Why This Matters

  • DATA SCIENCE IS ONE OF THE FASTEST-GROWING INDUSTRIES

    With an estimated growth rate of 15% over the next decade, computer and information research scientists are needed to collect, analyze, and create new algorithms to understand large data sets.

  • COMPUTER AND RESEARCH SCIENTISTS MAKE 3X MORE THAN AVERAGE

    The average salary for computer and research scientists is $122,840, which is more than three times higher than the average worker salary of $39,810.

  • DEMAND FOR COMPUTER AND IT PROFESSIONALS WILL RISE BY 11%

    An estimated 531,200 jobs will be added to the computer and IT technology sector due to the rise of cloud computing, storage of big data, and need for more advanced cybersecurity.

Our Research

Our research evaluates graduate programs in data science that prepare students for careers as big data solutions architects, AI researchers, data mining engineers, and business systems analysts. Programs on this list offer online, in-person, and combined learning formats. Degrees awarded to data scientists include master of science in data analytics, master of science in data science, and master of science in information and data science.

Data science programs that demonstrate a high academic standard receive accreditation from regional and national accreditors. Schools on this list are accredited by regional accreditors such as the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), as well as national accreditors such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Accredited programs show prospective employers that you have studied at a reputable institution with a relevant and robust curriculum.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 63 hours to write this article
  • 167 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 247 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Master's in Data Science Degree Programs

Harrisburg University

Intelligent Pick

Customization is the core of Harrisburg University’s Master of Science in Analytics program. Candidates choose one of three concentrations: healthcare informatics, pharmaceutical sciences, or individualized. Required courses include data visualization, analytical methods, and research methodology and writing. Program alumni are sought-after data scientists and analysts working in a wide array of areas from finance to business intelligence. In addition to its individualized track, the program is unique in that it’s taught by a mix of full-time faculty and corporate faculty who are immersed in the field. Student support services available for candidates include success coordinators, academic support, career advisors, and peer mentoring.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Harrisburg, PA
  • Cost per credit: $800
  • Credits required to graduate: 36
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $9,150
  • Graduation rate: 28%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 717-901-5101

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South Dakota State University

Best Online Program

South Dakota State University offers a fast-track Master of Science in Data Science degree that can be completed online in just one year. The program is part of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. It equips graduates with statistical, mathematical, and computational skills required to handle large-scale data science challenges found in today’s professional world. Required courses include Data Warehousing and Data Mining Credits, Statistical Programming, and Modern Applied Statistics. GRE scores are not required for admission, but a bachelor’s degree, GPA of at least 3.0, and some prerequisite courses are. Of note: It is recommended the program be started in the summer semester.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Brookings, SD
  • Cost per credit: $340.15 (resident) $654.05 (non-resident)
  • Credits required to graduate: 30
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $8,105
  • Graduation rate: 52%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 605-688-6196

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Harvard University

Best Ivy League Program

For those looking to earn a Master of Science in Data Science from an Ivy League institution, Harvard University offers a one-and-a-half year, on-campus program through its John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A distinctive factor of the program is an optional master’s thesis that extends the program an additional semester. The thesis is an excellent way to gain valuable research experience on a substantial data science project. Harvard’s program welcomes applicants from all academic disciplines but does require knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, probability, statistical inference, and fluency in at least one programming language. Institutional scholarships are not available, but financial aid is for those who are eligible.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Cost: $87,336 (tuition fee per program)
  • Courses required to graduate: 12
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $17,682
  • Graduation rate: 98%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 617-496-6100

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Most Rigorous Curriculum

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management offers a short but intensive yearlong Master of Business Analytics degree. This program focuses on leveraging modern data science, optimization, and machine learning to solve real-world business problems. A distinguishing factor is its collaborative nature. The program was established in conjunction with MIT’s Operations Research Center – an interdisciplinary research center that brings together engineers, mathematicians, physicists, computer programmers, and other high-tech professionals. MIT’s program is particularly appealing to international students because it qualifies as a STEM-designated (science, technology, engineering, and math) program by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This means international students can extend their training in the U.S. by 24 months after graduating.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Cost: $82,250 (per academic year)
  • Credits required to graduate: 66
  • Academic calendar: 4-1-4 academic year
  • Room and board: $16,390
  • Graduation rate: 95%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 617-258-5434

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Stanford University

Best Faculty

Stanford University’s Master of Science in Statistics Data Science is a highly respected program that prepares students for a doctoral program in statistics or a career as a data science professional. This two-year, full-time, on-campus program concludes in a capstone research project that is computational in nature. Faculty are some of the brightest minds in the field and include winners of the Line and Michel Loève International Prize in Probability, the Gauss Prize, the Statistical Society of Canada Gold Medal, and the International Prize in Statistics — the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the field of statistics.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Cost per credit: $1,207
  • Credits required to graduate: 45
  • Academic calendar: Quarter system
  • Room and board: $16,433
  • Graduation rate: 96%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 650-725-8977

