Business Intelligence Degrees Online
A complete guide to choosing a business intelligence degree program.

Business Intelligence (BI) - the process of using technology to extract actionable intelligence from organizational data - is one of today's most sought-after skill sets. In order to improve offerings, reduce costs and gain a competitive edge, businesses are amassing huge data caches - which is driving record demand for BI analysts who can interpret this wealth of information. Professionals with a business intelligence degree will be well-positioned to capitalize on this trend.

This guide will outline the key aspects of a business intelligence degree program, including marketable skills and certifications, a comparison of BI degree levels, potential career outcomes, and FAQs from prospective students. We'll also highlight some of the top online degrees in business intelligence available today.

Business Intelligence Degree Curriculum

The skills and platforms you will learn are the most important factors when choosing a business intelligence program. Here are some marketable hard skills, soft skills and certifications that employers want, and which you should look for in a BI degree.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the tools, techniques and platforms you will use on the job. Seek out these hard skills in a business intelligence degree:

  • Data Mining: Data mining is the sorting of massive data sets to identify patterns that can be used to predict future business trends and power smarter decision-making.
  • Popular BI Platforms: Learning how to use the leading business intelligence programs will increase the value of your BI degree and boost your job prospects. Sought-after business intelligence platforms include SAS, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Qlik, IBM Cognos and Tibco.
  • Advanced Statistics: As the mathematical discipline that covers the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data, statistics is a vital skill for BI analysts and data scientists.
  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning: AI and ML are making a big splash in the business intelligence world; a key reason for this is their effectiveness in constructing predictive analytics models.
  • Data Visualization: Making your BI findings clear to decision-makers by the use of charts, graphs and other illustrations, a.k.a., data visualization, is a key competency to look for in a business intelligence degree program.
  • Big Data Analysis Tools: Technologies used to extract actionable intelligence from big data sets are in high demand across all industries. Marketable big data platforms include MongoDB, Cassandra, Apache Spark and Hadoop.
  • Business Intelligence Programming: Some BI and data analytics roles require coding expertise; marketable languages to look for in a business intelligence degree program include Python, R, SQL, Java and Scala.
  • Finance and Economics: In a field like this where business intersects technology, it's smart to attend finance and economics courses that will increase your business acumen.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are the communication and interpersonal skills that will benefit graduates in the field. Marketable soft skills to look for in a business intelligence degree program include:

  • Presentation & Public Speaking: How well you present your findings to bosses, colleagues and clients is an integral part of business intelligence. Beyond the aforementioned BI platforms which can assist with presentations, general speaking skills as well as expertise in slideshow tools like Microsoft PowerPoint are key.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving: The ability to think deeply and creatively lets BI analysts recognize the patterns, connections, and trends in the data they analyze, making this a key soft skill set in any business intelligence training program.
  • Organization & Multitasking: Business intelligence professionals are often running multiple high-level analyses simultaneously, making vital the ability to keep their priorities clear and projects progressing.


Some business intelligence degrees include exam prep for industry certifications. These are some valuable certificates to look for in a BI education program:

  • Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate: Google's Data Analytics Certificate validates the skills and credentials to begin a career in data science and business intelligence.
  • IBM Data Science Professional Certificate: The IBM Data Science Pro Certificate provides the training and skills to pursue an entry-level role in business intelligence and data analytics.
  • Microsoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst Associate: Microsoft’s popular credential for its Power BI suite validates your ability to prepare and model business data, visualize and present data, analyze data, and deploy and manage BI projects. Training and certification in Power BI will make a valuable addition to your business intelligence degree program.
  • Qlik Sense Business Analyst Certification: Analysts with this Qlik credential have the skills and experience to identify business intelligence opportunities in Qlik Sense, design and develop BI applications, prepare and load data models, and build data visualizations.
  • SAP Certified Application Associate - SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2: This SAP certification validates the expertise to administer SAP’s popular business intelligence platform, including supporting users and groups, accessing corporate data through the platform's web portal, and designing and deploying scalable BI solutions.
  • Tableau Certified Data Analyst: Tableau data analyst certification proves the ability to make impactful decisions by understanding the business problem, identifying the key data to analyze, and delivering actionable insights.

Top Business Intelligence Degrees

These online degree programs in business intelligence and data analytics best reflect the skills and credentials that employers demand.

Admissions advisors can provide more info about BI program curriculum, admission requirements, start dates, tuition fees and financial aid.
Got targeted learning goals? Many schools offer individual courses from accredited BI programs.

Business Intelligence Degree Levels

College degrees in business intelligence and data analytics come in multiple levels, the 3 most common being associate, bachelor’s, and master’s. The ideal BI degree for you will depend on multiple factors, including your current level of education, career goals, and the time and money you wish to invest in training.

Here are the most popular types of business intelligence programs along with the cost, duration, and admission requirements for each:

Associate Degree in Business Intelligence

Associate degrees in business intelligence or data analytics usually take 2 years to complete as a full-time student. Typical admission requirements for a BI associate degree are a high-school diploma or a passing grade on the GED.

The average net price (after financial aid has been applied) for an associate degree in business intelligence is $8,147, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Positions you can pursue with a business intelligence associate degree include entry-level data analyst and junior business analyst.

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence

It usually takes 4 years to complete a BI bachelor’s as a full-time student. Typical admission requirements for a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in business intelligence are a high school diploma or GED. Some business intelligence bachelor's programs require a certain high school GPA or SAT score; these requirements vary by school.

The average net price (after financial aid) for a bachelor's degree in business intelligence is $22,060, according to current data from the NCES.

Career paths you can pursue upon earning a business intelligence bachelor’s degree include business intelligence engineer, BI analyst, data scientist, and customer experience analyst.

Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence

Business intelligence master’s programs can usually be completed within 2 years as a full-time student. Common admission requirements for a master of science (MS) or master of business administration (MBA) in business intelligence include a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Some BI Master’s programs also require a certain score on the GRE or GMAT exam.

The average net price (after financial aid) for a master's degree in business intelligence is $19,919, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Jobs you can pursue upon earning a business intelligence master’s degree include senior business analyst, business intelligence manager, and machine learning engineer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Business and IT insiders answer common questions from business intelligence degree candidates.

What is business intelligence?

Business Intelligence or BI is the process of extracting actionable intelligence from business data. This information is typically gathered, analyzed and presented using high-tech software.

Do you need a degree for business intelligence?

Yes, most jobs in business intelligence require applicants to possess a college degree. The most common education requirement for business intelligence roles is a bachelor’s degree, while more advanced BI roles may require a master’s or MBA.

What degree is needed to become a BI analyst?

The college majors you should focus on to become a business intelligence analyst include data analytics, business intelligence, computer science, data science, and advanced statistics.

What can you do with a business intelligence degree?

Earning an accredited college degree in business intelligence can open up a range of career opportunities. Here are some popular jobs for BI graduates along with the typical education level and average salary for each role.

Job Title Typical Education Level Average Salary
Junior Data Analyst Associate Degree $57,000
Business Analyst Bachelor’s Degree $74,000
Data Scientist Bachelor’s Degree $75,000
Data Engineer Bachelor’s Degree $117,000
Senior Data Analyst Bachelor’s or Master’s $133,000
Data Warehouse Architect Master’s Degree $122,000

Source for salary data:

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Further Reading

About the Author

IT Subject Matter ExpertDaniel Greenspan is the founder and Editor-in-chief of ITCareerFinder. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers, and hiring managers since 2005 has given him unique insight into the information technology job market and the skills and credentials IT pros need to succeed.