Find Your Degree
This is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Can I Pair an MBA with Data Science?

The demand for I/O psychologists in management consulting services will soar 21.5 percent.

Incoming post-graduate students with an interest in both statistical analysis and business administration may feel they have to pursue an MBA or study data science. However, there’s no need to make this difficult decision when entering graduate school. Pairing an MBA with a data science degree is possible. Many business schools offer dual degrees to develop business and data management skills together. Joint MBA degrees are an appealing choice for aspiring data professionals. Demand is constantly growing for qualified data scientists with extensive business leadership experience. Pairing an MBA with data science may represent an academic challenge, but the rewards are often worth the effort. Here’s everything future MBA students should know about dual data science degree options.


Introduction to the Expanding Field of Data Science

Data science is a young discipline compared to most academic and professional occupations. The term “data science” was first coined by Peter Naur during the 1970s. Despite its short history, data science has greatly expanded its scope and application over the last few decades. Data science is an interdisciplinary field that blends statistics, math, and computing to extract information from data. Statistical analysis combined with the power of 21st-century technology has opened the doors for a revolution in the way organizations use data. Data science gives businesses an effective tool to measure and quantify nearly everything. Data scientists in business can study consumer behaviors, set profitable price margins, recruit talent, and more. Corporations rely on data science to inform and validate their everyday operational decisions. Forecasting market trends and business revenue requires big data.

Overview of the Master of Business Administration

MBA in Data ScienceThe Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is a graduate-level professional degree that sharpens corporate leadership skills. It’s intended to promote students into executive management positions. Though the mission stays the same, MBAs come in various shapes. Full-time MBAs are ideal for recent college graduates who are finding their feet in business. Part-time MBAs are excellent for current working professionals looking to advance their careers. Executive MBAs are tailored for upper-level managers who already have 5+ years of experience. Online MBAs are great for anyone needing the flexibility of logging into digital classes anytime 24/7. Adding any MBA to one’s resume proves strategic management abilities. According to CNBC, 40 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have a Master of Business Administration. The MBA is a popular master’s chosen by more than 100,000 students yearly.

Admission Requirements for Joint MBA Programs

How can post-grads pair an MBA with data science? First, apply to MBA programs with dual degree pathways or data specializations. Master of Business Administration entrants need at least an accredited, four-year bachelor’s degree. Many list prerequisite courses, such as accounting, finance, and statistics. Most MBAs are available to non-business majors though. Minimum undergrad GPAs of 2.50-3.0 are usually enforced. Taking the Graduate Management Admission Test might be required. Aim for GMAT scores above 500 to increase admission odds. Top B-schools, such as Stanford and Harvard, have an average GMAT score over 700. Dual degrees could go beyond the standard MBA requirements. For instance, M.S. in Data Science students might need to verify programming skills like C++ and SAS. Professional master’s will often demand a resume and employer references for 2+ years of experience.

Typical Master of Business Administration Curriculum

Depending on the format, MBAs normally require 36 to 56 credits beyond the bachelor’s. Graduates of non-business majors may need up to 72 credits to make up foundational courses. Accelerated MBAs take as little as 10 months. Meanwhile, part-time MBAs can last four years or longer. Master of Business Administration students enroll in advanced courses at the 500 level and higher. Typically, the MBA core consists of generic management classes. Expect course titles like Managerial Economics, Advanced Accounting, and Organizational Behavior here. Students then take specialized courses related to their industry or niche. Hopeful data scientists will elect analytics classes, such as Data Mining, Marketing Analytics, and Predictive Modeling. Several MBA programs integrate an internship component. Global MBA tracks require short-term trips abroad. Nearly all MBAs culminate with a capstone project.

Coursework for a Master of Science in Data Science Degree

Coursework for a Master of Science in Data Science DegreeThe Master of Science in Data Science is a technical degree that’s harder, yet shorter than an MBA. There’s nothing generic or foundational about an M.S. in Data Science. Graduate schools generally require 30 to 39 credits for a Master of Science. Like MBAs, master’s degrees in data science include courses at the 500 to 700 level. Data science degrees can be delivered on campuses, online via platforms like Canvas and Zoom, or in hybrid formats. Data science majors dig right into meaty STEM master’s courses, such as:

  • Applied Regression
  • Advanced Probability
  • SQL Programming
  • Machine Learning

The M.S. in Data Science requires hands-on lab projects using diverse analytic software and algorithms. Most Master of Science students complete independent thesis research. Thesis-optional curricula may require a capstone project or comprehensive exam. Data science master’s usually take 12-48 months.

