We live in a world of 1’s and 0’s, a world of data. Consumers and businesses send and receive enormous amounts of data all day, every day. From smartphones that learn how the user behaves to purchasing decisions that inform marketing messaging to analytics that can isolate flaws in a supply chain — Big Data is powering business today.

That’s why Big Data literacy is becoming a highly sought-after skill among hiring managers and recruiters. According to one study, nearly 70 per cent of employers expect to favour candidates with serious data science chops over candidates lacking that skill set.

Simply getting an MBA degree might not be enough today. Future-proofing your education means making sure you’re equipped with a solid foundation in Big Data, data science, machine learning and automation. While many institutions haven’t exactly been on the forefront of change, most prestigious business schools are beginning to embrace the potential of Big Data.

We analyzed a total of 16 prestige programs, the ones largely considered the best of the best. Some of these are Ivy League programs and some aren’t. Most are in the United States, though two of them are in the UK. We looked at more than 160 courses among those 16 schools.

What we found was that the bulk of schools don’t yet require a great deal of Big Data education for their MBA students.

In fact, just one school required more than two courses, and two-thirds of schools require just one class on data science. Only one school we looked at offers more than 30 classes between core and electives in data science, and more than half don’t crack the double digits.

Several schools do offer special programs or immersive experiences, and each of them does at least provide a foundation in Big Data.

Not all courses are offered during each term. We’ve looked at the most recent academic term for which class listings are publicly available at each institution. In most cases, that was fall 2018, though some courses listed are for future or past terms.


Stanford University

Santa Clara County, California

Stanford Graduate School of Business

With its close proximity to the heart of the tech world, Silicon Valley, it’s no wonder that Stanford has by far the most robust MBA offerings focusing on Big Data, data science, machine learning and automation among the dozen-plus prestige MBA programs we studied. While offering only one required course in Big Data, Stanford Graduate School of Business lists an incredible 30 elective courses to help business students build their skill set in data analysis. With literally hundreds of companies applying those principles on a daily basis just a few minutes from their campus, Stanford’s students are uniquely positioned to take on the future of business.

Required or core

Data Analysis and Decision Making

Elective, seminar or immersion

Business Intelligence from Big Data

Data, Learning, and Decision-Making

Topics in Social Network Analysis: Structure and Dynamics

Causal Inference

Data Science for Platforms

The Startup Garage: Testing and Launch

Data and Decisions (Base and Accelerated)

Decision-making and Learning under Model Uncertainty: Theory and Applications

Statistical Methods for Behavioral and Social Sciences

Data-Driven Decision Making

Designing AI to Cultivate Human Well-Being

Seminar on IT for Business

Data-driven Decision Making and Applications in Healthcare

Designing for Happiness

People Analytics

Data for Action: From Insights to Applications

Designing Story in a Digital World

Online Marketplaces

Digital Marketing

Information Technology


Intellectual Property: Financial and Strategic Management

Leading Creativity and Innovation

Modeling Culture

Machine Learning and Causal Inference

Marketing Analytics

Micro Research Methods

Marketing Management, Accelerated

Marketing Research

Media Entrepreneurship


Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Kellogg School of Management\

With 16 regularly offered electives and one required course featuring Big Data, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management offers students a chance for a broad data-centric education, covering business segments as diverse as healthcare, retail and human resources.

Required or core

Business Analytics

Elective, seminar or immersion

Analytics for Strategy

Data Analytics Decisions

Decision Modeling and Optimization in Excel

Customer Analytics

Data Exploration

Digital Marketing Analytics

Health Analytics

Marketing Analytics: Leading with Big Data

Marketing Research and Analytics

Methods and Data in Consumer Behavior Research

People Analytics and Strategy

Problems and Solutions in Applied Data Analyses

Programming for Analytics

Retail Analytics

Social Dynamics and Network Analytics

Technology in the Age of Analytics

New York University

New York City

Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Located in New York City, the financial heart of the United States, students at NYU’s Stern School of Business must take just one course related to Big Data but have the option to take 16 more classes to build a foundation in theory and hands-on applications of data science.

