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Question: How Long Does it Take to Complete an Online Master’s in Data Analytics / Master’s in Data Science Program?

Answer: It can take anywhere from 12 to 36 months or more to complete an online master’s in data analytics or data science program, depending on the structure of the program, the number of courses taken per term or semester, and whether or not the program offers courses year round. A typical master’s in analytics curriculum is comprised of three or four traditional semesters of classes. Students who enroll full-time in these programs may be able to graduate in 12 to 16 months without a summer break. There are also programs that offer part-time enrollment for students who intend to work while earning their degree or who have other responsibilities that make full-time enrollment unfeasible. These programs generally take 24 to 36 months or more to complete. Some online programs have flexible enrollment policies that allow students to choose the number of courses they take per term, thereby extending or reducing the time to completion.

Types of Online Master’s in Analytics Programs

There are several types of online master’s in analytics programs, with distinct curricula and different course requirements. The three primary categories used by are: master’s in data analytics, master’s in data science, and master’s in business intelligence programs.

  • Master’s in Data Analytics: These programs provides general training and instruction in the use of advanced mathematics, statistical modeling, and computer technologies to collect, sort, process, store, and interpret data for a number of uses, including public policy and political polling, sales and marketing, and applied research across a broad range of fields.
  • Master’s in Data Science: These programs focus on more technical aspects of analytics, including the design and use of advanced algorithms, predictive modeling, and machine learning for artificial intelligence applications.
  • Master’s in Business Intelligence: These programs offer a curriculum that emphasizes the design and use of analytics systems and applications that support data-driven decision-making, optimize operational efficiency, and improve the performance of businesses.

A subset of master’s in data analytics programs have a business analytics focus, which indicates that the coursework is more narrowly targeted at business applications of analytics. However, a business analytics curriculum does not necessarily include training in business intelligence technologies like data warehousing. There are also data analytics programs that focus on the use of analytics in healthcare, government, and other fields.

Factors That Determine the Time to Completion for Online Master’s in Data Analytics and Online Master’s in Data Science Programs

The main factor that determines how long it takes to earn a master’s in analytics – i.e., the time to completion – is whether or not the program offers a full-time enrollment option. With full-time enrollment, students typically take three or four courses per semester for three or four semesters. Students enrolled part-time may take just one or two courses per semester for six or more semesters. The table below offers an overview of estimated time to completion for students enrolled full-time and part-time in a 12-course master’s in analytics program that adheres to a traditional 15-week semester system.

EnrollmentCourses Per SemesterSemestersTime to Completion
Full-Time3 or 43 or 412 to 24 months
Part-Time2624 to 36 months
Part-Time11248 months or more

Some online programs utilize alternatives to the 15-week semester system, offering shorter terms during which full-time students may only be required to take one or two courses. For example, there are programs with five-week terms in which full-time enrollment equates to one course per term. There are also programs with eight-week terms during which full-time students take two courses and part-time students take one course. The table below offers an overview of the estimated time to completion for full-time and part-time students in these programs.

Term LengthCourses Per TermTotal Number of CoursesEnrollmentTime to Completion
5-weeks112Full-Time16 to 20 months
8-weeks212Full-Time12 to 16 months
8-weeks112Part-Time24 to 30 months

It is important to note that graduating from a master’s in analytics program in less than two years typically requires year-round enrollment. Prospective applicants who want to complete a program in 12 to 16 months should look for programs that offer courses during summer sessions.

Online Master’s in Analytics Program Formats

Some master’s in analytics programs are only offered full-time, and others are only offered part-time. In some programs, there may be a designated track or sequence of courses that students must follow as they complete the degree requirements. Some programs use a cohort model, which requires students to follow a designated sequence of courses from start to finish with a group or cohort of fellow students. In contrast, there are analytics programs that allow students to choose the order in which they take certain classes, as well as the number of courses taken per semester. These programs offer a greater amount of flexibility in that a student may take a full load of courses one semester and a reduced load the next term. Programs that allow for this type of flexibility generally cap the number of years a student can be enrolled before they complete the degree requirements, commonly at five or six years.

Additional FAQs about Online Analytics Programs: