Students interested in earning a master's in data science can review this page to learn more about the variety of resources and benefits available to them. Below, we highlight the best online master's in data science programs of 2020, common coursework at the master's level, common concentration opportunities, admission requirements, pathways and related careers, and additional resources to help students better explore their program options.

What are the best data science programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
3 Brandeis University Waltham, MA
4 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
5 DePaul University Chicago, IL
6 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
7 Regis University Denver, CO
8 Northeastern University Boston, MA
9 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
10 Austin Peay State University Clarksville, TN

Across the data science field, professionals who hold a master's degree are eligible for lucrative, in-demand careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists earn an annual mean wage of $118,370 and these positions are projected to grow by 16% from 2018-2028; both of these numbers far outpace national averages for all jobs. Data science professionals can also find high-paying careers in the navigational, measuring, electro medical, and control instruments manufacturing industry.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read more about our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Data Science Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

The University of Southern California's School of Engineering enrolls nearly 6,000 graduate students each year. The school's online delivery method allows students to advance their education through a variety of formats and instruction styles, including online, hybrid, asynchronous, and synchronous options.

The master of science in applied data science degree track is one of more than 40 programs available online. This 32-credit program includes coursework in Python, databases, machine learning, and data mining. Working in teams, students also complete a professional practicum capstone prior to graduation.

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in an engineering or engineering-related discipline. They must also submit GRE scores, a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Applied Data Science
School Status: Private
Tuition: $2,075/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (213) 740-4488
Email: den@viterbi.usc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 94%

The University of Virginia enrolls approximately 7,800 graduate and professional students each year. In addition to on-campus offerings, UVA offers 14 graduate degrees in an online learning environment, including a master's in data science.

Welcoming students from across the globe, UVA's interdisciplinary online data science program combines technical, quantitative, and philosophical study to tackle complex issues. Cohorts progress together through a 32-credit, synchronous curriculum. Required courses include linear models for data science, ethics of big data, and a team-based capstone.

Applicants do not need to hold a specific undergraduate degree, but they must complete prerequisites in math, introductory statistics, and introductory programming. UVA requires applicants to submit GRE, GMAT, or MCAT scores.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Data Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $1,242/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE, GMAT, or MCAT

Contact

Phone: (434) 254-5759
Email: onlinedatascience@virginia.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

The Graduate Professional Studies division at Brandeis University offers 14 fully online master's degrees through flexible, part-time scheduling. Courses are primarily asynchronous, although participants can access real-time review sessions, office hours, and other activities for additional engagement with peers and professors.

The school's 30-credit online master's in strategic analytics includes seven required courses and three elective classes. Students can choose from 14 elective options to customize their degree, including courses in financial technology, health informatics, and cloud computing. Program graduates have gone on to work as project consultants, data analysts, and compliance managers.

Brandeis does not require a minimum GPA or specific undergraduate major. Applicants must submit a resume, statement of goals, and at least one letter of recommendation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Strategic Analysis
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,179/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (781) 736-8787
Email: gps@brandeis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

George Mason University's School of Engineering employs faculty with industry experience who deliver a career-focused curriculum. With a typical completion time of two years, Mason's online master's in data analytics engineering program prepares graduates to pursue careers as data scientists, engineers, and analysts.

Coursework in this 30-credit program is delivered asynchronously to provide increased flexibility. Students complete required courses in big data, applied statistics, and principles of data management. They can also customize the program through elective options, including decision and risk analysis, applications of metadata, and independent research.

Mason prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. No specific undergraduate major is required, but applicants should have completed at least one course in calculus, statistics, and computer programming.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Data Analytics Engineering
School Status: Public
Tuition: $930/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (703) 993-8978
Email: online@gmu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

DePaul University

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

DePaul University's School of Computing houses 30 research labs, hosts weekly research colloquiums, and offers more than a dozen graduate programs, including an online master's in information systems. Students interested in a data science career can pursue a concentration in data management.

The 52-quarter-credit curriculum is delivered asynchronously and covers topics like statistics and data analysis, database design, IT project management, and data warehousing. DePaul provides five different culminating experience options: a capstone course, an internship, a research colloquium course, a master's project course, or a thesis.

General admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.5 GPA. If desired, applicants can submit optional materials, including letters of recommendation, a resume, and/or proof of industry certifications.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Information Systems
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Data management; project management and business analysis; analytics-driven decision-making; IT governance and legal responsibilities; digital innovation and entrepreneurship; IT leadership and operations
Tuition: $655/credit
Credit Requirements: 52 quarter credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact

Phone: (312) 362-8381
Email: admission@cdm.depaul.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, UT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

Founded in the mid-1990s, Western Governors University is an online institution with a mission to expand higher education access to students across the country. Today, WGU offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, information technology, nursing, and education, including a master's in data analytics.

