Online Data Science Degree

To respond to industry demands, more online schools have started to offer data science degrees. Data scientists are a new kind of data analyst. They use their math, statistics and computer skills to make sense of big data. If you enjoy spotting risks and trends, a data science degree may ready you for this growing field.

A data science degree studies the skills that turn big data into usable info. Then applies the meaning derived from this data to help all kinds of business. One may find these type of online degrees at all levels. Bachelors, masters and PhDs. At each level, you may learn methods to comb through data. Things such as data mining and machine learning.

At the bachelor’s level, a data science degree is intro level. It often looks at technologies, tools and methods. Grads may leave with a solid knowledge of theory. Plus, the practical skills to manage and analyze complex data. Masters in data science are the more common form of the degree. These programs tend to dive deep into the ways of how to capture and organize data. Then prepare you to scale it for specific fields. E commerce, health care, finance and business are a few. PhD in data science programs are research focused. They often have broad course plans and foster thought leadership. This may mean being able to forge new theory through research.

Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science

Online bachelors in data science programs award a bachelor of science (BS) degree. Most are BS degrees in computer science (CS), software development or data analytics. You may be able to focus your studies in data science or big data and analytics while learning other basics.

A BS in one of these fields is often an entry point to careers in computer and IT. Most BS programs will thus cover a wide range of topics, tools and skills – in about 120 credits. This can take a full time online student about four years to complete. BS courses may touch on operating systems (OS), how to program, hardware, and security. While learning these things, you may gain a problem solving mind set. This is key to uncovering hidden patterns in oceans of data. Also, you might learn how to work with the processes and people within a business.

If you worry about ‘getting in’ each online school sets its own standards. You may need some high school statistics and computer courses under your belt. But things like GPA, SAT/ACT scores and other entrance standards will differ. Another variable is tuition. At last check, the average cost of a CS degree from an in state college is $6,478. For an out of state school, this cost is $31,584. This means you may find online programs that either cost less or more than those.

Master’s Degree in Data Science

Online masters in data science programs award a master of science (MS) degree. A MS in data science is a professional degree. This means that these programs will help prepare you for a career as a data scientist. Most analysts working with big data have a master’s degree or higher. Many MS in data science programs study data science from all sides. Plus, how to apply tools and methods to a certain business. For instance, how to use data mining to design custom medicine. Or create large scale data storage systems.

Most masters programs cover these areas in 33 to 39 credits. They often take between a year and two years of full time course work. Longer programs include extra courses on how to program, and in statistics and math. This often makes up for courses not already finished as an undergrad. To apply to one of these masters program, you need a bachelor’s degree. You may also need a strong background in a few key areas. Linear algebra, statistics, data bases, and some programming languages. But if your undergrad degree did not cover all these areas, don’t stress. Many online schools start their programs with the basics in math and computer courses to bring you up to speed.

PhD in Data Science

An online PhD in data science is a research degree. They are the highest level of award a data scientist may achieve. Many are only available on campus, but online schools do offer them. To get a PhD requires a lot of academic work and from 60 to 71 credits. Most students need between three and five years (and sometimes more) to complete one. The first few years you may take a menu of courses and electives.

Once you complete these courses, you may need to pass an exam. Students that pass this exam then move on to their dissertation work. Some programs also have practical training. This is a way to apply one’s skill and research knowledge to real world problems. PhD grads may choose to remain in academia. Some programs thus instruct students on effective teaching methods. There may also be a research rotation. Here, data science PhD students design and carry out research projects. As an online student, you may need to factor in some campus presence for these parts.

You may be able to enroll in an online PhD program with a bachelors or masters degree. But keep in mind, each school sets its own admissions requirements. Relevant degrees might include a math degree or a degree in statistics, CS, engineering, etc.

How much might it cost to earn a masters in data science or PhD online? The average cost of a grad degree from a public college is $11,617. This means you will be able to find online programs in this field that are both easier to afford and more expensive than this amount.

