Online bachelor’s in data analytics programs are a relatively new development in higher education and are currently offered by only a limited number of colleges and universities. These programs integrate knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines, including applied mathematics and statistics, computer engineering and information technology, and decision management/organizational science. Depending on the program, students may also take courses in business finance and accounting, strategic marketing, healthcare analytics, and a number of other areas in which processing, storing, and interpreting data – or data mining – is widespread. Bachelor’s programs in data analytics teach students how to use spreadsheets and databases, how to create predictive models, how to use relevant programming languages, and how to present the results of data mining to both technical and non-technical professionals.
Data analytics is an interdisciplinary field grounded in computer science, engineering, mathematics, and statistics. It is a quantitative science, which relies on the applied use of mathematics, statistics, and algorithms to discover patterns, correlations, and other insights in large datasets. It is a field driven by technological advances in computing power, database systems, and software platforms and programming languages that are well adapted to structuring, cleansing, storing, and sorting data mined from an array of sources. Data analysts typically create descriptive and predictive models that businesses, non-governmental organizations, policy experts, and social and scientific researchers use to make evidence-based decisions. Analytics insights can help companies boost their efficiency; they may be used to provide consumers with better products and services; and they are also deployed to improve outcomes in health and social welfare programs.
Online bachelor’s in data analytics programs provide students with an undergraduate degree that delivers training in the tools, technologies, and methodologies used by data professionals. In additional to general education requirements in the arts and sciences, these programs include foundational coursework in mathematics (algebra and calculus), applied statistics, and computer science. They may also encompass classes in economics, accounting, and business ethics and management. But what sets a bachelor’s degree in data analytics apart from other majors is targeted coursework in subject areas that are central to analytics, including but not limited to IT data systems, data programming languages, predictive modeling, data mining, and data visualization.
Some online bachelor’s in data analytics programs are more oriented toward the business applications of analytics, while others delve into the more technical aspects of data science. The list below includes some of the more common names for bachelor’s degrees in analytics:
OnlineEducation.com carefully examines the core curriculum and other requirements that are part of online bachelor’s in data analytics programs to ensure they provide the following:
In addition, OnlineEducation.com classifies a program as online only if it requires two or fewer visits to campus per year. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are classified as hybrid programs and are not included on the site. Finally, OnlineEducation.com only includes programs offered by non-profit universities in its school directories.
As of March 2017, OnlineEducation.com has identified 7 non-profit universities that offer online Bachelors in Data Analytics/Data Science programs.
Online bachelor’s in data analytics programs have two sets of academic requirements: general education courses that apply across all majors (sometimes called general studies or core requirements), and courses that are specific to the data analytics program. General education requirements vary by school, but typically include a certain number of classes in broad distribution areas like humanities (history, literature, and philosophy), social sciences (psychology, sociology, and economics); and sciences (biology, geology, and physics). Some schools may also require one or more skills courses in areas like English composition, communications, cultural studies, and/or critical thinking. Prospective students, especially those hoping to transfer completed credits, should carefully examine each program’s general education requirements and credit transfer policies, as this can impact the cost of the program and the time to completion.
Since these programs are relatively new, undergraduate curricula in data analytics programs also vary by school. For example, some may include courses in specific programming languages (such as SAS, R, Python, Java, or C#), business law and ethics, marketing strategies, web analytics, genomics, cybersecurity, and/or geographical information systems. But there are several core areas of study that are common to most programs. They include the following:
The following chart includes a representative sampling of the types of courses that are typically offered as part of an undergraduate degree in data analytics. They are drawn from actual curricular requirements for online bachelor’s programs in data analytics.
|Introduction to Information Systems||A survey of IT systems integral to the practice of data analytics.|
|Fundamentals of Data Mining||An introduction to the science of classifying, clustering, and structuring data in order to test hypotheses, create predictive models, and identify patterns.|
|Structured Systems Analysis and Design||The application of analytics tools and methodologies to risk assessment, enterprise data flow, and other organizational concerns.|
|SAS Programming||An introduction to programming in SAS and using SAS tools to manage data, analyze data, and create data reports.|
|Database Analysis and Design||The design, operation, and maintenance of database systems.|
|Interactive Data Visualization||The use of data visualization software to manipulate and structure data in order to identify meaningful patterns, trends, and relationships.|
Admissions requirements for online bachelor’s in data analytics programs vary by program. In general, these programs have selective or open admissions policies. For schools with selective admissions, students must meet the school’s general undergraduate admissions requirements to be formally accepted. This may include the submission of the following for review: a high school diploma or the equivalent; scores from the SAT or another standardized test; letters of recommendation; a personal statement or essay. Some additional factors a school may weigh in the admission process include: high school GPA and class ranking; an interview with an admissions counselor; professional experience and/or certifications in the field of analytics.
Online programs with an open admissions policy typically admit students who meet a certain baseline criteria – usually a high school diploma or the equivalent – without additional review. Once students apply and submit the required materials, they are often able to enroll directly into classes.
Online bachelor’s in data analytics programs are often structured to accommodate working professionals, and transfer students who have already accrued college credits through a community college, an associate’s degree program, or enrollment in a prior bachelor’s degree program. Different admissions criteria may apply to applicants who fall into this category. Schools may also consider prior professional experience, military service, and/or prior academic performance as part of the admissions process, and award transfer credits based on these factors.
Finally, some online Bachelors in Data Analytics programs have a minimum age requirement for admission. These programs typically only admit students who are at least 21 or 22 years of age.
Online bachelor’s in data analytics programs are often set up to accommodate non-traditional students, including students who may be working or have other significant commitments outside of school. In some cases, rather than adhering to a traditional two- or three-semester academic calendar (fall, spring, and summer semesters), online programs have additional, shorter terms that allow students to enroll in just one or two classes at a time. Online programs may also give students the option of an accelerated schedule that can lead to the completion of an undergraduate degree in fewer than four years. Conversely, some online programs offer students the option of part-time enrollment (in addition to full-time enrollment), which can extend the time to completion beyond four years.
It should be noted that an online bachelor’s in data analytics degree is the equivalent of a four-year college degree program. Students who are able to complete these programs in less than four years generally do so by transferring credits from previous college coursework, and/or by taking more classes per semester than is required. While online undergraduate programs may offer a part-time enrollment option, students who fall below a certain credits-per-semester threshold may lose their eligibility for financial aid. Prospective students should check with a representative from each program to determine how part-time enrollment may impact their access to financial aid.
Instructional Methods: Unless otherwise noted, the majority of online bachelor’s programs in data analytics included on OnlineEducation.com offer 100% online instruction and do not require any campus visits. However, there are two primary modes of online instruction, and this can be an important consideration for students who have work or other significant obligations outside of school.
|School||Fully Online Instruction*||Program Options||Program|
|Arizona State University||Yes||FT & PT||Online Bachelor of Science in Business Data Analytics|
|Bellevue University||Yes||FT & PT||Online Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics|
|Ottawa University||Yes||FT||Online Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Technology|
|Saint Louis University||Yes||FT & PT||Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems - Data Analytics Track|
|Southern New Hampshire University||Yes||FT & PT||Online Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics program|
|Thomas Edison State University||Yes||FT & PT||Online Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Analytics|
|Western Governors University||Yes||FT & PT||Online Bachelor of Science in Data Management/Data Analytics|
|*Programs with fully online instruction do not require students to visits the campus during the program. Programs marked No require students to visit the campus two or fewer times per year for on-campus orientations or intensive sessions.|