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Should I get an MBA or a Masters in Analytics?

Figure out where you wish to apply
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Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
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The world is evolving, and over the last two decades, the pace of change is faster than ever before. Sign onto Linkedin and look at jobs posted by multinationals and well-known firms, and you will observe, without any question, that the keywords ‘data,’ ‘digital’ and ‘technology’ are routine on their descriptions. In fact, in Canada, where I recently spent considerable time, rarely did I come across a job that didn’t require an understanding of technology and data. So much so that even traditional consulting and accounting firms now have specialized innovation hubs and AI practices. As examples, look at Accenture Innovation Hub and Deloitte Omnia AI.

As market needs are shifting, so are business schools. First, they are seeking the STEM designation for their MBA programs, such as at CMU’s Tepper and Michigan’s Ross, which now offer a STEM MBA curriculum, and second, they are offering specialized programs such as a Masters in Analytics. As examples, MIT Sloan, UCLA Anderson, UVA Darden, CMU Tepper, and LBS are few top schools that offer a degree in Analytics. Some of these programs are more difficult to get into than their respective school’s MBA programs!

Canada seems to have been ahead in this data revolution. U of Toronto’s Rotman School, Western’s Ivey School, Queen’s Smith School, British Columbia’s Sauder School, and York University’s Schulich School, all offer a Masters in Analytics. These programs are well regarded in the country. In fact, Queen’s University was also the first to start a Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence in Toronto. The program features a state-of-the-art blended curriculum, star faculty, weekly interaction with industry experts, company visits, and a capstone project, all very well managed by the School.

I have always advised my clients to (a) follow their interest, in case they know what they want, and (b) prepare for where the ball will be in the future. The MBA is here to stay, and the future is digital. Whether you get an MBA or a Masters, successful professionals will be at the forefront of data and AI. And if you opt for an MBA, you should, at the very least, expect to equip yourself with technical tools within your focus area, whether function or industry. For example, if you wish to study Marketing, plan to get deep knowledge in marketing analytics, and if you wish to study the entertainment industry, intend to get comfortable with technology trends in that space. All top MBA programs now offer a plethora of courses that will allow you to gain skills you need for your chosen space.

Ultimately, both degrees offer a path to corporate leadership. Once you join a company, other factors, both internal and external will play a role in your progression. What program to opt for will warrant a more detailed observation of individual profiles. Each candidate has a set of circumstances, and it is impractical to generalize with simple frameworks. With this article, I hope to provide you with some information to aid your decision-making.

My recommendation is as follows – in case you are on the less experienced side, and prefer to fast track your career with a degree, a Masters in Analytics may very well be the way. Also, if you have an undergraduate degree in business or commerce, a degree in Analytics will add depth to your profile. For those who have technical backgrounds, such as in computer science or engineering, or for those who wish to seek broader industry exposure and keep options open, the MBA will likely be the degree of choice.

Then there are other programs. In case you have identified an area of interest, you could go for a specialized program, such as a degree in Supply Chain, Digital Product Management, Real Estate, Fashion Merchandising, Hospitality, or Finance. There are top-ranked programs in every space, and career opportunities post them are aplenty.

In case you need help with your Masters or MBA applications, please feel free to reach out to me.
Former Sr. Associate Director and Alumnus, Indian School of Business.
Founder, CollegeStation.in