How to Choose a Master's in Data Analytics


It’s critical to know all of your options when researching what graduate-level online data analytics training, course, or program is right for you. In today’s market, there are seemingly endless options for upskilling, from specialized micro-credentials that provide an overview of a specific skill to a fully accredited online master’s in data analytics or data science.    

At Ohio State, there are multiple online master’s degree options to prepare you to be an expert in data analytics. The Specialized Master in Business-Analytics, offered through the Max M. Fisher College of Business, focuses on the specific needs of business leaders. The Master of Translational Data Analytics is an interdisciplinary master's degree offered through Ohio State's Translational Data Analytics Institute. 

The goal of this article is to review your options and their outcomes, which programs offered by The Ohio State University might be best for your career goals, and how to make the best choice for you. 

What can I do with a master's degree in data analytics?

One of the most appealing aspects of a master’s in data analytics is that graduates can transition to a broad variety of industries or fields upon graduation. Today’s businesses rely on data for everything they do, and data management and data analysis jobs are growing at scale. Learning how to harness and analyze data to make informed decisions will make you a valuable asset to your organization and help advance your career.  

Because graduate degrees in analytics can lead to a wide variety of career paths, graduates can seek occupational titles such as Statistician, Management Analyst, Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Business Analyst, Data Engineer, Data Architect, or a variety of other management or director-level jobs. Earning a master’s degree in data analytics can lead to a valuable return on investment, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median annual salary of Management Analysts at $87,660, and the median annual salary of Data Scientists at $98,230.    


What's the difference between data analytics and data science?

The line between data analytics and data science has become obscure in recent years. Conventionally, data analytics focuses on aggregation and interpretation of data, while data science takes that information and focuses on building predictive modeling and algorithms.

“If you’re not solving a problem with data, if you’re just doing an investigation, that’s just analysis. If you’re actually going to use the outcome to explain something, you’re going from analysis to science. It’s actual problem-solving, rather than looking at, examining, and plotting [data],” said Adam Hunt, Chief Technology Officer at RiskIQ, in an interview with Despite their differences, the terms are often used interchangeably.  

Many who earn a master’s in data science, master’s in business analytics, or master’s in data analytics go on to apply for the same jobs and work side-by-side, working with big data to provide insights and solve problems. Data analytics and data science degrees each include coursework in data management, data analysis, and big data computing. Data science programs may be better suited for someone looking to enter mathematical science, database architecture, or software development occupations, but individuals with data analytics degrees or business analytics degrees may also be qualified for those positions.

Regardless of whether you are interested in earning a master’s in business analytics or master’s in data analytics, Ohio State’s online master’s degrees can help you achieve your career goals with our Specialized Master in Business-Analytics and Master of Translational Data Analytics.  


What is the Specialized Master in Business-Analytics?

Offered by the top-ranked Fisher College of Business, Ohio State’s online Specialized Master in Business-Analytics is taught by experienced business school faculty. This master’s in business analytics prepares students to leverage descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics skills to drive innovation, increase productivity and inform decision-making. The Specialized Master in Business-Analytics provides a foundation in business courses (economics, finance, leadership, and organizational behavior) as well as data management, data analytics, and statistics courses, culminating in a capstone project using real-world data from a corporate partner.  

One difference between this online master’s in business analytics offered by Ohio State and other similar programs is the curriculum’s focus on systems thinking or taking a broad and pragmatic perspective when analyzing structure, patterns, and feedback mechanisms in real-world contexts. Program participants benefit from services offered by the college’s Office of Career Management, as well as professional development opportunities through Fisher’s Professional Development Coaching team.


What is the Master of Translational Data Analytics? 

The Master of Translational Data Analytics is Ohio State’s online master’s in analytics offered through the university’s Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI), an interdisciplinary community whose goal is to provide data-intensive solutions to address global challenges. Graduates emerge from this program grounded in the fundamentals of computer science, statistics, and data visualization techniques. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving with a program specifically designed for in-career professionals.

The curriculum offers courses from the College of Engineering (Computer Science) and the College of Arts and Sciences (Statistics, Design, and Advanced Computing Center for Arts and Design). A two-semester capstone project guides students through the data-science lifecycle enabling them to synthesize program concepts while solving real-world data-driven problems in partnership with project sponsors.

A unique aspect of this program is that it leverages the principles of design thinking to solve problems. Design thinking in data science offers a framework to approach problems creatively to find innovative solutions by considering the technical feasibility of a project, the business impact, and data availability. Students will be supported by TDAI staff during the program and have access to TDAI programming and events.


Which data analytics master's degree is right for you?

Each of the online master’s degrees in analytics offered by The Ohio State University will teach students extensive data analytics and data management skills.  If you’re an aspiring business leader who wants to learn how to leverage data to help your organization reach its goals, the Specialized Master in Business Analytics is likely the program that will suit your needs best. If you want to focus more on the data storytelling and visualization aspect of data analytics, the Master of Translational Data Analytics may be the program for you.  