Through WGU's competency-based learning model, students review material, take final assessments, and progress through the program at their own pace. The 32-credit data analytics program covers subjects such as data mining and analytics, data visualization, and programming. A culminating final project serves as the capstone.

Students can begin the program on the first of any month. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree and demonstrate adequate experience based on previous education, employment, and/or certification.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Data Analytics
School Status: Private
Tuition: $3,835/six-month term
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (877) 214-7011
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter<

7

Regis University

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Regis University is a Jesuit Catholic institution located in Denver, Colorado. Nearly 90% of Regis students obtain a job within six months of graduation. Graduates of the school's online master's in data science program commonly find work as data architects, data analysts, and business intelligence analysts.

Through 18 credits of core coursework and 12 credits of electives, students study ethics, privacy, and social justice in data science. They also gain competencies related to data engineering and analytics. The program concludes with a hands-on practicum in which students craft a data science project and hold a mock stakeholder presentation.

Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and a relevant undergraduate major or relevant job experience. Applicants must supply a resume, an essay, and official transcripts.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Data Science
School Status: Private
Tuition: $820/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (800) 944-7667
Email: ruadmissions@regis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Northeastern University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Northeastern University oversees a global research and education network, with nine on-the-ground locations and an extensive catalog of distance learning opportunities. Forty-nine graduate degrees are available entirely online, including a 45-quarter-credit master's in informatics.

The curriculum prepares graduates to work in a rapidly evolving field. Coursework includes the study of information technology strategies, governance, and project management. Students can also complete one of six concentrations — including information security management, human-centered informatics, and cloud computing application and management — to customize their degree. The program culminates with a capstone and experiential learning project.

To apply for graduate admission at Northeastern, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. A statement of purpose, a resume, and two letters of recommendation are also required.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Professional Studies in Informatics
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Information security management; graphic information systems; leading and managing technical projects; analytics; human-centered informatics; cloud computing application and management
Tuition: $797/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 quarter credits
Program Length: 1.5-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Contact

Phone: (877) 668-7727
Email: cpsadmissions@northeastern.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Davenport University

Grand Rapids, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Founded in 1866, Davenport University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Michigan. It was also the first university in the state to launch an online learning community. Today, more than 35 programs are available through Davenport's global campus, including a master's in data analytics.

This 30-credit program is entirely asynchronous, and students can complete their degree in five semesters. Required courses include principles of data warehousing, advanced data mining, predictive modeling, and a culminating capstone. Graduates can go on to work as data managers, consultants, and business and marketing analysts.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, science, math/statistics, finance, computer science, or accounting marketing and a 2.75 minimum GPA.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Data Analytics
School Status: Private
Tuition: $841/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 5 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact

Phone: (866) 698-9034
Email: info@davenport.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

Austin Peay State University

Clarksville, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Named in honor of a Tennessee governor, Austin Peay State University is a public school with approximately 11,000 students enrolled in six academic colleges. Students can pursue more than 30 degrees entirely online, including a master's in computer science and quantitative methods.

This program offers three online concentration options: data management and analysis, predictive analytics, and mathematics instruction. Students complete 33-36 credits to graduate, including a capstone project or a master's thesis. Graduates are prepared to enter a variety of science and mathematics fields.

Admission requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5, although bachelor's degrees in any field are acceptable. Applicants must supply a resume, three references, and a personal essay.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Computer Science and Quantitative Methods
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Data management and analysis; predictive analytics; mathematics instruction
Tuition: $450/credit in-state; $727/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 33-36 credits
Program Length: 3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact

Phone: (931) 221-7840
Email: apsu_cs@apsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online Master's in Data Science Program Overview

Coursework for online master's in data science programs can vary between institutions and often depends on faculty expertise and/or institutional priorities. Additionally, some institutions offer specializations or concentrations that allow degree-seekers to tailor their program to better match their personal interests and career goals. These specializations usually relate to common career opportunities in the field.

While specific courses vary, students often complete a mixture of core, concentration, and elective courses, as well as a culminating practicum. Core coursework emphasizes computer science, industrial engineering, and business concepts, while electives may include topics such as algorithms and data structures, digital image processing and analysis, distributed systems, and bioinformatics.

Earning an online master's in data science prepares learners to enter the field immediately upon graduation. Alternatively, some graduates go on to pursue additional education in the form of a doctoral degree.

Common Master's in Data Science Degree Courses

Accounting Data Analytics

This course examines techniques, concepts, and software applications used to analyze accounting data. Students apply these methods to support financial planning and decision-making for an organization. They also learn about common scenarios that involve important financial decision-making.

