The College of Information Technology at Western Governors University (WGU) offers two online data analytics programs: an online Master of Science in Data Analytics (MSDA) that focuses on the tools and technologies used to collect, process, and interpret big data; and an online Bachelor of Science in Data Management/Data Analytics (BSDMDA) designed to familiarize students with data mining, database systems, network security, analytics programing languages, and other data management proficiencies.
Students in the MSDA program are required to complete 32 competency units, or the equivalent of 32 academic credits. This typically takes two years for part-time students, but can take a little as six months for full-time students who come into the program with prior analytics experience. The BSDMDA program is the equivalent of a four-year undergraduate degree. It requires the completion of 120 competency units, some of which may be waived based on prior coursework. Students who enroll full-time without transfer credits can graduate in two years. Those who enroll part-time are expected to complete a minimum of 12 competency units per six-month term, and can graduate in five years.
The MSDA and BSDMDA programs at WGU are 100% online and do not require any campus visits. Both programs are based on a competency model. Students work with mentors toward meeting specific assessment goals for each course through tests, papers, and other projects, and are awarded competency units once they have met the assessment criteria. The online courses are offered using asynchronous instruction, which means students have on-demand access to lectures and other course materials 24-7. Students can communicate and interact with instructors, mentors, and other students using online discussion boards, and there are also opportunities to participate in group chats and live webinars.
WGU structures its MSDA program and its BSDMDA program using six-month terms. Students can begin these programs on the first of every month, which means there are 12 start dates per year. In the master’s program, students must complete nine instructional courses and a capstone project in order to graduate. Typically, students in the master’s program enroll in two or three courses each term, and are expected to complete at least eight competency units per term. The bachelor’s program is structured similarly: students are expected in take four courses per term in order to earn 12-13 competency units. The actual amount of time required to complete an individual course depends on a student’s initial level of competency: students who already have professional experience or an academic background in a subject area may be able to complete the competency requirements for particular courses quicker than students who do not have the same level of experience.
The MSDA curriculum at WGU includes coursework in the following areas: Fundamentals of Data Analytics; Statistics for Data Analysis; Data Mining and Analytics; Advanced Data Visualization; Advanced SQL; SAS Programming Fundamentals; SAS Programming Business Analysis Applications; and Data Science Tools and Techniques. The program requires that applicants demonstrate prior analytics experience in one of four ways: a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, data management, statistics, or an IT-related field; three years of relevant work experience; certification in Oracle SQL, Oracle BI, or SAS programming; or a Udacity Nanodegree in data analytics.
The BSDMDA has several curricular components. There are undergraduate general education courses that must be completed, such as English Composition and College Algebra, as well as required introductory classes in communication, humanities, and geography. The major requirements center around competencies in key subject areas, including IT fundamentals, web development, data management, spreadsheets, data analytics, data science, and technical writing. Core analytics courses include the following: Scripting and Programming – Foundations; Network and Security – Foundations; Data Structures; Business of IT – Data Management; Structured Query Language; Database Server Administration; Data Visualization; Data Analysis with R; and Machine Learning. Students must also complete an IT Capstone Written Project. The BSDMDA program incorporates a Udacity Nanodegree in Data Analytics, and students who graduate from the program receive eight industry certifications, including four CompTIA certifications, two Oracle Database certifications, and two CIW certifications.
Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.