Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The information included on this page:

General MSBA Questions

MSBA Curriculum Questions

MSBA Career Questions

MSBA Admissions Questions

MSBA Student Life Questions


Have a question not answered here? Feel free to email us anytime at

General MSBA Questions

The MS in Business Analytics program at the Carlson School teaches students how to extract insights with creative data analysis, and then apply the results in real business settings. Students graduate with a unique combination of data science skills and business acumen to lead in an increasingly data-driven world. Through the Carlson School MS in Business Analytics, students learn to devise solutions that span the analytics continuum—from descriptive exploration and predictive analytics to causal inference and prescriptive optimization.

The best way to learn more about the Carlson School’s MSBA program is to attend a Carlson School Event where you can meet our admissions staff and get answers to your questions. You can also explore our website for an overview and to watch videos of MSBA students talking about the curriculum, the Carlson Analytics Lab, faculty, and living in Minneapolis. To connect with admissions staff directly, please contact the MS Programs Office at

The MS in Business Analytics (MSBA) program is a good fit for your career goals if you are interested in learning:

  • How to harvest, process, and analyze data to extract important insights.
  • How to leverage big data to identify business opportunities, and apply findings to take action.

MS in Management Information Systems (MS in MIS) is a broader, more general-purpose degree about various issues related to IT and IT management in businesses and organizations.  MSBA is much more specialized, focusing on specific issues of data analytics, data science, big data, etc.

MS in Data Science is a more specialized degree, specific to the technical side of working with data and focused on combining statistics, computing systems, and data-driven applications. The degree focuses on the development of new methods for data science. MSBA has broader business function, employing some data science techniques in combination with business application.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a broader, more general-purpose degree about various issues related to business and management, covering areas such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, and operations in a manner most relevant to management analysis and strategy. Visit the Carlson School’s MBA website to learn more. MSBA is much more specialized, focusing on specific issues of data analytics, data science, big data, etc.

The Carlson School of Management does offer an MBA/MSBA dual degree program and an MSF/MSBA dual degree program.

Admission for the MSBA program is only offered for the summer semester (beginning in June) and does not offer intake for fall or spring term. Required orientation takes place the week before classes officially start in late May/early June. All students are required to report to campus on the first day of orientation.

If your undergraduate program finishes in time for you to report to campus on the required orientation date, you are eligible to submit an application for enrollment in the MSBA program for that year. We will work with you directly regarding official academic transcripts and certification of degree completion.

The MSBA program is a one-year (12 month) program beginning in June and ending in May. The program has structured lockstep curriculum and is based on a cohort format. As such, there is no option to change the duration of the program.

The MS in Business Analytics program is a STEM-designated degree program. STEM-designated programs are those selected by the U.S. Customs & Immigration Services as providing an in-depth curriculum in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Students graduating from a STEM-designated program have an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), totaling 36 months beyond graduation. Please visit the University of Minnesota International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website for up to date information about OPT. 

The MS in Business Analytics program does not authorize CPT (Curricular Practical Training) during completion of the program since CPT requires students to be enrolled in the program for at least a year.

Tuition, fees, financial aid, and scholarship information can be found on our website. The Carlson School and the University of Minnesota award a limited number of academic merit-based scholarships. Scholarship consideration is extremely competitive. No special application is required for these scholarships--All applicants are automatically considered, and scholarship award letters are received at the same time as final admissions decision notifications.

MSBA Curriculum Questions

The MSBA program curriculum includes significant use of Python and R.

The MSBA program has a structured, lockstep curriculum and are based on a cohort format. Students choose one 2-credit elective; beyond that, there is no option to specialize further within the program.

Experiential learning is woven throughout all three semesters of the curriculum and includes multiple live case competitions with companies such as PwC. Students also complete a semester-long experiential learning project with a partner company with the Carlson Analytics Lab, taking place during spring semester and unfolding over 14 weeks. Working in teams of four to six, MSBA students work directly with their partner companies to derive business value from data analytics. Advised by faculty and staff members, students run their own projects from start to finish, assessing needs and devising project-specific approaches to the work. Students finish their MS in Business Analytics degree with real work experience, making them very attractive to potential employers. Watch student videos about the Carlson Analytics Lab and learn more about past projects with Sun Country Airlines and the Mall of America.

