The article Data Analytics Master’s Programs: What Do They Want in Applicants? was originally posted on the Accepted Admissions Blog.
In the last five years, and driven by the tremendous growth of data gathered by companies and institutions across all industries, we have experienced a sharp rise in demand for data analytics jobs, and with that, the birth and expansion of master’s programs in data analytics, business analytics, and data science at many universities. Applications to these programs have soared, and programs are becoming more selective with every application cycle.
If you are interested in applying to an analytics program, one of your first questions should be: “What are these programs looking for in applicants?”
5 qualities to highlight in your data analytics master’s application
As a graduate admissions consultant at Accepted, I have guided many applicants to a successful admission to top data analytics, business analytics, data science, and other similar programs. Based on that extensive experience, I have compiled a list of the 5 top qualities that you need for a winning application:
- Analytical aptitude
Data analytics programs are heavily quantitative. Applicants aspiring to these programs must demonstrate analytical aptitude, as well as a desire to work with numbers. As most of your coursework will be quantitative, if you don’t enjoy math you will most likely not be a good fit for these programs. How can you demonstrate your analytical aptitude? I have had clients describe their success in math from early on in life as well as their ability to understand and work well with data as an adult. They can demonstrate that comfort with numbers through their transcript or professional experience and responsibility.
- Quantitative background
Most programs prefer – and some programs require – applicants coming from a quantitative or STEM undergraduate background, or at least to have some advanced quantitative courses under their belt. What if you don’t have a quant background? There are still smart strategies you can follow, which I discuss in my post: What If I Want to Study Data Analytics but Don’t Have Relevant Experience or a Quantitative Degree?
- Computer programming knowledge
Many of these programs will require at least some basic knowledge of computer programming (R, C+, Python, SQL, etc.). Because each school is quite different in its requirements, it’s important that you research the specific schools you are interested in and find out what programming, querying, and statistical language they prefer. Even if you do not have a computer science degree, you can still take those courses online through extension programs, Coursera, EDX, and similar sources, in order to meet the programs’ application requirements.
- Related work experience
While many programs are open to applicants straight from undergrad, they tend to give preference to applicants who have had internships or experience in data analytics fields, or at least some experience working with data of any kind.
- Relevant goals
Given the competitiveness of these programs, admissions committees want to bring in applicants who know why they are interested in data analytics. Don’t let the hype of data analytics blind you. Think about a realistic goal you want to pursue after graduation, a position in a company that could be a good fit for you, the industry where you would like to work, and why you want to pursue that goal. Then, think about where you see yourself career-wise 5 and then 10 years down the road. Your goals, and particularly your short-term goal, are a key component of your application and should not be taken lightly.
Providing what the adcom is looking for will help you get ACCEPTED
Applying to data analytics programs can be very competitive, but if you have the analytical background, some related work experience, and a compelling story as to why you want to pursue data analytics, data science, or business analytics, you will be ready to secure admission to a top program.
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