Ohio State Online Data Analytics Program Comparison Specialized Master in Business-Analytics Master of Translational Data Analytics
College / School

Fisher College of Business 

Translational Data Analytics Institute (Graduate School)

Award-winning Fisher College of Business faculty that include industry experts, world-class researchers, and organizational leaders.

Interdisciplinary faculty from departments of Statistics, Design, Advanced Computing Center for the Arts, and Computer Science and Engineering.

Learning Emphasis

Developing data-driven business leaders who can leverage systems thinking to inform decision-making, drive innovation, and achieve organizational goals.

Producing expert data storytellers capable of using design-thinking principles and data visualization to analyze data and present insights.

Core Classes
  • 10.5 credit hours for business foundation course work, consisting of four courses: managerial economics, accounting and financial analysis, statistics, and data analysis, and leadership and organizational behavior
  • 12 credit hours of course work in data management and descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics
  • 3 credit hours for an analytics management capstone using real data from a corporate partner
  • 6 credit hours of electives from an approved list of analytics-focused or discipline-specific courses
  • 6 credit hours for the fundamentals of statistical analysis
  • 6 credit hours for the fundamentals of programming for big data computing
  • 3 credit hours for practical uses and application of machine learning techniques
  • 9 credit hours of instruction on information design, visualization, and user interfaces
  • 6 credit hour capstone sequence using real data from government, industry, and academic sponsors
  • Three 1-credit hour seminars on data governance, research methods, and professional development
Capstone Format Put theory into practice: The Analytics Management Capstone is integrated throughout the SMB-A curriculum and uses real-world data from a current employer or a Fisher-sourced project with a leading organization. The capstone helps students realize the full potential of the analytical skills acquired throughout the program, gain experience managing a small team (undergrad student mentee and a Fisher faculty project advisor), and showcase their business expertise to a professional audience

Students in the online Master of Translational Data Analytics program will form interdisciplinary teams to complete a two-semester capstone project. Collaborating with peers from diverse backgrounds and engaging with sponsor-provided data, students will utilize their data analysis and data storytelling skills to gain insight and develop solutions for project sponsors. 

Technical Data Programs Used

R, Rstudio, Python, SQL, Tableau, PuTTY, Excel, etc.

R, Rstudio, Python, and SQL. 

Time to Completion

As little as 10 months full-time or 

2 years (6 semesters) part-time 

Part-time program 

Less than 2 years (5 semesters)  

Longer pathways available 

Credits Required 31.5 credits 33 credits
Learning Format 100% online or blended (75% asynchronous online, 25% in-person or live-stream) 100% online (combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction for maximum flexibility)


Ohio Resident: $40,985 

Non-Resident: $41,585 


Ohio Resident: $41,469 

Non-Resident: $42,669 

Ohio Resident: $39,811.58  

Non-Resident: $40,811.58 

Ideal Candidates

Working professionals with previous analytical experience or a quantitative background, as well as those without work experience who are capable of taking on the rigors of the curriculum. No work experience is required, but students must have a passion for analytics and a willingness to be challenged by an intensive program.  

Curious, hardworking professionals interested in learning new in-demand skills in data analysis, computing, and visualization to become adept, effective data storytellers in cross-disciplinary environments.  

College / School Support

Fisher’s dedicated Office of Career Management provides personalized, one-on-one career coaching and professional development. A support team helps students prepare for their careers through seminars, workshops, job fairs, networking events and corporate and alumni relationships only available at Fisher. 

Career Services are offered to Ohio State graduate students through Buckeye Careers, while the Translational Data Analytics Institute offers additional networking opportunities with partners. 


Four-year bachelor's degree or higher  


Personal statement 

GMAT or GRE optional 

Letters of recommendation are optional. 

The SMB-A program welcomes all experience levels and statistical computing knowledge. Upon entry, we don't assume any specific background knowledge and see a wide range of experience/capabilities. It will undoubtedly help if you have experience with software or quantitative methods, but SMB-A faculty will instruct you from the base levels to be conversant and capable with them in your day-to-day. Questions? Email  

Bachelor’s degree or higher in any subject 

At least 1 year of professional experience in a field relevant to the degree program  

A 3.0 GPA from all courses from all course attempts 


Personal statement and essays 

3 Letters of Recommendation 

A graduate-level standardized test (GRE, GMAT, PCAT, MCAT, OAT, or LSAT). Testing waivers available. 

The MTDA program is designed for individuals from diverse fields such as healthcare, education, the government, and the arts. No significant programming or statistical background is required. Questions? Email  


What other data analytics programs are offered at Ohio State? 

Ohio State has many other options for online or on-campus learning for data analytics courses 


Still unsure which program is right for you? Contact the Ohio State University online team to learn more about each of the programs or be connected to a representative from either program. 

Last modified: 
December 16, 2022