If you are tech-savvy and like to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the computing field, you might be interested in getting a data science job. The industry is interdisciplinary, with those working within it proficient in statistics, computer science, and operations research.
As such, this career isn’t pursued casually, as extensive education is required to become a data scientist and enter the industry. While some jobs can be obtained with a master’s degree, earning one of the best PhDs in Data Science is a much better option if you want the freedom to be able to conduct your own research.
Within your data science PhD studies, you will spend the latter two years of the four-year program doing your own unique research and writing a dissertation on your findings, preparing you to do the same in the real world. Those with a master’s degree, by contrast, don’t have as many creative liberties and don’t usually develop their own research, but rather analyze existing studies.
With the amount of schooling and skills required to work within the field, you might be wondering what a PhD in Data Science Salary looks like. Below, we’ll discuss the top schools for getting a PhD in Data Science, as well as the career outlook once you get your degree.
What Is a PhD in Data Science?
A PhD in Data Science is a four- or five-year, full-time degree pursued after a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Faculty in university PhD programs often like students to have a prior master’s degree, but if not, they might offer integrated master’s and PhD studies.
Within a PhD in Data Science program, you’ll spend the first two years of your program learning foundational knowledge, taking advanced courses in statistics, computer programming, data mining, research methodology, and so much more. The latter two years of the degree involve conducting your own unique research. You will then record your findings in a dissertation and defend your research before a committee to get your doctorate.
How to Get Into a Data Science PhD Program: Admission Requirements
You can get into a Data Science PhD program by meeting a university’s admission requirements, which will differ between each school. Typically, the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in a related STEM degree, but most programs prefer a prior master’s degree.
If you don’t have a master’s degree, it is highly recommended to at least be proficient in a coding language and to have taken classes in calculus, statistics, and engineering. You will also need to have a minimum 3.0 GPA across your postsecondary studies and send the school your academic transcripts. There are also supplemental materials you would need for an application. These include a statement of purpose, two or three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a professional resume.
PhD in Data Science Admission Requirements
- A postsecondary degree in a related field
- Academic transcripts
- Graduate record examination (GRE) scores
- Coursework in data structures, algorithms, calculus, and linear algebra
- A background in a programming language
- Letters of recommendation
- Admission essays
- Personal statement
Data Science PhD Acceptance Rates: How Hard Is It to Get Into a PhD Program in Data Science?
It can be hard to get into a PhD program in Data Science. PhD programs within universities are very exclusive. While they receive a sea of applications, most schools only accept about a dozen of them. For example, Yale, one of the best schools in the country, had over 300 applicants but only made around 13 offers. As such, it is wise to apply for multiple PhD programs in order to increase your chances of getting an offer of admission.
How to Get Into the Best Universities
Best PhDs in Data Science: In Brief
|Arizona State University||PhD in Data Science, Analytics, and Engineering||No|
|Bowling Green State University||PhD in Data Science||No|
|Chapman University||PhD in Computational and Data Sciences||No|
|Clemson University||PhD in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics||No|
|George Mason University||PhD in Computational Sciences and Informatics||No|
|Harrisburg University of Science and Technology||PhD in Data Sciences||No|
|Indiana University-Purdue University||PhD in Data Science||No|
|Kennesaw State University||PhD in Analytics and Data Science||No|
|University of Nevada||PhD in Statistics and Data Science||No|
|Yale University||PhD in Statistics and Data Science||No|
Best Universities for Data Science PhDs: Where to Get a PhD in Data Science
Since data science is a new field of scientific inquiry, it can be difficult to find the best universities for getting a data science PhD. In order to help you on your educational path, we’ve listed the 10 best schools for a data science PhD, below.
Can You Get a PhD in Data Science Online?
Yes, you can get a PhD in Data Science online. There are a few fully-online PhD programs in data science provided by schools like Northcentral University. If you wish to pursue your PhD online but haven’t been accepted into a program for data science, you can consider a computer science program that has a concentration in data science. Since data science is a subset of computer science, you would learn the same foundational skills in either program.
Best Online PhD Programs in Data Science
|Capitol Technology University||Online PhD in Business Analytics and Data Science||3-4 years|
|Northcentral University||Online PhD in Data Science||3-4 years|
|Northcentral University||Online PhD in Data Science and Technology Management||4 years|
|The University of Rhode Island||Online PhD in Computer Science||4 years|
|University of North Texas||Online PhD in Information Science||3 years|
How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Data Science?
It typically takes four to five years to complete a PhD in Data Science. While four years is the standard for most schools, some programs take a fifth year to complete due to the exhaustive research conducted. Most of the programs we’ve covered above require students to complete between 70 to 80 credits.
While that only requires between eight and 10 credits per semester, students’ schedules are filled with doing research, being a teacher’s assistant, and completing a fellowship. The amount of coursework required, the research component, and the dissertation are all factors that can affect the time it takes to earn a PhD in Data Science.
Is a PhD in Data Science Hard?
Yes, a PhD in Data Science is hard as it involves taking incredibly technical classes and conducting your own novel research within data science. The academic discipline is the merging of computer science, statistics, operations research, and more, meaning that successful students must be proficient in a wide range of technical skills.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Data Science?