What can I do with an Online Data Science Degree?

This degree may be a gateway to a wide range of current and up and coming fields. Big data is creating opportunities in business, healthcare, e commerce and more. As data science careers are still evolving, there may be jobs for all levels of education. In many computer and tech fields, one needs a bachelors for entry level roles. Apart from having a bachelor’s degree, most analysts who work with big data have a master’s or higher degree. Those who use big data may also need education in the field in which they work.

1. Data Scientists

Data scientists have skills that go beyond math, IT and CS. They also have a knack for turning high tech ideas into profit. As such, they are in demand in many places. Jobs for data scientists vary but often include lots of collaboration. One often needs to know how to manipulate large raw data sets. Then produce reports that are intuitive and easy to read/understand.

2. Chief Data Officers

Chief data officers or chief information officers (CIOs) are managers who work with big data. They are the ones who create policies for how their business will use data. They also oversee analysts, programmers and other workers. Many of these jobs require a masters degree.

3. Software Developers

Software developers write computer programs. These programs organize, process, analyze and visualize the data. Many of these pros enter the field with a bachelors degree. But many employers prefer those with a masters degree and relevant skills.

4. Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer scientists are problem solvers. Part theorist, part designers and part inventors. These pros come up with the systems that process and make sense of big data. Most have at least a master’s degree.

5. Computer Systems Analysts

Also called systems architects, computer systems analysts have business and IT skills. They will have a solid grasp of modelling, programming and beyond. A bachelors degree may be good for entry level roles. But the industry is changing and a masters may suit very tech based roles.

6. Bio statisticians

Bio statisticians often work in the pharma industry. They may use data gathered from drug trials for evidence based drug therapy. Or to track disease outbreaks in real time. Most have a masters or PhD.

Is an Online Degree in Data Science worth it?

Expertise in data science may provide a wide range of skills, opportunity and above average earning potential. Jobs in math occupations (data science is one) are among the fastest growing. Per the U.S. BLS, if you have strong data analysis skills, the future is bright. Jobs in these areas predict growth between 28% and 34% to 2026. This is well above average (7%) for all occupations.

People who can interpret and present data in a clear way face many good prospects too. This is something that many data science degree programs highlight. Beyond the technical skills of harnessing the data. Being able to communicate in ways the lay person can understand. Such skills may be useful to these industries:

  • E-commerce – many commercial websites use predictive models and monitor purchase transactions
  • Business – big data informs every part of the supply chain
  • Finance – working with financial market data, and transaction data
  • Government – working with big data informs policy
  • Healthcare – working with big data maps genetic makeup and medical treatments
  • Science – working with big data might inform climate science, chemistry, etc.
  • Social networking – working with big data helps marketing, online maps, product development
  • Telecommunications – working with big data informs phone companies about products and services
  • Education – research to advance the field of data science and complex math

Salaries in all these industries vary. But many jobs that look for these complex data skills paid an average annual salary of $101,900 in 2018. If you favor computer and IT, jobs in this area are in demand too. The need for data mining services and cyber security is creating yet other jobs. One example is computer research scientists. This field is growing by 19% to 2026. Salaries are also above average ranging from $69,230 to $183,820 and more.

Data Science Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Average Salary Jobs
Computer and Research Scientist $122,840 31,700
Database Architect $88,550 412,800
Information Systems Analyst (ISA) $96,160 589,060
Mathematician $104,700 2,730

Top States for Jobs as a Data Scientist

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
CA 147,930 $98,460
TX 19,640 $90,570
D.C. 17,020 $116,670
GA 16,580 $88,190
IL 16,050 $92,960

What classes will I take with an Online Data Science Degree?

Most of these degree programs draw from math, statistics, and programming. These areas help students understand big data and the five stages of the data science life cycle.