How Dual MBA and Data Science Programs Work

So, what happens when the two different curricula above are combined? Pairing an MBA with data science presents the opportunity to study both fields simultaneously. Many institutions offer programs tailored to this objective. Dual degree students take business administration and data science courses at the same time. Joint MBA majors are dually enrolled in the business school and data science department. Though different degrees get mashed together, several courses will likely count toward both degrees. This reduces the number of credits for each degree. It’s a shorter path than pursuing the MBA and M.S. in Data Science separately. Nonetheless, dual programs take longer than one degree. Most Joint MBA students study for three to four years and finish just one capstone. Dual degree graduates must finish the residency and GPA requirements for both schools to earn two concurrent diplomas.

Declaring an MBA Specialization in Data Science or Analytics

Dual degrees aren’t the only way to pair an MBA with data science though. Many Master of Business Administration programs give students options for concentration. Perhaps the most popular specializations are accounting, finance, marketing, and management. However, an increasing number of B-schools are launching MBA concentrations for data science or analytics. MBA specializations are the quickest way to get business and data know-how in one degree. Specialized courses are taken immediately after students finish the MBA core. Most MBA attendees can choose custom specialization courses like electives. Look for data-related classes, including Data Visualization, Financial Informatics, and Business Intelligence. Further focus the MBA by picking a data science capstone project. Choose MBA internship placements in data analysis and modeling. Join B-school clubs concerned with Big Data too.

Examples of Business Schools With MBA and Data Science Paths

Tippie College of BusinessAccording to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 500+ business schools with MBA degrees in America. As of May 2020, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business has accredited 874 B-schools in 56 countries. There’s no shortage of MBA options to choose from. The tricky part comes when finding colleges that pair an MBA with data science. More continue to pop up as hiring in the Big Data industry soars. Financial Times reports that enrollment in data analytics courses rose 74 percent from 2017 to 2018. During the same period, demand for traditional MBA classes only increased by 32 percent. Data science is a growing driver to business school. Let’s take a closer look at some business schools where business administration and data science blend.

  • Clarkson University – The David D. Reh School of Business offers a 59-credit, AACSB-accredited Dual MBA/MS in Data Analytics or Combined MBA/MS in Healthcare Data Analytics at its Upstate New York campus.
  • University of Iowa – The Tippie College of Business provides a 60-credit, eight-semester Joint MBA & M.S. in Business Analytics with AACSB accreditation for $2,100 per weeknight course in Iowa City.
  • University of Virginia – The Darden School of Business and Data Science Institute partner to admit MBA/MSDS cohorts with a median 720 GMAT score each Summer for a 24-month, AACSB-accredited curriculum.
  • University of Notre Dame – The Mendoza College of Business awards a 68-credit, AACSB-accredited Dual MBA/MS in Business Analytics that boasts 92 percent job placement at $144,536 average pay.
  • Northeastern University – The D’Amore-McKim School of Business grants a 55-credit, AACSB-accredited MBA in Data Science that builds on Boston courses like Algorithms with three-month corporate residencies.

These are just five examples of programs pairing an MBA with data science. Other popular B-schools for Big Data preparation include:

  • University of Minnesota
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Arizona
  • George Mason University
  • Brandeis University

Which business school should future data scientists select? That depends on personal preference, location, and budget. Use the U.S. News & World Report rankings to find the best MBA programs. Students should narrow down the top choices based on their needs. For instance, MBA entrants who learn better in small groups should look for low-student-faculty ratios. Individuals who struggle with tests can find GMAT-optional master’s tracks. Students who prefer city life might head to Manhattan or Silicon Valley. To impress potential employers, select a big-name school that’s both accredited and ranked highly.

Career Opportunities for Dual MBA and Data Science Degree Holders

Career Opportunities for Dual MBA and Data Science Degree Holders

There are many careers for people with dual expertise in data science and business. Aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders need to be data literate. Professionals who can bridge the gap between the technicalities of data science and applications of business administration gain leverage in the job market. According to Tech Republic, data scientists have America’s #1 most promising job. Job openings for data science graduates soared 56 percent in 2019. Data scientists received an excellent 9/10 score for career opportunities. There are 6.5 times more data professionals today than in 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a mean annual wage of $100,560 for all data scientists. Pairing an MBA with data science prepares students for the following in-demand, six-figure jobs.