It costs, on average, $19,314 per year to get a PhD in Data Science, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. The cost will change depending on the type of school a student attends. If a doctoral student studies at a public university, the tuition is only $12,171, on average. By contrast, if a doctoral student studies at a private institution, tuition costs about $14,208 at for-profit universities, and $27,776 for nonprofit universities.
How to Pay for a PhD in Data Science: PhD Funding Options
There are many different avenues students can look into to pay for a PhD in Data Science. Some schools, such as Yale and Kennesaw State University, waive tuition for eligible students, and might even give students a yearly stipend. Another common option is to do an assistantship, in which you’d work within your data science department by teaching or doing research.
Students can also apply for various scholarships or grants to help cut down the cost of tuition. While scholarships for undergraduate students are typically merit-based, PhD funding is achieved through a student’s specific field, supporting their research and cutting tuition costs.
Best Online Master’s Degrees
What Is the Difference Between a Data Science Master’s Degree and PhD?
The difference between a data science master’s degree and PhD is that the former program only takes about two years to complete, while the latter is the educational step past a master’s degree that takes at least four years to complete. In fact, the first two years of a PhD program are usually a master’s degree program.
As such, some schools prefer applicants to have master’s degrees to cut down on the length of time. A master’s degree, and the first two years of a PhD program, are more so classroom-based. For PhD students, this is when students learn the foundations they’ll need to conduct their own research in the final two years of their program.
Master’s vs PhD in Data Science Job Outlook
The job outlook for people with a Master’s or PhD in Data Science is very positive. Data science is a new scientific field, so workers within its industries are in high demand. For example, computer and information research scientists, which have a minimum requirement of a master’s degree, should see their careers grow by 22 percent between 2020 and 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Medical scientists, which have a minimum educational requirement of a PhD, should see job growth of 17 percent between 2020 and 2030. While The PhD job outlook is lower in this instance, a PhD is highly desirable, which is evident by the salary discrepancy below.
Difference in Salary for Data Science Master’s vs PhD
A PhD typically leads to a higher salary than a master’s degree. For example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information research scientists average $131,490 per year, while medical scientists in the scientific research and development services industry make $129,800. By contrast, those with a master’s degree tend to earn an average salary of $106,000, according to PayScale.
While the BLS states that the minimum educational requirement for that job is a master’s degree, typically those with master’s degrees work in analyzing existing data. With a PhD, you can conduct research within this innovative field.
Related Data Science Degrees
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Why Should You Get a PhD in Data Science?
You should get a PhD in Data Science because you will be one of the pioneering leaders in this budding field. While a master’s program teaches students how to analyze data, a PhD program empowers students to do their own research. Read below for why you should get a PhD in Data Science.
Reasons for Getting a PhD in Data Science
- Lead the Field. Data science is a new field, so those that get a doctoral degree will be at the forefront of new developments. As you’ll be analyzing data, it’s incredibly exciting to think that your PhD research will be groundbreaking.
- Ever-evolving job: Technology is constantly advancing at incredible speeds, so being the one to learn about these advancements will never get old. With artificial intelligence technologies on the rise, one can only imagine in just 10 years’ time how different our understanding of data science will be.
- Specialize in interest. As students go along their educational paths, they go from learning foundational knowledge to increasingly specific information. Thus, if you’re passionate about a subset of data science but didn’t get to focus on it in your bachelor’s or master’s degree program, a PhD is the perfect opportunity to study, research, and work within your interests.
- High salaries. As the field of data science grows, the need for data science experts will also increase. PhD graduates will be uniquely equipped for the industry’s changing landscape and will be highly sought-after.
- Research opportunities. While this is an enriching hands-on experience, it lays the groundwork for you to be able to conduct your own studies in the latter two years of your program. You will be able to follow your passions rather than just helping a faculty member succeed in their work.
- Job Market. The BLS projects that job openings in computer and information research sciences will grow by 22 percent from 2020 to 2030. In getting a PhD, you will be a more competitive applicant than those with a lesser degree. It’s likely that you can even negotiate higher salaries because of your specialties.
Getting a PhD in Data Science: Data Science PhD Coursework
Data science is an interdisciplinary field, involving bioinformatics, computer science, statistics, and operations research. As such, the coursework PhD students undertake is diverse, including data mining, bioinformatics, ethics, and data visualization. Below, we’ll discuss some of the common classes found throughout most PhD programs in data science.
Introduction to Data Science
This class will teach you the baseline information you’ll need to know to advance in your data science career. Since you’re in an advanced degree program, you’ll likely be working with real data from case studies. You’ll take that information and learn how to build and manage databases, visualize data, and run statistical analyses.
Raw data, though important, isn’t useful until it can be contextualized and analyzed. Data mining is also called “knowledge discovery,” meaning that mining is the process of digging through mounds of data to learn information. Students will code, select and visualize data, use machine learning, and clean information to make novel findings.
As the combination of terms implies, bioinformatics is where biology and informatics meet and involves the study of biological data. This field of study is essential for those that want to go into medicine as data scientists. If you haven’t yet completed your bachelor’s degree, pursuing one of the best undergraduate degrees in bioinformatics is a wise choice.
