Best Online Master's in Data Science 2021

Best Online Master's in Data Science 2021

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Data science is among the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields, a trend likely to continue for more the decade to come.

The rate of data creation continues to rise astronomically, and companies need skilled professionals to capture, manage, and interpret this data.

An online master's degree in data science can qualify graduates for lucrative, in-demand, data-related jobs, like database administrator.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for database administrators to grow 10% between 2019 and 2029. These professionals also earn above-average salaries, making a median salary of $93,750 per year.

Top 10 Online Master's in Data Science 2021

#1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
#3 Penn State World Campus University Park, PA
#4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#5 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
#6 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
#7 Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK
#8 University of North Texas Denton, TX
#9 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
#10 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ

Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs

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4

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1867, U of I enrolls more than 47,000 students from all 50 states and internationally. The university's master of computer science in data science program offers new, transformational, statistical, and computational methods from faculty that pioneer them.

The 32-credit program, taught through the school's Grainger College of Engineering, focuses on machine learning, data mining, data visualization, and cloud computing. Students may complete the non-thesis program in as little as one year.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree; prerequisite coursework in object-oriented programming, data structures, statistics/probability, and linear algebra recommended. Minimum 3.2 undergraduate GPA recommended.

Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
35%
Online Enrollment
35%
5

The University of West Florida 

Pensacola, FL Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1967, UWF's fall 2019 enrollment totaled 9,571. UWF Online's master of science in data science degree teaches students to leverage data for decision-making while developing data-driven organizational solutions.

The 30-credit program includes courses in statistical modeling and modeling in regression. Students may continue on tracks including advanced big data analytics, machine learning, data mining, and multivariate methods.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a 3.0 minimum GPA; official transcripts required. GRE verbal and quantitative scores must be 150.

Graduation Rate
44%
Percent Receiving Loans
64%
Online Enrollment
63%
6

Texas Tech University 

Lubbock, TX Apply Now

About this school

Texas Tech's graduate school offers 60 doctoral degrees, more than 100 master's degrees, and more than 60 graduate certificates.

The university's online master's degree in data science teaches students to use advanced technologies and statistical methods with big data. Graduates qualify for careers in data science, business analytics, and business intelligence.

Coursework focuses on database concepts, machine learning, decision theory, and database concepts. The 36-credit, STEM-designated program includes seven- to eight-week-long classes.

Applications must submit a resume and transcripts from previously attended colleges. GMAT/GRE scores waived for the 2020-2021 academic year, due to COVID-19.

Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
45%
Online Enrollment
50%
7

Oklahoma State University 

Stillwater, OK Apply Now

About this school

OSU Online offers 200 undergraduate programs, 79 master's programs, and 45 doctoral programs. The university's online master of science in business analytics and data science prepares students and working professionals for careers in areas such as business and data analysis, as well as jobs with a statistical focus.

The STEM-designated, 33-credit-hour program includes predictive business analytics, statistics for data science, and business intelligence tools and techniques. Students may specialize in marketing analytics, advanced data science, cybersecurity analytics.

Applicants must submit three names and email addresses for recommenders, a resume, statement of purpose. Official GMAT or GRE scores required with recommended scores above 51st percentile in each segment. Work experience strongly encouraged.

Graduation Rate
61%
Percent Receiving Loans
43%
Online Enrollment
40%
8

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX Apply Now

About this school

UNT offers 109 bachelor's, 94 master's, and 36 doctoral degree programs to 38,000 students annually, with 4,600 faculty members.

The school's online master of science in data science prepares students for careers involving statistical analysis, computational linguistics, information retrieval and visualization, and data mining. The 36-credit curriculum includes visual information technologies, data analytics, data modeling, and computational methods. Students also complete an internship or research project.

Applicants must submit a one-page personal write-up, a resume or CV, and two recommendation letters. Graduate requirements include college transcripts and a 3.2 cumulative undergraduate GPA.

Graduation Rate
53%
Percent Receiving Loans
50%
Online Enrollment
46%
9

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1870, Syracuse is a private research institution that consists of 13 schools and colleges.

The university's online master's in data science degree prepares students to help drive data-backed business decisions. The 36-credit program may be completed in as few as 18 months.

Taught through the School of Information Studies (iSchool), the curriculum includes analytics application courses, natural language processing, text mining, data warehousing, and quantitative reasoning studies. Students select projects to showcase skills in a final portfolio.

Applications must include degree-bearing transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and two recommendation letters.

Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
Online Enrollment
13%
10

New Jersey Institute of Technology 

Newark, NJ Apply Now

About this school

NJIT is the first New Jersey university to offer an independent, stand-alone data science master's degree.

The institution's master of science in data science prepares students to develop, design, and apply models and tools for data-driven decision-making in a world increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence.

The 30-credit program emphasizes machine learning, data visualization and mining, big data, and statistical interference methods.