Required or core

Statistics & Data Analysis

Elective, seminar or immersion

Analytics & Machine LearningData BootcampData-Driven Decisions
Data GovernanceData Mining for Business AnalyticsData Visualization
Dealing With DataDecision Analytics for SportsFintech Analysis: Data-Driven Credit Modeling
Forecasting Time Series DataMarketing Impact AnalyticsPractical Data Science
Real-World Analysis of Economic DataRegression and Multivariate Data AnalysisSocial Media and Digital Marketing Analytics
Sports Economics

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Fuqua School of Business

For full-time MBA students at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the lone required course on statistics is complemented by 15 other courses grounded in Big Data and related areas. Given Duke’s location in the so-called Research Triangle, several courses focusing on data science as it relates to health are offered. In addition to the traditional MBA and other flexible MBAs, Fuqua also offers two Master of Quantitative Management degrees, one in business analytics and one in health analytics.

Required or core

Probability and Statistics

Elective, seminar or immersion

Advanced Data Analytics and ApplicationsAnalysis of Healthcare Effectiveness and OutcomesApplied Probability and Statistics
Data Analytics and ApplicationsData InfrastructureData Visualization
Data Analytics for BusinessData Science for BusinessDecision Analytics and Modeling
Electronic Health Records and Data StructuresEthical & Legal Issues of Data AnalyticsPeople Analytics
Empirical Economic AnalysisFraud AnalyticsProvider Operation Analytics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sloan School of Management

Though just one required course is related to data science, it’s a big one, as Data, Models, and Decisions goes beyond a general statistics education. And the elective courses in the Sloan School of Management provide MBA-seekers with in-depth, hands-on experience in working with data for a broad range of business purposes, including making MIT among the few prestige MBA schools to offer courses devoted specifically to machine learning.

Required or core

Data, Models, and Decisions

Elective, seminar or immersion

Action Learning Seminar on Analytics, Machine Learning, and the Digital EconomyAdvanced Data and Analytics and Machine Learning in FinanceData Mining: Finding the Models and Predictions that Create Value
Communicating with DataDigital Marketing & Social Media AnalyticsEconometrics for Managers: Correlation & Causality in a Big Data World
Engineering Statistics and Data ScienceFinancial Data Science and ComputingMachine Learning Under a Modern Optimization Lens
Predictive Data Analytics and Statistical Modeling

The Analytics Edge

Statistical Thinking and Data Analysis

The Analytics of Operations Management

Statistical Learning and Data Mining


University of Chicago

Booth School of Business

With four required courses related to Big Data or data science, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business has by far the most required courses among the institutions on the list, as there are only three other schools that require more than one data science-related course. Booth doesn’t have as many overall courses as some of the other schools on our list, but with such a strong core curriculum in addition to four possible concentrations in Big Data-related areas, the program ensures all graduates have a sturdy foundation in understanding and using data.

Required or core

Business Statistics

Applied Regression Analysis

Data-Driven Marketing

Data Mining

Elective, seminar or immersion

Big DataHealthcare Data Analytics
Data Science for Marketing Decision MakingIntegrated Strategic Management

Booth also offers concentrations around Analytic Finance, Business Analytics, Econometrics and Statistics and Marketing Management.

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tepper School of Business

Offering both traditional on-campus MBAs (full-time and part-time) as well as a part-time online MBA, Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon aims to instill all graduates with strong analytics skills they can apply to business today and far into the future. With two required courses and a half-dozen others related directly to Big Data, Tepper also offers an MBA concentration in business tech and a Master of Science degree in Business Analytics, for those who aren’t looking to complete an MBA.

Required or core

Probability & Statistics

Statistical Decision-Making

Elective, seminar or immersion

Applications of Operations Research

Data Mining


Big Data

Marketing Research

Statistical Applications in Management

In addition to a broad, program-wide focus on analytics, Tepper also offers a variety of concentrations, including one in Business Technologies, which heavily employs data science principles.

Columbia University

New York City

Columbia Business School

The highest-rated Ivy League school on our list, Columbia requires a relatively high number of data-related core classes, as well as being among the few programs to include hands-on training in specific programming languages, with the course Data Analytics in Python.

