Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

A data science master's can expand your job prospects and equip you with valuable skills. Learn more about earning an online master's in data science.
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Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Data Science

Many employers in data science and related fields prefer job-seekers with graduate degrees; that's because the work typically requires industry-specific knowledge that most four-year programs can't provide. Even with a bachelor's, you may not get many opportunities for advanced work beyond entry-level jobs in data science.

As with many technology-based career tracks, a master's degree can expand the job market for you. A master's education can equip you with the analytical, math, logical, and communication skills that many data science jobs require.

Another benefit of an online master's in data science is the increased earning potential. According to March 2024 Payscale data, the average annual data science salary exceeds $100,000 annually.

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that data scientists in research and development, management, and computer systems design earn some of the highest salaries in the field.

Featured Online Master's in Data Science Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Data Science Masters Online 2024

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#1 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

Texas Tech University

  • Lubbock, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Term:
In-State | $11,490
Out-of-State | $24,090

Credits to Graduate: 36

Texas Tech University's MS in data science (MSDS) attracts working professionals seeking a rigorous and flexible curriculum. The program teaches you how to collect and analyze data to help guide an organization's decision-making. Choose a one-year or two-year degree that fits your schedule.

Key topics covered include scripting languages, big data strategy, machine learning, and simulation and optimization. As part of a cohort, you can build relationships with peers from various industries as you move through the program.

Online learners pay the same tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency status. Admission does not require GRE or GMAT scores.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,934
Out-of-state
$21,174
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,956
Out-of-state
$15,136
Retention Rate
86%
Acceptance Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
40,752
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

  • Eau Claire, WI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $875
Out-of-State | $875

Credits to Graduate: 36

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's MS in data science features a multidisciplinary curriculum designed with a lot of input from business and industry leaders. The fully online program teaches you to use sophisticated data science tools, data analysis methods, and visualization techniques.

The curriculum explores other important issues, such as data science ethics and how data science can give organizations a competitive advantage. Enrollees pay a flat tuition rate regardless of where they live in the United States. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, prerequisite coursework or relevant experience, and no GRE or GMAT scores.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,276
Out-of-state
$17,627
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,188
Out-of-state
$18,603
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
9,579
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#3 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $825
Out-of-State | $825

Credits to Graduate: 36

You can earn an MS in data science from Maryville University of Saint Louis, a leader in affordable online education. The degree requires no campus visits or entrance exams. You'll learn cutting-edge skills like text mining, deep learning, and predictive modeling and take elective courses. 

The degree gives you coding expertise using R, Python, SQL, and SAS programming languages. A capstone project allows you to apply lessons learned to address a real company data problem. The school offers a flat tuition rate for all students and a generous credit transfer policy. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$24,766
Out-of-state
$24,766
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,346
Out-of-state
$14,346
Retention Rate
82%
Acceptance Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
10,596
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
84% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#4 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

University of Arizona

  • Tucson, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $650
Out-of-State | $650

Credits to Graduate: 30

The University of Arizona's MS in data science is a customizable curriculum. The fully online degree distinguishes itself from many others with a robust portfolio of electives and certificates.

The MS begins with three core courses in data mining and discovery, data analysis and visualization, and data ethics or ethical issues in information. You can tailor the MS with 18 elective units covering cloud security, advanced applied econometrics, and data science and public interests.

You can also begin building the MS with graduate certificates in natural language processing, the foundations of data science, and digital curation. Students pay no out-of-state tuition.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,990
Out-of-state
$33,739
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,348
Out-of-state
$32,290
Retention Rate
86%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
51,035
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

University of San Diego

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $965
Out-of-State | $965

Credits to Graduate: 30-36

Industry experts teach the University of San Diego's online MS in applied data science (MS-ADS), a curriculum heavy on real-world dataset applications. The MS-ADS enrolls learners from both STEM and non-STEM academic backgrounds. You can complete the 30-36-unit program in 20-24 months.

The program teaches you skills such as applied data mining, applied predictive modeling, practical data engineering, and applied text mining. Teamwork is a key component of a capstone project that tests participants' mastery of data collection and analysis techniques. 