  • Data Architect – Data architects design, develop, maintain, and update business databases to organize important corporate data. Data architects configure the security protocol to prevent databases from being infiltrated or hacked. Data architects also run troubleshooting tests to fix system bugs and keep info accessible.
  • Business Intelligence Analyst- BI analysts gather large data sets in spreadsheets to run statistical analysis that pinpoints patterns and trends. Business intelligence analysts mine company and competitor data to give managers insights into best practices. BI analysts find scientific proof of business areas that need improvement.
  • Operations Research Analyst- OR analysts utilize data mining and modeling procedures to investigate business problems. Operations research analysts input relevant data into statistical software like SPSS to assess identified issues. OR analysts then advise managers on effective methods to solve operational challenges.
  • Data Engineer- Data engineers flex their SQL, Python, and C++ programming muscles to develop business data infrastructures. Data engineers create the digital pipeline for delivering fresh data to company analysts quickly and securely. Data engineers code usable software solutions to keep company executives informed.
  • Clinical Data Analyst- Clinical data analysts uniquely develop databases for health care facilities to reference and assess patient data. Clinical data analysts compile information on research trials, medical procedures, and insurance billing. Analysts ensure clinicians have access to correct, reliable records for sound treatment.
  • Analytics Manager- Analytics managers supervise teams of data professionals and have final decision-making authority on data projects. Analytics managers control the hiring, training, and oversight of qualified business analysts. Pairing an MBA with data science opens analytics management jobs leading productive data personnel.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 75 percent of MBA graduates switch careers. Professionals with MBAs see an average salary increase of $36,742 immediately. Dual MBA and M.S. in Data Science students could reap even higher rewards. Other popular careers include quantitative developer, risk manager, enterprise architect, machine learning engineer, statistician, corporate strategist, marketing analyst, and information research scientist. Graduates qualify for virtually any career focused on coaxing insights and solutions from unstructured data. Some MBAs even enjoy the freedom of data consulting jobs and travel or work from home. Having a Master of Business Administration opens doors to C-suite executive roles too. Chief data officers (CDOs) implement business-wide strategies to improve analytics. Chief information officers (CIOs) manage the entire computer network that stores data.

Tips for Earning an MBA and Data Science Degree Together

Tips for Earning an MBA and Data Science Degree TogetherPairing an MBA with data science is an ambitious goal. Joint MBA students must be proactive, engaged learners. Always do the textbook readings and follow the course syllabus to the letter. Take copious notes with charts and diagrams to help content sink in. Ask professors questions in class and during office hours. Don’t miss the opportunity for real-life insights from current and former business executives. Join study groups and clubs to network with fellow MBA peers. Participate in stimulating strategy debates when reviewing case studies. Take advantage of university computer labs with handy data science software like MATLAB and Tableau. Follow a strict schedule to finish data science thesis research on time. Find ways to cope with stress for good mental health.

Joint MBA and data science degrees aren’t cheap. Poets & Quants found that top MBA programs cost an average $196,067 total. The #1 B-school, Stanford, costs $231,672. That’s without adding another degree to the MBA. Therefore, securing financial aid is crucial. Contact the college’s financial aid office about MBA fellowships and grants available. Embrace graduate assistantship positions that can pay half to whole tuition for research work. Look for free money from both MBA and data science scholarships. For example, the Daughters of the American Revolution provides the $2,000 Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi Scholarship to MBA students with GPAs over 3.25. The National Black MBA Association funds scholarships of $3,500 to $100,000 at select partners, such as Georgia Tech, Bentley, Purdue, and Syracuse. The Acxiom Diversity Scholarship gifts $5,000 to full-time data science and analytics students. Exhaust the free financial aid opportunities before filing the FAFSA and taking out Graduate Plus loans.

Overall, students who want to dive into the field of data science while keeping their eyes on a career in business management can do so by pursuing dual degrees. Joint MBA degrees and MBA specializations give post-grads the best of both worlds. Taking business and data science courses together saves time and money than earning two distinct degrees does. Professionals with managerial and data analysis skills are a hot commodity in today’s $123.2 billion Big Data market. Business leaders who have a firm understanding of the science behind their data have an unparalleled advantage. Companies need data-oriented minds to understand their business’s strengths and weaknesses. Even though there are many benefits, dual degrees are more physically and mentally demanding. Prospective graduate students should carefully weigh the pros and cons of pairing and MBA with data science.

Related Resources: