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In today’s world, more data is available to us than ever before, propelling data analytics to the forefront of every major business decision, regardless of the industry.

But what is data analytics, and what all does it entail? Read on to learn more, including more information about the types of data analytics, various graduate-level courses for data analytics, earning a graduate data analytics degree and more.

What Is Data Analytics? Here Are Four Types of Data Analytics

Simply put, data analytics helps provide us with the framework to analyze data and translate it into actionable insights that solve problems. Data analytics can unlock seemingly infinite answers, helping businesses and organizations navigate a host of challenges in virtually any industry.

In fact, the potential benefits of data analysis are virtually never-ending, according to Fortune.1

Analyzing data for business solutions is all about gathering information — including finding patterns — to learn from the past and formulate predictions for the future. Therefore, the types of data analytics fall into four categories, depending on the question it seeks to answer. These types include:

  • Descriptive analytics

    Helps determine what happened in the past through several tools and techniques, such as data mining and aggregation. This type of data analytics can also help professionals describe past events.

  • Diagnostic analytics

    Helps professionals determine why an event happened. This type of analytics is partially based on probability and draws on myriad analysis techniques.

  • Predictive analytics

    Helps predict what could happen within specific sets of conditions. This type of analytics also draws on probability and incorporates various analysis techniques, such as predictive modeling.

  • Prescriptive analytics

    Helps businesses and organizations determine the best course of action or their next steps in any given circumstance. Like other types of analytics, prescriptive analytics can include many analysis techniques, such as simulation analysis, and can draw on artificial intelligence, too.

Depending on the question that needs to be answered or the problem that needs to be solved, each of these types of data analytics can help professionals across all industries develop a better understanding of their operations and make better decisions in the future.

Minskoff Pavilion in the fall exterior image

Diving Deep Into Data: Explore Courses for Data Analytics

From finance and marketing to supply chain management and social sciences, you’ll find graduate courses for data analytics specifically designed to address data analysis functions and processes in these industries and many others.

Regardless of the specific industry each course for data analytics involves, it is likely that each will address data collection, analysis and interpretation techniques — all highly sought-after skills and roles for any enterprise.

At Michigan State University, you’ll find myriad graduate courses for data analytics that cover data mining, data tools, applied statistics and much more. Each course is taught by leading MSU faculty in business, computer science and statistics from our Broad College of Business, College of Engineering, and College of Natural Science.

If you’re exploring master’s degrees, some of the graduate-level courses for data analytics you may take at MSU include:

  • Business Analytics Problem Solving (Statistics)

    Learn about the application of statistical concepts such as random variables, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance and more as you develop an understanding of when to use which analytical capability.

  • Computational Techniques for Large-Scale Data Analysis

    Explore emerging issues in big data, including collection and querying, mining and association analytics, model evaluation and more.

  • Data Management and Visualization in Analytics

    Learn about the role of analytics in shaping competitive strategy and improving the design and implementation of business processes.

  • Data Mining

    Examine techniques and algorithms for knowledge discovery in databases, from data pre-processing and transformation to model validation and post-processing.

  • Machine Learning and Optimization in Analytics

    Delve into concepts and their application in decision-making, supervised learning (such as penalized regression, classification and survival analysis), deep neural networks for classification, advanced topics in machine learning (such as generative models, adversarial learning and meta learning) and more.

  • Web Analytics

    Gain a better understanding of the collection and analysis of information from the web, including predicting future behavior, mobile marketing and analytics, and more.

Every facet of the curriculum throughout this business and data analytics degree program considers how to appropriately leverage theoretical constructs and statistical tools to help graduates create the most value for the organizations they join.

Formulate Your Future With a Data Analytics Degree

For many businesses and organizations, Fortune reports, people who have the knowledge and skills to analyze raw data and use findings to formulate conclusions and solve problems are not just valuable; they are indispensable.

To gain these skills, however, you’ll need a data analytics degree program that can provide you with hands-on training and experiential learning opportunities to gain and sharpen these skills and others.

As you earn your business data analytics degree at MSU, you will have the space to begin practicing and refining your craft with the guidance of your peers and instructors. This way, you will have the skills and confidence you need to deliver value on day one of your next career.

“Large-scale, high-resolution data sets are being created in ways never before imagined. Enormous challenges and opportunities are available for those who analyze, manage and extract useful information from the data sets.”
– Matt Mutka, Ph.D., Chair, MSU Computer Science and Engineering

Earn Your Master’s in Business Data Science and Analytics at MSU

Now that you know much more about what is data analytics, take the next step now toward your future in the field with a graduate data analytics degree from MSU — specifically, our Master’s in Business Data Science and Analytics.

At MSU, this experiential program will provide you with the knowledge, skills and practice you need to use analytics to interrogate, visualize and translate a variety of data and convert your findings into actionable business insights.

Each semester, this business data analytics degree program offers graduate students the opportunity for hands-on work with either a cohort or a team to solve business needs with real-world stakeholders. Paired with a summer internship, you will find myriad opportunities at MSU to apply what you learn in real-world business scenarios so you may hit the ground running after graduation.

In addition to the aforementioned courses for data analytics, when you pursue a business data analytics degree at MSU, you’ll also take courses in business strategy, project management, marketing technologies and communications — all of which were designed with input from our Advisory Board and recruiting partners.

As you earn your master’s in business data science and analytics at MSU, you will complete a project during spring term with your instructor. In the fall, you and a team of your peers will take the driver’s seats and manage your own project with help from your faculty adviser.

By graduation, not only will you have mastered the tools and skills needed to manage analytics workstreams, you will also understand how to move through the processes, from requests to final presentations — no matter how senior the stakeholders.