Best in State: Top Data Science Master’s and Grad Cert Programs for 2018

 

As the field of information technology has exploded over the past forty years, it’s developed something of a reputation for being open to great minds who never really had much in the way of a formal education. In fact, it’s kind of famous for it… Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, both of Apple’s Steves – Jobs and Wozniak – and Larry Ellison all dropped out of college and went on to form multi-billion dollar corporations, shaping the industry – and the world – on guts and intellect alone.

Data science may be the next big transformational wave in information technology, but it’s a wave rising out of different waters. Unlike many other aspects of IT, to be successful in data science, you absolutely need a formal education and an advanced degree.

According to a 2015 study by professional recruiting firm Burtch Works, 88 percent of data scientists have a graduate degree. And that’s in an employment environment that is starved for talent, with hiring managers willing to make compromises in order to fill positions. But you can bet that as more master’s-qualified candidates enter the job market, that percentage is only going to go up.

So picking the right graduate program is mandatory if data science is the field you want to join. And to help you find that golden nugget, we’ve built you a list of what we feel are the very best data science master’s and graduate certificate programs out there.

How We Made Our Picks

To come up with these recommendations, we sifted through a list of nearly 300 data science master’s and graduate certificate programs by hand. That may not qualify as big data, but it’s a lot of work! New programs are emerging all the time as schools scramble to keep up with the demand.

Weighing the quality of these programs was a challenge—and we did it without reference to numbers or a formal scoring algorithm!

Sure, we get the irony… for a field dominated by numbers, algorithms, and cold, unambiguous calculations, we’ve gone all touchy-feely and subjective on you.

But that very thing is baked into the profession as it functions today. Data science has only existed as a discrete and identifiable role for about a decade. People are still arguing about what it is and is not. Quite a few of the degrees on this list don’t even have data science in the title. Those that do don’t necessarily define it or teach it in the same way… we looked at graduate certificates and full degrees in research psychology and bioinformatics and business analytics, each of which encompass data science as a role but few are directly comparable.

That makes a traditional apples-to-apples or outcomes-oriented analysis all but impossible. Check this space in another 15 or 20 years if that’s what you’re waiting for… we’ll have accumulated the givens by then!

For now, here are the factors we based our top picks on:

Crunchy Hard Statistical Training

Data science evolved from applied statistical analysis, and in some ways that still remains a significant part of the field. Throw as many fancy machine learning, data structures, and programming classes on top as you like, but you’d better have a rock-solid understanding of the basic mathematical realities of statistical analysis or the rest is just wasted.

As much as possible, we looked for programs that included multiple required courses covering core subjects such as:

  • Inferential and Descriptive Statistics
  • Linear and Logistic Regression
  • Time Series and Forecasting
  • Probability Theory
  • Stochastic Analysis
  • Statistical Modeling

Multidisciplinary Approaches

A multi-disciplinary program including courses and instructors from computer science and applied mathematics or statistics departments ranked more highly for us than single department programs.

Because data science blends together essential elements from at least those fields (and often from others, including biostatistics, which draws on heath and medical education) we judged that programs built by professors from both houses were more likely to cover all the bases.

Database and Data Theory Education

The secret sauce that makes data science, data science, is the use of automated data processing elements in statistical analysis. So we searched for programs that included an education in data structures and database theory.

Hands-on work with relational and non-relational data stores were a big plus, in our view, to build on that theoretical education. Dedicated data modeling courses and capstone projects that required genuine database creation or manipulation were also excellent signs of a useful education.

Coding Courses With Teeth

The other aspect of data processing is coding. Data scientists apply their analytical training to information stored in data structures through expressions and algorithms crafted in programming languages heavily used in the profession, like R, Python and Java.

We selected programs that included genuine, hands-on programming work. Although most data science programs require some coding experience as a condition of entry, we looked for those gems that also continued the education in the more specialized aspects of languages and coding specific to data science.

This also extended to coverage of the latest techniques used in data analysis. Data mining, machine learning, and advanced visualization were important courses we looked for.

Instructors With The Right Stuff

Data science is a new field and it’s one that is largely being defined in practice rather than theory. That means that the big players are active in government, industry, and academia alike. On-the-ground experience working with the systems that are collecting, processing, and analyzing big data is invaluable when it comes to training others how to do the work.

So we looked for programs that included faculty with current or recent experience in real-world projects outside academia, where the practical considerations of employers and users come into play. Adjunct professors with day jobs working with big data were a big plus for us.

Other Factors

Since data science is so new, we had to look at some proxy elements to judge programs. We always like to consider reputation in the industry, and in many cases we had to look at the parent department or college generally instead of the individual program. However, we did try to account for graduate placement as an indicator of reputation and preparation.

If the school had a dedicated data lab where professors and students partnered with outside businesses and agencies, we also counted that highly.

To a much lesser extent, website and the availability of information played a factor. Data science draws people who like data and have an interest in technology. It’s 2018, and if an academic department dealing in a computational science puts together a website that looks like a 12-year-old built it in 2001, or can’t provide easy online access to course descriptions and offerings, it’s time to run the other way.

The Very Best Data Science Grad Programs by State



 

ALABAMA

 

University of Alabama
Culverhouse College of Commerce
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Website

Master of Science in Applied Statistics (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $359 (resident), $936 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Standard Full-time Program

  • Graduate teaching and research assistantships available with competitive stipends to help cover tuition costs.
  • Two tracks available: Statistics Or Analytics
  • Campus Analytics Lab gives students access to cutting-edge technologies in a modern, high-tech study space.
  • Small cohort sizes offer exceptional access to faculty and resources.

The best kind of education for a career in data science is often actually an education in statistics. The University of Alabama’s Applied Statistics master’s program has been equipping graduates for various data-driven applications careers for more than 25 years. With heavy helpings of mathematical statistics, statistical methods, and applied regression and multivariate analysis as a base, students are offered two possible tracks to a degree: Statistics or Analytics.

The Analytics track will be most useful to graduates looking to move on to careers in data science. Although both tracks have exposure to data mining courses, the analytics track doubles down for a deep dive into the topic while adding courses on data management and knowledge discovery to complement them. At the end of their coursework, students will have to pass either a comprehensive exam or a professional exam such as the Actuarial P Exam, the SAS Predictive Modeler Exam, or the ASQ Certified Quality Engineer Exam… all options that will get your CV shuffled to the top of the pile when it’s time to go job hunting.

 

ARIZONA

 

Arizona State University
School of Computing, Information & Decision Systems Engineering
Tempe, Arizona
Website

Master of Science in Computer Science – Big Data Systems Concentration (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $360 (resident), $782 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time / Accelerated

  • Master’s offered with thesis and non-thesis options for maximum flexibility.
  • Emphasis on theory and practice as an engineering discipline.
  • Cutting-edge data science topics in distributed database systems.
  • Multimedia and Web Database elective available offering in-demand expertise in a rare dedicated course.

ASU’s data science program goes big on the latest trends and technologies in data science. While it still covers staples like data mining and statistical analysis techniques, the program goes a step beyond most data science master’s degrees by offering courses in fields so new they’re mostly theoretical. Electives in multimedia and web databases and semantic web mining showcase emerging technologies that are serving as building blocks for the future. Students have the option of a traditional M.S. with dissertation and defense or taking an M.C.S. option and building a project portfolio instead. Potential employers love real-world examples of work product, and ASU sends you out the door with a stack of them to show off.