Required or core

Business Analytics

Managerial Statistics

Elective, seminar or immersion

Analytics in Action (Master Class)Data Analytics immersion seminarData Analytics in Python
Data Driven DollarsQuantitative Pricing & Revenue AnalyticsSports Analytics

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Offering just one required data course but a half-dozen electives, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management focuses its data-related MBA education on statistical modeling and analytics, as well as being among the few schools to offer cloud-related courses.

Required or core

Data Analytics and Modeling

Elective, seminar or immersion

Advanced Data Analytics Applications and MethodsData ModelingFinancial Data Analytics and Entrepreneurial Decision
Data Driven MarketingDesigning Data ProductsTechnology Management: Cloud Computing & Big Data

Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

Tuck School of Business

Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business offers an Ivy League education with a general foundation in statistics and analytics. With two required courses for the MBA and five electives related to data science, Tuck is among the leaders in the Ivy League.

Required or core

Analysis for General Managers

Statistics for Managers

Elective, seminar or immersion

Consumer AnalyticsData Structure and AnalyticsQuantitative Digital Marketing
Data Mining for Business AnalyticsMarketing Research

University of California Berkeley

Haas School of Business

Witjust one core data-related offering, UC-Berkeley’s MBA electives do the heavy lifting here, including traditional courses on marketing analytics in addition to more unique data courses covering healthcare and presentation design for data.

Required or core

Data and Decisions

Elective, seminar or immersion

Healthcare in the 21st CenturyMarketing AnalyticsMarketing Research: Tools and Techniques for Data Collection and Analysis
Presentation Design for Analytical Communications

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard Business School

With no required courses related directly to Big Data or data science but a few electives that fit the bill, Harvard is only just beginning to step out of the staid, traditional business education mind-set and shift to more forward-thinking classes. Though it’s the only school on our list with no required Big Data-related courses, Harvard is still Harvard, and an MBA from this school is considered a ticket to success. In addition to its impeccable MBA programming, Harvard also offers a separate business analytics program for working professionals.

Required or core

No required courses related directly to Big Data

Elective, seminar or immersion courses

Managing with Data ScienceFrom Data to Decisions: The Role of ExperimentsPeople Analytics: Leading in a Data-Driven World

Also offers standalone Harvard Business Analytics Program, aimed at working professionals. https://analytics.hbs.edu/

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Wharton School

With just three MBA courses grounded in data science, Penn’s well-regarded Wharton School is among the stragglers on our list, but the classes is does offer are effective in instilling some hands-on skills in Big Data and analytics. Being an Ivy League school doesn’t hurt, either.

Required or core

Statistics: Regression Analysis for Managers

Elective, seminar or immersion

Applied Probability Models in MarketingData and Analysis for Marketing Decisions

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Yale School of Management

Yale’s School of Management requires only one data-related course for MBA students and offers just two other electives strictly for MBA students, but the integrated curriculum at Yale means students could potentially create a more data-heavy course load by looking outside the School of Management.

Required or core

Probability Modeling & Statistics

Elective, seminar or immersion

Big DataSports Analytics

London Business School


Though it offers just three data-heavy MBA courses (including just one required course), London Business School’s MBA is among the most flexible in the world, with several program lengths, including a 15-month degree. With its location in the heart of Great Britain’s financial core, the school also offers a robust internship program, which allows students to get a taste of the real world, whether in England or around the world.

Required or core

Data Analytics for Managers

Elective, seminar or immersion

Customer and Marketing AnalyticsData Mining for Business Intelligence

Oxford University

London, England

Saïd Business School

Offering both a full-time and part-time experience, Oxford University’s Saïd Business School requires just one data-related class and two electives for MBA students, but as a leading research center, the school academics and researchers regularly publish on areas like management science, healthcare and large-project management.

Required or core


Elective, seminar or immersion

Leveraging the Power of NetworksMarketing Analytics

The Bottom Line

These are all incredibly good schools, and if you can get into any of them, you should strongly consider going. But for those lucky or smart enough to have options, an education at a forward-thinking institution may just provide you the leg-up you need over the competition. Disagree with our rankings? Tell us about it below.

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