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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Students pursuing an online master’s in data science will learn more about a particular branch of computer science that plays an increasingly important role in developing software-based solutions to consumer problems. These programs typically range between 36 and 45 credit hours, and full-time students can complete most of these programs within two years, and select accelerated programs allow students to complete coursework within one year.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that paying for a graduate degree like this will cost students an average of $19,792, which is more affordable than $26,000 for an undergraduate degree. After graduation, students will qualify for a computer scientist job and expect an average salary of $131,000 per year.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Data Science Program

Choose your area of study

Depending on the online master’s in data science program students select, they may be able to choose a specific area of study to specialize in. These specialized concentrations include machine learning, data engineering, and business analytics. All programs provide a strong foundation in data science, and the specialty courses help students customize their education while preparing for specific jobs after graduation.

If students have a solid idea of what they would like to do with their master’s degree after graduation, they are encouraged to choose a school offering the exact area of study that will best prepare them for this career.

Research schools and programs

Students are often surprised to discover just how many online master’s in data science degrees are available, so it’s crucial for them to quickly determine how they will narrow down the list of prospective schools.

One important factor is the school’s accreditation status, as any programs from an unaccredited school will not be worth the time and money to attend. Another important factor is cost, as most students have a budget that will inevitably preclude applying for the most expensive programs. Beyond accreditation status and the price, students may wish to rule out schools that don’t offer enough of a support system for remote learners.

Prepare for tests and applications

Some online master’s in data science programs no longer require students to submit GRE scores as part of their application, while others still have this as a major requirement. Be sure to review each application carefully to discover whether it requires the submission of these test scores and the minimum score requirements for the different sections. Students who haven’t taken the GRE before should also consider application deadlines, as it may take up to three months to study for the exam and up to 15 days to receive test results.

Review other potential application requirements, including undergraduate transcripts, admissions essays, cover letters, and letters of recommendation.

Select your program

With the list of schools narrowed down, students must determine which online master’s in data science program(s) they will apply to.

Cost should still be a primary consideration, and students are encouraged to only apply to programs they can afford. Students may also explore the job placement rate of specific programs, which can help them assess their odds of getting their ideal job. It is also helpful to research which professors are teaching courses in the program, as professors with solid connections to the data science field can help students find great jobs after graduation.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Every student who is worried about how they will pay for their online master’s in data science should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year while they are in school. By filling out the application, most students automatically qualify for federal student loans, and the FAFSA is sometimes required to obtain most grants and certain scholarships. These alternative aid forms are less abundant for grad school students.

Students should also call the Financial Aid department of schools that sound interesting, as the financial aid counselors may have insight into special aid available to graduate students through either the school or the state.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Data Science Programs

Best Master's in Data Science Programs
01

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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University of Wisconsin
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Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals
01

University of California, Los Angeles
01

University of California at Berkeley
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University of Maryland
01

Northwestern School of Professional Studies
01

University of Michigan
01

University of Houston
01

Colorado State University
01

University of Southern California
01

Rutgers University
01

Tufts University
01

University of Virginia
01

University of California Riverside
01

The University of Texas at Austin
01

Indiana University Bloomington
01

Villanova University
01

Syracuse University
01

Southern Methodist University
01

Bay Path University
01

New Jersey Institute of Technology
01

Clemson University
01

Illinois Institute of Technology
01

Oklahoma State University
01

Texas Tech University
01

University of Missouri
01

DePaul University
01

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
01

Lewis University
01

University of Michigan - Dearborn
01

Regis University
01

Rice University
01

Eastern University
01

Stevens Institute of Technology
01

Pace University
01

Boston University
01

University of Notre Dame
01

Brandeis University
01

University of Denver
01

Harvard University
01

Rochester Institute of Technology
01

Carnegie Mellon University
01

Drexel University
01

Elmhurst College
01

Merrimack College
01

University of San Diego
01

Saint Mary’s College
01

Northeastern University
01

Penn State World Campus

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online master’s in data science programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online master’s in data science programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Data Science Program?

An online master’s in data science program helps students study large data sets and analyze them for accurate insights. Many courses are designed with a theory-based approach that helps students learn more about the different skill sets that go into data science. For example, coursework typically includes machine learning, statistics, data visualization, and programming. Depending on the program, a brief residency may be required that allows students to practice these skills and demonstrate what they have learned in a campus setting.

Exactly how long this program takes depends on whether it is a standard or an accelerated program and whether the student can attend full-time or only part-time. Full-time students can complete standard programs in two years and accelerated programs in one year. Meanwhile, part-time students should avoid accelerated programs, which will take approximately three years to complete the required coursework.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in data science degree program

  • Data Structures & Algorithms. This course helps students expand their existing programming knowledge by focusing on the fundamentals of algorithms and data structures. The coursework is designed around Python, and students must complete programming assignments in increasing complexity to demonstrate what they have learned.
  • Probability & Inference. This course helps build on students’ existing statistics knowledge while also serving as an introduction to essential concepts such as regression-based modeling. Along the way, students will gain invaluable experience using simulations to stimulate their skills in inference and other skills, such as probability calculus and hypothesis testing.
  • Regression & Predictive Modeling. While regression modeling is an aspect of other coursework, it plays a central role in this class. The course introduces students to both the theoretical background of the topic and real-world examples of how invaluable this knowledge is for anyone hoping to achieve a leadership role in the industry.
  • Machine Learning. This course helps students learn more about machine learning by focusing on the heart of this growing field’s statistical concepts and core algorithms. Students will learn more about feature extraction, interpreting models, and how to apply skills such as classification and regression to machine learning development, analysis, and implementation.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Data Science?

