Online Masters in Data Science Degree Programs

Data science has been among the most popular fields of study for STEM students in recent years. Between 2016 and 2018, for example, enrollments in the University of California, Berkeley’s introductory data science course more than quadrupled. Likewise, more students than ever before are now seeking master’s degree programs in the data science field.

As with many master’s degrees, some data science programs waive GRE requirements for incoming students who meet certain qualifications. Students who take these programs can save themselves the 2 to 3 months of preparation that typically goes into studying for and taking the GRE. While not all programs in this field waive the GRE for admissions, there are enough that students who wish to skip the exam will likely be able to do so.

Several master’s programs in this field are also available online. With the combination of online access and no GRE requirement, students from many different backgrounds can now pursue their master’s degrees in data science. Here’s what all students should know about taking an online master’s in data science with no GRE requirement.

What Is an Online Master’s in Data Science?

An online master’s degree in data science is a program that combines the fields of mathematics and computer science to prepare students for careers in the interdisciplinary data science field. In such a program, students should expect to learn advanced statistics and computer programming concepts. Students of data science programs also learn how to communicate their findings to turn information gleaned from raw data into actionable insights. Prerequisites for most online master’s in data science programs with no GRE required include a GPA of 3.0 or above, a background in calculus and statistics, and basic competency in one or more computer programming languages. Students taking a master’s degree in this field can come from a wide range of STEM backgrounds.

Career paths associated with this degree include data analyst, statistician, machine learning engineer, and data architect, among others. A master’s in data science broadly applies to most jobs that require acquisition, cleaning, and interpretation of large datasets. Master’s of data science degree holders can find careers in private industry, government, and academia, as all three require professionals versed in data science. Data scientists might also choose to move into management positions and lead data analytics teams. The transition to management in this field requires 7 to 10 years of experience gained on the job.

How Much Does an Online Master’s in Data Science Cost?

The cost for an online master’s in data science varies widely from school to school. A handful of low-cost online programs at public schools such as the University of West Florida and the Georgia Institute of Technology have tuitions of under $5,000. From there, rates rise rapidly and cap out with elite institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University charging $80,000 or more. On average, students should expect to spend $10-20,000 for this degree by paying in-state tuition to a public school. Online options, particularly at the lower end of the cost spectrum, can save students significant amounts of money when compared to on-campus programs.

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Average Salary for a Master’s in Data Science

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean national salary for data scientists and other mathematical science occupations stands at $103,930. Significantly higher salaries exist among top earners, with workers in the 75th and 90th percentiles earning $130,370 and $165,230 per year, respectively. Specific industries, such as financial services and computer manufacturing, also pay data scientists more than the national average.

PayScale provides a closer look at the salary progression for a data scientist over his or her career. New data scientists should expect to earn about $85,000 annually, while those with 5 to 9 years of experience earn about $110,000. After 20 years, a data scientist earns about $137,000 on average. For those who choose to move into data science management, pay typically increases by between 5 and 15 percent.

Please note that these pay rates broadly reflect the pay associated with a master’s in data science. Ninety percent of working data scientists are advanced degree holders, with about 49 percent holding a master’s and 41 percent holding a doctorate. Data scientists with bachelor’s degrees or lower make up only the remaining 10 percent and have much less impact on national salary averages.

What Is the Job Outlook for Master’s in Data Science Holders?

Several career options available to holders of a master’s in data science have 10-year growth projections that exceed the average for all jobs, which currently stands at between 5 and 8 percent. Some of these jobs include statistician (33 percent), database administrator (10 percent) and computer research scientist (15 percent).

Courses in Master’s in Data Science Programs

While each program is unique, there are certain course subjects that appear in most master’s programs for data scientists. Some of these include:

  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Data visualization
  • Software engineering or design
  • Algorithms
  • Machine learning
  • Data systems
  • Data management
  • Research design

Besides these common courses, students will learn important communication skills that allow them to relay data-driven insights to colleagues and peers who are less versed in data science. As in most master’s programs, large capstone projects provide students opportunities to put their new skills to work by solving real-world problems. By the end of the program, students will emerge with the combination of mathematical and computer skills necessary to begin careers in their chosen fields.

FAQs on Master’s in Data Science Degrees

The following are a few frequently asked questions regarding a master’s in data science degree.

Summary Information

The following summarizes the information to know for an online master’s in data science.

Program Options/Time

  • Online and on-campus options available
  • GRE requirements can be waived for some programs
  • Degree typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete

Benefits

  • Multiple job opportunities with better-than-average growth projections
  • Strong earning potential in specific fields
  • Reasonable salary growth for mid-career and late-career workers
  • Potential for transition into management with sufficient work experience

Costs

The general costs are as follows:

  • Program costs can range widely depending on school and format
  • Low-cost options can cost as little as $5,000
  • Programs at elite universities can cost up to $80,000
  • In-state tuition rates provide many options in the range of $10,000 to $20,000
  • Online degree options are generally less expensive than on-campus instruction
University NameProgram’s NameGRE Required?
DePaul UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Elmhurst CollegeMaster of Science in Data Science and AnalyticsNot Required
Fordham UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
George Washington UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Indiana University BloomingtonMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Johns Hopkins UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Lewis UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Maryville UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Northwestern UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Northwestern UniversityMaster of Science in Information Systems – Data Science SpecializationNot Required
Regis UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
Southern Methodist UniversityMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
University of California-BerkeleyMaster of Information and Data ScienceNot Required
University of IllinoisMaster of Computer Science in Data ScienceNot Required
University of MichiganMaster of Applied Data ScienceNot Required
University of MichiganMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
University of WisconsinMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required
University of WisconsinMaster of Data ScienceNot Required
Utica CollegeMaster of Science in Data ScienceNot Required

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