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.
|#1||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT|
|#2||Webster University||Webster Groves, MO|
|#3||New York University||New York, NY|
|#4||Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ|
|#5||Baker College||Flint, MI|
The Best Online Data Science and Analytics Programs
Western Governors University
|Salt Lake City, UT||
About this school
Western Governors University offers an online bachelor’s of science in data management/data analytics program that teaches students about database management, data wrangling, data science, data analytics, and visualization. Tech professionals seeking a data science degree to further their careers benefit the most from this program. Individuals with prior working experience can take assessment tests to bypass familiar material and move through the program rapidly. This data science online degree also offers multiple IT certifications from companies like Oracle, CIW, and CompTIA. Additionally, students receive a Udacity Nanodegree, which includes resume support, employment guidance, and networking opportunities that continue after graduation.
WGU charges a flat–rate tuition for each six–month term, and learners take anywhere from 6–36 months to graduate, depending on their background experience and number of transfer credits from previous institutions. This online bachelor’s of data science program requires students to complete 35 online college courses, each of which focuses on a set of clearly defined competencies that students learn by completing tests, papers, projects, and other assessments. Once an individual demonstrates mastery of a subject, they move on to the next course, without needing to wait for a new term to start. WGU provides all courses asynchronously. Course offerings include web development foundations, data wrangling with MongoDB, and spreadsheets. Students must also complete an IT capstone written project before graduation. Applicants should possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and be able to demonstrate some IT experience.
|Webster Groves, MO||
About this school
Webster University is a global institution with a main campus in St. Louis and satellite campuses in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Webster offers a fully online bachelor’s of science in data analytics that helps students understand the foundational methodologies, concepts, and technologies used in the data analytics process.
Students pursuing this data science degree online must complete 128 credits, including 36 major–related core credits. Major online college courses in the program include topics such as decision support systems, data science, data warehousing, and electronic commerce. Students must take at least 18 of these core credits and all higher–level courses at Webster. The university boasts small, asynchronous classes of around 24 students, ensuring ample personalized attention from professors. Learners log in at their convenience to complete assignments and/or participate in class activities. Students access their classes through the WorldClassRoom portal, powered by the Canvas learning management system. The online data science bachelor’s degree program offers classes in eight–, nine–, and 16–week formats, and individuals should allot 3–4 hours per credit for readings, participating in course activities, contributing to class discussions, and completing assignments and projects. Webster suggests that working students take only one course per term to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
The university considers applications for admission on a rolling basis, and out–of–state students pay the same tuition as residents of Missouri.
New York University
|New York, NY||
About this school
New York University provides an online bachelor’s of science in applied data analytics and visualization. Graduates of this program can pursue a range of careers at government agencies, corporations, service industries, political organizations, consulting firms, or nonprofit organizations in positions such as database administrator or database analyst.
This data science degree online program requires students to earn a total of 128 credits in online college courses, including core curriculum requirements, foundation classes, data science and visualization courses, and electives. Major topics include visual analytics, data analytics, cultural and legal implications of digital technology, and business intelligence. Bachelor’s of data science students also complete a four–credit senior project in the form of a seminar or an internship as a capstone experience.
Online college courses follow an asynchronous format where distance learners contribute to class discussions, complete homework assignments and readings, and engage in team activities at their convenience. Professors supplement online lectures and coursework by offering office hours through live web conferencing.
The data science bachelor’s degree program accepts continuing–education students with at least 60 transfer credits or an associate degree from a previous institution of higher education; NYU recommends that applicants have a GPA of 3.3 or higher. Prospective students also need to provide a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. The school of professional studies at NYU does not charge an application fee.
Arizona State University
About this school
Arizona State University, located in the suburbs of Phoenix, offers a fully online bachelor’s of science in business data analytics program that prepares students to manage large–scale data analytics for businesses. Students pursue this data science degree online through ASU’s nationally recognized business school.
Graduates achieve a deep understanding of data warehousing, data science, large data analytics solutions, dimensional modeling, and visualization methods. They also gain a basic foundation in predictive analytics and data mining. Classes take place over accelerated, 7.5–week periods. Students must complete 120 credits of classes, including 51 credits of upper–division coursework. Distance learners need to maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA to graduate. Online college course offerings include enterprise analytics, business data mining, and business data warehouses and dimensional modeling. Bachelor’s of data science students also complete a final capstone course, which focuses on incorporating ethical business practices in a global setting and how institutions impact countries around the world.
Freshman applicants to the data science bachelor’s degree program must be in the top 8% of their high school class or have a GPA of 3.6 or higher in specific competency courses (as defined by ASU). All students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residency. Transfer students must hold a cumulative transfer GPA of 3.0 or higher and complete at least 30 credits at ASU to earn their degree.
About this school
Located in Flint, Michigan, Baker College provides an online bachelor’s of computer science in database technology for students interested in gaining a comprehensive understanding of Oracle database software. Graduates who earn this data science degree gain a solid foundation in internet communications, data science, data analytics, software development, basic computer science, and database programing.
Students complete 120 hours to graduate, with 72 hours of major courses, 30 hours of general education classes, and 18 hours in their specific concentration. General education courses give students a chance to learn about a range of topics, including oral communication, philosophy of ethics, and cultural diversity. Major–related online college courses include unit testing and interfaces, advanced database topics, trends in computer science, and programing for mobile devices. A final work requirement lets students demonstrate their newfound skills by completing a 150–hour work experience over a 10–week period.
Applicants to this data science bachelor’s degree program must provide minimum assessment verification based one or more of the following: high school transcripts; ACT, SAT, ASSET, COMPASS, or FASTRACK scores; or waiver tests. Baker also rewards some students an adult transfer scholarship, which covers half of their tuition for up to three years if they maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA. To qualify for this scholarship, transfer students must have an associate degree and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5. Out–of–state students pay the same tuition as residents of Michigan.
End of list, bravo!
Online Data Science and Analytics Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.How to Choose Your Major What to Look for in an Online College How to Pick a College
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
- Calculus: A data analyst degree requires strong mathematical skills. Most programs include a calculus course, which trains students in analytic and geometric functions. Learners study things like limits, derivatives, and graphing.
- Data Structures: In data structures classes, learners develop their computational skills and study algorithms and data structures. Other topics include recursion, graphs, and sorting algorithms.
- Data Analysis and Visualizations: A data analysis and visualization course blends data science with visualization techniques to train students in analyzing dimensional data. Students examine case studies and learn about modeling tools that can be used to visualize data.
- Statistical Modeling: Statistical modeling courses introduce undergraduates to linear regression models, statistical computing, and simulations. The class trains students to examine assumptions, analyze variances, and improve the accuracy of their models.
- Data Science Ethics: The field of data science often uses personal information to make conclusions about groups. In data science ethics courses, students learn about bias and discrimination in data analysis, explore the social impact of data-based decisions, and examine the ethical issues associated with applying algorithms to personal information.
Common Data Science and Analytics Concentrations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Operations Research Analysts||$90,600|
|Market Research Analyst||$71,570|
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.