International study or study abroad is not offered as part of the MSBA program structure or curriculum.

The MSBA program does not have an internship built into the curriculum. Instead, students complete an experiential learning project during spring semester over 14 weeks. Working in teams of four to six, MSBA students work directly with their partner companies to derive business value from data analytics. Advised by faculty and staff members, students run their own projects from start to finish, assessing needs and devising project-specific approaches to the work. Students finish their MS in Business Analytics degree with real work experience, making them very attractive to potential employers. Visit our website to watch student videos about the Carlson Analytics Lab and learn more about past projects with Sun Country Airlines and the Mall of America.

MSBA Career / Student Outcome Questions

MSBA graduates typically have job titles such as Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Sr. Marketing Data Analyst, Digital Insights Analyst, Analytics Consultant, Product Data Analyst, Senior Data Analyst, etc. The careers page highlights information about starting salary, location, and employers of past graduates.

Our Graduate Business Career Center offers intensive, comprehensive services to help each student plan for and land a job that is the best fit for each individual. Information about the excellent career services available to our students can be found on our website. The careers page also highlights information about starting salary, location, and employers of past graduates.

We do have a career coach dedicated specifically to our business analytics program, although our students have access to all coaches in our GBCC. Students may choose a coach that works best with their particular advising style and preferences.

Alumni of our program also continue to have access to our career services for life.

MSBA Admissions / Application Questions

Full details regarding admissions and application requirements are available on this website.

The admissions committee will conduct a holistic review by considering your past academic performance (transcripts for any post-secondary coursework and GPA), standardized test scores, work experience and current resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

We do not have minimum requirement for GPA, GMAT, or GRE scores. Our current averages are as follows: GMAT 703, GRE 322, GPA 3.56. We ask that students have above 80th percentile in the quantitative section of the GMAT or GRE.

Current application deadlines and decision timelines can be found on our website

Applications are reviewed in batches after each deadline has passed. Applications submitted in between rounds will not be reviewed until the next deadline has passed. After each deadline, applicants can expect to receive an admission decision within approximately two months.

Early application is highly recommended in order to ensure a timely review of your application, and for competitive scholarship consideration in the MSBA program. The MSBA program has limited space and may fill during the final application rounds.

You are not required to have an undergraduate degree, coursework, or work experience in computer science or business. As you can see in our MSBA class profile, many of our students come from a computer science, engineering, math & statistics, or business undergraduate or professional background with 10-20% of student backgrounds in a wide variety of disciplines and functional areas (such as communications, biology, education, history, political science, etc.).

Full-time work experience is not required for our program, but is preferred. We strongly recommend having at least some related internship(s) involving analyzing data, using technical software, and/or applying computer programming languages (e.g., Python, R, SQL, C, C++, C#, VB, Java, or PHP), in addition to having related academic or extracurricular experiences.

Approximately one third of our students join the program directly after completing their undergraduate studies, for example.

At least one completed, semester-long college level calculus course is required. There is no exemption to this requirement. Applicants who did not complete this requirement as part of their past undergraduate or graduate education should take a semester-long calculus course (typically Calculus I) at an accredited college or university prior to submitting their application. An online course through Coursera or MOOC does not satisfy this requirement. Short Calculus, Survey of Calculus, or Pre-Calculus do not satisfy this requirement.

Demonstrated proficiency in computer programming is required. Programming languages that satisfy the requirement are Python, R, C, C++, C#, VB, Java, and PHP. This can be demonstrated one of three ways: through academic coursework via completion of programming course as an undergraduate or graduate student, through professional experience using computer programming in your work environment and detailed on your resume, or through completion of online coursework or certification in computer programming.

