Data scientists are in higher demand than ever in our rapidly digitizing world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies roles in Data Science and Computer and Information Research Science as among the fastest-growing career paths. Are you ready to level up your data science skills and make yourself stand out from the crowd?
If diving into a data science master’s degree online is on your radar, this guide is for you. We’ve curated insights on how to get a data science online master’s degree from a school that prioritizes your needs. We’ll also discuss how to get into top-tier programs, answer prospective students’ common questions, and share stats on your job outlook post-graduation.
Program Spotlights: Data Science Master’s Degrees Online
With dozens of options for obtaining your data science online master’s degree, how will you know which one to choose? While many online master’s degrees in data science programs are similar, no two are identical. Some offer specializations, while others stick with general courses of study. However, one thing all outstanding data science master’s degree online programs have in common is meeting the educational standards to earn regional accreditation. With that in mind, we’ve hand-picked three outstanding options below.
Eastern University offers an affordable and approachable data science online master’s degree option. This Master of Science in Data Science is open to students at all levels, regardless of their previous experience. Coding instruction is included in the curriculum so students gain the skills to launch a data science career. With self-paced courses that last just seven weeks each, students can graduate with their master’s degree in as little as ten months. Admission to this program is offered on a rolling basis, meaning that students can take advantage of start dates every seven weeks.
- $9,900 total tuition and fees
- 100% online
- Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Grand Canyon University’s online Data Science Master’s Degree is ideal for adults and working professionals. Each course in this program spans eight weeks, allowing students to complete the required 38 credits in just 18 months. The asynchronous format offers flexibility, letting students choose the study times that suit their needs. While a prior degree in computer science or a related field is required to enter the program, Grand Canyon University also offers a bridge program to equip those with different educational backgrounds with the necessary skills and prerequisites to earn their online master’s degree in data science.
- 100% online
- Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
This affordable online master’s degree in data science is offered through a partnership between the University of Texas (UT) at Austin Department of Statistics and Data Sciences and the Department of Computer Science. Each course in this 30-hour data science master’s degree online program is taught by the same faculty as on-campus classes at UT. Each class releases recorded lectures to online students weekly. Over the following week, students watch lectures and complete coursework at their own pace.
- $10,000 total program tuition
- 100% online
- Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Classes for Your Online Master’s Degree in Data Science
Pursuing a career in data science means you’ll need a robust toolbox of technical skills and understanding, and each data science master’s degree program takes a unique approach. However, no matter where you choose to study, any online master’s degree in data science will have several core courses in common. You’ll earn 30-45 credits in advanced mathematics, machine learning, data visualization and management, and programming courses. We’ve outlined five standard classes below.
In this course, students delve into the intricate algorithms that enable computers to learn from and make decisions based on vast data sets. They’ll explore various concepts in machine learning, including pattern recognition, neural networks, and the PAC learning framework. Through hands-on projects, they’ll gain practical experience in answering real-world challenges using machine learning. Students can expect to run evaluations, interpret results, and apply their findings to solving organizational problems.
Students in this class learn to navigate the fundamental principles of designing, implementing, and managing robust databases. They’ll be introduced to relational database models, querying techniques, and data normalization processes. By studying and understanding the architecture of modern database management, students become equipped to handle real-world big data challenges. Projects emphasize practical application to train students in efficiently designing and optimizing databases. Students may be asked to complete tasks such as writing programs for data preparation and extraction.
The functional communication of data is a vital tool in transforming raw numbers into a form that can be used to inform decision making. In this class, students learn about human psychology and cognition. Then, they’ll learn to use that knowledge to prepare and convert complex data concepts into understandable and visually compelling formats. They’ll study graphic design principles and how to present data effectively, learn about tools for building web-based presentations, and complete practical programming assignments.
In this course, students dive deep into the exciting world of discovering hidden patterns within large data sets. They’ll learn to set clear goals, pick the right data, and prepare it for analysis. A crucial element of this course is exploring techniques such as classification, decision trees, and predictive modeling. Real-world case studies and hands-on industry tasks ensure that learners not only grasp the theories but also know how to apply them effectively in practical scenarios.
Data Ethics and Privacy
As data evolves, it’s more important than ever for students to balance harnessing the power of data while upholding high ethical standards. This course covers maintaining user privacy, ensuring data transparency, and promoting equitable practices so data scientists can navigate the complexities of data while safeguarding individual rights and fostering trust.
Job Outlook: Careers and Salaries with an Online Master’s Degree in Data Science
The field of data science calls for heavy-duty education: 88% of data scientists have at least a master’s degree and 39% of data scientist and advanced analyst roles require a master’s or PhD. Let’s explore three potential careers for data science online master’s degree grads, their projected salaries, and job descriptions.
Database Administrator or Architect
Database administrators and architects are responsible for storing, organizing, and retrieving data. They’re tasked with designing and maintaining complex data systems, ensuring optimal performance and security. As of 2021, the median yearly salary for professionals in these roles was $101,000, and jobs in the field are projected to grow by nine percent by 2031. It’s possible to get your foot in the door as a database administrator or architect with a bachelor’s degree. However, many employers prefer to hire those with a data science master’s degree since that guarantees a higher level of expertise and training.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists deal with computational challenges such as developing new algorithms or discovering innovative applications for existing technology. They play a vital role in advancing computing capabilities and moving the industry forward. Their work is responsible for many breakthroughs at the forefront of technological development, from artificial intelligence to advanced data analytics. The BLS has identified this as a career path that’s growing much faster than average, but these jobs require a master’s degree. With a median salary of $136,620 per year as of 2022, this has the potential to be a financially rewarding and professionally fulfilling career path.
Data scientists have the hugely important role of utilizing technology to sift through vast data sets and draw actionable insights. They work in varied professional capacities that range from engineering teams to academic research. They apply their skills to advanced statistical, machine learning, and analytical techniques to pinpoint future trends and optimize decision making. Additionally, they often use data visualization software to communicate their findings to coworkers and managers. According to salary.com, data scientists make $143,232 per year on average. The BLS reports expected growth of 35% in data science jobs by 2032, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity in this field.
How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree in Data Science Cost?
The Education Data Initiative reports that you can expect to spend about $67,590 on getting a master of science degree, but earning your data science master’s degree online can save you considerable expense. Keep in mind that your school also plays a factor in cost. You’ll generally pay less for a data science online master’s degree at a public school than at a private university. Check out the table below for the cost of five schools.
What Should I Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Data Science Program?
When considering a data science master’s degree online, your program choice can define your future. To make the best-informed decision possible, consider factors including the overall cost, delivery method, program quality, faculty credentials, and the school’s accreditation status. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that make a program stand out.
While the continuing demand for data scientists makes earning a data science online master’s degree a wise choice, weighing the overall program costs against your budget remains essential. Evaluate the potential price tag to ensure that the fees align with the quality of education, resources, and opportunities you’ll gain.
When investing in an online master’s degree in data science, ensure you’ll learn the skills to build the career you want, whether that’s in pioneering AI or data-driven decision-making. Research the curriculum and pay special attention to the availability of hands-on projects, real-world application opportunities, and partnerships with industries or organizations.
The best data science master’s degree programs offer instruction by experienced faculty. Look for a program in which instructors possess both academic qualifications and a proven track record in the data science field. Often, online programs are taught by the same instructors as in-person courses, which indicates that a school’s online and on-campus curriculum and experience are held to similar standards.
In-person and online data science master’s degrees don’t have a specific programmatic accreditation, so regional accreditation speaks to a school’s quality. A school’s accreditation can also impact your eligibility for federal financial aid. Always verify a school’s accreditation status to confirm that you’re receiving a recognized and well-respected education.
Online study offers flexibility to earn your degree on your own terms, but not every data science online master’s degree works the same way. Do you prefer synchronous, live classes or an asynchronous, learn-anytime model? Consider your educational preferences and needs, then seek out a program that accommodates your schedule and learning style.
Questions to Ask About Data Science Master’s Degree Online Programs
Here are six of the most pressing questions about earning a data science master’s degree online, according to our readers.
Are online master’s degree programs in data science fully online?
Fully online programs are quite common, while other programs require a short campus visit. Indiana University’s Master of Science in Data Science online is delivered entirely online, providing students access to the same coursework and instructors they’d experience with on-campus study. In contrast, Harvard Extension School’s Data Science Master’s Degree is a hybrid model. Courses are delivered primarily via asynchronous online instruction, but the curriculum also includes a three-week on-campus experience.
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
Many data science online master’s degree programs only accept students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Those who have completed extensive prerequisite coursework in advanced math and programming may also apply. At Johns Hopkins University, prospective students who don’t have the required courses or degree but do have extensive experience can opt for a data science proficiency exam. You should also be prepared to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a resume. Many schools, including the University of California, Berkeley, don’t require GMAT or GRE scores.
How long does it take to complete a master’s degree in data science online?
Generally, completing a data science online master’s degree takes 18 to 36 months. However, National University’s Master of Science in Data Science can be completed in as little as 14 months. At Northwestern University, students can opt for an accelerated one-year program. However, one of the major contributing factors is your ability to study full- or part-time. Typically, students who can dedicate full-time attention to coursework will graduate sooner.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their master’s in data science?
Most data science master’s degree online programs provide students with virtual tutoring, online libraries, and plenty of opportunities to communicate with classmates, professors, and alums from a distance. University of California San Diego encourages students to connect with instructors and peers via email, discussion boards, and video conferencing. They also provide professional development resources and personalized librarians to online students. At your school, you may also have access to career services to help you transition into the workforce.
What are some of the technical requirements of earning an online degree in data science?
Since earning a data science online master’s degree requires students to perform large amounts of coding and database analysis, owning a computer that fits your needs is important. Aim to buy a laptop with at least 16GB of RAM, a large solid-state drive, and a fast processor. You’ll also need access to coding tools and software and any proprietary software required in specific courses. For more details on what to buy, check out our Online College Tech Guide.
Can I work while pursuing an online data science degree?
Online study and asynchronous coursework provide unmatched flexibility for adults to attend a top school without putting their careers on hold. Getting your master’s degree is a great way to open new opportunities, and plenty of people choose to pursue an online master’s degree in data science while working full-time. The University of Virginia is just one of many Master of Science in Data Science programs explicitly designed to accommodate working professionals.
Other Master’s Degree Options in Computer Science
If you are still unsure which path in computer science you want to take, look at these other master’s degree options: