Data science careers are ideal for those fascinated by the way information influences the global market and consumer habits. The best online data science master’s degrees will help you uncover trends in complex data. Plus, they’ll equip you with the knowledge needed to design and develop the tools and techniques you need to manipulate data insights in the real world.
This is a comprehensive guide to finding reputable schools that offer affordable online data science master’s degrees, including their admission requirements, application processes, tuition rates, and program curriculum. Getting an online Master’s Degree in Data Science opens you up to data science master’s degree jobs, and we’ll discuss their salaries and job outlooks within this guide.
Where Can I Get a Data Science Master’s Degree Online?
Some of the best schools to get a data science master’s degree online include Pennsylvania State University-World Campus, Syracuse University, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University. In most universities, the School of Business or College of Engineering offers online data science master’s degrees.
What Schools Offer the Best Data Science Master’s Degrees?
- Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
- Syracuse University
- University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
- University of California, Berkeley
- Northwestern University
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Data Science Master’s Degree?
The admission requirements for an online Master’s Degree in Data Science usually start with the prospective student opening an admissions account with the school and filling out an online application form. Aside from inputting your contact data, you’ll be required to include supplemental documents.
Supplemental documents vary by program, but they usually include proof of a minimum GPA of 2.5, official transcripts, standardized test scores, a resume, a personal statement or a statement of purpose, and three letters of reference. The application fee typically ranges between $20 and $150.
Online Data Science Master’s Degree Admission Requirements
- A quantitative background in a related field
- A postgraduate or undergraduate degree in a related discipline
- 2.5 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale
- Standardized tests like GRE or GMAT
- English proficiency through TOEFL or IELTS
How to Get a Data Science Master’s Degree Online
The best way to get a data science master’s degree online is by fulfilling all the graduation requirements of your online data science program. Master’s degree programs generally take between 12 and 24 months to complete, but a busy part-time student may take a year or two longer to finish. Some of the core requirements for an online data science degree are listed below.
Data Science Degree Requirements
- Completion of 12 to 45 credit hours
- 3.0 GPA
- Completion of 3-5 core courses
- Completion of elective courses in fields like software engineering or social science
- Capstone project, a final exam, or a thesis
Best Online Data Science Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview
|Bellevue University||Master of Science in Data Science||Higher Learning Commission|
|Drexel University||Master of Science in Data Science||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|Johns Hopkins University||Master of Science in Data Science||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|Northwestern University||Master of Science in Data Science||Higher Learning Commission|
|Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||Master of Science in Spatial Data Science||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|Syracuse University||Master of Science in Applied Data Science||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|University of California, Berkeley||Master of Science in Information and Data Science||WASC Senior College and University Commission|
|University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign||Master of Computer Science in Data Science||Higher Learning Commission|
|University of Oklahoma||Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics||Higher Learning Commission|
|University of Southern California||Master of Science in Applied Data Science||WASC Senior College and University Commission|
Best Schools for Data Science: Top Online Data Science Master’s Degree Programs
The best online schools for a data science master’s degree are outlined in the list below. Every school has a unique offering that differentiates it from others. Our top online data science programs review simplifies your school search. It focuses on the core features of each school and their online data science programs and how you can get started with your enrollment.
What Is an Online Data Science Master’s Degree?
An online data science master’s degree is a graduate degree awarded to remote students who meet the educational requirements for an advanced interdisciplinary program. Students in an online data science master’s degree program are taught how to design, develop, and use deep learning and data analysis tools and techniques in solving real-world problems.
The data science master’s degree program interdisciplinary curriculum typically covers core credits in subjects such as big data mining and modeling, data visualization, and research and statistical analytics. Most data science master’s degree programs let students specialize in an aspect of data science by offering course concentrations and hands-on experience with a capstone project.
Online vs In-Person Data Science Degrees
The main difference between online and in-person Master’s in Data Science degrees is that in an in-person program curricula are explored in structured physical classrooms. Students interact face-to-face with their instructors and sometimes take part in hands-on lab projects.
Meanwhile, in online data science degree programs, courses are taught through live virtual classrooms and pre-recorded videos. Students in online data science programs rely more on independent study than group collaborations, and all of their learning materials are accessed in digital formats. However, an online Master’s Degree in Data Science can be as good as an in-person degree. Below are some of the benefits of choosing either of these program formats.
Top 5 Benefits of an Online Master’s Degree in Data Science
- Lower cost of education. Distance learning options offer a more affordable education. You won’t have to pay for commuting, housing, and other miscellaneous fees that are common with in-person master’s degree programs.
- Dedicated student support. Some of the support services available to online students in data science master’s programs include access to academic tutors, financial aid programs, software access, library services, and online networking programs.
- Flexible scheduling. Most online master’s degree programs in data science allow you to extend your program length up to five years. Busy professionals and part-time students can balance their work and study schedules with online classes.
- Learning autonomy. With an online data science degree program, you can control your learning from anywhere and enjoy a convenient study pace. If you run into complications during your learning, you can always reach out to on-demand course advisors.
- Ease in credit transfers. Most online master’s degree programs in data science allow you to easily transfer your credits to another program or institution. You can also transfer credits from a certificate program to lessen your degree program length.
Top 5 Benefits of an In-Person Master’s Degree in Data Science
- Hands-on instructions. If you’re not quite proficient in technical subjects such as programming, calculus, and research, you may need more hands-on instructions from your instructors or face-to-face coaching from your colleagues.
- Faster learning pace. If you’re in a hurry to reach your professional goals in data science, an in-person program is usually quicker than online programs. You can finish up in one or two years, whereas an online program may take longer.
- Access to facilities. An on-campus graduate program provides access to a wide range of learning facilities and resources, such as a functional library, research laboratory, and group tutoring programs. In an online program, you have to create your learning space yourself and, in most cases, you’ll lack these essential resources.
- Opportunity to collaborate and network with peers. In on-campus programs, you can collaborate with your colleagues on class assignments and personal projects and build useful career networks from your social interactions.
- Opportunity to experience new environments. In-person college, even for a graduate student, is an opportunity to experience a new culture, people, and environments.
What Types of Online Master’s Degrees Can You Get in Data Science?
You can get the following types of online master’s degrees in data science:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Science (MS)
- Master of Applied Science (MAS)
An MBA covers business topics alongside advanced technologies. MS and MAS degrees are similar, but an MAS is more practical as it also includes writing a thesis and completing a capstone project.
Is It Better to Get a Master of Science or Master of Business Administration in Data Science?
It is better to get an online Master of Science Degree in Data Science. An MS in Data Science will enable you to learn essential hands-on techniques and explore research theories needed to succeed in the data science field. A master of science degree focuses on helping students engage in hands-on applications that can help them do well in a data science role or in a doctoral program.
When deciding on an ideal program to study data science, consider the method of course application. An MS degree program relies on research and statistical analysis. However, a master of business administration builds your managerial and business intelligence skills, which may be useful depending on your professional goals and desire to enter the business field.
How Much Does a Data Science Master’s Degree Cost?
Online master’s degree programs in data science cost an average of $12,171 if you enroll in a public institution, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). However, if you choose to attend a private institution, expect to pay an average of $27,776 for a non-profit private university and $14,208 for a private-for-profit institution.
The tuition cost of online master’s degrees in data science will vary depending on the specific program you choose and the number of elective courses you decide to enroll in. Luckily, studying data analytics online usually costs less than attending an in-person program.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Data Science Master’s Degree Online?
It takes two years to get a data science master’s degree online. Most online data science programs place their schedules between 12 and 24 months. During this period, the average student is expected to complete 12 to 45 credit-hour courses within two to six semesters.
Most data science master’s degree programs request that students complete six to nine credit hours of concentration courses and use one to six credits for an independent exam or capstone project. As an online student, your program pace may be up to you, as most schools allow students to complete their required credit hours of coursework within five years.
Are Online Data Science Degrees Respected?
