Methodology for Fortune’s ranking of online business analytics programs

BY Meghan MalasJanuary 18, 2023, 5:48 PM
Illustration by Martin Laksman

The integrity of a data strategy can ultimately determine the fate of a business—which is why, across essentially every industry, companies are investing heavily in their analytics teams. In addition to reliable data sets and tools, businesses need professionals who can derive value and insights from the heaps of data they collect. 

Management analyst employment is projected to grow 11% from 2021 to 2031, with more than 108,000 jobs projected to be added in that time frame. Some of these business analysts will launch their careers by pursuing master’s degrees in the field. Online master’s degree programs in business analytics allow for a more flexible path to becoming a data-savvy professional, and students also benefit from the ability to apply what they learn in real-time. 

This is why for the second year in a row, Fortune has ranked online master’s degree programs in business analytics, with the goal of delivering an insightful list for prospective students. In total, we ranked 16 business analytics graduate degree programs.

Our final ranking is made up of three components: Selectivity Score, Brand Score, and Demand Score.

Selectivity Score (65%)

Savvy and experienced professors and a top-notch curriculum are both integral to a business analytics program’s success. But we can’t forget the significance of a bright and motivated cohort of peers. Fortune evaluated the  strength of each program’s incoming class to gain insight into the selectivity of each school on the ranking.

To calculate the Selectivity Score, we started by looking at the average undergraduate GPA of incoming students. In addition, we looked at the average number of years of work experience (the higher, the better) of those same students. 

We also weighted the program’s acceptance rate, as programs that are challenging to get accepted into tend to attract a stronger cohort of students. Graduation rates were also considered. 

Brand Score (20%)

Fortune partnered with Ipsos to survey thousands of business professionals and hiring managers to get their thoughts on specific business schools. Ipsos deployed a survey methodology similar to what it would use if asked by a consumer brands company to evaluate its brand strength. For this research, Ipsos interviewed a total of 2,500 professionals. These professionals work in a corporate role, have attended college and/or an institution of higher education, and know at least two of the schools in our selection.

Ipsos completed the fieldwork in March 2021. The total length of each interview was 13 minutes. The results yielded a 95% confidence interval, which gives us a maximum ±1.96% margin of error. This analysis was done on a regional basis. The exception being the nation’s top 20 business schools (according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking), which we also measured on a national basis.

The final score produced is a business school’s attitudinal equity (AE) measurement. That tells us, according to Ipsos, “how much a group of people want to recruit from the university. It is the university’s share of mind.” (For more on attitudinal equity scores, go here.)

Demand Score (15%) 

If programs aren’t successful, they won’t be able to continue to attract and graduate top students year after year. Not to mention, a larger student body also means a larger alumni network. That’s why we measured both the total enrollment size of the program and the number of applicants for the most recent year.

Check out all of Fortune’rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.