16 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs in 2023

July 23, 2023

Welcome to the exciting world of Data Science (DS), where you not only get to look at numbers but at the story those numbers tell. Data scientists gather data and then use this data to produce visualizations and predictive models to help make sense of human behavior. The last decade has seen an exponential increase in this fast-growing industry, which enables experts to apply data manipulation and analysis techniques across various fields, from engineering to healthcare. In this article, we’ll go over the top online Master’s in data science programs. We’ll also provide a broad overview of the DS Master’s Program. And if you’re a college student or an aspiring college student considering a major in this exciting field, check out our guide covering the best data science and analytics colleges here.

 

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Why Pursue an Online Master’s in Data Science?

There are numerous benefits associated with online education. For a busy student juggling jobs, a whole queue of yet-to-be-watched TV shows (Stranger Things, anyone?), and general day-to-day responsibilities (isn’t adulting hard?), an online degree offers the flexibility you need to pursue coursework at your own pace.

What Course Material Does a Master’s in Data Science Program Cover?

While every DS program varies in its specialization, every one will cover the basics of mathematics, statistics, algorithmic processes, computer science, and software engineering. (We know, it sounds like a lot!)

But this dynamite degree isn’t only about math and science; it’s about learning how to apply that math and science to predictive models and real-world scenarios. Data scientists use the numbers they gather to refine the data and make sense of the world. This information comes with an ethical component, as well. As anyone following the recent ByteDance/TikTok news will tell you, accessing users’ data comes with various responsibilities, from privacy concerns to potential legal ramifications. Many DS curriculums offer courses that measure the impact that data collection has on business decisions and user privacy concerns.

How Hard is the Math?

It’s no secret that DS involves a lot of math, from statistics to algorithmics to calculus—which, thanks to Mean Girls, we all remember has something to do with limits. This is a subject that wears its mathematics on its sleeve. Data scientists must have a good grasp of mathematical concepts and computational foundations to succeed in this quant-heavy subject. Every DS course in our guide below relies heavily on proficiency in probability, statistics, linear algebra, and signal processing. Fear not, however. If that last math class you took was several years ago, many programs offer review courses to help you improve your skills.

Alternatively, consider frequenting a few math courses at your local community college to see how you fare. Be aware that some schools only accept math prerequisites for up to a certain period (typically 5 or 10 years). So even if that math material is fresh in your head, you might still need to take one or two refresher courses.

Do I Need to Take the GRE or GMAT? How About the TOEFL?

Whether or not you need to take an admissions exam before applying to an online Master’s degree program depends on the policies of the individual school. Many schools do not require the GRE for their online programs or make this exam optional. However, be sure to check the requirements for each school on your list so you aren’t tripped up by a surprise requirement at the last minute. Many international students will need to take the TOEFL in order to be considered for admission.

How Long Does an Online Master’s in Data Science Program Last?

The beauty of online degree programs is that you complete them at your pace. Most programs, however, can be completed in approximately one to three years, depending on your course load and the number of credits required to graduate.

How We Chose Our Online Master’s in Data Science Schools

At College Transitions, we treat the prospect of your future education with the utmost seriousness. While it may be tempting to choose your school based on its cool logo or mascot (I mean, Donald Duck, really!?), we don’t recommend it. This decision isn’t only about the next 24 months but also how those months will affect your job prospects and earnings potential post-university.

Just like with our online computer science degree list, we rely on a careful methodology when curating these lists. This methodology considers affordability, faculty, number of courses available, and credit load.

  • Affordability: In putting together the list of the best online Master’s degrees in Data Science, we considered tuition rates, the availability of scholarships and financial aid, and each program’s investment return post-graduation.
  • Format: Is the program a hybrid one that involves online and on-campus coursework? Is it 100% online? Are the courses synchronous or asynchronous? These are all questions we considered when gathering the following list. One of the biggest draws of an online Master’s degree program is its flexibility. In the age of Zoom and A.I., we aim to be forward-thinking with regard to digital education. This means that if you want to log on and complete your coursework at 2 A.M., you can! (Though we might not recommend it.)
  • Career Prospects: Every school on this list offers services to enable their students to succeed post-graduation. Many provide employment resources and internships to help you get started in the exciting field of Data Science. In curating this list, we also considered graduate employment rates and the average salary upon graduation.

Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs (Continued)

  • Course Requirements: While every DS program treads similar territory (computer science, statistics, and mathematics), each varies slightly in its offerings. We looked closely at the course requirements of each one, from the number of credits needed to graduate to the particular seminars and lectures available.
  • Specializations: Some Master’s in DS programs offer specializations in Business Analytics, Data Engineering, and Machine Learning. Before committing to a degree program, see if one of these concentrations interests you.