Yes, online data science degrees are respected by employers and clients in the data science industry, as long as your school is reputable and regionally accredited. Most of the leaders in online education are among the top-ranking schools in the world, according to Statista. You can find accredited online data science courses by searching on websites such as Career Karma or by looking for the program you are interested in through a university’s website.
Is Data Science Hard to Learn Online?
No, data science is not hard to learn online because you have access to a wide range of student support services and online learning tools that can make the process easier. Even if you don’t have a technical background, you have virtual access to on-demand tutors, academic advisors, and instructors who can help you simplify the learning process.
Data Science Bootcamp vs Online Data Science Master’s Degree: Which Is Better?
An online data science master’s degree is better than a data science bootcamp if you have a strong background in mathematics, programming, and data analysis. However, if you majored in a non-technical discipline in your bachelor’s degree program, then a data science bootcamp is better for you to build your technical knowledge, as schools give admission preference to applicants with computer science or quantitative backgrounds.
Below are some of the benefits of choosing either pathway.
Top 5 Benefits of an Online Data Science Master’s Degree
- Advanced data science skills. A Master’s Degree in Data Science helps you build advanced skills in data analysis, data modeling, and machine learning. You learn how to manipulate big data and how to create sophisticated tools and techniques for solving computing problems.
- Broader curriculum. A master’s degree program curriculum offers courses that can contribute to your career goals. You’re not only limited to the courses in your discipline, and, in most cases, you’ll find business analytics and general education courses available.
- Flexible pace. An online Master’s Degree in Data Science offers students a convenient way to speed up their careers. Online data science master’s degree programs allow students to extend their program up to five years. If you’re a busy adult, you’ll find the pacing in online data science master’s degrees more favorable than bootcamps.
- Better industry recognition. A Master’s Degree in Data Science makes it easier to access high-paying data science jobs in the industry. To employers, the academic reputation of this degree implies expertise in data science, so you won’t have to start out as an entry-level data scientist.
- More career options. An online Master’s Degree in Data Science doesn’t just prepare you to become a data scientist. It prepares you to take on several tech roles related to data science. With this degree, you can launch immediate careers in data analysis, quantitative analysis, cyber security, software development, and systems engineering.
Top 5 Benefits of a Data Science Bootcamp
- Market-led data science skills. Data science bootcamps equip students with data skills that are in demand by employers. You’ll learn the most popular programming languages and skills that are essential for data science. You’ll discover the best data science tools, and you’ll work on exciting data science projects to build your hands-on experience.
- Flexible learning formats. The data science programs offered by coding bootcamps usually have flexible formats. You can choose to enroll in a part-time program, a part-time flex program, or even a self-paced program. There are admission and student advisors available to help you choose the right fit.
- Tailored career services. Coding bootcamps offer a wide variety of tailored career services for enrolled students. These programs prepare you for data science interviews and provide other essential services, such as resume building, social media optimization, portfolio review, and access to data science job boards.
- Cost-effective and more payment options. Coding bootcamps are more affordable than master’s degree programs. Some master’s degrees in data science can cost more than $30,000, while the price range of most bootcamps falls between $5,000 and $20,000, according to Career Karma’s State of the Bootcamp Market Report 2021.
- Faster pace. Data science bootcamps last from three months to one year, with most of them having a duration of around six months. During this period, you’ll get to tackle an immersive curriculum that allows you to build a strong foundation in data science needed to land entry-level jobs in the data science field.
Why You Should Get a Data Science Master’s Degree Online
You should get an online Master’s Degree in Data Science if you prefer a self-controlled study space over social interactions. According to a 2019 survey by Statista, most respondents believed that working remotely made it easier to boost productivity since it allowed them to focus on their commitments and reduced distractions from shared spaces.
Some of the benefits of getting an online Master’s Degree in Data Science also include reduced costs and the stress of commuting to another location. You can still keep your job while pursuing a data science master’s degree and furthering your career goals.
What Courses Do You Take in an Online Master’s Degree Program in Data Science?
The best online Master’s Degree in Data Science courses you can take include introductory, core, and elective courses in fields like data mining and data analytics. You may also have to complete a capstone project or final exam to get your degree.