The calculus and computer programming prerequisites must be completed before the time of application.

We do not offer conditional admission to the MS in Business Analytics program. All admission requirements must be met at the time of application for admission consideration.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are standardized computer-adaptive test used by schools to help assess the qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business or management. They measure basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills. This is not the same as an English language proficiency assessment test (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, etc.).

Prospective students should plan to take the GMAT or GRE before the application due date in order to meet the application deadline. We recommend taking the GMAT or GRE at least two to four weeks prior to the application date to ensure timely review of your application. The admissions committee considers only your highest GMAT or GRE score when reviewing your application. No preference is given to one exam or the other – the GMAT or GRE are considered equally.

The Carlson School’s MSBA program requires every applicant to take either the GMAT or GRE. Our current averages are as follows: GMAT 703 and GRE 322. We ask that students aim for a quantitative section score above 80th percentile for either test.

If English is not your first language, you must take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE exam. We accept scores from all three of these exams; it is not necessary to take more than one. Please note that the exam date should be within two years of graduate program start dateApplicants from certain English-speaking countries and regions may not need to take a proficiency exam.

For details regarding this requirement and any exemptions, please visit the Office of Graduate Admission's website:

After reviewing their website, for any questions regarding English language proficiency please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions directly at          

Transcripts for each institution of higher learning from which you have earned credit must be submitted with your online application (this includes partial or incomplete transcripts for all higher education courses). We allow for unofficial transcripts or academic records to be uploaded directly to the online application. Non-English transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation. We do not require credential evaluations such as WES evaluations.

If admitted to the program, you must submit official transcripts or academic records prior to your enrollment at the University of Minnesota.

We require two recommendations for application to the Master of Science in Business Analytics program. These recommendations can be from any combination of professional and academic recommenders, though we suggest that at least one recommendation come from a supervisor if you have professional experience. We partner with GMAC for the Common Letter of Recommendation, which is a form for recommenders to fill out. Actual written letters are not required, although there is a section for recommenders to upload an official letter, if desired.

Your application will not be considered complete until at least two recommendations are received. This means all recommendations must be received before the deadline for which you would like to be considered.

All applicants for the MS in Business Analytics program are required to submit an application fee. The application fee will be automatically waived only for any applicants who have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

A separate application is required for each program. Please contact the specific program or visit their website for additional information about submitting an application. Applications from other programs cannot be considered for the full-time MSBA program.

To be considered for admission, the MS in Business Analytics program requires a first university degree that is an equivalent to a 4-year U.S. bachelor's degree. Students with a 3-year degree from India do not satisfy this minimum requirement and must complete an additional year of post-baccalaureate study before submitting an application to the program.

If a student is unsure whether their degree is an equivalent to a 4-year U.S. bachelor’s degree they should email their transcripts and proof of degree to the Office of Graduate Admissions for review. Their email is

MSBA Student Life Questions

MS in Business Analytics students have the option to participate in any of the full-time MBA clubs and organizations. A full list can be found on the MBA Clubs & Organizations website. These clubs host events that include anything from industry speakers and site visits, camping, ping-pong tournaments, formal events, and happy hours. There is an annual membership fee as part of opting into these clubs, and they are an excellent way to get to know other Carlson students outside of your immediate program.

Graduate students at the University of Minnesota have a variety of housing options, including on-campus and off-campus accommodations. Most of our students choose to pursue housing off-campus. Visit the Housing & Residential Life website to learn more about on-campus graduate student housing. Please note that on-campus graduate student housing is quite a bit more difficult to acquire than off-campus housing.

We generally do not recommend that students work while enrolled in the MS in Business Analytics program. Students have a rigorous academic schedule, with 15 credits each semester in addition to intensive career coaching, networking, and client work.  We do not believe students will have time to work in addition to the heavy course load and time constraints. 

The MSBA program does not offer graduate or teaching assistantships. Because students have a rigorous academic schedule, we do not believe they will have time to commit to these type of assignments. 

Contact MS Business Analytics