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.
Explore high-quality, flexible degree programs in business intelligence and data analytics.
Business Intelligence Degree Curriculum
The skills and platforms you will learn are the most important factor 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 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 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 deep 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:
- Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP): Offered by the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP), the CBIP is designed for experienced BI professionals (typically 5+ years) and is among the most marketable business intelligence certificates. This cert covers BI skills in areas like data analysis and design, business analytics, team leadership, and data integration, and is available in 2 levels: Associate/Practitioner and Mastery.
- 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.
- Leverage Data to Drive Business Goals
- Big Data Analysis and Visualization
- Learn Python, SQL, Tableau and R
- Data Analytics Project Management
- Data Mining and Predictive Modeling
- Utilize SAS, R, Python and Tableau
- Big Data Visualization and Presentation
- Use Applied Forecasting to Solve Problems
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 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 highschool 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 masters 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: Indeed.com