Ultimately, our goal is to give you as much information as possible so that you feel empowered to choose the best online Master’s in Data Science program for you and your circumstances. If one or more of these schools sounds appealing, we encourage you to visit the school’s website and consider signing up for an information session to learn more. Now, onto the list!

The Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs

1) Johns Hopkins University

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Cost Per Credit: $5,872 per course

JHU offers three different program options for Data Science. These options include a Master’s of Science in Data Science, a Post-Master’s Certificate, or a Graduate Certificate.

2) University of Southern California

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Cost Per Credit: $2,309

USC’s Department of Computer Science offers an online Master’s in Data Science program and several on-campus degrees in everything from artificial intelligence to healthcare data science. We recommend browsing their website for an overview of the impressive course offerings.

3) Northwestern University

  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Cost Per Credit: $4,664 per course

Students at Northwestern choose one of five specializations: Analytics and Modeling, Analytics Management, Artificial Intelligence, Data Engineering, or Technology Entrepreneurship. Northwestern offers accelerated full-time and part-time option formats.

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4) Tufts University

  • Location: Medford, MA
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,697

The online Master’s in Data Science program at Tufts typically takes 12 to 24 months to complete and is intended to give students a broad overview of the field. The degree requires nine courses to complete, including a final capstone project.

5) University of California-Berkeley

  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Cost Per Credit: $2,780

While this degree is technically a Master’s in Cybersecurity, the University of California-Berkeley offers a Certificate in Applied Data Science program. This program requires three 3-unit courses, including an introduction to data science course, a course in analytical methods and techniques of data science, and an additional elective.

6) University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,337

UVA’s Master’s in DS is a part-time program spread across 20 months across five terms. Students attend asynchronous courses with live classroom time. All students take courses in natural language processing, machine learning, and text analytics. A capstone project is required for graduation.

Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs (Continued)

7) The University of Texas at Austin

  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,000 per course

At UT-Austin, the online DS Master’s program is offered through the Department of Statistics and the Department of Computer Science. Students are exposed to faculty from both departments, learning broad tools and techniques covering everything from probability and simulation to machine learning and data structures. Students take a total of ten courses, adding up to thirty total hours of coursework.

8) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Location: Champaign, IL
  • Cost Per Credit: $670

This track requires 32 credits to graduate, completed through eight courses. The coursework spans four different areas: machine learning, data mining, data visualization, and cloud computing.

9) Villanova University

  • Location: Villanova, PA
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,428

Villanova offers three distinct tracks for their Data Science students. These tracks include Applied Statistics, Biostatistics, or Data Science. The degree may be completed on either a full or part-time basis, which enables students to complete the coursework on their own schedule.

Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs (Continued)

10) Southern Methodist University

  • Location: Dallas, TX
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,704

SMU’s Master’s in Data Science offers two specializations: machine learning and business analytics. The course requires 33.5 credits to graduate, which most students complete in 20-28 months.

11) Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,646

All students admitted to the Master’s in Data Science program at Illinois Tech are considered for the Graduate Pathway Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship. Additionally, assistantships are offered through the program, which covers coursework in database organization, data mining, machine learning, and graph theory and applications.

12) Syracuse University

  • Location: Syracuse, NY
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,802

The online Master’s in Applied Data Science at Syracuse University offers multiple tracks. These include Data and Business Analytics, Language Analytics, Data Pipelines and Platforms, and Artificial Intelligence. Syracuse also offers a Certificate of Advanced Study in Information Security Management or Enterprise Technology Management.

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13) New Jersey Institute of Technology

  • Location: Newark, NJ
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,112

Students at NJIT can choose to specialize in one of five programs. These programs include Bioinformatics, Computer Networking and Security, Database and Data Mining, Image Processing and Pattern Recognition, and Software Engineering.

14) Stevens Institute of Technology

  • Location: Hoboken, NJ
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,776

At Stevens, students choose between Computer Science, Data Science, or Business Analytics. The Data Science degree requires ten courses to graduate, which most students complete in less than two years. Coursework includes a study of programming languages, machine learning, deep learning, and predictive modeling.

15) Oklahoma State University

  • Location: Stillwater, OK
  • Cost Per Credit: $611

Oklahoma State’s Master’s in Data Science is run through the Spears School of Business. Note that GMAT or GRE scores are required, and work experience is considered during the application review process.

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16) Bay Path University

  • Location: Longmeadow, MA
  • Cost Per Credit: $880

The MS at Bay Path offers a generalist track and a specialist track. You can select which track is right for you after you’ve taken the core course. This is a 10-course, 30-credit program that is 100% online, and students have the option to attend either full-time or part-time.

Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs – Additional Resources

In conclusion, we hope you found our list of the best master’s in data science online programs to be helpful in your research. You may also wish to check out the following grad school admissions-related blogs from College Transitions: