Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs of 2022

The need for data scientists continues to grow. A data science degree creates experts skilled in developing data-driven solutions for their organizations. We provide a ranking of some of the nation's best programs.

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by Rachel Schneider

Published on August 24, 2021 · Updated on April 26, 2022

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Students interested in earning a master's in data science can review this page and look through our StudyMatch™ sponsored programs 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.

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 earned an annual median wage of $126,830 in 2020 and these positions are projected to grow by 15% from 2019-2029. Both of these numbers far outpace national averages for all jobs.

2022 Best Accredited Online Master's in Data Science Programs

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#1 Online College in Illinois

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $4,664 per course
Out of State | $4,664 per course

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

Northwestern's master's in data science program teaches learners how to make data-driven decisions. Students complete 12 courses entirely online. They can choose a general track or one of five specializations. Core topics include decision analytics and practical machine learning.

Specializations include analytics management and artificial intelligence. One specialization teaches enrollees how to build an innovation-driven startup. Students choose a capstone or thesis to culminate the program. Admission requires an accredited bachelor's degree.

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#2 Online College in Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

School Information
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $5,872 per course
Out of State | $5,872 per course

Credits to Graduate
30 credits

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

Learners can enroll part time in Johns Hopkins' master's in data science program. Enrollees learn from senior-level data scientists and engineers. They study concepts such as data visualization and computational statistics. 

Students receive an introduction to machine learning. Elective courses include game theory and data mining. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and prerequisite courses such as calculus and Java or Python. 

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#3 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,035
Out of State | $2,035

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

USC's master's in computer science (CS) in data science runs fully online. The 32-unit degree requires core courses in artificial intelligence and analysis of algorithms. A machine learning course teaches students how to build intelligent and adaptive systems. Enrollees develop data management skills. 

Degree-seekers learn advanced big data analytics techniques. Students can complete this degree in 2-3 years. Full- and part-time enrollment provides flexibility. All students pay the same tuition. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in CS. Non-CS majors must complete prerequisite coursework.

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#4 Online College in Massachusetts

Tufts University

School Information
Location Medford, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 15%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,697
Out of State | $1,697

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

Tufts offers a master's in data science for students with no experience. Enrollees take weekly online classes with a small group of peers. They can supplement classes by completing modules on their own schedule. The degree requires nine courses. Students explore topics such as big data and probabilistic systems analysis. 

A course gives an introduction to machine learning and data mining. Students culminate the program with a capstone project. Applicants with an accredited bachelor's degree do not need to submit GRE scores.

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#5 Online College in Virginia

University of Virginia

School Information
Location Charlottesville, Virginia
Admission Rate 24%
Graduation Rate 95%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,337
Out of State | $1,337

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

UVA operates the nation's first school dedicated to data science. The school's 32-credit master's in data science emphasizes hands-on learning. Students learn how to solve complex data science challenges. Enrollees attend live synchronous classes. The program uses a cohort model to promote collaboration and network-building. 

Learners complete a project that solves a challenge facing UVA's corporate and government partners. Students can earn the degree in five semesters. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, prerequisite coursework, and proficiency in Python or R language programming. 

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#6 Online College in Texas

The University of Texas at Austin

School Information
Location Austin, Texas
Admission Rate 32%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,000 per course
Out of State | $1,000 per course

Credits to Graduate
30 credits

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

UT's master's in data science teaches data science from a computer science and statistical perspective. Students can take up to six years to finish the self-paced degree. Enrollees explore topics such as machine learning and optimization. A course explores advanced predictive models for complex data. 

All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in statistics, computer science, or a related field. They also need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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#7 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $670
Out of State | $670

Credits to Graduate
32 credits

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Illinois partners with Coursera to deliver the master of computer science in data science. Enrollees explore statistical and computational methods. Coursework covers systems and networking. Learners also study artificial intelligence and machine learning. Enrollees can choose a specialization such as data mining or data visualization. 

Students complete 32 credits entirely online in 1-3 years. The master's in data science blends live sessions and asynchronous activities. Applicants do not need a computer science degree. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and prerequisite coursework such as object-oriented programming.

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#8 Online College in Pennsylvania

Villanova University

School Information
Location Villanova, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 28%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit In State | $1,428 Out of State | $1,428

Credits to Graduate 36

Program Information Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business 

A renowned Catholic college, Villanova offers a master's in analytics degree to cultivate data scientists. Students can complete the degree online in 24 months. The part-time curriculum meets the needs of working professionals. Core courses explore topics such as business intelligence and analytics for data mining. Students develop enterprise data management skills.

An analytics practicum provides hands-on experience. Small classes promote personalized learning. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a statistics course with a minimum B grade.

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#9 Online College in New York

Syracuse University

School Information
Location Syracuse, New York
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,782
Out of State | $1,782

Credits to Graduate
34 

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

Syracuse's iSchool specializes in information studies. Students can complete the iSchool's 34-credit master's in applied data science in 18 months. Enrollees explore issues such as big data and business analytics. Students learn data administration and database management techniques.

Learners can tailor the degree with one of three specializations. These include language analytics, data and business analytics, and data pipelines and platforms. Students showcase their talents with a portfolio of completed projects. Applicants need a bachelor's degree.

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#10 Online College in Texas

Southern Methodist University

School Information
Location Dallas, Texas
Admission Rate 47%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,704
Out of State | $1,704

Credits to Graduate
33.5

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

Based in Dallas, Texas, SMU offers an online master's in data science. The program blends interactive coursework, online classes, and group activities. Students can complete 33.5 credits in 20-28 months. The curriculum offers two specializations: machine learning and business analytics.

Students benefit from access to employers in Dallas' strong tech and healthcare sectors. Enrollees pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree.

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Related Programs That Might Interest You

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

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Data Science Program?

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

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.

Students typically need to meet a minimum

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Data Science Careers

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

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 $88,240 in 2019.

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