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You’re a working professional with a bachelor’s degree. You’d like to earn a data analytics graduate certificate to hone your technical skills, but you’re curious about how they work. We’ve got you covered! Use this guide to explore typical coursework, admissions requirements, and tuition costs. Compare the graduate certificate in data analytics with other qualifications like the master’s degree. Or skip ahead to our listings of all the data analytics graduate certificates in the country.
What Are Graduate Certificates in Data Analytics?
A graduate certificate in data analytics (or a closely related field) is a short, graduate-level university program that covers the technical fundamentals of data analytics. Graduate certificate students learn how to conduct complex statistical analyses, apply data mining techniques, create effective data visualizations, work with database management systems, and more.
A graduate certificate in data analytics from a university is not a degree. However, many students use this academic credential as a starting point for their graduate studies. A number of universities will allow certificate earners to transfer their credits into a master’s degree later in their educational journey. Always ask about transfer policies if this is your intention.
How They Work: Data Analytics Graduate Certificate Overview
Structure & Timeline
A data analytics graduate certificate typically contains 4-5 courses (e.g. 12-15 credits). Most graduate certificate programs are designed for working professionals, so you’ll often find them being offered in an online, on-campus, or hybrid format.
You can choose to finish a graduate certificate in a part-time or full-time format:
- Part-Time: A 1-year schedule might include 2 courses per semester; a 1.5 year schedule might feature 1 course per semester.
- Full-Time: You may be able to finish a graduate certificate in 1-2 semesters (e.g. 3-4 courses per semester). But professionals typically choose a part-time format.
Each graduate certificate in data analytics is going to have a slightly different “flavor.” We’ve included curriculum links in our listings so you can get a sense of the university’s approach. In our survey of coursework, we came across subjects such as:
- Introduction to Data Analytics
- Data Analytics & Visualization
- Statistical Analysis
- Data Mining
- Data Management
- Model Building and Deployment
- Applied Data Intelligence
- Applied Predictive Analytics
- Machine Learning
Keep in mind that you’ll only be taking a few of these courses. So you’ll need to decide if the curriculum suits your current skill sets and level of analytics understanding. Some graduate certificates in analytics will be much more technical than others.
Many data analytics graduate certificates have a fixed curriculum—you must take a list of specified courses. But a few programs are happy to include electives!
In a graduate certificate with electives, you’ll usually take 2-3 mandatory courses and 2 courses of your own choosing. We surveyed real-life electives and discovered a wide range of advanced topics, including:
- Cyber Security Analytics
- Time Series Analysis
- Statistical Inference
- Monte Carlo Methods in Statistics
- Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
- Advanced Parallel Computation
- Python for Data Science
- Decision Making with Deep Reinforcement Learning
These are challenging subjects. Data analytics graduate certificates with electives (e.g. Virginia Tech’s offering) may be best-suited to students who already have a solid grounding in computational & statistical techniques.
Data Analytics Graduate Certificate: Admissions
Check the admissions links in our listings to learn what each university is looking for in a graduate certificate candidate. In many cases, applicants must have a:
- Bachelor’s Degree: Your degree will need to be from a regionally accredited institution. But it can usually be in any field of study!
- Solid GPA: 3.0 is the standard baseline requirement, but we have seen lower options at some schools (e.g. 2.5 GPA).
- Statistical Knowledge: Many universities will want to see undergraduate statistics credits on your transcript; some will want to see knowledge of R or programming familiarity in SAS. Undergraduate credits in Computer Science, IT & Business may also be helpful.
- GRE (Frequently Optional): GRE scores are not usually required for a graduate certificate. If they are, universities will be looking for strong quantitative scores.
- TOEFL Exam Scores (for Non-Native English Speakers): Universities may also accept the IELTS or PTE.
Applying for a graduate certificate in data analytics can be less challenging than applying for a master’s degree:
- Master’s programs in data analytics contain all kinds of benefits that cost the university money (e.g. departmental scholarships, research labs & facilities, career training & support, etc.). So they’re pretty picky about choosing MS students.
- Graduate certificates in data analytics don’t have many extra perks. You take the courses, pass the courses, and earn your academic credential. There isn’t a lot of hand-holding through the process.
Data Analytics Graduate Certificate: Tuition Cost $
Follow the tuition links in our listings to find the most up-to-date prices for each program. We ran the numbers on data analytics graduate certificates and came up with the following ballpark tuition prices:
- Low-End: $7,500-$8,000 in total
- High-End: $11,000-$12,000 in total
If you’re working while you are learning, these are highly manageable costs. But do a little comparison shopping before you commit:
- Public Universities: You may find a public university in your area that offers in-state tuition for a graduate certificate—just make sure the Computer Science & Statistics departments are well-respected.
- Private Universities: Private universities like the Harvard Extension School will have higher prices. But they also have greater name recognition in the marketplace.
Graduate Certificates vs. Other Analytics Qualifications
Graduate Certificate vs. Master’s in Data Analytics
Admissions requirements for graduate certificates tend to be more lenient than admissions requirements for master’s degrees. With some graduate certificates, you may not need to take the GRE. And you may be able to apply with lower GPA scores. However, you will still need to have a grounding in fundamental skills (e.g. Applied Statistics).