 

ARKANSAS

 

University of Arkansas – Little Rock
Department of Information Science
Little Rock, Arkansas
Website

Graduate Certificate in Data Science (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $383
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Standard Full-time Program

  • Twelve credit hours to data science in a fast program emphasizing practical knowledge.
  • Database systems design and data technologies overview for a quick introduction to the field.
  • Survey of data mining, real-time data processing, and storage systems.
  • Hands-on experience with sample technologies in the Big Data ecosystem.

If you don’t have the time or the money for a full-fledged master’s degree in data science but still need a top-notch education in information visualization, database systems, and privacy and protection concerns, UA-Little Rock’s Department of Information Science has got you covered. Because the certificate program is limited in scope, you’ll need to bring your background in Java programming and statistical analysis along with you. But by not including those courses, the certificate program is able to dive right in to database design, visualization techniques, and data mining, offering you exactly the skillset you need to get a position in the data science field.

 

CALIFORNIA

 

Stanford University
Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering
Stanford, California
Website

Master of Science in Computational & Mathematical Engineering – Data Science Concentration (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,051
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • Stanford Data Lab involves students in researching and developing solutions with real-world industry partners.
  • More than 15 specialized elective courses are available in a wide range of specialty subjects.
  • Emphasis on mathematics and statistical analysis methods taught by some of the finest faculty in the country.

Stanford genuinely needs no introduction in the computer science world and it’s no surprise they’re on top of the list of California schools when it comes to data science. As the birthplace of many of the firms and technologies that have built and shaped the field, the university is uniquely placed to educate the next generation of data science professionals. The price of excellence is preparation, however. Stanford expects grad students to come in with a strong foundation in probabilities, numerical methods, and programming proficiency in C++ and R. The data science concentration doubles down on those skills, with courses in numerical linear algebra and stochastic methods that serve as a run-up to the meat and potatoes stuff like advanced multi-core systems, parallel computing methods, machine learning and convolutional neural networks, and business intelligence from big data.

Polishing it all off is a capstone research project at the university’s famed Data Lab, showcasing everything you’ve learned for potential employers. Those employers will include the entire array of big name Silicon Valley titans and unicorns as well as any other organization in the world that is serious about data science… you won’t go wrong with a Stanford degree in data science.

 

COLORADO

 

Colorado State University-Global Campus
Website

Master of Science in Data Analytics (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $500
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Teaches cutting-edge toolsets including SAS, Tableau, RapidMiner, SQL, ETL
  • Faculty with genuine industry experience offer up-to-date perspectives on data processing and analysis.
  • Fully online course allows asynchronous learning for busy professionals.

CSU-Global is the first and only 100% online, independently accredited, state, non-profit university in the nation. Make no mistake, this is not an online option being offered through a conventional campus-based institution, it is a fully online university with no location-based tuition penalties. This means Colorado’s best data science program may be just as attractive to students outside the state as it is for residents. A world-class faculty with real-world experience and significant research under their belts underscores the practical applications of the CSU-Global analytics program, as does their emphasis on teaching a wide array of current and in-demand data analysis software tools. The program has a definite business data orientation, with a capstone course focus on business intelligence, but the core curriculum hits all the right bases in broader data science interests like data mining, visualization, and predictive analytics.

 

CONNECTICUT

 

Wesleyan University
Quantitative Analysis Center
Middletown, Connecticut
Website

Certificate in Applied Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $3,260
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Flexible class selections within foundational areas ensure exposure to basic math, statistics, and computer science elements of data science while allowing a degree of specialization.
  • Wide range of elective options for data science applications in media, economics, and GIS offer further specialization flexibility.
  • Data Analysis Practicum includes ethical and epistemological considerations in addition to offering practice in concrete applications of data science techniques and technologies.
  • Opportunities to participate in DataFest, an interschool data analysis competition sponsored by QAC

What’s an undergraduate certificate in data science doing on a list of master’s-level programs? It’s just that good. Although the Wesleyan program consists of baccalaureate level coursework, it covers advanced topics in modeling, statistics, and mathematics that even many graduate-level programs skip over. For the applied part of the certificate, the program delivers both foundational computer science training and access to advanced subjects in econometrics, GIS, data visualization, and computational physics. This isn’t your average undergraduate certificate! Advanced electives in forecasting, network analysis, and longitudinal data analysis give you even more options for shoring up your analytic skills before you put them into practice during the capstone Data Analysis Practicum phase of the program.

 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

 

Georgetown University
McCourt School of Public Policy
Washington, D.C.
Website

Master of Science in Data Science for Public Policy (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,186
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Standard Full-time Program

  • New for Fall 2018!
  • Joint degree offered by McCourt School of Public Policy and Graduate Analytics provides modern computational approaches to traditional public policy analysis problems.
  • Specialized program provides a laser-focus on analytics in government service and public policy positions not offered anywhere else.
  • Guest lectures from central figures in public policy analysis, including the Chief Data Scientists at the Department of Commerce and Pew Research.
  • Massive Data Institute offers interdisciplinary research experience on real-world datasets, including a new Census Research Data Center in cooperation with the U.S. Census.

Located in the heart of D.C., Georgetown has an outsized influence on public policy discussions. Graduates can be found throughout government and the Beltway, tackling the big problems in American life: poverty, violence, international relations, the economy. Data science is offering new tools to provide insights and suggest solutions in all of those areas, and Georgetown’s brand new master’s program will be producing graduates who can use those tools.

As you would expect, Georgetown professors have solid academic credentials and teaching experience, but they also have plenty of real-world experience. Many serve as consultants to private businesses or have worked with the National Science Foundation or other government agencies. Their exposure to public and private sector trends and concerns ensure that students in the MS-DSPP program walk out the doors prepared to hit the ground running in any sector. Graduates from McCourt end up in places like Booz Allen Hamilton, the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and SAP. Strong internship partnerships with many of the same organizations offer great contacts and on-the-job experience.

 

FLORIDA

 

University of Central Florida
Department of Statistics
Orlando, Florida
Website

Master of Science in Statistical Computing – Data Mining Track (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $456 (resident), $713 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Full-time / Part-time

  • Two-time winner of the KDD Cup Data Mining Competition.
  • Partnership with the SAS Institute for in-depth training in SAS programming, including free installation of SAS software to student laptops.
  • Ongoing industrial collaborations provide industry hooks and up-to-date experience in real-world mining systems.
  • Data Mining Lab offers practical instruction and assistance in R, SQL, and SAS.

At its heart, data science primarily relies on the field of applied statistics for most of its power. UCF doesn’t skimp on instruction in that core element, loading up the curriculum for its statistical computing master’s degree with courses in regression analysis, theoretical statistics, and statistical data processing. The data mining focus also offers more practical instruction, using the same software and programming languages that dominate the industry to teach students how to prepare and dig into big data stores.

