Graduate Certificate Programs in Business Analytics
Business analytics graduate certificate programs are non-degree academic programs that provide qualified students with targeted training in the practical application of analytics tools, techniques, and technologies to problem solving and decision making in business operations and management. These programs are designed for students who have completed their bachelor’s degree and want to pursue graduate-level training in business analytics, but who would prefer not to enroll in a master’s degree program, which generally entails a commitment of a year or more to graduate studies. Certificate programs, in contrast, typically consist of a small cluster of master’s-level courses – four or five is typical – that can be completed in six to 12 months, depending on the structure of the program, as opposed to the ten to 12 courses that commonly comprise a master’s in business analytics program.
Thus, business analytics graduate certificate programs represent a comparatively direct and relatively cost-effective means for college graduates and mid-career professionals to cultivate advanced business analytics proficiencies.
Business Analytics Explained
Business analytics involves the use of mathematical concepts, statistical methodologies, and analytics software to extract practical insights and actionable inferences from raw data, reach evidence-based conclusions, and thereby inform and improve decisions regarding production, product design, marketing strategy, resource allocation, financial investments, personnel management, organizational administration, and other aspects of business operations. Data mining, or the processes by which vast amounts of information are collected, sorted, and stored in database systems, is a key part of the business analytics process, as is the examination, interpretation, and analysis of data relevant to a particular issue, problem, or question.
Business analytics professionals, which may be referred to as Data Analysts, draw on their understanding of analytics to communicate findings to non-technical members of an operations team, suggest plans of action, and/or further monitor relevant metrics, such as the market performance of products and services, trends in consumer demand, production efficiency, and competition for market share.
Identifying and Classifying Business Analytics Graduate Certificate Programs
Business analytics graduate certificate programs have several important identifying characteristics. Structurally, these programs are generally comprised of four or five graduate-level courses in topics relevant to data mining, data analysis, and data-driven decision-making strategies for business professionals. In terms of outcomes, a certificate program does not culminate in the conferral of a degree. However, business analytics certificate programs are typically offered by colleges, universities, and schools of business that also offer graduate degree programs, including master’s programs in data and business analytics. Indeed, it is not uncommon for business analytics graduate certificate coursework to overlap with a master’s in business analytics program curriculum, and some schools allow certificate program graduates who opt to pursue a master’s degree at a later date to transfer all or most of the credits they earned while completing the certificate towards a master’s in business analytics program.
Another important feature of graduate certificate programs is that they are designed for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree, and thus may be designated as graduate, post-graduate, or post-baccalaureate certificate programs. Some graduate certificate programs in business analytics may require students to have prior academic training or professional experience in computer programming and/or statistical analysis, and a limited number of programs are post-master’s programs that are designed specifically for students who have already completed a master’s degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. It should also be noted that most post-baccalaureate certificate programs in business analytics accept and are appropriate for students who already hold one or more graduate degrees.
Business Analytics Graduate Certificate Coursework
Business analytics certificate program curricula vary by school and by program, as do the names and descriptions of required courses. However, most programs require students to complete several courses that cover subjects that include: data mining for business applications; data-driven decision strategies; data visualization and presentation methods; and predictive modeling in business analytics. The courses listed below represent a selection of required and elective courses, based on an analysis of certificate programs currently being offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
- Data Mining for Business Analytics – The process of collecting, sorting, and identifying datasets that can be used to create descriptive and predictive models for businesses.
- Data Management and Visualization – Techniques for managing and presenting data solutions and analytics models to inform decision-making, improve performance and efficiency, and direct strategic planning in business operations.
- Prescriptive Analytics – Methods for using data models to forecast demand, managing supply side decisions, and mitigating risk for businesses.
- Database and Business Intelligence Systems – Tools and technologies used by analytics professionals to store and access data, and to make relevant data and results available to key members of an organization.
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Business Analytics
As noted previously, business analytics graduate certificate programs are generally designed for college graduates who have already entered the workforce and for mid-career professionals who are interested in adding business analytics proficiencies. In order to maximize the convenience and flexibility of these programs, and to extend the reach of programs to a wider range of potential students, many schools have leveraged advances in distance-learning technologies to offer business analytics graduate certificate programs in fully and/or partially online formats.
Online programs utilize learning management systems (LMSs) to offer all or most of their required courses online. LMS is a generic term for interactive web-based platforms that support various learning activities, including the streaming of live and/or pre-recorded lectures, virtual class sessions, and discussions groups. Some online programs offer all their coursework via an LMS and do not require students to attend any campus-based sessions. Other programs hold on-campus orientations and/or immersion sessions that incorporate hands-on workshops and professional seminars, therefore requiring students to make a limited number of campus visits. These sessions typically do not last more than a week and may be held on weekends or at other times that minimize conflicts with student work schedules.