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Yale University

Best for Biostatistics

Yale University’s Department of Statistics and Data Science is an excellent choice for scholars looking for a graduate degree program with proven placement results. Recent graduates of the Master of Science in Statistics & Data Science program often pursue doctoral degrees at schools that include Yale, the University of Michigan, and Stanford University. Others are working at companies including Deutsche Bank, McKinsey & Company, and Meta, formerly Facebook. Students are allowed to take courses outside of the statistics department to fulfill their elective requirements, and a popular choice is biostatistics. Additionally, students are encouraged to complete an applied practical project or independent study.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Cost: $45,700 (per academic year)
  • Courses required to graduate: 12
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $16,600
  • Graduation rate: 97%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 203-432-2771

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University of California, Berkeley

Best for Veterans

At just 11 months in length, the University of California, Berkeley’s Master of Analytics degree is an attractive, high-quality choice for students with limited time to pursue full-time, in-person studies. Housed in the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department, it equips students with cutting-edge data and quantitative skills needed in every sector of the economy, from healthcare to entertainment. The curriculum includes a Python boot camp, core and elective courses, and a summer internship. Veterans at UC Berkeley have access to the Cal Veteran Services Center, which provides a supportive community for student veterans as well as academic and social support services and programming.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Cost: $66,700 (tuition and fees per year)
  • Credits required to graduate: 29
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $19,105
  • Graduation rate: 93%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 510-642-5484

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Duke University

Most Flexible Program

Eclectic thinkers are a good fit for Duke University’s Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science degree program. The in-person program combines rigorous computational and technical training with important soft skills like critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and leadership. The program takes two years to complete and stands out in the fact that students are taught by faculty from a myriad of departments, including computer science, statistics, medicine, law, and history. Additionally, students design their course of study to accommodate their interests and background. The diversity in elective choices highlights the flexibility of the program and includes courses like Art and Markets, Game Theory, Introduction to Digital Archaeology, and Topics in Population, Health, and Policy.

 

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Cost: $30,110 per term
  • Credits required to graduate: 42
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $15,588
  • Graduation rate: 95%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 919-684-3913

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Northwestern University

Best for Hands-on Experience

Northwestern University offers a Master of Science in Analytics degree that’s particularly appealing for hands-on learners. The 15-month, in-person program includes a summer internship. Past internship placements include Adobe, Amazon, Bloomberg, Meta (formerly Facebook), NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and TikTok. Students also work in small groups to complete two practicum projects that provide actual solutions to real-world clients with a business challenge. Other hands-on experiences students have are a capstone project, class projects, data sets, and industry workshops. Program faculty are drawn from several schools and departments as well as the private sector. Applicants from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are particularly encouraged to apply.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Cost: $20,020 per quarter
  • Courses required to graduate: 22
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $17,019
  • Graduation rate: 95%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Email: analyt[email protected]
  • Phone: 847-467-6750

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Columbia University

Best Ph.D. Track

Ivy League Columbia University offers an in-person Master of Science in Data Science program through its Fu School of Engineering. The highly rated program is an excellent choice for students hoping to pursue doctoral studies. This is in part due to the research skills gained during the program’s distinctive capstone project. The project is done with a team and uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to address a challenge submitted by the school’s industry affiliates. Recent capstone projects include Measuring Startup Strategy and Its Evolution, Detecting Mosaic Mutations with Deep Learning, and Predicting COVID-19 Outbreaks Using Social Media Images. Work experience is not required to apply for this program, but many students do have it.

Things to Consider:

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Cost per credit: $2,346
  • Credits required to graduate: 30
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Room and board: $14,490
  • Graduation rate: 92%

More Program Information:

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Phone: 212-854-5660

Learn more

Other Master’s in Data Science Degree Programs to Consider

The Best Master's in Data Science Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

When deciding on a career in data science, also consider a master’s in computer science. While data science deals closely with analytics, computer science is a more comprehensive degree that you can use in many different occupations in the computer and IT sectors. Both programs of study require students to have strong analytical, sciences, and reasoning skills. Computer science programs focus on design and architecture. In contrast, data science programs focus on giving students an in-depth understanding of data science and how to create solutions for real-world data problems. Determine your interests when choosing between these two programs.

Numerous certifications can help data science graduates improve their skill set and show their expertise to potential employers. Certifications such as the IBM Data Science Certification, the MIT Data Science & Statistics Certificate, and HarvardX’s Data Science Professional Certificate are valuable continuing education courses for the field of data science.

Computer and information technology will continue to experience significant growth over the next decade. The outlook for all jobs in this sector is much higher than the national average. The need for innovative cybersecurity solutions, new programming languages that improve efficiency, and new algorithms to analyze and understand big data will keep data scientists in high demand for the foreseeable future.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching data science programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? As a graduate-level degree, master’s in data science programs are open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Some programs require a bachelor’s degree in a STEM-related field and proficiency in computer programming and quantitative skills, such as statistics, economics, or algebra.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Master’s in data science programs usually take between one to two years to complete. The length of study depends on the course structure and your academic and work background. Students need between 27 and 144 credits to receive a master’s in data science from the programs on our list.

Research application deadlines and requirements for the programs to which you are applying. Detailed application information can be found on the school website or by contacting the admissions department.

Scholarships, grants, and other financial aid are available to help you cover the costs of your master’s degree. Be sure to submit any documents or applications necessary for funding opportunities on time.