A Master’s in Data Science is an interdisciplinary program based around various subjects including computer science, mathematics, and statistics. It aims to cultivate professionals that can handle the data analytical requirements of the modern world.
Having a Master’s in Data Science can set you up for a phenomenal career, with excellent employment opportunities that are projected to grow even more in the future.
Read on to learn about the best data science graduate programs and universities, both on-campus and online, along with possible careers, salaries, and more!
Best Data Science Master’s Programs and Universities
Carnegie Mellon University
Master of Computational Data Science (MCDS)
Carnegie Mellon University is a renowned private research university that was established as a merger of Carnegie Institute of Technology and Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. The university was ranked first in the Master’s in Data Science ranking (Artificial Intelligence) by US News & World Report of 2018.
Its Master of Computational Data Science (MCDS) is one of the best data science master’s programs around, where students learn how to design, engineer, and implement very large information systems. The faculty is drawn from multiple schools and departments across the university, including Computer Science and Machine Learning.
- No. of units: 144
- Duration: 16-month and 20-month options
- Tuition (16-months): $26,500
- Financial aid: External scholarships, loans, university employment, teaching assistantship
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Founded: 1900
Georgia Institute of Technology (The Scheller College of Business, The College of Engineering, & The College of Computing)
The Master of Science in Analytics
Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a public research and technology university in Georgia. Its campus is divided into four parts: the West Campus, East Campus, Technology Square, and Central Campus. Its Master of Science in Analytics is an interdisciplinary program in data science and analytics that synthesizes the knowledge of business, computing, and engineering of the university’s various schools. One of the top data science master’s programs available, it also offers an online option.
- No. of credits: 36
- Duration: 1 year
- Tuition per credit: $1,581 (residents), $2,053 (out-of-state)
- Financial aid: Fellowships, assistantships
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Location: Atlanta, Georgia or online
- Founded: 1885
Columbia University in the City of New York, Data Science Institute
M. S. in Data Science
The Data Science Institute in Columbia University is also one of the best schools in the country for data science master’s studies. Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university and the oldest higher studies institute in New York. Its M.S. program in data science allows students to conduct original research and choose an elective, for example in entrepreneurship.
The program is offered jointly through various schools specializing in sciences, engineering, computer science, statistics, and industrial studies.
- Financial aid: Scholarships, fellowships
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Location: New York City, New York
- Founded: 1754
The University of California Berkeley, School of Information (I School)
Online Master’s in Data Science
The University of California Berkeley is a public land grant university in Berkeley, California. It is also the first land-grant university and the first campus founded in the University of California system.
Its Master’s program in Data Science can be pursued online and is a WASC-accredited interdisciplinary program offered by the School of Information. It draws on knowledge from various fields such as computer science, statistics, social sciences, law, and management and aims to make students leaders of data sciences capable of solving real-world issues.
- No. of units: 27
- Duration: 12, 20, and 32-month options
- Tuition: $2,712 per unit
- Financial aid: Student loans, fellowships, veteran benefits
- Acceptance rate: 14.5%
- Location: Berkeley, California or online
- Founded: 1868
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Online Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS)
The University of Illinois is a public land-grant university in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign. It is the flagship institution under the University of Illinois system and one of the largest universities in the USA by enrollment, with over 56,000 students.
Its online master’s program in data science aims to provide students with valuable knowledge of computational and statistical methods and how they can be applied to the fields of business and society. The program has no thesis requirement.
- No. of hours: 32
- Tuition: $670 per credit hour
- Financial aid: Private outside scholarships, children-of-veterans waiver
- Acceptance rate: 63.3%
- Location: Online
- Founded: 1867
Texas Tech University
Master of Science in Data Science
Texas Tech University is a well-known public research university with a number of excellent programs across various disciplines.
Their Master of Science in Data Science program is offered by the institution’s Rawls College of Business and is a STEM-designated program. The program aims to prepare students to be agile data scientists by teaching them how to manage, analyze and understand complex data.
Students don’t need to provide GMAT or GRE scores as part of their application, though international applicants will need to submit TOEFL scores.
- No. of hours: 36
- Tuition: $24,744
- Financial aid: Scholarships, student employment, military & veterans’ services
- Acceptance rate: 53%
- Location: Lubbock, Texas or online
- Founded: 1923
Master’s Program in Data Science
Brown is a world-renowned Ivy League university originally founded as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island.
Their Master’s Program in Data Science is designed to take students from different disciplinary backgrounds and prepare them for a successful career in data science. The program is based on collaboration across the departments of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Biostatistics, and Computer Science and can be completed in as little as nine months.