Applicants must hold a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, as well as letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and transcripts. GRE/GMAT scores not necessary, due to COVID-19.

Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
Online Enrollment
29%
11

Southern Methodist University 

Dallas, TX Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1911, SMU enrolls more than 11,000 annually.

The school's online master of science in data science, DataScience@SMU, teaches professionals interested in managing, analyzing and mining complex data. Students learn technical, analytical, and communication skills to help inform business strategies.

The 33.5-credit program includes statistics, computer science, and data visualization classes, along with specializations in machine learning and business analytics.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; emphasis on statistics, mathematics, computers science, or engineering preferred. Submissions must include one recommendation letter, resume/CV, purpose statement, and official transcripts. Math or programming addendums also recommended.

Graduation Rate
78%
Percent Receiving Loans
24%
Online Enrollment
9%
12

North Carolina Central University 

Durham, NC Apply Now

About this school

NCCU, founded in 1910, focuses on combining rigorous academics with a commitment to public service. It offers flagship programs in the sciences, education, law, business, and the arts.

The online master of science in mathematics with a concentration in data science teaches students to use advanced quantitative methods and the latest mathematical research. The math-intensive path includes analysis, cryptography, scheduling/number/approximation/optimization/lie theory, and bioinformatics.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in math, computer science, or engineering and a minimum 2.7 GPA. Submissions also require two recommendation letters, GRE scores, an essay, and official undergraduate transcripts.

Graduation Rate
46%
Percent Receiving Loans
78%
Online Enrollment
44%
13

Colorado State University – Fort Collins 

Fort Collins, CO Apply Now

About this school

CSU, established in 1870, educates approximately 40,000 students annually. CSU-Fort Collins contains CSU-Global, the school's online division.

The school's master of applied statistics-data science specialization focuses on collection, storage, organization, analysis, interpretation, and visualization of large volumes of data.

The 31-credit program prepares graduates as data scientists in business or government. Studies include applied statistical procedures, analytics, data visualization, and statistical computing. The degree may be completed in one year.

Application requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, with calculus, statistics, and linear algebra coursework. Other requirements include three recommendation letters, resume, personal statement, transcripts, and math entrance exam score or GRE math score.

Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
42%
Online Enrollment
24%
14

Rochester Institute of Technology 

Rochester, NY Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1829, RIT boasts 11 colleges and 4,042 faculty, educating nearly 19,000 students

The master of science in data science degree teaches working professionals interested in handling large-scale data management and analysis. The 30-credit program may be completed in as few as 24 months. Classes include data science, data warehousing, visual analytics, and applied linear models.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA; computer programming experience also required. Official transcripts, two recommendations, a resume, and a personal statement must be submitted.

Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
Online Enrollment
17%
15

Regis University 

Denver, CO Apply Now

About this school

The only Jesuit university in the Rocky Mountain West, Regis offers more than 130 degrees and programs to approximately 8,000 students annually.

The university's master of science - data science degree prepares students for careers including statistician, data engineer, or business intelligence analyst. Skills learned from the program transfer to banking, healthcare, and other industries.

Studies include machine learning, data engineering, exploratory data analysis, and statistical inference and predictive analysis.

Applicants must submit a resume, essay, and degree-bearing transcript. Requirements include relevant work experience or bachelor's degree, with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
Online Enrollment
63%
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master’s in Data Science Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Master’s in Data Science

We selected these accredited Data Science programs based on the quality of the program, types of courses provided, faculty strength, school awards, rankings and reputation, including the reputation for providing online degree programs.

What Is Data Science?

Data science is an emerging, interdisciplinary field that incorporates aspects of mathematics, statistics, analytics, software, computer technology and machine learning. Because of its potential for maximizing systems efficiency (and, in turn, maximizing profits), data scientists, database analysts, and database administrators are lately in high-demand by everyone from federal agencies to universities to private corporations. To provide a concise definition of a massive topic: data science examines patterns and trends in all sorts of data to solve complex problems, answer pressing questions, untangle logistical knots, and mitigate impending unseen disasters.

What is Data Analytics?

A component of data science, data analytics is the practice of analyzing and drawing conclusions through modeling, inspecting, and transforming data sets. Data science professionals use data analytics as a way of both posing and answering questions, with a wide array of goals. For example, data analytics can be used to solve logistical problems for international businesses, to plan public health initiatives for national governments, and determine the best SEO practices for generating traffic for a website (like in the case of Google analytics). Wherever it is applied, data analytics is part of the new frontier of applied sciences.

What is Big Data?

Big data is a sub-field of data science that focuses specifically on systematically applying data analytics methods to massive data sets. The clue is in the name; these data sets are too big to be handled by traditional data-processing software. Major international corporations, governments, and software and technology firms rely on talented data science professionals to make sense of big data to solve problems and, in many cases, increase efficiency to make more money. With the rise of social media, big data has become a household name, and big data analytics a more common profession.