  1. Capture – data entry, data extraction
  2. Maintain – data warehousing, data processing
  3. Process – data mining, modeling, classifying
  4. Analyze – predictive analysis, text mining
  5. Communicate – business intel, decision stage

You may study many of these topics when you are going for a data science degree online. But each level of degree is likely to do this in a different way. Below are some of the classes you may find at the bachelors, masters and PhD levels.

Bachelor’s Degree Courses

BS in data science classes may help you build a well rounded knowledge of problem solving and coding. At the same time, you may learn how to mine and analyze large data sets. This may mean learning about how to scrape data, data crawling and other areas. Among them, networks, security, and ways to trouble shoot. The following classes may also be part of your program:

Data Analysis Techniques

Students who take this course may learn about common methods in analyzing data. They may learn what data analysis is and how to perform it. Many programs teach critical tools often used in the industry to perform this type of analysis. Students may also learn how to take that data and draw conclusions from it that relate to the organization.

Role of Data Analysis in Organizations

Another key area for many students in this type of course. Students learn how data analysis fits within organizations and business. They may learn how the various types and areas of analysis provide different benefits to companies. Some classes also focus on the professional roles people have in these varied areas. The goal is often to share the importance and fit for pros working in this field.

Emerging Tech

This type of course often focuses on new systems and technology. Students may learn how these new types of tech impact the industry. This could include machine learning, artificial intelligence, and clouds. Students may have an opportunity to get exposure to these areas. Many times, they will use it in their career. This course often focuses on Big Data techniques.

Applied Data Analysis

A key course, applied data analysis focuses on how various data scenarios can play out in the industry. They may learn about using imperfect data. Some classes may teach methods like collaborating on hypothesis testing. They may also discuss performing a roof cause analysis. Some students will learn how to present this information and insights gained from data to the company.

Apart from your major, you may also need to complete gene ed classes and a final project.

Graduate Degree Courses

MS classes focus on how to clean, organize, analyze, and interpret big data. As such, you may learn how to detect hidden patterns in the data to derive meaning. They also highlight application. In other words, what to do with these findings. How to then take results and portray them in a clear way using various methods to visualize the data. Some of the other topics you might study are:

  • Semantic Web
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Math for Data Scientists

Apart from these topics, many course plans feature a class in project management. This is about how to budget, schedule, assess risk, build a team and other aspects of the life of a project. This can also include how to explain technical details to clients. Often, a PhD will focus on using data systems to analyze trends and build models. This usually means a broad and deep course plan. One that also includes research methods, statistics and advanced computer science topics. This may mean learning about how to scrape data, data crawling and other areas. Among them, networks, security, and ways to trouble shoot. The following classes may also be part of your program:

Decision Management Systems

This master level course talks about the way data can be used in decision making within companies. It may focus on the process of using it. The focus in this program is often on the framework that makes decisions. This may include how to using reusable assets, automation, and business rule creation. Students may also learn how to improve decision making in various applications.

Machine Learning

This type of course focuses on modern machine learning methods. The focus is often on how to make informed business decisions using this data. Students may hold various discussions and embrace numerous learning methods in this type of course. They may also learn real world applications of these skills. That may include how to handle missing data or providing measuring precision.

Data Management and Visualization

This type of course offers a managerial oversight focus. Students may learn how to manage and present data in a way that it can then be used for making decisions. Topics range widely. They may include indexing methods and data storage. They may also include data warehousing, dimensional modeling, and ETL.

Predictive Modeling

The master level course teaches more advanced elements of predictive modeling. This involves finding patterns in data. This could include learning how to develop predictive models for various concepts in the field. Students may learn how to develop, assess, and compare data to create these models. Some courses focus on things like genetic algorithms and selecting methods and tools.

How long does it take to get a Data Science Degree online?