UCF also has a real competitive edge, sending students to compete in challenges like the KDD Cup, the Siemens Wind Analytics Contest, and Disney’s Big Data Challenge. These competitions are fun but also offer real-world datasets to practice on and offer insights into what industry employers are looking for when recruiting fresh data science talent. Alumni have gone on to companies like Farmer’s Insurance and Capital One in addition to progressing in further academic efforts and research organizations.

 

GEORGIA

 

Georgia Southern University
Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering & Computing
Statesboro, Georgia
Website

Master of Science in Computer Science – Data Mining and Data Warehousing Concentration (Hybrid)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $221 (resident), $883 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • One of only a handful of data mining/data warehousing-focused concentrations available in the world.
  • Covers cutting-edge distributed database systems and web systems.
  • Artificial intelligence, visual recognition systems, expert systems, and information retrieval systems are among the specialized subjects taught by the program.
  • Four graduate assistantships available for full-time graduate students to ease financial burdens and allow additional professional experience in data science.
  • Program designed to allow students with degrees outside the computing field to earn a master’s in computer science.

Even the core Computer Science master’s degree at GSU is known for a heavier concentration of database and knowledge systems education than the average MSCS, and their data mining and warehousing concentration double down on that focus with an intensive exploration of the systems and processes that make modern data analytics possible. The online components of the hybrid program are aimed squarely at working professionals who do not have time in their schedules for a full-time, on campus program. Asynchronous course delivery allows you to fit classes in when it’s most convenient, and the relaxed part-time options slows the pace down to allow you to keep up with your professional and personal obligations. The fact that the program is expressly designed to allow students with degrees outside the traditional technical fields to earn their master’s is of enormous value to any professional looking to switch fields mid-career.

 

IDAHO

 

University of Idaho
Department of Statistical Science
Moscow, Idaho
Website

Graduate Data Analytics Certificate (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $538 (resident), $1,772 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Evolutionary computation course allows exploration of the next frontier of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Diverse research projects and faculty interest offer expertise in a wide array of data science specialties.

The UI Data Analytics Certificate is ideal for students who want a basic understanding of techniques and applications of data science. A healthy array of elective options with this certificate make it easy to tailor the program to your specific industry or area of interest, from bioinformatics to marketing. You are allowed to take half your credits at a baccalaureate level, providing an easy on-ramp for students without a deep background in computer science. For a 12-credit program, the UI data analytics certificate really delivers. It offers some fairly advanced training in machine learning and multivariate analysis that some full master’s degree programs don’t even cover.

 

ILLINOIS

 

Illinois Institute of Technology
College of Science
Chicago, Illinois
Website

Master of Data Science (Campus / Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $838
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • Automatic consideration for graduate scholarship for every student meeting the application deadline.
  • Strong math and statistical science training provided through a joint offering with the Department of Applied Mathematics.
  • Faculty with a broad range of experience in areas like natural language processing, computer vision, social media analysis, and organization behavior offer mentorship opportunities for almost any career trajectory.
  • Focus on ethics sets the program apart from most data science master’s degrees.

IIT has a strong core course load split across six fundamental areas of data science including data processing, statistics, machine learning, and communication. From there, you move on to a buffet of elective options in more specialized areas, including cloud computing, geospatial vision and visualization, or bioinformatics. Or you can dive even deeper into fundamental theory, taking advanced courses in stochastics, meshfree methods, combinatorics, or a whole array of statistical analytics methods. The program also hits all the right notes in real-world data processing research and application through partnerships with companies like Siemens and Accenture. Special topic lectures and real-world data sets offer students a glimpse of the day-to-day job requirements and challenges of working data scientists.

 

INDIANA

 

University of Notre Dame
Department of Applied & Computational Mathematics & Statistics
Notre Dame, Indiana
Website

Master of Science in Data Science (Hybrid)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,600
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Standard Full-time Program

  • Instruction in all types of modern database format and data security concerns, including NoSQL, Graph database, Hive, and In-memory databases.
  • Offers serious programming courses in R and Python alongside fundamental statistical theory and data modeling.
  • Covers communication skills for data scientists, forging an understanding of how presenting the results of research can be just as impactful as the research itself.
  • Industry collaboration with AT&T offers real-world exposure to large data sets for graduate students.

Notre Dame is known as a research university with rigorous academic standards, and that strength is clear when it comes to the data science program. As a multidisciplinary program drawing on a well-respected mathematics department with faculty from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, the Department of Psychology and the Mendoza College of Business, students get perspectives and expertise drawn from almost every corner of the data science field.

Unlike many hybrid programs, the university has not skimped on its web-based learning environment for the online components. A cutting-edge, collaborative learning management system that was custom-designed for data science education is used for online course delivery. Small class sizes ensure personal interaction with the instructor, even remotely. But immersion weekend courses at Notre Dame and in Silicon Valley help set students up with face-to-face interactions with industry experts and instructors that fully online programs can’t hope to match.

 

IOWA

 

Maharishi University of Management
Computer Professionals Program
Fairfield, Iowa
Website

Master of Science in Computer Science – Data Science Concentration (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $675
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Standard Full-time Program

  • Optional 8 months practical field training with full credit and pay for the internship.
  • Option of completing one course online for additional flexibility.
  • Professional seminars on data mining and cloud computing deliver cutting-edge information about hot trends in data science.
  • Including Transcendental Meditation technique in the program offers a unique combination of technological education with proven self-development techniques for maximum creativity and focus.

Although the Maharishi program is focused first on a traditional computer science education, with all the emphasis on core networking and programming skills that entails, it’s also a unique world center for the integration of traditional self-development with this most modern area of technical study. The inclusion of proven meditation techniques here only reinforces how serious this program is about preparing students for real-world work in data science. The optional 8-month internship for full credit provides genuine on-the-job experience, building your resume and putting you into direct contact with real data scientists doing real work, all before you graduate.

The base program specializes in training on software systems and development and the data science option piggybacks on this strength with concrete training in hot data analysis technologies like R, Hadoop, Spark, Flume, and HBase. Overviews of other NoSQL approaches and cloud-based tools like AWS and Cloudera are also taught. Finally, you’ll work with IBM’s SPSS modeler application, diving into text analytics and data mining to learn predictive modeling skills.

 

KANSAS

 

Kansas State University
College of Business Administration
Manhattan, Kansas
Website

Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $563
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Two tracks, one in data science and one in applied analytics, offer options for any career goal.
  • Cooperative interdisciplinary program with input from Colleges of Business Administration, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering to provide broad-based education in multiple sectors.
  • Capstone course in data analytics brings together all course skills in a single, resume-building project to demonstrate your achievements.
  • Online program available to students anywhere in the world at affordable tuition rates.

When you dive into the K-state data analytics certificate program, you’ll quickly realize it’s not just another graduate certificate. In fact, you might feel like you’re getting the full graduate degree infodump, only at a fraction of the time and cost of a full master’s degree. The 15-credit curriculum is packed with hardcore statistical methodology and machine learning courses in the data science track that many certificate courses skip right over. The applied analytics track, in the meantime, has a broad array of electives that allow you to jump immediately into specific data science applications in social media, business, or bionformatics. No matter what career path you hope to follow, K-state can give you a leg up and set you on the right track with a solid scientific foundation beneath you.

