Why This Matters


    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.


    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.


    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 50 Master’s in Data Science Degree Programs

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.