Best Online Data Science Degree Programs of 2021

by TBS Staff
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A degree in data science and analytics incorporates math, statistics, and computer science, offering a springboard to many in-demand careers.

Data analysts provide valuable information for decision-makers in several industries. Data scientists help healthcare organizations analyze information about patient care. They also analyze financial information for firms making investment decisions and conduct research into consumer demand for new products.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, demand for data scientists will grow 31% from 2019-2029, making it one of the fastest-growing occupations. The field also reports an above-average median salary. Data science and analytics also offer a pandemic-proof career path, since most professionals can work remotely.

This article explores how to become a data analyst and ranks the best online bachelor's degrees in data science and analytics. It also covers common data science concentrations, data analyst certifications, and the earning potential for different data analyst careers. Prospective data analysts can find the best fit to reach their career goals by researching the top programs.

What Is an Online Bachelor's in Data Science and Analytics Degree?

A data science and analytics major trains students to collect data, analyze it using algorithms and statistical methods, and draw conclusions from large bodies of information. Some data scientists even write their own algorithms or create databases to organize big data.

During a data science degree, majors strengthen their mathematical and analytical skills. They also learn about data challenges in specific industries, such as healthcare, technology, and marketing. Data analytics majors also learn about the ethical challenges of collecting data and making policy recommendations.

An online bachelor's in data science and analytics allows enrollees to complete their coursework in a distance learning format. Some online programs incorporate an internship at a local site to help students gain practical experience and build a professional network.

Choosing and Online Program

The first step to becoming a data analyst is choosing the right educational program. When evaluating online degrees, prospective students should consider each school's accreditation status, graduation rate, and degree requirements. By researching online programs, applicants can find the best fit for their unique professional and personal needs. Learn more about how to choose an online degree at the links below.

Featured Online Data Science Degrees

The Best Online Data Science and Analytics Programs

Southern New Hampshire University true View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Founded in 1932, SNHU has grown to offer more than 200 programs to a student body of over 138,000, most of whom take courses exclusively online.

SNHU's online bachelor of science in data analytics prepares students for careers as analysts in a variety of business and public settings. Coursework covers big data, analysis techniques, and how to apply data analysis to organizations. Students may optionally complete a concentration in project management for STEM.

Applicants with previous college coursework may transfer up to 90 credits to SNHU.

Brandman University true View School Profile Irvine, CA 47% 92% Brandman University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

Founded in 1861, Brandman has maintained its commitment to military-friendly higher education through an expansive online education program.

Brandman offers a bachelor of science in information technology with an emphasis in data science. Coursework provides a foundation in information technology before diving into data analysis subjects like spatial visualization, database querying, and business intelligence.

Students complete the fully online curriculum at their own pace and may begin the curriculum at any time after admission. Applicants must demonstrate a high school GPA of at least 2.0.

SUNY at Albany true View School Profile $$$ Albany, NY 64% 58% 15% SUNY at Albany is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

UAlbany first operated as a school for teachers, opening in 1841. Since 1962, it's offered higher education to a large student body as part of the State University of New York.

The bachelor of science in informatics with a concentration in data analytics can be completed in a fully online format. Students take core courses in current trends in information and technology, followed by concentration-specific courses like database issues, information storage and retrieval, and machine learning.

The curriculum also includes a significant applied learning component, providing students with a hands-on education that prepares them for roles as analysts and information managers.

Saint Louis University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO 77% 35% 13% Saint Louis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

One of the oldest Catholic universities in the country, SLU prides itself on offering a Jesuit education to nearly 13,000 students each year.

SLU offers a fully online bachelor of science in computer information systems with a concentration in data analytics. The core curriculum covers information systems, programming, and database analysis and design. Data analytics students build on these courses with classes in machine learning and data mining.

Courses take place in eight-week terms, with six possible start dates per year.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED, demonstrate at least three years of work experience, and be at least 22 years of age.

Norwich University View School Profile Northfield, VT 62% 52% 37% Norwich University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

As the nation's oldest private military college, Norwich teaches roughly 4,000 students each year, about 1,400 of whom are fully online.

The online bachelor of science in data analytics degree completion program at Norwich prepares students to interpret data with a foundation in mathematics and programming. Courses cover data visualization, relational database management, and machine learning.

Applicants should hold an associate degree or have completed a minimum of 30 credits of post-secondary coursework. Admitted students may transfer up to 90 total credits and must also take a math placement exam upon acceptance.

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Online Data Science and Analytics Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

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What to Expect From a Data Science and Analytics Degree

Data analytics majors often take classes in data structures, statistical modeling, and data science ethics. Students can also focus their studies by choosing a concentration, like bioinformatics, health data, or economics. By choosing a concentration, enrollees can prepare for more specialized careers after graduation.

Common Data Analytics Courses

Common Data Science and Analytics Concentrations

Biology/Bioinformatics

Undergrads studying biology and bioinformatics learn to how apply data analytics to science topics like genomics, pharmacology, and neuroscience. Majors learn how to organize biological data and apply relevant models to analyze the data. Graduates can pursue opportunities in pharmaceuticals or biotechnology.