- No. of hours: 36
- Tuition: $66,702
- Financial aid: Not available
- Acceptance rate: 7.1%
- Location: Providence, Rhode Island
- Founded: 1764
University of Missouri Colombia
Master’s in Data Science & Analytics
The University of Missouri is a public land-grant university that was founded in 1839.
Their Master’s in Data Science is offered both on-campus and online and is designed to strengthen professionals’ tools and skills to equip them to use data to enhance decision making and outcomes.
- No. of hours: 34
- Tuition: $19,883
- Financial aid: Scholarships and emergency grants
- Acceptance rate: 75%
- Location: Colombia, Missouri or online
- Founded: 1839
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Master’s in Data Science
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is based in Newark, NJ, and offers a range of online programs, including an MS in Data Science. Students can choose between computational and statistics tracks. Both tracks will give students the tools they need to make data-driven decisions.
- No. of hours: 30
- Tuition: $1,082 per credit
- Financial aid: Grants and scholarships
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Location: Online
- Founded: 1885
MS in Applied Data Science Online
Syracuse University is a renowned university that offers a range of on-campus and online programs.
The institution offers a Master of Applied Data Science program designed to equip students to advance their data science careers through advancing their programming skills and strengthening their managerial expertise. The online program can be completed in as little as 18 months and is based around collaborative online classes and experiential learning.
- No. of hours: 34
- Tuition: $55,920
- Financial aid: Merit scholarships for on-campus students
- Acceptance rate: 44%
- Location: Syracuse, New York, or Online
- Founded: 1831
What Jobs Can You Do with a Master’s in Data Science?
Data science graduates can find jobs in any setting where there is a need to process large quantities of data to study existing trends, meet business objectives, and plan for the future.
Here are some of the most common roles for Master’s in Data Science graduates, with annual median salaries for each:
Data architects design, structure, and manage data according to business requirements, usually within a relational database.
Solutions architects take on leadership roles to transform business objectives and requirements into functional solutions.
Data scientists manage and analyze large quantities of useful data to find solutions to businesses’ problems.
- Data engineer ($93,145)
Data engineers work with algorithms and data sets to provide actionable insights for businesses and organizations.
Besides the above roles, other possible roles for data science graduates include:
Read also: Highest Paying Jobs With Master’s degree.
Pros and Cons of Master’s in Data Science
Although data science is a comparatively new field in high demand, it has its drawbacks too. It’s important to be aware of the pros and cons of having a Master’s in Data Science before pursuing the degree.
Advantages of Getting a Master’s in Data Science
Since data science is a new field that involves specialized knowledge, there is a huge demand for expert professionals.
Data scientists and information research professionals enjoy a higher average salary compared to many other professions.
As data science is a versatile field, a master’s in the field can open up a range of exciting opportunities for varied roles.
Drawbacks of Getting a Master’s in Data Science
- Data science isn’t widely understood
Although more businesses are recognizing the importance of data science and the value of data science qualifications, some confuse data science with simple statistics.
- You need a diverse range of skills
Data science is a highly specialized area that draws from multiple fields including computer science, mathematics, statistics, among others. Though some people excel across these various disciplines, others may find that their skills are concentrated in one area.
Master’s in Data Science FAQs
Is a Master of Data Science worth it?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for computer and data science professionals will increase by 22% from 2022 to 2030. Additionally, the annual median pay for these professionals is $126,830, far more than most other fields. Therefore, your Master’s in Data Science shouldn’t take long to repay the time and money you’ve invested in your degree.
What does a Master’s in Data Science do?
Professionals with a Master’s in Data Science can work as information research scientists, data analysts, solutions architects, and systems engineers. They will apply new technological approaches to data to solve modern business challenges. Other possible roles include machine learning engineers, big data engineers, database administrators, business intelligence analysts, and statisticians.
Is it hard to get into a Data Science Master’s?
Like any program, you will have to meet the basic requirements of the university, and Data Science Master’s can be pretty competitive. Even if you meet the general requirements, your application will have the best chance of success if you have a STEM-related background, such as mathematics, computer science, or statistics.
Which degree is best for data science?
Master’s in Data Science degrees vary based on their core courses and concentrations. Many employers look for data scientists with a concentration in mathematics or statistics. Other subjects like computer science and economics are also in demand.
In the age of Big Data where the world is inundated with information, data scientists are in high demand.
Professionals specialized in this field have excellent career and remuneration prospects.
Today’s employers know very well that data science graduates are equipped with a range of skills that many other professionals lack.
Therefore, having a Master’s in Data Science can set you up for a rewarding career, especially if you pursue one of the top data science programs.
If you found this guide helpful, take a look at our post on the top online MBA programs.
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Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.