Enterprise Planning Systems and Business Integration

Students in this class review the primary software packages used to handle managerial, operational, and accounting activities of organizations. Learners examine the ways enterprise planning systems coordinate business processes to promote efficient management of a particular organization.

Artificial Intelligence

Students focus on planning and problem-solving, rules and production systems, knowledge representation with semantic frames and networks, and game playing and adversarial search methods. Throughout the course, students learn to understand logic programming, constraint satisfaction techniques, and optimization algorithms such as genetic algorithms.

Customer Relationship Management

This course explores customer relationship management as well as conceptual foundations. Coursework focuses on the interactions between corporate strategy, supply chain management, organizational structure, and customer-facing applications. Students also review the management and measurement of customer loyalty, satisfaction, and profitability.

Econometrics

Students in this course review probability and statistics, including common families of statistical distributions, properties of a random sample, multiple random variables, and moment generating functions. Throughout the course, learners review estimation and hypothesis testing, maximum likelihood estimators, instrumental variable estimators, and the generalized method of moments.

Related Master's in Data Science Degree Concentrations

Advanced Analytics

This concentration examines concepts of data science strategies and leadership, as well as how organizations can manipulate data to fit their specific goals. Learners also explore the role data science plays in organizational strategies.

Data Computing

Students pursuing this concentration gain an understanding of how to understand big data. This includes an exploration of how to store, manage, visualize, analyze, pre-process, and acquire data.

Data-driven Business

Learners review the practice of using analysis in industry and business. This includes how to frame, understand, and solve problems in finance, marketing, operations, human resources, managing information technology, and accounting.

Financial Analytics

Data science students pursuing a financial analytics concentration build analytic and financial expertise. Coursework explores fraud examination and litigation support, financial statement analysis, and forensic accounting.

Cybersecurity

A cybersecurity concentration includes courses such as cybersecurity governance and cybersecurity risk management. This track prepares learners to prevent and respond to cybersecurity attacks.

Online Master's in Data Science Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate Degree in a STEM Discipline

    While colleges and universities require master's degree-seekers to hold a bachelor's, many data science master's programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in a STEM or business discipline. This demonstrates their competencies and skills relevant to data science.

  • Minimum GPA

    Students typically need to meet a minimum undergraduate GPA requirement of 2.5-3.5. Some institutions may not require a minimum GPA for admission, but this depends on the preferences of the admissions department.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Many colleges and universities require master's degree applicants to provide 1-3 letters of recommendation. These letters should be written by educational and/or professional references; applicants should avoid references from friends or family members.

  • GRE or GMAT Scores

    Data science master's programs often require applicants to provide their GRE or GMAT scores for the quantitative, verbal, and writing sections. However, not all schools require these test scores for admission, and some may offer waivers for applicants if they have a graduate degree, hold a high undergraduate GPA, or have several years of relevant professional experience.

  • Professional Resume

    Although professional experience is not necessarily required for admission into master's programs in data science, many colleges and universities ask applicants to provide a professional resume. This gives admissions representatives a better understanding of an applicant's relevant experience.


Online Master's in Data Science Career Paths

Individuals who earn an online master's degree in data science prepare for careers such as computer and information research scientists. These professionals design and implement novel technological approaches and discover new uses for current technologies. These research scientists usually need to hold a master's degree in a relevant field, although a limited number of employers might accept candidates with only a bachelor's degree.

Other common career opportunities for these graduates include machine learning engineers, data architects, database administrators, big data engineers, data analysts, business intelligence analysts, and statisticians.


Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a master's in data science?

Earning a master's degree in data science can prepare learners for a variety of lucrative career opportunities across the data science field. Graduates can consider careers as statisticians, business intelligence analysts, data analysts, big data engineers, database administrators, data architects, and machine learning engineers.

Do you need a master's degree to be a data scientist?

Data scientists — or computer and information research scientists — must hold a minimum of a master's degree, although some data scientists pursue a doctoral degree. Students should explore different master's programs in data science to locate the school that best suits their educational needs and professional goals.

Is a master's degree in data science worth it?

Professionals who possess a master's degree in data science qualify for advanced career opportunities and high salaries. A master's degree provides advanced, specialized skills in the discipline, building on a student's knowledge base.

How long does it take to get a master's in data science?

The length of a master's program can vary depending on the college or university and on the type of enrollment students pursue. For instance, full-time master's students can complete their degree within two years. Alternatively, part-time learners may take closer to three years.

How much can I earn with a master's in data science?

The earning potential of professionals with a master's degree in data science depends on the career they pursue. Salary opportunities also vary depending on a worker's location and level of experience. However, the median annual salary for computer and information technology occupations was more than $86,000 in 2018.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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