A Business Degree Comparison: Master’s in Business Analytics vs. MBA

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Online Master of Business Analytics

Business professionals working together at a conference room table with visual data graphs overlapping.

A Business Degree Comparison: Master’s in Business Analytics vs. an MBA

Technology has dramatically changed the way we do business. From quickly drafting prototypes using newly developed computer software to optimizing the distribution of finalized products with advanced machine learning technology, this is just a glimpse of how new technologies and techniques are transforming business, industries, and the way they advance.

As business and technology become increasingly interlaced, more opportunities have emerged for tech- and business-minded individuals to make an impact. It is important to understand the difference between two common degrees to align your academic pursuits with your overall career goals. When it comes to a master’s in business analytics vs. an MBA, there are a number of important similarities and differences to consider.

Master’s in Business Analytics vs. an MBA

Both of these degrees can place individuals in an advantageous position for recruitment and job placement. However, there are some important differences to understand regarding topics of study, skills acquired, and career outcomes.

Master’s in Business Analytics

A master’s in business analytics focuses on the ways in which data analysis can produce actionable results for organizations. Different organizations collect different types of data for a variety of purposes. For instance, banks use credit scores to determine interest rates for customers, and manufacturers use customer feedback to tailor their products to their customers’ needs. Without talented data analysts, it is difficult to determine the significance of the information organizations gather. Individuals with a background in business analytics can use a variety of quantitative tools to draw valuable conclusions from data sets.

Courses offered in master’s in business analytics programs are designed to teach students the various techniques to perform data analysis in a variety of settings. Courses such as predictive analytics teach students how to use machine learning (a method of “teaching” computer algorithms based on historical data). This is used to create models that can forecast future trends and outcomes. Data management courses explore the various ways data can be housed and applied, as well as commonly used practices to access these systems. Moreover, students need to summarize their findings in intelligible ways, so effective business communication is also emphasized throughout the curriculum.

A common career path for those who earn a master’s in business analytics is to become an operation research analyst. These individuals help organizations research and problem-solve for a variety of purposes using technical skills related to data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a job growth rate of 27% for this position from 2016 to 2026, which is much higher than the national average. Operation research analysts earned an average of $83,390 in 2018, according to the BLS. This varies, however, depending on work experience, geographic location, and education. With professional experience and the proper educational background, analysts can advance to management positions in an analytics department. These roles earned an average salary of $144,745 in 2018.

Master’s in Business Administration

A master’s in business administration, or MBA, helps students develop the business skills necessary to perform in a corporate leadership position. Business executives must be well versed in a number of different business-related concentrations to keep their organizations competitive in an ever-changing economy. Executives and managers are responsible for almost all components of an organization’s function. They provide leadership and ingenuity through their decision-making, and they leverage their business knowledge to optimize efficiency and adapt to their customers’ needs.

Students in an MBA program study a variety of topics, such as finance, marketing, economics, leadership, business ethics, and accounting. MBA programs typically include both theoretical approaches to business and empirical examples of successful business practices. From this, students can expect to gain a well-rounded set of adaptable business skills. They can learn not only the quantitative elements of conducting business but also the skills necessary to maintain effective leadership and implement their ideas.

Top executives take responsibility for an organization’s strategies and policies. Since doing so takes a great deal of organizational background knowledge, most executives work their way up from management roles both within and outside the organization. Individuals who climb the corporate ladder to the highest rung — top executive, CEO, etc. — can expect to earn an average of $104,980 per year, according to the BLS. Job growth is average in this field, and income varies considerably across industries.

Which Degree Is Right for Me?

When it comes to a master’s in business analytics vs. an MBA, either degree can position you for success; however, job outcomes vary between the two degrees. As data analysis techniques continue to improve, we can expect to see a widening convergence between business and technical practices among large organizations — and likely more opportunities for data analysts.

If working in the field of data analytics interests you, Ohio University offers an online Master of Business Analytics program. In as few as 20 months, you could earn a credential that could qualify you for leadership positions in a variety of industries. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement, and you can begin the program in fall, spring, or summer. Visit the Ohio University website today and explore whether a master’s in business analytics may be right for you.

Recommended Reading

What Does an MBA Curriculum Look Like?

How to Empower Decision Making with Predictive Analytics

A Look at MBA-Related Programs: What Is Business Management?



CIOReview, “The Business of Data and Business Analytics: Reporting IT Value in Business Terms”

Forbes, “Why People Still Want an MBA Degree”

Ohio University, Online Master of Business Analytics

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Operations Research Analyst

U.S. News & World Report, “Dive Into Data with a Master’s in Business Analytics”

U.S. News & World Report, “What an MBA Degree Is and What You Need to Know”