A master's degree is a program of further study, designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree, other undergraduate degree or postgraduate certificate or diploma. The most well-known master's degree is probably the Master of Business Administration degree, or MBA. However, it's not the only option for business students. The Master of Science in Business Analytics degree, or MSBA, is a newer program that might tick more of your boxes.

MSBA vs. MBA: Admission Requirements

Most MBA programs require students to have an undergraduate degree and sit for admission tests (unless this requirement can be waived with a GPA above a certain level). Some MBA programs may require several years of work experience. Most MSBA programs also require an undergraduate degree as well as a history of strong academic performance and demonstrated professional interest in business analytics. However, many MSBA programs do not require work experience.

For both programs, the undergraduate degree should include courses related to the master's degree. For example, UCLA Anderson School of Management requires MSBA students to have experience or coursework in computer programming and statistical and econometric modeling.

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MSBA and MBA admission requirements vary by program, so contact the school admissions office for the specific requirements.

MSBA vs. MBA: Timelines

The length of time you can commit to a master's degree is a factor for many people. Most MBA programs take two years or longer, while the MSBA typically lasts for 12 months. However, some MSBA programs, such as Carnegie Mellon's online MSBA program, reach 18 months. Most schools offer full-time and part-time options for the MSBA. For example, the MSBA at Seattle University takes 12 months on a full-time basis but can also be done part time over 24 months.

MSBA vs. MBA: Course Content

While the MSBA and the MBA both concentrate on the business issues and solutions of which students need an in-depth knowledge to succeed in their careers, the MSBA is focused on processing rather than management, making it a more data-driven program than the MBA.

Typical MBA courses are accounting, business communication and ethics, business law, entrepreneurship, finance and strategic management. MSBA programs are more technical in nature, with courses on analytical modeling, programming, data mining, coding, database management and information technology. MSBA students learn how to use coding and programming languages like Python and SQL and software programs like Microsoft Access and Decision Suite.

MSBA vs. MBA: Cost

Generally speaking, it costs less to pursue an MSBA degree than an MBA degree. For example, the 24-month MBA at New York University Stern costs around $194,876, while the 12-month MSBA will set you back around $76,750. However, depending on the program, you may pay more per semester hour for an MSBA.

MSBA vs. MBA: Career Paths

The MSBA and MBA degrees both prepare students for a variety of careers in business, but the MBA takes a more holistic approach, while the MSBA specializes in data.

If your ideal role is in leadership or management, or you want to work at the executive level, the MBA may be the best choice for you. However, MBA graduates go on to find jobs in a wide range of business departments, including finance, marketing and sales. MBA graduates may also work as consultants, providing all types of companies with creative solutions for their business problems.

On the other hand, the MSBA is a better option if you want to find a tech-focused role with an emphasis on data analysis. As the world becomes increasingly data driven, skilled data scientists are in high demand in media companies, education institutes and consumer products groups. MSBA graduates may secure roles as business intelligence analysts, business operations analysts or data warehousing specialists.

About the Author

Claire Gillespie has been writing and editing for 18 years. She has written about high school and higher education for private clients and various websites, including SheKnows and Reader's Digest.