 

KENTUCKY

 

University of Louisville
Department of Computer Engineering & Computer Science
Louisville, Kentucky
Website

Certificate in Data Science (Campus / Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $680 (resident), $1,415 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • SAS and SAS Enterprise Miner software both taught as part of the program, offering hands-on experience in a widely-used industry toolset.
  • Taught by faculty with experience working in data and computer science for major employers like NASA, NIH, NSF, and DoD.
  • Multiple elective choices allow a focus within data science specialty fields such as e-commerce and bioinformatics.

The University of Louisville Certificate in Data Science program offers a straightforward, practical education in database concepts and data mining principles taught by an expert faculty with experience across multiple industries and specialties. Some of them have written the textbooks! This wide array of expertise is also reflected in the relatively generous number of elective courses the program offers. You can take advantage of that flexibility to dive into a specialized topic like bioinformatics or round out your data science knowledge in algorithms or artificial intelligence. The certificate program also takes on topics that even many full-fledge data science master’s programs skip, covering things like legal issues in data mining and mining document-store databases.

 

MAINE

 

University of Southern Maine
Graduate School
Portland, Maine
Website

Master of Science in Statistics – Data Science Track (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $228 (resident), $615 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time / Accelerated

  • Heavy mathematical and statistical analytic course load lays a firm theoretical basis for data science work.
  • Program covers analytical tools including Mathematica, MATLAB, Minitab, and SAS, offering a slightly different emphasis from other programs.
  • Biostatistics coursework available for additional focus in health informatics studies.
  • Optional master’s thesis/project offers flexibility in creating your own capstone or performing unique research, or simply focusing on coursework.

Statistics and quantitative analysis are the bedrock that data science rests on. As we all know, before schools started launching data science master’s programs the field was largely dependent on master’s-level graduates in statistical sciences. Today, some of the best data scientists still come from statistics master’s programs like the one at the University of Southern Maine.

Boosted by a dedicated data science track that weaves in the modeling and programming knowledge that differentiate data science work from traditional statistical studies, USM offers a complete set of tools and skills for students looking for solutions to real-world problems in data mining, analysis, and visualization.

 

MARYLAND

 

Johns Hopkins University
Whiting School of Engineering
Elkridge, Maryland
Website

Master of Science in Data Science (Online / Hybrid)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,739
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Virtual-live courses allow online students to attend real-world classroom lectures as they happen, boosting participation and enhancing peer support for all students.
  • Generous electives options are segmented to ensure both choice and guaranteed exposure to various core elements of data science theory.
  • Top-notch instructors with real-world experience prepare students for day-to-day challenges in data science roles.

As you would expect from a school of Johns Hopkins stature, admission requirements for the MSDS program are stringent and weighted toward the technical aspects of the discipline to ensure that candidates can hit the ground running. Don’t let the absence of a formal GRE or GMAT score fool you… Johns Hopkins instead looks deeply into your undergraduate education and work resume to make sure you have the chops for the program. But the school also offers well-defined prerequisite courses you can take to shore up your mathematical and programming skills before diving into the foundational elements of the program.

Those classes are heavily weighted toward statistical and algorithmic analysis training, with a solid dose of database design and processing considerations. The electives tracks allow you to top off your studies with courses on everything from game theory to financial derivatives, while still providing enough structure to guarantee a well-rounded education in data science overall. All of this is taught by instructors with real-world experience in applied data science, providing students with practical instruction in overcoming the actual challenges they can expect to face after graduation.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

 

Bay Path University
Graduate School
Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Website

Master of Science in Applied Data Science (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $622
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Heavy emphasis on hands-on programming and analysis using Python, SAS, SQL, and R.
  • Coursework expands to include both classical statistics and modern machine-learning analytic techniques.
  • Offers a certificate in SAS as part of the program process through a joint program with SAS.
  • One or two year pre-programmed schedules available to fit your attendance needs.

Bay Path’s applied data science program may be all virtual, but the sweat on your forehead will be real as you plow through the serious algebra and probability courses in the core curriculum requirements. The MSADS doesn’t skimp on the foundational elements of data science you’ll need to find success in the field. Statistical analysis and data mining work give way to electives in cybersecurity, data exploration and visualization, and decision support systems… practical applications of data science skills that other programs don’t always hit. This combination of elementary statistical education and hands-on data science applications make Bay Path’s program special.

 

MICHIGAN

 

University of Michigan
School of Information
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Website

Master of Science in Information – Data Science / Data Analytics / Computational Social Science Areas of Interest (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $466 (resident) $940 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Areas of Interest educational approach provides the curriculum flexibility needed to hit specialty areas without sacrificing core education standards in information science.
  • Practical engagement and career development are key components of the MSI program, ensuring each student is exposed to field work dealing with genuine data science challenges through internship work.
  • Many courses also involve practical applications in concert with local clients addressing real-world information problems.
  • Mastery course or mastery thesis option provide flexibility for your individual goals.

UM’s MSI program stands out both as a degree founded on information science, rather than statistics, and for the breadth of educational options that the areas of interest approach offer. All include requirements for multi-disciplinary cognate courses taken outside the School of Information curriculum, ensuring broad academic exposure. From there, however, required courses dive into specialty areas that provide an unparalleled depth of training. The data science/analytics area has the usual dose of programming, statistics, and data mining courses, with electives on cutting edge topics such as natural language processing and network analysis. The computational social science track includes the programming and statistical training, but slides into other topics that are unique, such as online communities, information economics, and dealing with user-generated content.

The MSI thesis track is optional, allowing you to take a rigorous two-semester research project in the traditional vein, or to opt into a mastery course option where you would demonstrate a synthesized understanding of all the core elements of the MSI program necessary for entering the field as a well-rounded professional.

 

MINNESOTA

 

University of Minnesota
College of Science & Engineering, College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Health
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Website

Master of Science in Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $523 (resident), $810 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Standard Full-time Program

  • Emphasis area core curriculum selection allows flexibility in required coursework while still ensuring significant exposure to statistics, algorithms, and infrastructure topics.
  • Electives available in such specialized topics as computer vision, recommender systems, and security and privacy topics.
  • You can propose other elective options from any advanced university course that relates in some way to data science topics.

The UM MSDS strikes a nice balance between ensuring that every student gains exposure to the necessary hard science classes in statistics and programming that are the vital underpinnings of data science work, while still allowing significant customization of the detailed coursework so you can tailor your degree to your own career goals. A tier structure within the algorithmic, statistics, and infrastructure tracks makes sure that you get both the basics as well as a chance to look at specialized topics within each of those course components. A required capstone project tops off the 31-credit program with a practical data science project that requires gathering, processing, and analyzing data to address a real-world problem. These can include esoteric subjects like automated out-of-course execution of parallel messaging platforms or popular problems like big data processing in mobile cloud applications.

 

MISSISSIPPI

 

University of Mississippi Medical Center
Department of Data Science
Jackson, Mississippi
Website

Master of Science in Biostatistics and Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $460 (resident), $1,347 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • Despite a high degree of program specialization, industry standard tools like R, SAS, and Python are taught in-depth.
  • Students gain knowledge in three emphasis areas: Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Genomics, and Data Science
  • Program is co-located within a major medical center allowing access to large sets of high-quality, real-world data for analysis.