Health Data

The healthcare field increasingly relies on data science to make decisions regarding patient care and resource allocation. A health data concentration emphasizes healthcare and public health issues, including statistical modeling in the biomedical field. The concentration also often covers the use of data analysis in health insurance.

Economics

Data analysts interested in financial and economic data usually pursue economics concentrations. Students in these programs learn about microeconomics, consumer behavior, and macroeconomics. The coursework explores common economic theories and the role of data analysis in economic policy-making.

Sociology

Data scientists often work with social data, particularly when working for social media or marketing companies. A sociology concentration trains data analytics majors to consider data in a social context, including the related ethical issues. The concentration also helps undergrads consider the ethics of data sourcing methods and how to reliably build statistical models from sample populations.

Mathematics

A mathematics concentration incorporates additional courses in calculus, statistics, and number theory. Undergrads may also explore algorithm theory and applied mathematics. A background in mathematics can help data analysts pursue opportunities as statisticians or data scientists. It also helps graduates applying to master's programs in data science.

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

Demand for data analysts remains high, but what does a data analyst do? Data analysts collect and organize data to help organizations understand their impact and make informed decisions. Some specialize in big data, amassing large amounts of information to identify patterns. Others work in healthcare analytics, market research, or financial analytics.

The typical tasks of a data analyst include compiling data, evaluating algorithms and statistical methods, and drawing conclusions from their data analysis. They often create reports to help decision-makers understand the impact of their choices. Data analysts need strong analytical and software skills, often relying on analytics software to complete their work.

Where Do Data Analysts Work?

Data analysts work in many different industries. Financial institutes, including equity firms and investment banks, rely on data analysts to crunch the numbers on investments. Marketing firms hire data analysts to identify consumer needs and develop pricing strategies. They also work in the healthcare industry, helping hospitals improve patient outcomes through analytics.

Tech may be the industry most linked with data science and analytics. These companies rely on big data specialists to develop machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence programs. Government organizations also use data scientists to help with things like building transportation infrastructure.

With so many industries looking for data scientists and analysts, a data analyst degree offers a lot of career flexibility.

Skills

Data scientists and analysts rely on their analytical abilities to apply algorithms and find patterns in data. They also need technical skills in data mining, using analytics software, and synthesizing information to draw a conclusion. During data analytics courses, students strengthen these technical abilities. A data science degree also trains majors in organizational and presentation skills.

Data analysts can build specialized career skills through courses in finance, market research, machine learning, and business administration. Combining the analytical tools of a data analyst with more specialized training prepares graduates for more focused career paths.

Data Science and Analytics Careers

A data analyst degree can prepare graduates for varied career paths. For example, graduates can work as data analysts, financial analysts, or operations research analysts. With classes in business and marketing, they can also pursue careers as management analysts or market research analysts. The degree also leads to opportunities in tech as database architects or database administrators.

Career Annual Mean Wage
Database Administrators and Architects $96,110
Statisticians $95,680
Management Analysts $95,560
Operations Research Analysts $90,600
Market Research Analyst $71,570
Source: BLS

How to Become a Data Analyst

A data analyst typically needs a bachelor's degree in data science, business analytics, computer science, or a related field. During a bachelor's program, data analysts take classes in statistics, mathematics, and data analytics. Students interested in specialized fields like financial analysis or healthcare analysis should consider concentrations or electives in those areas.

Some career paths, like information research scientist, may require a master's degree. Earning a professional certification can also help data analysts advance their careers.

Certification

Professional certifications can help data analysts can demonstrate expertise and stand out in the job market. Several organizations offer certifications in this field: For example, the Data Science Council of America offers certifications for data scientists and big data analysts. The certified analytics professional (CAP) credential also recognizes experienced data scientists.

Typically, a candidate must meet education requirements and pass an exam to earn a professional certification. For instance, applicants for the CAP credential must pass a certification examination. Professional certifications generally remain valid for 3-5 years.

Common Questions About Data Analytics Degrees

true Is a Degree in Data Analytics Worth It?

A degree in data analytics prepares graduates for in-demand careers as data analysts, financial analysts, operations research analysts, and data scientists, making the degree a strong investment. It is especially well-suited to students with strong skills in mathematics.

true Is Data Analytics a Good Career?

With encouraging projected job growth and above-average salaries, data analytics is an in-demand career. Data analysts can also become information research scientists by earning master's degrees.

true Is Being a Data Analyst Stressful?

Data analysts spend much of their time crunching numbers, working with data, and perfecting algorithms. For many data analysts, the career path is not high stress. However, some may encounter anxiety related to the ethical implications of social data analysis.

true Are Data Scientists in Demand?

Data scientists benefit from faster-than-average job growth projections, which indicate that data scientists are expected to remain in high demand between 2019-2029.

true What Does a Data Analyst Degree Qualify Me to Do?

With a degree in data science and analytics, graduates work as data analysts, financial analysts, and data scientists. They can also pursue opportunities as statisticians, market research analysts, and operations research analysts.

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