The foundation courses introduce you to computer science and core classes in math, while the core courses are for optimizing your career track. The electives make it easier to diversify into other career paths. Some of the core courses in data science master’s degree programs are included below.
A data mining course helps you understand how to extract data from sources around the web and organize large data sets to discover patterns. Students learn mining methods, like pattern discovery, clustering, and data segmentation, and how to apply data mining to making predictions in data science.
Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing is a branch of computer science that combines linguistics and artificial intelligence. It focuses on training computer systems to process large data sets by imitating human processing patterns. Students cover human language technologies, such as information extraction, machine translation, question answering, and sentiment analysis.
Applied Machine Learning
Data science students study the real-world application of machine learning. Students learn how to classify, evaluate and apply data mining results to machine learning solutions and how to process and implement data structures and algorithms for the development of self-running systems. Students also learn how to build predictive models to perform tasks for humans.
Data visualization involves translating complex data into pictorial or graphical representations using visualization tools and techniques. Students learn how to use the Python and R programming languages for data cleaning and preparation. They also learn how to use Adobe Illustrator to create visual elements that humans can easily interpret.
Research and Statistical Analysis
Research for data science includes using statistical tools and techniques to draw actionable insights from unstructured data sets and then presenting the research findings to aid decision-making and business applications. You’ll explore statistical analytical methods, such as prescriptive analysis, predictive analysis, and inferential and descriptive statistical analysis.
Continuing Education Paths for Online Data Science Master’s Degree Graduates
Continuing education after an online Master’s Degree in Data Science usually includes a doctoral degree. A PhD program in data science prepares you for roles in academia and laboratory research. However, you could also choose to pursue an international certification with the Data Science Council of America to further enhance your hands-on skills.
Related Online Data Science Degrees
What to Look For in the Best Data Science Master’s Degree Programs
The things to look for in the best data science master’s degree programs are the school and program’s reputation, the cost of the program, the student support services available, and the concentration and specialization options you can take. We’ll analyze these qualities and more below.
School and Program Reputation
A thorough assessment of a school’s reputation is essential in choosing a data science master’s degree program from an accredited university. Check details about the school’s online education achievements and their student employment outcome. View the school’s website to discover the school and program’s recognitions, and search for unbiased reviews from school alumni.
Cost of Program
Most master’s degree programs exceed $20,000. If you are a student in financial need, consider how you’re going to pay for your data science program before applying. Ensure that the program offers financial aid to students if its tuition rate and fees are high. Also, see if the school has a flexible payment method, such as paying per credit, per course, or per semester.
Concentration and Specialization Options
Data science is an interdisciplinary field. There are several areas that you can specialize in, and a good program will always provide you with an array of options. Find out how many elective credits make up the program concentration. Check the courses you have to choose from, the technologies and programming languages they expose you to, and the in-demand skills taught.
In most cases, you’ll need to complete six to 12 courses as part of your degree requirements in a Master’s in Data Science program. Ensure that you have ample courses to choose from that are relevant to the career field you want to pursue. The required courses for a data science degree should cut across fields like software engineering, cloud management, and information security.
Student Support and Career Services
Student support services make your learning easier, and career services make your career launch seamless. Ensure that the program you choose offers dedicated student support and career services. You should have access to a virtual tutoring center and virtual career center, and you should be able to reach instructors and advisors easily when you need to.
What Is the Most Affordable Online Data Science Master’s Degree?
The most affordable online data science master’s degree is offered by Bellevue University. The entire program costs about $18,750, at $625 per credit unit. Each semester, you’ll be required to complete at least 15 credits, and that puts your tuition cost at $9,375 per semester, excluding fees.
Can I Get a Data Science Master’s Degree Online for Free?
No, you cannot get a data science master’s degree online for free. A Master’s Degree in Data Science from any reputable and accredited university has tuition and fees. However, you can get financial aid support for your tuition and fees. Most programs provide students access to internal and external scholarships and grants to fund their education.
