BY Meghan MalasSeptember 22, 2022, 2:24 PM
Lunch at some of the Water Street Boston restaurants, as seen in August 2022. (Photo by David L. Ryan—The Boston Globe/Getty Images)
Businesses of all sizes and across all industries are prioritizing data-driven decisions—making professionals in fields like data science and business analytics in high demand. A survey of corporate recruiters found that 86% planned to hire graduates with a master’s degree in business analytics in 2022, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. And companies are paying six-figure salaries to these types of new recruits; in 2022, the median salary for master’s degree graduates in business analytics in the U.S. is $105,000, the GMAC survey reports.
But you don’t necessarily need to pursue a full master’s degree program to gain exposure to this fast-growing field. Now more than ever, MBA grads must have skills beyond the traditional business degree, Columbia Business School professor Dan Wang previously told Fortune. These skills include knowledge in areas like analytics marketing, product management, and collaborating in strategy roles with business analysts.
If you’re looking to familiarize yourself with business analytics without having to commit to a degree program, several universities offer courses online. We’ve rounded up four online courses in business analytics led by top universities, free of charge.
Boston University: Business Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making
Boston University offers a free online course in which enrollees learn how to apply analytics to their business strategies. In the Business Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making course, students gain exposure to concepts like predictive modeling and machine learning, and how analytical findings are used to inform a business strategy.
The course is seven weeks long and requires about three to six hours a week from participants. It is taught on a course schedule, led by instructors from Boston University’s computer science and information systems departments. According to the course description, the course is aimed at addressing the needs of managers specifically, as the demand grows for leaders that can reframe business questions as data questions, and use data to develop competitive advantages for their business.
University of Colorado, Boulder: Business Analytics for Decision Making
Business Analytics for Decision Making, offered by the University of Colorado, Boulder, is a course that teaches students the essentials of business analytics. Without delving too far into computer languages and advanced statistics, this course gives participants basic knowledge of Excel and teaches them through an “analytic solver platform,” enabling them to practice developing predictive and prescriptive models.
The free online class is taught by a professor from the university’s Leeds School of Business and takes about nine hours to complete. It’s the third course of five in the Advanced Business Analytics Specialization series offered by the school. Other courses include: Introduction to Data Analytics for Business, Predictive Modeling and Analytics, Communicating Business Analytics Results, and Advanced Business Analytics Capstone
University of Michigan: Introduction to Data Analytics for Managers
The University of Michigan offers a course called Introduction to Data Analytics for Managers that’s geared for people who are seeking a better understanding for how to leverage data sources to improve business strategy. University of Michigan instructors use lectures, business case studies, and real-life application of analytical tools to teach managers about the field of business analytics. Students will learn the basics skills of analytics, including simple scatter plots, SQL queries, hypothesis tests, and a machine learning experiment.
Participants don’t need to have any background or skills in analytics and the business analytics course is six weeks long and requires about two to four hours of work a week, though it’s on a self-paced schedule.
University of Pennsylvania: Customer Analytics
The Customer Analytics course taught by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is one of four courses offered in the school’s Business Analytics Specialization series. This course discusses how massive amounts of data gathered through actions like credit card transactions and online shopping carts can be used to inform business decisions. By the end of the course, participants will be prepared to describe the tools used to predict customer behavior and will have a knowledge of the current best practices for customer analytics at top firms.
Customer Analytics is taught by professors from the school’s marketing department and the course takes about 12 hours to complete. Other courses in the Business Analytics Specialization series include Operations Analytics, People Analytics, Accounting Analytics, and the Business Analytics Capstone.
See how the schools you’re considering fared in Fortune’s rankings of the best master’s degree programs in data science (in-person and online), nursing, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, public health, and business analytics, as well as the doctorate in education programs MBA programs (part-time, executive, full-time, and online).