The best data science program in Mississippi is also a highly focused one: biostatistics is one of the most promising ways to put big data to use making life-altering changes for humankind, while also presenting a unique set of challenges and solutions for data scientists to engage. Big data sets being generated by medical monitoring, genomic research, and epidemiologic data hold the keys to solving some of the most chronic disease and disability factors plaguing the human race. At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, they’re training the next wave of professionals to take on those jobs. Taking part in programs like the Jackson Heart Study, the largest single-site study of cardiovascular disease in African -Americans ever conducted, or the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, graduate students hone their use of R, Python, and other standard tools to extract and analyze information in massive databases that will prepare them for any challenges a future in data science may throw at them.

 

MISSOURI

 

University of Missouri
Data Science & Analytics
Columbia, Missouri
Website

Master of Science in Data Science & Analytics (Hybrid)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $248 (resident), $681 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: No Entrance Exam Requirements
Standard Full-time Program

  • Offers five innovative concentration areas: Human-Centered Design for Data, Biotechnology, Data Journalism/Strategic Communication, High-performance Computing, and Geospatial
  • Big data security and visualization courses cover the unique challenges of common data science topics related to massive data sets.
  • Course on data and information ethics discusses social, ethical, and legal policy issues around big data collection and processing.
  • The MU Informatics Institute provides resources and research opportunities to graduate students tackling real-world problems with cutting edge data science.

The key differentiator for Mizzou’s DSA master’s program is in its understanding of data science as a discipline that has to be uniquely shaped to match each particular field of application. This program also stresses how the ability of data scientists to tell stories with information in human terms is key to their success in each of those fields. This drives an interdisciplinary curriculum with five specialized concentrations. Some of these, like biotech and high-performance computing, are similar to those offered in other data science master’s programs, but others, including data journalism and human-centered data design, are rare gems that include courses and training you won’t find elsewhere. The education, research, and outreach offered at the Informatics Institute keeps students tied to the larger community of data science experts and consumers.

 

NEBRASKA

 

University of Nebraska – Omaha
College of Information Science & Technology Department of Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis
Omaha, Nebraska
Website

Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $250 (resident), $697 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Certificate program open to anyone with an undergraduate degree and 1-2 years of information systems-related work experience.
  • Goes in strong on advanced statistical and analytic techniques right from the start.
  • Students and faculty work with Omaha businesses and communities to help make a difference and gain practical experience working with real issues.

If it’s surprising to you that a graduate certificate wins out as the best data science program in Nebraska over a full-fledged master’s degree offered by the same university, with some of the same courses and faculty behind it, it’s time to take a closer look. The Data Analytics graduate certificate at UN-O offers a laser focus on data science topics, starting with a hardcore dive into advanced statistical methods and data quality management. You’re already in another league compared to most certificates, but there’s more… you get to pick from two pools when selecting courses for other required credits, guaranteeing additional exposure to even deeper analytical methods and big data topics like data mining and warehousing, with a focus on practical applications. Electives offer even more advanced training in pattern recognition algorithms or database management systems. Compared to the MSMIS degree, the certificate program offers a fast, affordable avenue into data science for almost any prospective student.

 

NEVADA

 

Western Governors University
College of Information Technology
Las Vegas, Nevada
Website

Master of Science in Data Analytics (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $436 (flat-rate tuition, assumes 8 CU per term)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • All courses are self-paced in this flexible program built for working professionals.
  • You’ll earn both Oracle SQL Expert and two separate SAS certifications as a part of the program.
  • Faculty mentor assigned to help you develop a personalized degree plan that establishes both your pace and curriculum focus.
  • Curriculum designed with input from IT leaders and academic experts on the university’s Information Technology Program Council to provide the right mix of theory and practice.

WGU’s competency-based learning model has a strong focus in practical training for real-world business challenges and offers a real advantage for IT professionals seeking additional training in data science. By allowing you to move at your own pace, you can spend less time studying topics you may already be familiar with and more time on the new and challenging subjects that come your way. Because the program is entirely online, costs are kept low, and a unique flat-rate pricing structure means that you pay the same rate whether you are taking the recommended 8 CUs per term or pushing for 10 or more. That means motivated students finish faster and pay less!

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

New England College
Graduate Programs
Henniker, New Hampshire
Website

Master of Science in Data Analytics and Business Statistics (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $339
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Seven start times each year offer options for entering the program at a time that’s most convenient for you.
  • Internship track available that places you with a real-world businesses dealing with real-world data and business problems.
  • Business-focused program delivers exactly the education that corporate managers want to see in new data scientist hires.

Many business-oriented analytics programs tend to gloss over the quantitative and statistical training that makes data science so valuable and so effective in the corporate world. Not New England College. The MS-DABS program at this small New Hampshire school doesn’t skimp on the statistical training that data scientists need, while still delivering the business analytics courses that help hone and focus data science applications for an all new level of business intelligence. Cloud computing, database modeling and management, and data mining are all practical subjects in areas that businesses are heavily invested in today.

A capstone project helps tie all of those topics together into a demonstration of the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired through the program. The optional internship track takes this a step further, adding 4 credit hours past the required 40 but allowing you to apply academic concepts to real world business problems.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Rutgers University
Professional Science Master’s Program – Computer and Information Sciences
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Website

Master of Business and Science – Analytics: Discovery Informatics and Data Sciences Concentration (Campus / Hybrid)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $964 (resident), $1,172 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE (waived for certain students—see website)
Full-time / Part-time

  • A business analytics program from a well-respected business school on the résumé opens doors and opportunities throughout your career.
  • Split business/science curriculum offers flexibility in tuning coursework to topics you are interested in while still offering a comprehensive education in all aspects of business analytics.
  • Prerequisite statistics and programming courses can be taken that count toward the degree.

The analytics concentration in the Rutgers Master of Business and Science degree program brings together the fields of data management and statistics in a way that allows you to develop modeling solutions to analyze large data sets and support business decision making. What makes it special, however, is that it goes beyond simple number crunching to teach students how data analysis drives business decision making in the modern corporate environment.

This is accomplished through a curriculum that covers business topics like accounting, finance, and market assessment, and pairs them with data science subjects like data warehousing and regression analysis. The program is offered either on campus in a traditional setting or through a hybrid option, where most courses are taken online except for a one-week on-campus meeting each year. Located in the beating heart of American commerce, graduates from Rutgers don’t have to look far to find high-paying data science jobs with major corporations.

 

NEW MEXICO

 

University of New Mexico
Anderson School of Management
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Website

Master of Science in Information Systems & Assurance – Data Analytics (Big Data) Concentration (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $235 (resident), $686 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Full-time / Part-time

  • 89 percent of graduates from the MS-ISA program have a job at the time of graduation.
  • A security-oriented focus sets this program apart.

You don’t see the words “Information Assurance” in the title of too many data science degree programs, and that’s your first clue that this offering from the University of New Mexico is something special. Located near, and cooperating closely with, high-profile government research institute Sandia Labs, security is a watchword here, and it’s something that many data science programs ignore or gloss over. The three part core curriculum (Core, Management, and Technology) for the program is replete with courses on information systems security and information assurance.

