An online business intelligence bachelor's degree can unlock many exciting job opportunities. Business intelligence is an ideal field for individuals with strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and graduates often work as analysts in the finance, budgeting, and business sectors. This complex, multidisciplinary career path requires a unique skill set, and degree candidates can explore a broad spectrum of topics throughout their studies.
Graduates are qualified to fill a variety of professional roles since business intelligence programs cover specialized academic content. Read on to learn how a flexible online degree can help you stand out from the competition.
Overview of Business Intelligence Degrees
Business intelligence is a discipline dedicated to integrating, analyzing, collecting, and presenting business information using a variety of applications, technologies, and methods. Business intelligence supports innovative corporate decision-making strategies, successful managerial practices, strong leadership, and project management. While management personnel and business intelligence professionals serve distinct roles within their organizations, they often collaborate to develop effective, efficient policies and profit-building strategies.
A bachelor's degree in business intelligence equips students with the skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques required to excel on the job market. While each online degree has unique student requirements, most do not include an on-campus component, which makes distance programs ideal for current professionals. In particular, students interested in data or financial analysis, communications, and project management can benefit from pursuing a bachelor's in business intelligence. The field offers many high-demand, lucrative career opportunities, with professionals such as logisticians enjoying a steady 7% job growth rate. Many graduates who wish to develop a specialty, teach at the postsecondary level, or increase their earning power pursue an advanced degree, earning an MBA or doctoral degree in business intelligence or a related area.
While application requirements vary by school, most bachelor's in business intelligence programs request similar admission materials, including high school transcripts. Prospective students may also need to meet a minimum GPA requirement; typically a 3.0 or higher. Some colleges and universities also expect candidates to achieve minimum scores on the ACT or SAT exams. Most institutions also charge an application fee of around $50, which must be submitted concurrently with an online or paper application. At some schools students who demonstrate financial difficulty may qualify for a fee waiver. If you wish to request a waiver, contact your prospective school before beginning the application process.
In addition to basic documentation, students are often asked to submit supplemental materials. These may include letters of recommendation from educational or professional references, a personal essay, a statement of intent, or a current resume and cover letter. Transfer students should review their prospective program's credit policies to determine which of their credits may be eligible for transfer. An admissions adviser can also help transfer students develop an academic plan around their previously earned credits.
What Will I Learn?
The best online business intelligence degrees employ a well-rounded curriculum. While credit requirements and curriculum structures differ by program, most follow a similar format, combining core, major, and elective coursework. Some programs include an internship or practicum component, while others culminate in a comprehensive exam or thesis. Many business intelligence bachelor's programs also allow students to select a concentration, or specialized academic track, providing an opportunity to explore certain areas or career paths in depth. Frequently offered concentrations include information technology, business analytics, and digital media and design. Course topics also vary considerably between schools; however, most curricula include one or more of the following foundational classes.
Systems Analysis and DesignThis course teaches students to analyze, plan, and design different systems development phases. Candidates explore requirements related to structuring and determination, physical and logical design, feasibility analysis, and implementation planning. Lectures address various systems analysis techniques, tools, models, and methodologies, emphasizing emerging technologies.
Business Application DevelopmentCoursework provides an introduction to business application development through object-oriented programming. Students build proficiency in exception handling, graphic interface design, and basic object-oriented programming concepts. Class topics may also include expressions, output and input, and objects and classes.
Business AnalyticsIn a business analytics course, candidates survey the statistical techniques used to measure, identify, and quantify risk and uncertainty in modern business data. Some classes emphasize the Monte Carlo method for risk assessment and decision-making, along with alternative regression methods. Students also examine integral concepts such as cluster analysis, interval estimates, and simulation.
Visual Analytics and VisualizationBy applying concepts drawn from cognitive science to analytics, candidates learn to develop effective, coherent visual representations of data. Coursework introduces common representational models and information refinement processes, stressing the importance of selecting the appropriate visualization methods when portraying complex data figures.
Data Mining TechniquesThis course presents common techniques used to extract information from large-scale databases and apply the acquired data to decision-making processes, predictions, and summarization. Lectures define various types of observed phenomena, including trends, customer behavior, patterns, and outliers.
Applications of Artificial IntelligenceFocusing primarily on artificial neural networks, this class uses cutting-edge research and expository literature to examine artificial intelligence's growing role in the business decision environment. Students gain hands-on experience with computer software and hardware used to create artificial intelligence systems.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Business Intelligence?
An online bachelor's degree in business intelligence provides candidates with a versatile, broadly-applicable skill set and specialized knowledge. Boasting strong critical and analytical thinking abilities, graduates are adept at understanding, manipulating, and applying data to make effective business decisions. The following section examines some of the core skills business intelligence majors acquire through their studies and also looks at the most popular career paths for graduates and salary data for each position.
Students enrolled in business intelligence bachelor's programs master fundamental concepts related to business information processing systems, develop strong leadership skills, and build familiarity with business ethics. Candidates learn to analyze and draw conclusions from financial data like employment statistics and expenditure reports, becoming confident decision-makers who adhere to best practices. Graduates are able to collect and present business data to support recommendations for new procedures, systems, and organizational improvement strategies. Business intelligence professionals must be skilful communicators in order to interact with clients and understand their individual problems and needs.
While critical thinking and analytical competencies are crucial to success throughout the industry, some positions may require specialized skills. For example, budget and financial analysts must use specialized software and reporting methods to analyze facts and figures in an appropriate manner. Business intelligence analysts should be adept at identifying and manipulating data sources as they develop efficient and effective organizational strategies.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Business intelligence graduates enjoy a diverse array of job opportunities. Professionals with strong analytical skills often pursue careers as budget, business intelligence, and financial analysts. Budget analysts focus on developing budgets for their organization, while business intelligence analysts specialize in data reporting, collection, and analysis. Financial analysts survey a company's financial records, budgets, and expenditure reports to recommend cost-cutting measures and profitable strategies. Some graduates work as logisticians, allocating supplies, products, and materials, or take consulting jobs. Management consultants use research, data, and models to increase company efficiency and profits.
Annual Median Salary: $59,103
Budget analysts assist organizations during the budget development process. They examine past performance and funding allocation to determine future and current budgets and suggest profitable resource allocation strategies for each department in a company. Many budget analysts hold a background in accounting along with business intelligence.
Business Intelligence Analyst
Annual Median Salary: $66,372
Tasked with collecting data and providing application analysis for centralized warehouses, business intelligence analysts regularly use reporting analysis tools and data modeling methods. They standardize data collection for database design and validation reports by developing new, more effective methods of obtaining information.
Annual Median Salary: $59,288
Financial analysts prepare weekly, monthly, and quarterly financial schedules to display actual versus projected budget variances. They also develop detailed annual financial budgets and monthly financial forecasts, and are often required to present their findings to shareholders. These analysts may also provide different company areas with additional, specialized financial support strategies.
Annual Median Salary: $85,410
Management consultants train clients to understand and implement various business development processes. They study company data in order to recommend and design improved business strategies and conduct modeling, analysis, and research for specialized corporate initiatives. Many specialize in a particular area, such as project management or IT consulting.
Annual Median Salary: $74,590
Logisticians direct supply, materials, and product allocation for companies and organizations. They oversee a product's entire life cycle, from its preliminary design stage to delivery and disposal. Logisticians are required to maintain professional relationships with both clients and suppliers, and must be adept at recognizing and meeting client needs.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Business Intelligence?
Many business intelligence specialists find fulfilling, lucrative jobs with only a bachelor's degree. While most employers do not expect job candidates to hold a master's or doctoral degree, individuals with advanced credentials typically enjoy higher salaries and greater opportunities for professional growth. Those interested in high-level positions, specialized roles, or postsecondary teaching jobs often enhance their skills and knowledge by pursuing further education. Business intelligence professionals with a bachelor's degree, however, still enjoy career advancement opportunities, and many employers offer workers promotions as they gain experience in the field.
Instead of pursuing an advanced degree, some professionals choose to increase their employment prospects by earning high-demand industry certifications in areas such as project management or financial consulting. Many professional associations and trade organizations offer these credentials as part of continuing education and professional development programs.
Accreditation for Business Intelligence Bachelor's Programs
As you explore your educational options, pay close attention to accreditation status. Accreditation is a review process used to ensure that colleges and universities uphold high academic standards. Institutions may be regionally or nationally accredited, depending on the organization that assesses them. Technical and vocational schools often receive national accreditation, while most regionally accredited institutions are academically-focused public universities. Regionally accredited schools are typically viewed as more prestigious, and credits earned at regionally accredited institutions transfer easily, while those from nationally accredited schools do not. Attending a nationally accredited school may make it difficult to pursue specialized training or an advanced degree after completing a bachelor's program.
Accreditation can also affect your financial aid opportunities. While students must attend an accredited school to qualify for federal financial aid, regionally accredited colleges and universities are more likely to participate in employee tuition reimbursement programs.
Business Intelligence Professional Organizations
Earning the best online business intelligence degree can lead to opportunities, and joining a professional organization is a great way to further enhance your marketability. Professional organizations provide members with a variety of resources and career development opportunities, from certification and training programs to exclusive job boards. Many associations also host networking and industry events such as conferences, meetings, and guest speaking events, which allow members to strengthen their professional networks and explore new and valuable perspectives. Below are just a few organizations dedicated to business intelligence.
Information Systems Audit and Control Association
IFAC is a nonprofit, independent advocacy association serving risk management, assurance, governance, and information security professionals. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association emphasizes resources. Along with original research and publications, the organization sponsors seminars and conferences addressing topics in business and information.
International Association of Business Communicators
This network unites communications professionals under a single global standard. Corporate, professional, student, and retired members enjoy access to exclusive resources and professional development opportunities, including webinars and conferences.
Strategic Management Society
With over 3,000 members representing more than 80 countries, the Strategic Management Society supports professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Business consultants, analysts, academics, and others connect through the society's resources and events to strengthen and develop new strategic management skills.