The MS-ADS's recorded lectures and videos allow you to learn on your schedule. Admission requires no GRE or GMAT scores for students with a minimum 2.6 GPA.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$52,120
Out-of-state
$52,120
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$27,936
Out-of-state
$28,404
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
8,818
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#6 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

Saint Mary's College

  • Notre Dame, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $910
Out-of-State | $910

Credits to Graduate: 33-39

The MS in data science at Saint Mary's College develops data scientists skilled in turning numbers into narratives of great value to stakeholders. The fully online program requires 33-39 credits of coursework and practicum experience.

In addition to required training in computer programming, data mining, and data visualization, you can learn project management and effective communication and presentation skills. The program's elective coursework includes specialized training in research methods, nursing informatics, and data-driven decision-making.

Other program requirements include a summer immersion on campus at Notre Dame and a practicum involving project-based learning in partnership with data scientists. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$47,000
Out-of-state
$47,000
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$28,252
Out-of-state
$29,231
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
1,506
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs 2024

Juniata College

  • Huntingdon, PA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $800
Out-of-State | $800

Credits to Graduate: 30-36

Juniata College's master of data science enrolls students from a variety of academic backgrounds. You'll complete the degree entirely online with the option to participate in periodic online bootcamps that help build community. 

The curriculum covers statistics, mathematics, computer science, and data science fundamentals. The program requires elective courses covering big data techniques and environmental genomics. 

A data science capstone is the program's culminating activity and an opportunity to showcase your talents. A flat per-credit tuition rate applies to all students. Admission requires no test scores or application fees.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$50,100
Out-of-state
$50,100
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,950
Out-of-state
$13,950
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
1,209
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

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In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Data Science Degree?

The data science field is dynamic and includes jobs the BLS projects to grow by up to 35% between 2022-2032. With an online master's in data science, you can gain entry-level employment as a statistician or machine learning engineer. According to the table below, people in these positions earned a 2022 median pay of $98,920 and $136,620, respectively.

Even for positions that require only a bachelor's, such as management analyst or senior data scientist, a graduate degree can qualify you for higher-paying and more advanced work. According to the table below, data modelers, who usually require a bachelor's, made a median wage of $102,240 in 2022. This figure likely includes earners who hold graduate degrees.

As an aspiring data scientist, you'll need to keep up with the rapid changes in your field that drive your work. Keeping up with current trends, like the increasing demand for data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can give you an advantage over other data scientists who don't possess the necessary competencies.

Careers in Data Science
Jobs Typical Entry-Level Education Median Pay (2023) Job Outlook (2022-2032)
Data Journalist Bachelor's $57,500 -3%
Management Analyst Bachelor's (some may prefer a master's) $99,410 10%
Financial Analyst Manager Bachelor's (some may prefer a master's) $99,890 8%
Statistician Master's $104,860 32%
Data Modeler Bachelor's (some prefer an MBA) $103,800 10%
Senior Data Scientist Bachelor's $108,020 35%
Database Administrator and Architect Bachelor's (some may prefer a master's) $117,450 8%
Machine Learning Engineer Master's $145,080 23%
Source: BLS

Additional Career Options

Decision Scientist

Whereas data scientists use data to improve processes, decision scientists analyze data to support and maximize an organization's decision-making processes. Their tasks typically include risk assessment, solving problems related to resource allocation, and helping leaders identify data trends.

These professionals also work in interdepartmental teams to develop and carry out strategies that increase organizational efficiency.

Many of these data science jobs require skills in machine learning, statistical analysis, data interpretation, and machine learning. Decision scientists should be able to make quick recommendations during time-sensitive situations. Limited April 2024 Payscale data reports that decision scientists earn an annual average of $63,290.

SQL Developer

Structured query language (SQL) is one of the most prevalent programming languages data scientists need to use. SQL developers use their software development and database engineering training to manage and optimize databases, write code, and use stored data to perform various business functions.

SQL developers typically work with other IT personnel, business analysts, and database administrators to perform their jobs. Their work allows others in the organization to access data-based information that informs and supports key business decisions. According to April 2024 Payscale data, SQL developers earn an average salary of $81,477 each year.

Data Visualization Specialist

Many organizations need data visualization specialists to present complex statistics so key decision-makers can understand and use them. These professionals typically work with data analysts, visual design specialists, and other individuals to create charts, graphs, tables, and other visual outputs.

In addition to analytical skills, most data visualization specialists need mathematics and computer science backgrounds. Data visualization specialists earn an average yearly salary of $80,000, according to April 2024 Payscale data.

Why Choose a Master's in Data Science?