There are also healthy assortments of database-oriented topics, and that’s before you even get into the Data Analytics concentration, which offers classes in data mining techniques, statistics and econometrics, data warehousing and data mining. If you are looking for a well-rounded degree in information systems topics with a helping of data science material, all topped off with cutting-edge cybersecurity considerations, UNM is your first choice.

 

NEW YORK

 

Cornell University
Statistical Science
Ithaca, New York
Website

Master of Professional Studies in Applied Statistics – Data Science Specialization (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $983
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Standard Full-time Program

  • SAS Certification built-in to the degree curriculum.
  • Cornell is the only Ivy League university currently offering a program of this scope.
  • Your skills are polished in a year-long, real-world data analysis project included as part of the curriculum.

The big secret in data science is that the most thorough training and preparation for a career in the field actually comes in statistics and math programs, and not always in purely data science degrees. The heavy quantitative and statistical basis behind complex, large-scale data analytics requires real math skills and significant class time exploring topics like regression, probability models, and time series analysis. The MPS in Applied Statistics at Cornell has been offering exactly that sort of hardcore analytical work for more than a decade. With their Data Science concentration, Cornell ices this solid theoretical background with the heavy helping of Python statistical programming, data mining, middleware, and high performance computing that go into making data science a unique field of study.

The required two-semester data analysis project undertaken by every MPSAS student is supported by their core courses and is usually undertaken in collaboration with a private corporation. These projects have ranged from demographic analysis work with internet analytics giant comScore, to providing custom healthcare recommendations through online healthcare company Everyday Health. Students put training in R and SAS to work crunching big datasets to solve real business problems, demonstrating their skills to future employers in the most concrete way. Cornell never looks bad on a CV, and with the skills that come from their MPSAS degree, you can be sure you’ll be in high demand.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

 

North Carolina State University
Institute for Advanced Analytics
Raleigh, North Carolina
Website

Master of Science in Analytics – Data Science Concentration (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $782 (resident) $1,448 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Accelerated

  • Novel curriculum originated from a former MIT professor joined in interdisciplinary collaboration with mathematicians, computer scientists, statisticians, and others to create a wholly unique and integrated program.
  • Student teams work together and receive personalized coaching throughout the 10-month program.
  • An 8 month Practicum project lets students work on real-world projects with private sponsors using industry-standard programming tools.

Any analytics degree program that has the guts to put together a visual analysis of competing master’s program and put it up on their own site definitely has to be offering something special. Graduates of other data science programs might attempt to dispute NC State’s position that their program produces the world’s finest analytics professionals, but they can’t argue with the fact that the MSA there was the country’s first master’s degree in analytics. Hundreds of graduates since 2007 have taken the skills learned in beautiful Raleigh out into the world of business, finance, and government, and helped shape the field of data science as it has grown.

Having an old program doesn’t mean sacrificing innovation at NC State. The unique program structure is offered as a single, fully-integrated course of study, tying together every aspect of data science curriculum across both semesters and classes. Advanced programming work is taught alongside time series and forecasting; data security and data privacy are woven into data cleaning and legal issues studies. Underlying the entire course is a rock-solid analytics and math foundation that all these other skills are built on. It’s an intensive program with superlative results. Graduates have gone on to high-level positions at Facebook, for NFL teams, industry giants like SAS, and corporations like Walt Disney.

 

OHIO

 

University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine-Department of Environmental Health
Cincinnati, Ohio
Website

Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics – Big Data Track (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $426 (resident), $817 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Standard Full-time Program

  • Collaboration with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center means students not only have the opportunity to work with real-world data, but also to make genuine, life-altering contributions in real medical cases.
  • The UC Center for Biostatistical Services and Genomics, Epigenomics, and Sequencing Core provide state-of-the-art research facilities engaged in cutting-edge research in genetics and biostatistics.
  • Diverse and distinguished faculty engaged in a wide range of cutting edge biostatistical research offer a broad array of specialist advisors for student dissertation projects.

You have to set your sights a little higher if you want to take the best advanced data science degree in Ohio, and you have to be willing to specialize, because the University of Cincinnati’s doctorate in biostatistics has a big data track that blows the other options out of the water. A core curriculum that is heavy in statistical and biostatistical coursework like probability theory, multivariate analysis, and experimental design is paired with tech-focused offerings teaching data analysis with R and database studies. Electives cover the range of data science topics from artificial intelligence and machine learning to SAS programming, while tossing in even more intense bioinformatics studies like statistical genetics and applied survival analysis. Like any PhD program, you’ll participate in original research and work on publishing results.

 

OKLAHOMA

 

University of Oklahoma
Gallogly College of Engineering
Norman, Oklahoma
Website

Master of Science in Data Science & Analytics (Campus / Hybrid / Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $148 (resident), $572 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Collaborative degree between the Schools of Computer Science and Industrial and Systems Engineering offers students exposure to the best courses and faculty from both worlds.
  • All courses offered both on campus and online with students allowed to complete the program in whatever method best suits them.
  • Thesis and non-thesis options available.

The U of O MS DSA program doesn’t beat around the bush. You’ll jump right into a core curriculum of computing structures and database management topics, rounded off with statistical theory and metaheuristics, 20 hours worth of solid data science education that sets the stage for your optional elective courses. There, you’ll have the opportunity to get into the gritty aspects of R and machine learning topics, or take on the challenges of parallel programming, or branch out into softer topics like data driven decision making or supply chain management. Either way, you’ll establish a solid basis for either going on to the non-thesis practicum project option, or engaging in self-directed thesis research… either route is a path to a master’s degree.

 

OREGON

 

Oregon State University
College of Science & Department of Statistics
Corvallis, Oregon
Website

Master of Science in Data Analytics (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $528
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Oregon State’s Ecampus online learning platform fosters community among a diverse group of students worldwide, offering unique perspectives and learning experiences for data science students.
  • OSU Statistics is one of the oldest and most experienced programs in the country, delivering decades of distilled wisdom and experience to students.
  • Online delivery offers flexible attendance and course-completion options for remote students.
  • Special health analytics option offers 12 credits of focused bioinformatics specialty instruction.

The OSU MSDA program is a collaborative offering from the College of Science and Department of Statistics, the combination punch that makes data science the powerful tool it is today. Faculty from both departments come from all over the world and from every specialty and industry, providing students with robust and broad exposure to all areas where data science is revolutionizing modern business and society. With an experienced statistics faculty laying the mathematical groundwork for statistical and quantitative analytics, the program sets students up for an intuitive application of computer science topics taught later in the curriculum. Students give the program high ratings for the amount of content that is delivered and the ability of the faculty to present it all without making it overwhelming.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

 

Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Website

Master of Computational Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,041
Entrance Exam Required: GRE (waived for CMU undergrads)
Full-time / Accelerated

  • Three major fields of study available: Systems, Analytics, or Human-Centered Data Science (HCDS).
  • Collaborations with corporations like General Motors in exciting real-world applications like the Tartan Racing team participating in the DARPA Ground Challenge competition for driverless cars.
  • Top-notch faculty with many notable research accomplishments and groundbreaking inventions in the field.

CMU’s history in the field of computer science is legendary – the smiley emoticon was invented by a CMU comp sci research professor, after all. All jokes aside, part of that history has revolved around some very serious data science. In 2004, before data science was even a field, CMU founded a Master’s in Information Technology in Very Large Information Systems that foreshadowed much of the computational study that would go into modern data science. As the degree morphed into the MCDS, more analytics courses were added, although the focus remains on database design and computational approaches to data analysis. As the 2007 winner of the DARPA Urban Challenge for autonomous, self-driving vehicles, CMU’s celebrated robotics department is a natural partner for machine learning and artificial intelligence projects.

The HCDS major extends the curriculum into behavioral research and other human factors research, an area that is otherwise relatively under explored in data science programs. A capstone project, required in all majors, can be approached either individually or as a team effort. All students are also required to complete an industry internship or additional practical training for some real world experience with real data sets. Students commend the program on providing opportunities to interact with faculty and program directors, allowing them to absorb lessons from some of the finest minds in the field.

 

RHODE ISLAND

 

Brown University
Computer Science
Providence, Rhode Island
Website

Degree

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,762
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Accelerated

  • Offered to Brown undergraduates as a 5th-year master’s program.
  • Program is a collaboration between four of Brown’s strongest academic departments: Applied Mathematics, Biostatistics, Computer Science, Mathematics

Brown’s Master in Data Science program draws on strong foundational instruction directly from the departments that offer the best courses in the core components of data science. Probability, statistics, and machine learning courses dive into subjects such as entropy, divergence, and elements of true randomness, taught by mathematics instructors who have deep theoretical understanding of those topics. Data and computational science courses delve into data visualization, web programming, and data munging, delivered by computer science instructors who bleed code and algorithms when they nick themselves shaving. A mandatory course sequence in data and society offers perspectives on security, ethics, and privacy concerns as they relate to big data processing. Finally, a summer capstone project, conducted with real data over the course of 180 hours of work provides a genuine demonstration of the accumulated skills you can take to employers as evidence of your prowess after graduation.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

 

Clemson University/Medical University of South Carolina
Graduate School
Clemson, South Carolina
Website

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $648 (resident) $1,354 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE (waived with prior graduate or professional degree)
Standard Full-time Program

  • Unique collaboration between Clemson’s computing, engineering, and public health departments and MUSC’s biomedical sciences department.
  • Students have access to both Clemson’s advanced computing research labs and facilities, and to MUSC’s campus in Charleston.
  • By designating a home facility, students can pursue this degree in Charleston, Clemson, or at University Center in Greenville.
  • Specialized tracks include precision medicine, population health, and clinical and translational informatics.

Clemson is well known as a university with a strong research emphasis and the highest quality instructors. When you add in the academic horsepower of the medical faculty members of MUSC, you have a formidable range of expertise available to pass along the knowledge for getting the most out of high-powered computational techniques in bioinformatics. The doctoral program prepares students to handle the big data sets that are being generated in public health, genomic research, and medical monitoring with advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. Research includes using AI to optimize medical decision support systems, a field that is already saving lives through the ability to spot underlying warning signs in monitoring telemetry long before human doctors can identify them.

Students have the flexibility to direct their studies along the many areas of research happening at the schools, or to pursue new objectives with the support of faculty. Past projects have involved mobile sensor monitoring, genomic data analysis, and imaging technologies.

 

SOUTH DAKOTA

 

South Dakota State University
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
Brookings, South Dakota
Website

Master of Science in Data Science (Campus / Hybrid)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $387 (resident), $656 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Standard Full-time Program

  • Summer courses available online to allow students to complete the program in one year without having to be on-site the entire time.
  • Preparation and refresher courses are available for students who need to brush up on calculus, SQL, and programming fundamentals before entering the program.

If you aren’t thinking Big Data hub when you think of South Dakota, it’s time to think again. It’s always a good sign to see a data science degree program being run by a math and statistics department instead of by the computer science department, since data science is rooted in a firm understanding of probability and statistical theory. South Dakota State University’s program doesn’t disappoint when it comes to laying down hard, rigorous statistical training and mathematic principles of quantitative analysis. Those fundamentals are put to work using SQL, R, and SAS programming skills to implement data warehouses, perform time series analysis, and engage in parametrical studies.

The quality of the SDSU program shows in the places its graduates have ended up… places like Argonne National Labs, where the Department of Energy crunches numbers on environmental sustainability and renewable energy sources and which is also home of the IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, or Ernst and Young, where big data is transforming the company’s auditing services. If you want an affordable point of entry into the world of data science, SDSU has it.

 

TENNESSEE

 

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
Computer Science and Engineering
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Website

Master of Computer Science in Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $225 (resident), $672 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Offers five sub-concentrations within the data science concentration for additional specialization: Math, Business, Biology and Environmental Science, Engineering Management, Information Security and Assurance.
  • Thesis and non-thesis (project) program options available to accommodate your preferences.
  • Department offers “immigration” courses for students with non-computer science backgrounds to get up to speed in the basics before beginning their master’s program.

The UT CPSC-DS M.S. degree is first and foremost designed to develop critical thinking and intuition… skills that are often underrated, but of immense importance in data science, where an educated hunch about where and how to start parsing data is sometimes the only thing you have to go on. That sort of practical approach informs the entire program. To accommodate professionals who don’t have a computer science background, a set of introductory courses are available to bring them up to speed on computer science foundations. The courses are designed to allow part-time attendance for students who work during the day, accommodating working professionals who are trying to boost their credentials.

The degree also has an uncharacteristically deep tree of sub-specializations, providing a much more involved education in certain specific topic areas than most data science graduates receive. Some of these fields, like business and environmental science, are targeted by many data science programs. Others, like Engineering Management or Information Security and Assurance, have relatively few specialists familiar with them, making UT a no-brainer destination if you are looking for a career in those specialties.

 

TEXAS

 

University of Texas El Paso
College of Science
El Paso, Texas
Website

Certificate in Big Data Analytics (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $299 (resident), $821 (out-of-state)
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Solid array of foundational statistics courses offers better preparation for a data science career than most certificate programs.
  • Offers exposure to post-genomics analysis and machine learning techniques.

Sitting side by side with other certificate programs in applied and computational mathematics and applied statistics, you know you’re in good hands with UTEP’s big data analytics certificate program. The focus on data mining and statistical programming and analysis requires faculty and curriculum that are heavy on serious number-crunching expertise. For a certificate program, even one focused particularly on big data, UTEP delivers a solid foundation in multivariate data analysis, numerical analysis, and statistical data mining, and even finds time to thrown in courses on post-genomics analysis and topics in intelligent computing… that’s machine learning and artificial intelligence, heady stuff for a certificate.

 

UTAH

 

University of Utah
School of Computing
Salt Lake City, Utah
Website

Certificate in Big Data (Campus / Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $254 (resident), $894 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • Up to 9 hours of credits can be transferred to the graduate degree program at Utah if you later go on to the full master’s degree.
  • Most courses are code agnostic, allowing you to put together your programs in R, Python, C++, or whatever you are most comfortable using.
  • Some substitutions from the master’s curriculum are allowed to take the place of core curriculum components in the certificate program.

