If you are thinking of enrolling in an online data science master’s degree, this probably means you have recently graduated with an undergraduate degree, so congratulations! If you haven’t graduated yet and are just planning ahead, kudos to you. Either way, going after an online master’s degree in data science is a fantastic idea. If you’re still on the fence about this decision, read on to learn the reasons we think a data science master’s degree is a great idea and which schools made our top 11 list of online data science master’s programs in the United States.
What is Data Science?
To put it quite simply, data science is the study of data. People who work in data science are extremely important members of any organization that employs them. These are the people who take a company’s data and make use of it to further a business’ goals. Through rigorous study and analysis, data scientists are able to record, store and use data to provide valuable insights to a company.
Professionals in the field are extremely talented and are expected to be able to work with literally any data handed to them, structured or unstructured. To be able to do this effectively, data scientists draw upon knowledge and experiences working in many other disciplines, including math, data engineering, statistics and advanced computing. Needless to say, data scientists are very versatile and important workers.
Why Go Into Data Science?
As great as a job may sound on the outside, details like job availability, salary and even the skills you will learn and use can really sway your opinion on its potential.
Luckily, the field of data science is not going away any time soon. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 11.5 million new data science jobs will be available by 2026. If you decide to get a degree in data science, it is safe to say you should have no problem finding a job in the future. This is especially true if you earn a master’s degree.
We all know the salary of a job is one of the biggest factors to consider when applying. According to GlassDoor, the average salary of a data scientist in 2020 is a whopping $113,309. This is just the average, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to earn a higher salary within the field.
Working in data science also comes with a lot of valuable skills. Since the field is so versatile, you’ll have the opportunity to learn skills in a variety of areas. You’ll learn more about statistics, scientific methods, math in general, as well as organizational and special awareness skills. These can all come in handy in your daily life.
Careers in Data Science
Data science is a field with a lot of in-demand jobs. With many companies and organizations making the transition to new technology, fields like data science are projected to continue growing for quite a while.
Some of the most in-demand data science jobs of 2020 include data scientists, machine learning engineers or scientists, applications or infrastructure architects, and statisticians. Data scientists positions are the most straightforward and focus on cleaning, organizing and analyzing data for companies.
Machine learning engineers use a variety of skills to design and create new machine learning systems, while machine learning scientists research new data to come up with new algorithms and techniques that can be applied to machine learning engineering.
Application architects and infrastructure architects focus on systems within a business, doing different jobs to ensure the systems are running optimally. And, of course, there are statisticians who use data to find new trends and patterns that are important for the company.
Let’s now move on to the top schools for you to choose from to earn your Master’s Degree in Data Science in order to secure your future career
Best Online Data Science Master’s Programs in the US
City University of New York School of Professional Studies
CUNY offers an online Master of Science in Data Science program that is comparatively lower-cost than other programs. One of the biggest focuses of its program is helping students build portfolios that will not only aid their education, but also their future careers. The entire program is tailored to the most current needs and demands in the workforce, giving students a great start to their future careers.
With one of the longest-standing online Master’s Degree in Data Science programs out there, it is no surprise that Northwestern University ended up on this list. NU provides graduate students with the option to follow a more generalized path or to specialize in one of four different fields. Combine the long-standing reputation with the versatile degree requirements and you have a fantastic option for an online masters in data science.
Indiana University-Bloomington brings an online Master of Science in Data Science program to the table. Its program is unique because it is designed to cater to professionals already in the field who are looking to continue their education, rather than students who have recently completed an undergraduate degree. While the program is totally online, it is nearly identical to the on-campus version of the program and graduate students are invited to attend Online Immersion Weekends in the spring, giving students the opportunity to talk with experts in the field and gain work experience.
University of Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin is one of the top-rated schools for data science, with an online program delivered by its well-established faculty. Its program is also comparatively lower-cost than many universities and UW is a great choice if you are looking for a prestigious school, as it has long been known as one of the leading institutions for higher education. And this program is often completed in just one year, making it both time- and cost-efficient.
University of California-Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley, better known as Berkeley, is one of the top schools on almost any list you can find, so it is no surprise it has one of the best online data science master’s programs. Its program is unique in that it is a multidisciplinary program, giving students more flexibility in the courses they take. It is also flexible in completion times, allowing students to take a path to earn their degree in one year or as long as 32 months.
University of Maryland
The University of Maryland offers a Master of Professional Studies in Survey and Data Science program online. This program is another good one for anyone looking for the prestige of earning a degree from a well-established college, as the University of Maryland has a longstanding reputation as one of the best public research universities. Students of this program will be given access to research facilities as well as flexibility in course requirements.
John Hopkins University
John Hopkins University is a well-known university which gives graduate students the benefit of earning a degree from an accredited university. It offers both an online and hybrid version of its Master of Science in Data Science program, allowing students the opportunity to work completely online or mix their online classes with on-campus requirements. Students of JHU are also given plenty of opportunities to work with practicing data scientists, which provides much-needed experience in the field.
University of Southern California Viterbi
USC’s Viterbi offers a totally online Master of Science in Applied Data Science. The Viterbi School of Engineering is extremely well-known, so a degree from this school would do well in giving students credibility on their resumes. Its program caters to the needs of students who already have a strong background in computer science as well as those who do not, making this a good option for those who need to learn or brush-up on their basic data science skills.
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics program, totally online. Its program comes from a collaboration between a few different schools and offers students the option to complete a thesis or not. The need for a student to complete their thesis is based upon the student’s future career goals, which shows the university’s genuine care for students. For full-time students, the program can be completed in just over a year.
Western Governor’s University
At Western Governor’s University, graduate students can complete an online Master of Science in Data Analytics program in 18 months or less. Western Governor’s University includes requirements for students to earn multiple certifications that will come in handy when searching for a job and the program is based on a student’s prior knowledge. This allows students to choose if they need to review or learn certain materials or if they would rather take an assessment and advance in their degree.
Brandeis University offers an online Master’s in Strategic Analytics, with the choice of 14 different electives to earn a more specialized degree. One of the best parts of this program is that Brandeis does not have a minimum GPA requirement for students and also does not require that they majored in any specific subject for their undergraduate degree. This allows graduate students who want to change their career to save a lot of time and hassle by enrolling in Brandeis University’s program.
Now that we’ve reviewed the best online master’s degree programs for data science, let’s touch upon why studying for your degree online is a wise choice.
Why an Online Degree?
Online degrees are viewed as an untraditional approach to college, but that doesn’t mean they are any better or worse than on-campus degrees.
An online degree may be the right choice if you are someone who works full-time, learns better at your own pace, has a busy schedule, travels a lot or simply does not enjoy a traditional classroom environment. While most degrees still have due dates for assignments, you are typically given the entire schedule of assignments due at the beginning of the semester, allowing you to look ahead and figure out what needs to be done and when to help you better fit schoolwork into your schedule. And, with an online program, you can do work whenever and wherever you want so long as you have a WiFi connection.
Going into data science is a smart career move as you will have endless job opportunities and a high salary. With a Master’s Degree in Data Science from any of the above online programs, you are guaranteed to advance your career.