Each program is unique, so we always recommend that you examine the admissions links in our listings to learn how universities are tackling the issue.
Graduate certificates (e.g. 15 credits) have fewer credits than master’s degrees (e.g. 30 credits), so it makes sense that they are about half the price of a low-cost MS program. What’s more:
- Graduate certificates are typically online, so you’re basically paying for the teaching & coursework. That keeps tuition numbers down.
- In a master’s degree, tuition can go toward career training, high-end research facilities, and classroom infrastructure costs. So it’s usually higher.
If you’d like more info on MS pricing, we cover typical tuition costs in our guide to the master’s degree in data analytics.
Depth of Learning
You’re going to learn more in a master’s degree. A graduate certificate in data analytics is designed to address the technical fundamentals and that’s about it. An MS in Data Analytics or a closely related field is designed to give you a deep understanding of the subject. In a master’s degree:
- You’ll explore coursework in more diverse topics such as data ethics & governance, programming, operations research, and project management.
- You’ll be able to specialize in analytics topics through electives or a concentration (e.g. AI, Financial Forecasting, Biostatistics, Marketing Analytics, etc.).
- You’ll work on real-world capstone projects and/or internships with industry partners.
Master’s degree programs are part advanced research and part career-building. The curriculum can include seminars with visiting experts, conference trips, job fairs, and training for industry certifications. Many students meet their future employers during their graduate studies.
The standard education requirement in the field of analytics is a bachelor’s degree. So any graduate qualification is going to help impress employers! But certificates & master’s degrees in data analytics have different career benefits:
- Graduate Certificate: This demonstrates that you have acquired all the fundamental skill sets needed in analytics (e.g. data mining). It may qualify you for a promotion or slight pay rise. And it can be used as the first step to earning a master’s degree sometime in the future.
- Master’s Degree: A master’s degree can qualify you for high-level (and high-paying) jobs in the realms of data science & advanced analytics. It may be a requirement for leadership positions (e.g. CDO). And if you’re interested in original research, it can put you on the track to a PhD in Data Analytics.
Undergraduate vs. Graduate Certificates in Data Analytics
- Goals: A data analytics undergraduate certificate is an introductory qualification that focuses on foundational skills in statistics, computing & analytics. It enhances your degree.
- Admissions: Candidates are usually current bachelor’s degree students who want to learn the basics of analytics.
- Coursework: Most programs will contain 300-level and 400-level undergraduate courses in topics such as Introduction to Analytics, Applied Statistics, Data Mining, Database Foundations, Predictive Analytics, etc. Some certificates will cover programming in Python, Java, or the like.
- Goals: A graduate certificate is a specialist qualification that can be used as a stand-alone academic credential or the start of a master’s degree. It burnishes your résumé.
- Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and some knowledge of statistics & computational science.
- Coursework: See the sample curriculum for a list of common topics. Courses in graduate certificates are offered at the 500-level and 600-level, so they’re more advanced than topics covered in an undergraduate certificate.
Graduate Certificate vs. Professional Certificates vs. Industry Certifications
Once you have an undergraduate degree, you can continue your analytics education in a number of directions. You can pursue a:
- University qualification like a graduate certificate or master’s degree
- Professional certificate from a company like IBM or Cloudera (e.g. SAS® Programmer Professional Certificate)
- Industry certification from well-known analytics organizations or companies (e.g. CAP®)
An academic qualification & industry certification may be needed for certain high-level jobs, but a professional certificate may have more practical applications in the workplace. Many analytics & data science professionals eventually end up completing all three options.
Every career path is different, so you can take some time to decide which qualifications you’d like to earn. We suggest you talk to your supervisors & mentors to learn what will be most valued in your field and your workplace. You can also browse through our annotated list of popular analytics certifications & professional certificates for ideas.
Data Analytics Graduate Certificate FAQs
What’s the Difference Between a Data Analytics & Business Analytics Graduate Certificate?
Graduate certificates in data analytics are designed to help students get to grips with all of the major tools & technologies used in analytics (e.g. data mining, data visualization, predictive analytics, etc.). These techniques can be applied to a huge range of fields—not just business. You may wish to use this graduate certificate as a starting point for an MS in Data Analytics or a closely related field (e.g. Data Science).
In contrast, graduate certificates in business analytics contain analytics coursework that is hyper-focused on business & corporate challenges. They are almost always offered by the School of Business, not a Department of Computer Science, and often feature real-world industry projects. They can lead to an MBA or business-focused graduate degree (e.g. MS in Business Analytics, MSIT, etc.).
Does a Data Analytics Graduate Certificate Qualify for an F-1 Student Visa?
Check with the university’s international admissions department. International students on an F-1 Student Visa must be enrolled as full-time students in a degree-seeking program or approved non-degree program with in-person elements (e.g. hybrid or blended certificate). However, most graduate certificates are part-time and 100% online. If you’re interested in a U.S. education, you may want to consider the MS in Data Analytics instead.
Is a Data Analytics Graduate Certificate Eligible for the 24-Month OPT STEM Extension?
No. If you are an international student with an F-1 Student Visa and you have been a full-time student for at least one academic year prior to graduation, you are eligible for apply for the standard 12-month OPT period of post-graduation employment & practical training. But graduate certificates are not eligible for the additional 24-month extension. This extension only applies to STEM-designated degrees.