It may take a full time student about four years to earn a bachelors degree in data science online. If you have transfer credits from an associates program, you may be able to complete this sooner. Most master’s degree programs take between a year and two years of full time study. Although if your background is not data science, you may need up to three years. These programs often have you take a few extra courses. To earn a PhD online, you may need between three and five years. Often, the first three years are set aside for courses. The final years for your dissertation. But, some online schools build the dissertation work into the program, to help reduce length.

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
DeVry University Bachelors 121 8 32
Salem University Bachelors 120 Monthly 48
Saint Louis University Bachelors 120 6 48
Illinois Institute of Technology Masters 33 2 12
Lewis University Masters 33 4 18
St. Mary’s College Masters 36 4 24
Northcentral University PhD 60 Weekly 50
Colorado Technical University Doctorate 100 3 36
Grand Canyon University Doctorate 60 Multiple 39

15 Online Data Science Degrees

Many online schools offer data science as a focal area within CS programs. There are also more broad data science degrees. Here are 15 schools with online degrees in data science at all levels.

  1. DeVry University
  2. Salem University
  3. Ottowa University
  4. Washington State University
  5. Saint Louis University
  6. Illinois Institute of Technology
  7. Lewis University
  8. De Paul University
  9. Saint Mary’s College
  10. CUNY School of Professional Studies
  11. Northcentral University
  12. Colorado Technical University
  13. University of Minnesota
  14. University of North Texas
  15. Capitol University

FIND AN ONLINE DATA SCIENCE DEGREE

Let’s take a closer look at the online data science degrees that these 15 schools have to offer.

 


This online entails 121 credits. Part of the program focuses on a Tech Core. This aims to help you build many skills that are key for the Internet of Things (IoT) economy. You’ll also study large and varied data sets to help you uncover patterns of information. Sample courses might include:

  • Database Management
  • Data Mining
  • Data Interpretation and Analysis

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $17,803
Grad $17,552
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$4,720

Average Net Price:
$31,417

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 


This online BS focuses on data science. You’ll take ten courses that go into key CS topics. This includes topics like operating systems, networks, databases and how to program. Another five courses focus in data science. These cover areas like:

  • Security Data Sciences
  • Data Mining
  • Data Analytics

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $16,700
Grad $15,800
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,625

Average Net Price:
$17,774

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

3


This online BS entails 120 credits. Some of the courses are core business topics which includes ethics, discrete math and statistics. You are also likely to study intro level computer programming and other tech areas like:

  • Networking
  • Hacking and Network Defense
  • Advanced Database Systems

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,316
Grad $11,770
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,888

Average Net Price:
$39,071

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training & dedicated point of contact.

Accredited:
N/A

 

4

Washington State University

Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics

Fully Online


This online BS requires 120 credits. It focuses on the analysis of vast data sets. As such, some courses discuss ways to extract information and develop predictive models. Apart from data skills, the program also has many business topics like:

  • Enterprise Business Process Analysis
  • Business Intelligence
  • Managing IT

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $26,419
Grad $26,850
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,532

Average Net Price:
$17,297

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

 

5

Saint Louis University

Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems

Fully Online


This online BS consists of 120 credits. You can also take 2 extra courses to add a certificate with an emphasis in data analytics (or cyber security). Some classes you may take are:

  • Survey of Machine Learning
  • Data Mining

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $45,424
Grad $21,534

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$24,674

Average Net Price:
$31,460

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

6

Illinois Institute of Technology

Master of Science in Data Science

Fully Online


This online MS entails 33 credits of course work and includes a 6 credit summer practicum. In core topics, you’ll explore data using high level math, statistics, and computer science. Also, there are courses in project management and public engagement for scientists. These round out more technical areas that include:

  • Data intensive Computing
  • Machine and Statistical Learning
  • Data Prep and Analysis

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $49,280
Grad $30,937
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$30,918

Average Net Price:
$25,814

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact & recognized student vet organization.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

7

Lewis University

Master of Science in Data Science

Fully Online


This online MS requires 33-39 credits. It focuses on data mining, data visualization, predictive analysis and data management. You may also study artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Plus, there are two focal areas to choose from:

  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
  • Computer Science

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $33,430
Grad $14,550
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$15,701

Average Net Price:
$18,899

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

8

De Paul University

Master of Science in Data Science

Fully Online


This online MS consists of 52 credits. Some of the courses are beginner topics in statistics, data analysis and programming. Others build skills with data mining, neural networks and machine learning. You’ll have the opportunity to choose an area of focus in one of the these areas:

  • Computational Methods
  • Health Care
  • Hospitality
  • Marketing

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $41,202
Grad $19,974

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$19,363

Average Net Price:
$30,584

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

9

Saint Mary’s College

Master of Science in Data Science

Online plus one short visit to campus each year


This online MS requires 36 credits including practicum credits. It is a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program. As such, the study plan blends math and computing with work place skills. Things like project how to manage and communicate. While learning these areas, other courses might include:

  • Entrepreneurship for Data Scientists
  • Data Analytics and Outcomes Improvement
  • Data Mining

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $43,900
Grad $25,929
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$27,104

Average Net Price:
$25,610

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

10

CUNY School of Professional Studies

Master of Science in Data Science

Fully Online


This online MS entails 30 credits. Apart from courses, students have the opportunity to refine work place skills. This includes using popular programming languages to work on portfolios of complex projects. Also, giving presentations and reviewing each other’s work in the virtual space. Core topics include:

  • Business Analytics and Data Mining
  • Knowledge and Visual Analytics
  • Computational Mathematics

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad N/A
Grad N/A

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
N/A

Average Net Price:
N/A

Military Programs:
N/A

Accredited:
N/A

 


This online PhD TIM focuses on data science and entails 20 courses. It highlights current statistical and modeling tools to help you make sense of big data. Other topics help students with the research needed to prepare their final dissertation. Apart from research methods, course topics might include some of these:

  • Data Visualization
  • Leadership in Project Management
  • Big Data Interpretation

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,474
Grad $18,095
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,888

Average Net Price:
$39,071

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission, WASC Senior College and University Commission

 

12

Colorado Technical University

Doctor of Computer Science – Big Data Analytics

Online with residency component


This online Doctor of Computer Science entails 100 credits. It covers both tools (XML, Hadoop) and methods (AI, data visualization). Some of the courses deal with research and presentation. Others cover topics in:

  • Analytics for Big Data
  • Innovation
  • Business Intelligence

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,529
Grad $14,321
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$4,270

Average Net Price:
$15,478

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

13

University of Minnesota

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E)

Online with some campus presence


This online PhD requires 55 credits. It consists of three main parts: courses, research and thesis prep. As such, you may refine skills in writing, analysis and synthesis. This school also offers a Data Science MS. Some of the course topics for the PhD include:

  • Data Communications and Computer Networks
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $33,325
Grad $28,845
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,087

Average Net Price:
$16,961

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

 

14

University of North Texas

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science – Data Science

Online with some campus presence


This online PhD in Information Systems (IS) entails 60 credits. As a research focused degree, it includes directed study and independent research. You’ll take many courses relating to IS and design. The data science courses include core topics and electives such as:

  • Computational Methods for IS
  • User Experience Assessment
  • Data Analysis and Knowledge Discovery

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $21,172
Grad $15,384
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,842

Average Net Price:
$12,600

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

 

15

Capitol Technology University

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Analytics and Decision Sciences

Online, low residency


This online PhD consists of 54 credits. These cover literature review, research, theory, ethics, dissertation prep, and more. One aim of the program is to build problem solving skills and managerial skills using Big Data. Some course topics are:

  • Big Data Warehousing and Analytic Systems
  • Organizational Change and IS
  • Applied Statistics and Visualization for Analytic

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $26,308
Grad $11,466
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$13,491

Average Net Price:
$21,816

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education

 

*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.