The ultimate guide to choosing a data analytics major

November 20, 2020

What is data analytics? Why should I consider a data analytics major?

Data analytics is the science of identifying trends and patterns in raw data and drawing conclusions. The need for data analysts is rapidly growing across the globe.

Big data is everywhere, and almost every industry is being reshaped by the need for data-driven decision making. Because it’s still an emerging field, employers are looking for people who can responsibly evaluate and interpret big data. According to a peer research report, finding capable data analysts with a well-rounded education has proven challenging for many employers.

Wondering if data analytics is right for you? If you enjoy identifying patterns and using your communication skills for effective collaboration, now is the perfect time to consider a major in data analytics. As an interdisciplinary major, it pairs well with nearly all other subjects for potential second majors or minors.

How do I choose a school for data analytics?

To be successful in the data science field, you’ll need an understanding of science, mathematics and statistics, a foundation in computer science and experience with complex data sets. 

When looking at schools that offer degrees in data analytics, think beyond just your general education and graduation requirements for the major. Consider how each program will contribute to your skills in critical thinking and problem solving, communication, statistics and computing.

For many students who want to study subjects like data analytics and computer science, large research universities may seem like the ideal and obvious choice. However, a smaller college of liberal arts and sciences may be able to offer a lot more than you realize

Remember that employers don’t just seek people with the right technical skills. Soft skills, like decision making, communication and collaboration are equally as important in the workplace. Data science and analytics programs at liberal arts colleges are designed to develop your quantitative skills while fostering talents in critical and big picture thinking. To find a job in a growing field like big data, a well-rounded education will make you a competitive applicant. 

Any school you consider should be able to tell you how their program will set you up for success after graduation. Be sure to ask questions that help you determine if they produce well-rounded students.

What can I do with a data analytics degree after I graduate? How much do data analytics majors make?

A degree in data analytics will set you up to work in nearly any industry, thanks to the increasing use of big data. 

Most commonly, students who graduate with a degree in data analytics get careers as business intelligence analysts, data analysts, data engineers, database administrators, marketing analysts, project managers, IT systems analysts, logistics specialists and many more.

An advanced degree isn’t required for many careers in the world of data analytics, though it can add an edge to an already qualified candidate. Many companies will overlook whether a candidate for a data analytics position has an advanced degree in favor of the right skills and experience. 

On average, people with a bachelor’s degree in data analytics make $61,693 a year. The full range of pay scales varies due to the many fields and careers possible for these majors. 

Augustana’s data analytics program

Augustana College is one of just a few liberal arts and sciences colleges offering an undergraduate degree in data analytics. We offer a major and a minor. Our program focuses on developing the whole person, with core degree requirements chosen to create well-rounded students who are used to framing questions, working collaboratively and solving complex problems.

The Augustana data analytics major includes two tracks:

  • Business analytics—use of statistical concepts to extract insights from business data.
  • Data sceince—interdisciplinary field of data inference, algorithm building and systems to gain insights from data.

The nature of Augustana’s program and strong advising make it much easier for students to double major than it might otherwise be at a larger school. 

Thanks to our location in the Quad Cities, Augustana students have many opportunities for internships, employment and community outreach with national and international companies. Students in the data analytics major take on projects provided by actual firms, enhancing their portfolios and better preparing them for the job search or graduate school.

As students choose their next step after graduation, the friendly and resourceful team at CORE (Careers, Opportunities, Research and Exploration) can guide them in the right direction. They’ll help students prepare their resume, find internship and career opportunities, or prepare a portfolio and application for graduate school. 

Now what?

If you’re a current high school student who is still looking for the right college, consider adding Augustana to your list. Augustana students benefit from small classes that allow for strong faculty relationships, excellent advising and endless opportunities for life outside of class. Our admissions team can help you decide if Augustana is a good fit. 

You can start by submitting a request for more information.

Transfer students who are looking for a school that offers a data analytics major should start by exploring our options for transfer students.