Although data science is one of many technology fields alongside computer science, machine learning, and data engineering, it's a specialty with distinct characteristics. Specifically, data science involves studying data to extract insights from it and use it to guide how companies design, maintain, and improve their structures and processes.

In comparison, machine learning is a subset of AI that involves using and learning from data to mimic how humans make decisions and predictions. Computer scientists work with and build software, not the data that software may use or store. Data engineers create and maintain systems for data collection, management, and access.

If you show proficiency in analytical and computer skills, a master's in data science might be a suitable educational goal. If you pursue this path, you'll also likely need skills in communication, logical thinking, computations, math, and problem-solving. Also, having a knack for storytelling can set you apart from other people seeking data science jobs.

What to Expect From an Online Master's in Data Science Program

Most people applying to a data science master's program need a bachelor's degree in data science or a related discipline. They also need to show completion of relevant computer science, math, and statistics classes.

An online master's in data science requires a commitment of 1-3 years, depending on whether you enroll full- or part-time or if you incorporate an internship into your curriculum. Some programs offer accelerated courses, which can shorten the time you need to graduate.

As an online data science master's student, expect to take up to 45 credit hours in such courses as data theory, data visualization, machine learning, and statistics, many of which provide hands-on learning opportunities. You'll also need to learn programming languages like SQL and Python. Many online master's students can choose a specialization, such as machine learning, business analytics, data security, big data informatics, or data engineering.

Most programs also require a capstone or thesis project that requires you to solve a problem or create a data-based model. Consider looking for a program that also offers a graduate certificate or certification.

5 Popular Data Science Certifications

In addition to a master's degree, consider obtaining a data science professional certification. An extra credential allows you to acquire a specialized skill that employers desire, but few data scientists may possess. Here are five of the most popular data science certifications:

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP): The CAP credential is an independent verification of a person's data science expertise. It demonstrates that a professional has the technical and soft skills to perform advanced data science functions. To take the exam, you need two years of experience in data analytics if you have a master's degree or four years with a bachelor's.
  • SAS Certified Data Scientist: You can earn a data scientist certification through the SAS Global Certification Program. A professional can earn separate certifications in advanced analytics, advanced programming, AI and machine learning, and data curation. Students of any age, and educators, can take the exam at a discounted fee.
  • DASCA Senior Data Scientist (SDS): People with at least five years of relevant work experience and a bachelor's degree can apply for this credential. It also helps to have prior knowledge of spreadsheets, database fundamentals, statistical analysis, and programming. Earning this third-party certification allows you to get a digital badge to display your qualifications.
  • DASCA Principal Data Scientist (PDS): This data science professional certification is for anyone with at least 10 years of experience with bit data sets. Individuals passing the test demonstrate knowledge of best practices for big data, machine learning, natural language processing, business strategies, and scholastic modeling. Once you earn this credential, it doesn't expire.
  • IBM Data Science Professional Certificate: This credential prepares individuals with proficiency in data science methodology, programming languages like Python and SQL, data analysis and visualization, and machine learning. It's free to take the pre-examination course, and the certification doesn't expire.

Frequently Asked Questions About an Online Master's in Data Science

Is a master's in data science better than an MBA?

If you're looking for data science jobs that require solving problems and using technical and complex skills, consider pursuing a master's in data science. An MBA may be a better choice if you want to work in a leadership position or understand how to apply data science principles to business contexts.

Data scientists with master's degrees make up 34% of all professionals in this field, with 51% having a bachelor's, and 13% holding doctorates. Although not the most common degree among data scientists, a master's can prepare you for highly technical careers that require specialized skills and training.

The average data science salary for people with master's degrees varies, depending on occupation, location, and experience. For example, the BLS reports that the median pay for statisticians was $104,860 in 2023, while the median was $145,080 for computer and research scientists in the same year.

The value of a data science master's depends on your career goals and how much you want to use math, analytical, and logical thinking skills. If you have an interest in information technology, computers, and analyzing data, an online master's in data science may help you pursue a meaningful career. Regarding employment prospects, data science jobs are in high demand. The BLS projects that data scientist jobs will grow 35% between 2022-2032.

It's possible to complete a data science master's in one year. Most students take 1-3 years to graduate, depending on their work schedules, credits per semester, and how many credits they transfer from another program. Some data science master's programs offer accelerated courses that allow you to complete your degree in a relatively short time.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed April 5, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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