Ethics of Data Science
Since data science involves collecting and storing information, mostly on people, there are possible moral ramifications to this. Within an ethics class, you’ll learn the proper methodology for conducting research to assure that your work meets codes of conduct.
An important aspect of conducting research is being able to articulate your discoveries. Through visualization in programming languages like R, you’ll learn how to plot data and make reports. This process helps you organize your findings as well as snuff out any errors made during computation.
Best Master’s Degrees
How to Get a PhD in Data Science: Doctoral Program Requirements
You can get a PhD in Data Science by meeting your chosen university’s degree requirements. Though these can vary, there are commonalities across different schools, such as completing a set number of credits, taking exams, and crafting a dissertation. We’ll now go into more detail about these common components of the doctoral degree.
Potential Careers With an Data Science Degree
PhD in Data Science Salary and Job Outlook
The salary and job outlook for those with a PhD in Data Science is very positive. The field of study is fairly new, and while there might not be many jobs that specifically require a PhD, having a terminal degree will make you a competitive applicant for prospective employers.
Data science PhD holders can work as medical scientists in the scientific research and development services industry or as information and computer research scientists. For the former industry, which requires a PhD, there will be a 17-percent increase in job openings between 2020 and 2030, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The US BLS reports that computational and informational research sciences will see a 22-percent increase in job openings during that decade. Average salaries for those professionals are $116,430 and $131,490, respectively.
Though the salary for those in computational and informational research sciences is higher and typically only requires a master’s degree, those with a PhD are more likely to work in those positions. This is because PhD holders often conduct research, having done so in their doctoral programs, while former graduate students often analyze existing findings instead.
What Can You Do With a PhD in Data Science?
With a PhD in Data Science, there are a plethora of jobs within reach. The field of study is interdisciplinary, meaning that you’d be equipped with the skills to thrive in careers relating to computer science, bioinformatics, engineering, data management, and so much more. Let’s discuss further some of the highest-paying jobs that you can get with a PhD in Data Science.
Best Jobs with a PhD in Data Science
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
- Medical Scientist
- Machine Learning Engineer
- Data Scientist
What Is the Average Salary for a PhD in Data Science?
The average salary for a PhD in Data Science is around $131,000. Payscale reports this is the average salary for those with a PhD in Computer Science, and since data science is a specialization of computer science, one can infer the salaries would be similar.
While $131,000 can be the expected salary for those with a Doctorate in Computer Science—and data science, by extension—the average salary you might earn will depend on a few variables. These include the amount of work experience you have, the industry you are working in, the organization you are working for, and the region of the country you are working in.
Highest-Paying Data Science Jobs for PhD Grads
|Data Science PhD Jobs||Average Salary|
|Computer and Information Research Scientist||$131,490|
|Mathematicians and Statistician||$129,800|
|Machine Learning Engineer||$112,709|
Best Data Science Jobs with a Doctorate
The best data science jobs with a doctorate are as a computer and information research scientist, mathematician or statistician, medical scientist, machine learning engineer, or data scientist. All of the above careers earn over $100,000 per year, but the actual salary a job might offer can differ.
Is a PhD in Data Science Worth It?
Yes, a PhD in Data Science is much worth it. Though not all data science jobs require a PhD, with some upper-level careers only requiring a master’s degree, you would have an advantage over others with lower levels of education. You’d have experience conducting your own research method, which would prepare you for running your own studies in the real world.
Most with master’s degrees don’t actually develop their own studies, rather, they analyze existing information. A PhD would give you a competitive edge, making you a more impressive candidate to prospective employers. You’d be more likely to get hired, and more plausibly able to negotiate a higher salary.
Data science is a new field of inquiry, so by having a doctorate in it, you would be at the forefront of the technological advancements within the industry. You would likely make at least $100,000 yearly in data science and have the interdisciplinary skills to work in other industries if you desire.
Additional Reading About Data Science
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PhD in Data Science FAQ
Yes, many data scientists have PhDs, but it is not a requirement for many jobs in the industry. Some require only master’s degrees instead, but there are advantages to having a PhD. With a PhD, you’ll have conducted your own research to get your doctorate, allowing you to more easily create your own studies in the real world. Those with a master’s degree, by contrast, usually only analyze existing studies, giving you less creative liberties with what you work on.
There are many career options for those with a PhD in Data Science, as the course of study is interdisciplinary. This means that those with the degree are taught technical skills that can apply to multiple different industries. Often, those with a data science degree go on to work in either business, medicine, or academia.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for data scientists is $131,490. This report states that those within this job often have a master’s degree, meaning that with your PhD, you’d be a more impressive candidate and be able to negotiate a higher salary. Additionally, the BLS estimates that demand for data scientists will grow by 22 percent from 2020 to 2030, a much higher rate than the national average of eight percent.
A PhD is the best degree to become a data scientist if you want to conduct your own studies. Many within data science have lesser degrees, usually a master’s and sometimes a bachelor’s, which in turn gives them less responsibility within the field. If you have a scientific inquiry that you are passionate about and want the freedom to study what you want, a PhD is the best degree to obtain.
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