Utah also has a full master’s degree program in computing with a data management and analysis track that shares courses and faculty with the big data certificate. So why are we choosing the certificate program as the best data science option for the state? Focus and affordability! Although the master’s program has all the same coursework, and more, it’s primarily a master’s in computing… not data science. This means you’ll spend a lot of time learning things as valuable to a career in data science as computer science.

But that’s not to say you’ll be skipping over computer science fundamentals in the big data certificate program. The Utah courses are very heavy on programming work for a certificate, giving you the skills you will need to put those tools to use in the field. But although a lot of coding comes with the territory, Utah’s program is unusual in that it allows you to use the programming tools you prefer in most courses. The core curriculum also gives full attention to machine learning, algorithms, and visualization of data topics. You’ll wish you had more time to dive into all the electives available, but you can select from one in either algorithmic, analytics, or management subjects.

 

VERMONT

 

University of Vermont
Complex Systems Center
Burlington, Vermont
Website

Master of Science in Complex Systems and Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $503 (resident), $1,272 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Accelerated

  • Emphasis on systems theory approaches to data science offers a unique take on data analysis.
  • Three completion options for master’s students to allow you to tune the course to your learning preferences:
  • Coursework only allows additional time in the classroom to complete your requirements.
  • A capstone project option lets you focus on an applied project to demonstrate your capabilities at the end of the program.
  • A thesis option follows the traditional master’s preparation by requiring a carefully researched and written paper to be reviewed and approved by a thesis committee.

If you’re not intrigued by a degree that has “complex systems” in the title, you might not be well-suited for a career in data science. Big data is all about complexity, and the University of Vermont MC in CSDS is all about teaching students how to break that complexity down and turn it into useful and manageable pieces of information. The program has a broad approach to training in computational and theoretical techniques for understanding, analyzing, and controlling complex systems. This approach is nearly unique in the world of data science and Vermont is breaking new ground in taking a systems-centric approach to teaching data science.

Consequently, the program is heavy on systems theory and modeling. Students applying to the program without the necessary background in math and statistics are offered preparatory courses in data structures, linear algebra, and statistical methods to bring them up to speed.

 

VIRGINIA

 

University of Virginia
Data Science Institute
Charlottesville, Virginia
Website

Master of Science in Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $787 (resident), $1,205 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Full-time / Accelerated

  • A highly orchestrated curriculum prescribes most courses in a tight schedule that can be completed in as little as 11 months.
  • Capstone project requirements ensures that all students graduate with a real-world data science project in their portfolio.
  • Program cohorts play an important role in the student experience, providing friends and professional contacts that will be useful throughout your entire career in data science.

Virginia’s Data Science Institute has been making waves in the data science world by taking on real-world research projects with an interdisciplinary analytical approach that brings in subject matter experts from related fields in government, academia, or the private sector to crack tough data modeling problems… and makes sense of problems in areas as diverse as neonatal care and social media’s effect on democracy. If you’re looking for a school where you can get your hands dirty with real data alongside industry experts, Virginia is the place.

Using a tightly choreographed program that includes summer, fall, and spring semesters, DSI instructors take students through a carefully stair-stepped learning process that starts off with basic elements of programming and systems and statistical computing, then builds off those twin pillars to bring in more and more complex approaches to analysis, from data mining to machine learning. The course culminates in a mandatory capstone project with your cohort. Unlike some schools, DSI knows how to have fun while taking on real-world issues… one recent project was a game simulating the kind of demographic and economic issues contributing to pollution in nearby Chesapeake Bay, where players built an understanding of the complex relationships between different processes through attempting to manage the problems.

 

WASHINGTON

 

University of Washington
Continuum College
Seattle, Washington
Website

Master of Science in Data Science (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,025
Entrance Exam Required: GRE
Full-time / Part-time

  • The eScience Institute at UW offers access to large real-world data sets and faculty researchers who are leader’s in data science education.
  • Program designed to accommodate working professionals with evening courses and flexible scheduling.
  • Interdisciplinary program uses faculty from multiple university departments to provide expertise in every aspect of data science: Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science and Engineering, Information School, Biostatistics, Human Centered Design & Engineering
  • Faculty with private-sector expertise bring a practical set of skills and practices to the curriculum.

The University of Washington’s Computer Science department has had a strong reputation in the field for years. The presence of internet industry giants like Microsoft and Amazon in their backyard has ensured a steady stream of both expert faculty and high-caliber graduate students, factors that continue to up the game for computer and data science programs at UW. Leveraging this quality, experienced student cohort, the data science master’s program uses a team-based learning approach where students can expect a high degree of interaction with their peers… sometimes learning as much from one another as from the faculty. This continues in the mandatory capstone element of the degree, where students build their portfolio by taking on a modeling project to demonstrate their expertise.

The program covers the usual basis of statistics and probability before branching into visualization and data management topics. In keeping with the school’s computer science reputation, programming is heavily emphasized. You can expect to spend a lot of time coding with Python and R, with some assignments using Java… all languages that employers will be looking for on your résumé after you graduate.

 

WEST VIRGINIA

 

West Virginia University
College of Business & Economics
Morgantown, West Virginia
Website

Master of Science in Business Data Analytics (Online)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $300 (resident), $774 (out-of-state)
Entrance Exam Required: GRE or GMAT
Full-time / Part-time

  • AACSB accreditation means that the MS BDA program meets business-specific academic requirements in addition to normal accreditation standards.
  • Provides a focus on teaching practical tools used daily in business data analytics including: R, Tableau, Python, and Hadoop
  • Online program allows students from anywhere in the country to take advantage of flexible course scheduling and assignments.

Although data science is impacting almost every field and industry, it’s no secret that the big money going into big data is largely coming from businesses. From finance to manufacturing, the business applications of intensive data analysis are where the profits are, and employers are clamoring for qualified data scientists with specialized business training to fill positions.

That sort of training is exactly what WVU’s Master of Science in Business Data Analytics offers. The program doesn’t spend time spinning your wheels in deep statistical theory and quantitative analytical concepts. You will dive right into business statistical methods, business intelligence, and business-focused data mining topics in this 30 credit program. By covering business simulation modeling, decision sciences, and business data visualization, the program also covers the scope of presenting results to staff and executives in ways that will communicate your findings clearly and ethically.

 

WISCONSIN

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Statistics
Madison, Wisconsin
Website

Master of Science in Statistics – Data Science Option (Campus)

Estimated Cost Per Credit: $1,600
No Entrance Exam Requirements
Full-time / Part-time

  • Business-focused program offers an intensive data practicum using large corporate data sets.
  • Strong mathematic and statistical skills training provided.
  • Department offers regular lectures in advanced statistical studies

Despite the fact that it is offered by the Department of Statistics, this program doesn’t wander off into the theoretical bushes. Strong ties to real-world business interests and data sets ensure that you learn the practical application of statistical analysis while you are at this Public Ivy university. But that doesn’t mean that statistical studies are shorted in any way… you’ll start off with a robust 4-course set in statistics methods and mathematics, paving the way for more advanced subjects available in elective subjects from financial to spatial statistical analysis. A practicum course provides experience in turning all that statistical training into realistic project outcomes, where students are expected to take a loosely stated project description and complex data sets and turn them into concise written and graphically interpreted products.