What is a Data Scientist?

A data scientist, simply, is someone working professionally in the data science field. Because data science professionals are in such high demand in nearly every area of employment (due to a near-universal reliance on information technology) the specifics of data scientist jobs are varied from employer to employer. However, data science professionals gather, analyze, and draw answer from data sets. Because of the high-demand of the profession, data scientist salary figures are high (often over $100,000) and continue to increase every year.

How Do You Become a Data Scientist?

Potential data scientists need to be highly trained and educated in the field, with a balanced background in mathematics, statistics, logic, computer science, machine learning, and data analysis. A master's in data science is typically a prerequisite for the job; fortunately, many quality data science degree programs exist online.

How Do You Choose an Online Master's in Data Science Program?

Students pursuing their online master's in data science balance theory and fundamentals with industry-relevant projects and applications. Learners explore data analytics and data science concepts while maintaining ethical standards in data management. Upon graduating, students can create infographics and visualizations to explain data, identify patterns and trends in data, and use data to find new revenue sources to define business strategies. Students study a variety of important topics, including database administration, data warehousing design, data analytics, big data, and technical foundations.

Students study a variety of important topics, including database administration, data warehousing design, data analytics, big data, and technical foundations.

Some data science programs allow students to choose a concentration and tailor their degree to meet their interests. While every data science program differs, each provides students with a solid skill set and knowledge base to thrive in the field. Some programs require students to complete a thesis, final project, or other on-campus component prior to graduation.

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

Students in an online master's in data science program explore topics that prepare them for successful careers. Learners study different aspects of data science, including data analytics, administration, data warehousing design, database design, implementing databases, and web-enabled information systems. Some programs place more emphasis on business and management, while some focus more on the technical and scientific aspects of the field. While course topics vary by program, students can examine key components in their area of interest.

Curriculum for a Master's in Data Science Degree Programs

  • Database Administration: The database administration course introduces students to the roles, responsibilities, critical knowledge, and skills necessary for database administrators.
  • Data Analytics: Focused on investigating and understanding data, data analytics courses develop fundamental concepts for students who anticipate working in big data, including modeling, mining, hypothesizing, transforming, and cleaning data.
  • Data Warehousing Design: Focusing on the implementation of data warehouses, the data warehousing design course teaches students fundamental concepts, including record of source, metadata, granularity, and partitioning. Students learn how data warehousing can support various roles in the field.
  • Database Design and Implementation: Focusing on the relational database model and logical, conceptual, and physical phases of database development and design, the database design and implementation course allows students to discover emerging data warehouse technologies.
  • Web Enabled Information Systems: Introducing the design of web-enabled information systems and reviewing programming principles, the web-enabled information systems course teaches students about object-oriented principles. Students learn about web applications, exploitation of technology, and data retention and integrity.
  • Technical Foundations: Providing students with a substantive review of technology, the technical foundations course reviews networking technology, hardware, databases, applications, and information services. Students learn about data in transit, data at rest, and data being processed.

Data Science Jobs

Graduates of online master's in data science degree programs can find work in many lucrative careers. Most graduates pursue careers as database administrators or managers, finding employment in a variety of work environments, but a wide selection of data scientist jobs exist.

Database Administrator

Median Salary: $90,070 Projected Job Growth: 9%


Database administrators use specialized software to organize and store data, including customer shipping records and financial information. Database administrator jobs require these professionals to backup and restore data to prevent loss. Database administrators work in computer systems design, insurance, data processing, and educational services.

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Median Salary: $88,190 Projected Job Growth: 30%


Mathematicians and statisticians gather data, analyze it for patterns, and crunch numbers as a way of solving problems, answering questions, and predicting future goals and needs. They use computer technology and software and data science principles to design studies and collect the information necessary for making key decisions in a variety of professional settings, including federal agencies, universities, private companies, and research firms.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Median Salary: $118,370 Projected Job Growth: 16%


This high-earning and fast-growing category includes data scientist jobs and database analyst jobs. Individuals in this area of specialization use computer technology solve complex problems, improve technology systems, and maximize efficiency. Professionals in big data utilize principles of analytics, including Google analytics, to better understand how systems should function toward achieving their stated goal. Individuals in this field can find employment in federal government agencies, private computer technology and consulting companies, colleges and universities, and research.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Median Salary: $142,530 Projected Job Growth: 11%


Responsible for analyzing their organization's computer needs and suggesting potential upgrades for top executives to consider, computer and information systems managers also direct and plan the installation and maintenance of computer software and hardware. These managers ensure the security of their organization's electronic documents, data, and networks. The largest employers of computer and information systems managers remain manufacturing companies, information companies, finance and insurance agencies, and computer systems design organizations.