Career outlook

In our data-driven world, the demand for professionals skilled in data analysis, interpretation, and decision-making has surged. An online master’s degree in data science equips individuals with the knowledge and expertise to navigate the vast sea of data, extract meaningful insights, and inform critical business decisions. Whether you are an IT professional wishing to specialize in data science or someone switching to this high-demand field, the career outlook is positive for graduates with an online master’s in data science. Job opportunities for computer and information research scientists, a category that includes data scientists, are projected to grow by 23 percent by 2032, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Career paths

Data science is at the forefront of the digital transformation, playing a pivotal and growing role in industries ranging from finance and healthcare to marketing and technology. This growth is propelled by the increasing importance of data in decision-making. Earning a master’s degree in this field opens the door to a wide array of career options, each focusing on different aspects of data analysis and interpretation, including the following:

  • Data engineer — designs and maintains data pipelines, ensuring the efficient collection, storage, and retrieval of data.
  • Quantitative analyst — uses data and mathematical models to inform investment and risk management decisions.
  • Statistician — applies statistical techniques to analyze data, interpret results, and draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Chief data officer — oversees data governance, analytics, and data-driven decision-making throughout an organization.
  • Big data engineer — specializes in managing and processing massive volumes of data using technologies like Hadoop and Spark.

Data Scientist

Earning Potential: $67,660-$170,160 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in data science, computer science, or a related field

Data scientists analyze vast datasets to extract valuable insights and inform strategic decision-making. They apply statistical methods, machine learning algorithms, and data visualization techniques to identify trends, patterns, and correlations within the data. Data scientists work across various industries, including finance, healthcare, marketing, and technology, to solve complex problems and generate data-driven solutions. Their role involves data collection, analysis, and the presentation of findings in a comprehensible manner. They play a pivotal role in helping organizations make informed decisions, optimize processes, and create data-driven strategies that impact business success and innovation.

Machine Learning Engineer

Earning Potential: $68,350-$165,780 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in data science, computer science, or a related field

Machine learning engineers create, implement, and maintain machine learning models and algorithms. They design systems that can autonomously learn and improve from data. These professionals work on applications such as recommendation engines, natural language processing, image recognition, and predictive analytics. Machine learning engineers are responsible for data preprocessing and deployment. They collaborate with data scientists to transform prototypes into production-ready solutions. Their work ensures that machine learning applications function effectively and efficiently, allowing businesses to make data-driven predictions and automate decision-making processes, ultimately enhancing user experiences and operational efficiency.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Earning Potential: $54,780-$121,500 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in data science, business analytics, or a related field

Business intelligence analysts translate data into actionable insights for organizations. They gather and analyze data, creating user-friendly reports, visualizations, and dashboards to help businesses make informed decisions. By identifying trends, patterns, and key performance indicators, they support strategic planning, sales, marketing, and operations. Business intelligence analysts play a vital role in data-driven decision-making, helping companies optimize their processes and cut costs. They often work with tools like SQL, data visualization software, and business intelligence platforms to provide stakeholders with meaningful and understandable information, facilitating more effective decision-making across the organization.

Online Master’s in Data Science Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in data science degree program?

To apply to an online master’s in data science program, students must submit the application on the relevant university website. Students can apply directly from the site, and the site will specify whether additional paperwork is required. For example, students typically have to submit undergraduate transcripts and a cover letter, but they may also have to submit GRE scores, admissions essays, and letters of recommendation.

Any students who are worried about whether their application is complete should contact the admissions department, and the counselors there can answer any questions students may have about the matter.

How much does an online master’s in data science degree cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate degrees such as this cost an average of $19,792.

The exact cost students pay will depend on several factors, including whether the program is located at a private school (which is more expensive than a public school) and whether they will be an out-of-state student (which is usually more costly than attending in-state). The number of credits required will also affect the overall cost, with programs requiring more credits generally costing more than those requiring fewer credits.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in data science degree?

Students who are pursuing their online master’s in data science on a full-time basis can complete standard programs in two years and accelerated programs in one year. Part-time students should avoid accelerated programs, which may take about three years to finish a standard program.

Ultimately, each remote learner knows best how much time they can devote to their academic studies, and the most important thing is finding a reputable, affordable program that is also willing to work with the schedule needs of its online learners.

Is an online master's in data science worth it?

Earning an online master’s degree in data science offers significant value for several reasons. Data science is in high demand across various industries, and professionals with data science expertise are sought after by employers. They often command competitive salaries due to their specialized skills and knowledge, which are essential for data-driven decision-making. For example, a quantitative analyst makes a median salary of $112,117 to $142,346. Some positions, such as chief data officer, can make appreciably more.

A master’s in data science opens doors to diverse career paths, allowing graduates to work in fields as varied as finance, healthcare, marketing, and technology. Data scientists play a pivotal role in shaping business strategies, marketing campaigns, product development, and more, making a significant impact on an organization’s success.

Earning your degree online can have benefits that make it a worthwhile choice for many students. Online education provides access to diverse course offerings from different institutions across the country, allowing you to choose a program that aligns with your academic and career interests. Most online programs offer a higher degree of flexibility than on-campus programs, making them a superior choice for students with other significant personal or professional responsibilities.

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