Salary and Job Outlook for Online Data Science Master’s Degree Graduates
An essential factor to consider when choosing an advanced degree is its earning potential and job outlook. With a degree in data science, you pretty much have a guaranteed high annual salary and long-term industry relevance. The data below provides you with all the information you need to get started as a data analytics professional.
How Hard Is It to Get a Job With a Data Science Master’s Degree?
It is not very hard to get a job with an online data science master’s degree. Based on a 2021 survey report by Statista, companies are recruiting more data scientists. The percentage of companies that hired over 50 data scientists grew from 30 percent in 2020 to nearly 60 percent in 2021. As such, a data science master’s degree is a good investment.
What’s the Average Online Data Science Master’s Degree Salary?
The average online Master’s Degree in Data Science salary is $97,294 per year. The majority of data science professionals who earn this figure are in their early careers, with only one to four years of professional experience.
What Jobs Can You Get With an Online Data Science Master’s Degree?
The jobs you can do with an online data science master’s degree are database systems analyst, big data engineer, data architect, and database administrator, among others. You can secure jobs in leading tech fields such as software development, information technology, cyber security, systems and network security, and data science.
If you choose to become a data scientist by enrolling in an online data science master’s program, you can launch careers in any of the job roles listed below.
Data Science Degree Jobs
- Big Data Engineer
- Computer Research Scientist
- Data Architect
- Business Intelligence Analyst
- Database Engineer
Potential Careers With an Online Data Science Degree
How Much Money Can You Make With an Online Data Science Master’s Degree?
You can make between $69,000 and $136,000 per year with an online data science master’s degree, according to the 2022 median salary computations by PayScale. You should know that this figure is a national salary average for all data scientists, regardless of their location, employer, job benefits, skill level, relevant work experience, job functions, and other factors.
According to the survey from PayScale, data scientists’ experience level and in-demand skillset can play a huge role in boosting their salary range. Some of the practical skills that boost the salary range of data scientists include proficiency in Python and R programming languages, as well as knowledge of data analysis, statistical analysis, and machine learning.
Highest-Paying Online Data Science Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview
|Data Science Master’s Degree Jobs||Average Salary|
|Information Security Manager||$119,336|
|Machine Learning Engineer||$112,513|
|Computer and Information Research Scientist||$109,345|
Best Jobs for Online Data Science Master’s Degree Grads
The best jobs for online master’s degree holders in Data Science include roles where they can apply their in-demand skills in research, statistical modeling, database systems, deep learning, programming, and data visualization. Below are some of the highest-paying jobs for data science graduates.
Best Jobs According to Your Major
Is an Online Data Science Master’s Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online data science master’s degree is worth it if you want to gain knowledge of the advanced techniques and principles in data science. This knowledge can help you properly harness, analyze, and manipulate data sets and build statistical models for the development of innovative products that solve computing issues.
A 2021 research report by Markets and Markets projects a 27 percent compound annual growth rate between 2021 and 2026 for the data science platform market. The data science market size will grow from $95.3 billion to $322.9 billion. A Master’s Degree in Data Science will let you benefit from the data science market profit, possibly helping you earn up to $136,000 yearly.
Additional Reading About Data Science
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Online Data Science Master’s Degree FAQ
Yes, you can learn data science in three months, but because of the short time frame, you may only build a foundational knowledge of the discipline. If you want to boost your computing skills and diversify your knowledge of the key areas in data science, you need to continue learning.
To change your career to data science, start by reviewing your current tech skillset. This will determine what level of training you need. This is because data science requires a strong foundation in several disciplines, including mathematics, statistics, programming, and data analysis. Next, you can review training programs suited to your skills and preferred career track.
Yes, anyone can become a data scientist as long as they have a sincere passion for the field and can commit to learning the complex concepts, techniques, and tools in the field. As an absolute beginner, you can start by taking foundation courses in data science through platforms like Coursera, so you can familiarize yourself with the techniques of the field.
Yes, data science is in demand. According to the data science job projections from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, data scientists should expect a 22 percent job growth between the periods of 2020 to 2030. If you’re interested in breaking into this field, this is the right time to do so.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.