Nijs. “Our curriculum is built on business problems that companies face in practice, those that companies are willing to pay people to help solve them.” And pay they do.
“Continually learning and adding new knowledge in the field of data science and analytics is a great long-term personal development strategy that pays,” says Forbes writer Louis Columbus. Indeed, that Glassdoor report shows the median base salary for a data analyst at $60,000, but a data scientist can expect to see closer to $110,000*.
“One piece of advice I always offer to students on the job market is to try and start at the highest level possible,” says Raymond Petit, Executive Director of the Rady School’s MSBA program. He has strong evidence to support that advice. “Among graduates who report, 100 hundred percent of our MSBA students are placed in jobs after graduation,” many of them in data scientist roles.
“These companies see how our graduates our fulfilling their needs and doing a great job at it,” says Terrence August, Associate Professor of Innovation, Technology and Operations, and co-director of the MSBA program.
The Rady School of Management is currently accepting applications for its full-time, 11-month Master of Science in Business Analytics degree program and its FlexWeekend MSBA program. The 17-month FlexWeekend MSBA program will cover the same curriculum as the full-time program, with classes offered on alternating Saturdays. This new program will be the first of its kind in California, making it possible for professionals to continue working full-time while they pursue their MSBA degree.
If you’re deciding whether or not to pursue your Master of Science of Business Analytics, here are a few questions to consider:
1. Do you want to earn a higher salary?
2. Do you want to be able to communicate data more effectively?
“When we developed the curriculum for the MSBA programs, we talked to a number of different large corporations in the area,” says Nijs. “We asked them what they’d be looking for from our graduates. They talked about a lot of things like looking at data, being able to analyze the data, but also very importantly—being able to communicate the insights from that data back to decision makers.”
This is a skill set that Rady MSBA graduate Josh Bhatnagar says he uses every day as a Data Analyst at Mazda North American Operations. In addition to supporting the company’s quantitative needs such as data accessibility, modeling and structuring, communication is critical to his job function. “I maintain ongoing dialogue with domain owners and IT to prioritize organizational data requirements, design strategic data solutions and implement those solutions,” he says. “Without my time at Rady, I would not have had the foundation necessary to be successful in my current role.”
3. Do you want more confidence in your technical skills?
Rady MSBA graduate Swagata Chakraborty was working as an analyst in Citibank’s Global Decision Management team when she found herself contemplating how to move forward in her career. “I felt that people who already had a specialization relevant to their role were somewhat more confident and had more clarity about their role.” After graduating, Chakraborty secured a Data Scientist position with Walmart Labs. “Concepts like the statistical significance of the data, sampling methods for training and test data, working with unstructured data, training machine-learning models and confidence interval analysis are some of the topics which I learned through my coursework at Rady and apply on a daily basis [at work].”
4. Do you want the opportunity to expand your network?
Whether you pursue your MSBA in the full-time or in the FlexWeekend program, the Rady Capstone Project provides the opportunity to solve real business problems faced by real companies such as HP, Petco, Target, and Thermo Fisher. Students work in teams of three-four for ten weeks, ultimately to present their findings to the company. “It’s an experience that very much feels like working for a company as opposed to just a school project,” says August. And better yet, the capstone can become the stepping stone to your next career move.
“Companies are setting up this capstone-internship-job pipeline with us so that they can start to build their analytics teams in a very safe, smart way and make sure they’re getting the right talent for what they need,” says Petit. That’s exactly what happened for Rady MSBA graduate Radha Srinivasan, who worked on a capstone project for Thermo Fisher, was offered a data scientist job upon graduation, and is now their Senior Data Scientist (one year after graduating).
5. Do you want to drive up value in an organization?
“It’s great if you’re able to program something interesting in Python that solves a problem, but if nobody wants to use it, we’re not creating any value for anybody,” says Nijs.
Let’s look at that another way. According to a 2013 McKinsey report, “By 2020, the wider adoption of big-data analytics could increase annual GDP in retailing and manufacturing by up to $325 billion and save as much as $285 billion in the cost of health care and government services … Big data promises big things—but only if organizations have the right people in place who know what to do with it.”
Hmm. Sounds like a job for a Rady MSBA graduate.
Learn more about the Rady School of Management’s MSBA program here.