Programs that offer online instruction but which require students to attend more than two or three campus visits per year are typically classified as blended or hybrid online programs. A blended or hybrid online program may combine online and on-campus courses; alternatively, they may offer courses in a format that requires students to attend classes on campus several times per semester while also engaging in online learning via an LMS. Blended and hybrid online programs are generally a more convenient option than traditional campus-based programs for students who live near the school offering the program. However, a hybrid or blended online program may not be practical for students who live outside of commuting range of the school.
Finally, students who are considering an online graduate certificate in business analytics program should note the method of online instruction used by the program in order to determine whether it fits with their schedule and learning preferences. There are two primary methods of online instruction: synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Synchronous instruction is analogous to traditional, in-person, classroom-based instruction in that it takes place in real time and requires students to be logged on to a program’s LMS at scheduled times in order to view lectures and participate in virtual classroom sessions. In contrast, asynchronous instruction does not have a real-time component. It encompasses a range of learning activities, including the streaming of pre-recorded lectures and class modules that can be accessed through a program’s LMS at each student’s convenience, and the completion and submission of assignments by scheduled due dates.
Programs that incorporate synchronous instruction offer less scheduling flexibility than programs that offer all of their instruction asynchronously, but synchronous instruction provides more structure, which may be preferable for some students. Asynchronous instruction may present fewer potential scheduling conflicts, but it typically requires students to exercise more self-motivation and self-discipline to keep up with course materials.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Business Analytics
Each of the programs listed below is offered in an online format by an accredited, non-profit college or university. These programs are representative of the types of online graduate certificate programs in business analytics that are currently available.
George Mason University (GMU), a large, public university located in Northern Virginia, offers a Business Analytics Graduate Certificate program through Mason Online and the GMU School of Business. The 12-credit program consists of four graduate courses that can be completed in as few as nine months. Applicants to the program are required to have taken and passed an undergraduate course in statistics or data analytics and to have completed a bachelor’s degree. The program does not require any campus visits. For more information on GMU’s online business analytics graduate certificate program, visit Mason Online at masononline.gmu.edu.
The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) offers an online Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics program through Penn State World Campus and the Smeal College of Business at Penn State. The nine-credit program consists of three graduate courses that must be taken sequentially over the three terms, leading to the conferral of a graduate certificate in one year. The program is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a quantitative or technical field such as business, science, or engineering, although students who majored in other disciplines and who have taken and passed a college-level statistics course are eligible for the program. The Penn State World Campus program is 100% online and does not require any campus visits. For more information, visit Penn State World Campus at www.worldcampus.psu.edu.
The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), which is the online/distance-education division of the University System of Maryland, offers an online Foundations in Business Analytics Graduate Certificate program. The Foundations in Business Analytics curriculum consists of an uncredited Orientation to Graduate Studies at UMGC introductory course and two six-credit master’s-level courses in business analytics knowledge and skill areas, including the use of IBM’s SPSS Modeler, SAS Enterprise Miner, and Tableau software applications. Applicants to the program must hold a bachelor’s degree and have successfully completed undergraduate courses in statistics and computer programming. Applicants who have not taken a programming course can enroll in UMGC’s Essentials of Computer Programming course and UMGC offers an Introduction to Statistics course for students who do not have prior training in statistical analysis. The UMGC program does not require any campus visits and can be completed in under a year. For more information, visit UMGC at www.umgc.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Business Analytics
|Boston University||Online; Boston, MA||Applied Business Analytics Graduate Certificate|
|Colorado State University||Online||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|Drexel University||Online; Philadelphia, PA||Business Analytics Certificate|
|George Mason University||Online; Fairfax, VA||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|Indiana University||Online||Business Analytics Graduate Certificate|
|Michigan State University||Online||Master Certificate in Business Analytics|
|Penn State World Campus||Online||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|Southern Methodist University||Online||Graduate Business Analytics Certificate|
|Texas A&M University-Commerce||Online; Commerce, TX||Business Analytics Graduate Certificate|
|The George Washington University||Washington, DC||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|University of Arkansas||Online; Fayetteville, AR||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|University of Maryland Global Campus||Online||Foundations in Business Analytics Graduate Certificate|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst||Online||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|University of Massachusetts Lowell||Online; Lowell, MA||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greensboro, NC||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh. PA||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
|University of South Dakota||Online||Business Analytics Graduate Certificate|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics|
Additional Graduate Certificates in Analytics
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