Search Programs

Best Online Data Science Master's Degrees

By Jordan Beliles | Updated 8/4/2022
2020 Most Affordable Data Science Masters Degrees Badge

The 25 best value online master's programs in data science programs can be found at these colleges and universities. Graduates of the #1-ranked school, Georgia Institute of Technology, earn a median salary of $129,976 after completing their Master of Science in Analytics. In the #2 spot, Stevens Institute of Technology offers a Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence - Data Engineering for $24,780 per year, with a median mid-career salary of $126,858.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

Find an Online Degree:
RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 Georgia Institute of Technology $4,125 $129,976
# 2 #2 Stevens Institute of Technology $24,780 $126,858
# 3 #3 Carnegie Mellon University $37,440 $131,294
# 4 #4 Oregon State University $12,880 $120,433
# 5 #5 Worcester Polytechnic Institute $26,622 $122,920
# 6 #6 University of California - Berkeley $23,104 $121,077
# 7 #7 Clarkson University $35,332 $125,550
# 9 #9 Texas Tech University $13,248 $113,156
# 10 #10 University of Michigan - Dearborn $16,965 $114,400
# 11 #11 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign $10,720 $110,124
# 12 #12 Missouri University of Science and Technology $18,000 $110,878
# 13 #13 Colorado State University - Fort Collins $25,141 $112,828
# 14 #14 University of Maryland - College Park $16,065 $109,054
# 15 #15 DePaul University $17,030 $109,241
# 16 #16 Brandeis University $23,580 $111,300
# 17 #17 Northeastern University $16,698 $108,369
# 18 #18 University of Southern California $33,200 $114,720
# 19 #19 Arizona State University $8,512 $104,687
# 20 #20 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor $21,223 $106,084
# 21 #21 Rutgers University $14,100 $103,213
# 22 #22 George Mason University $13,950 $103,038
# 23 #23 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh $15,300 $103,000
# 24 #24 Fort Hays State University $4,604 $97,738
# 25 #25 Columbia University in the City of New York $52,368 $116,109
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Data Science Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $4,125
  • Median Salary: $129,976
  • Locations: Atlanta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) focuses on professional education and experiential opportunities. Individuals seeking an advanced interdisciplinary degree in data science may consider the online Master of Science in Analytics. The program allows students to choose electives from one of three tracks: analytical tools, business analytics, and computational data. Students will engage with experts in the field, understand relevant mathematical models, and develop the tools necessary for a career as a data scientist. Graduates will be well equipped to interpret large amounts of data for business and research organizations. The two-to-three-year program requires 36 credit hours and is offered entirely online.

#2 Stevens Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $24,780
  • Median Salary: $126,858
  • Locations: Hoboken (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Stevens Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Hoboken, New Jersey. The school hosts several online master's degrees. These programs share the same faculty as their campus-based equivalents. Stephens Online admits students on a rolling basis. Applicants pursuing an advanced degree in data science may consider the Master of Engineering in Applied Artificial Intelligence or the Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence. Both programs have a data engineering specialty. Students learn software and hardware fundamentals and must complete 30 credits for either degree option. Master of Science candidates have slightly more flexibility regarding elective options. A Master of Business Administration in business intelligence and analytics is also offered at Stevens. This 36-credit program teaches students how to draw conclusions from large quantities of data to better inform business decisions. Students complete a capstone project in collaboration with real industry professionals.

#3 Carnegie Mellon University

  • Annual Tuition: $37,440
  • Median Salary: $131,294
  • Locations: Pittsburgh (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

A private research institution based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) hosts the Heinz College's School of Information Systems and Management. Students seeking an advanced online data science degree may opt for the Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialized track in business intelligence and data analytics (MSIT-BIDA). The program is designed for professionals who intend to continue working while completing their degree part-time. The curriculum combines data science with business strategy, preparing graduates to achieve corporate goals through the use of technology.

#4 Oregon State University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,880
  • Median Salary: $120,433
  • Locations: Corvallis (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Oregon State University's (OSU) Ecampus offers several online data analytics degrees for working professionals who seek career advancement. Online classes are taught by the same faculty members as the on-campus equivalents, and graduates receive the same diploma as residential students. The Master of Science in Data Analytics will instruct students in coursework that combines mathematics, applied sciences, and information technology. The degree requires 45 credits for completion, with up to 15 credits honored via transfer from another institution.

#5 Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Annual Tuition: $26,622
  • Median Salary: $122,920
  • Locations: Worcester (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) offers a fully online Master of Science in Data Science. WPI’s digital learning platform strives to offer flexibility for working professionals. Most classes allow for asynchronous learning, so individuals can complete assignments and watch lectures when most convenient for them. Students should prepare to commit at least 15 hours each week to online study. Candidates accepted into the master’s program for data science will be expected to complete a total of 33 credits; 15 are earned through fundamental classes, while an additional 15 credits are derived from elective options. The last three credits come from a final project that aims to provide students with a hands-on, capstone experience. There is no thesis option for the online program. Interested applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, though some exceptions can be made. Individuals may be required to complete prerequisite coursework before starting the degree program.

#6 University of California - Berkeley

  • Annual Tuition: $23,104
  • Median Salary: $121,077
  • Locations: Berkeley (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of California at Berkeley offers two options for students looking to obtain an online master’s degree in the field of data science. The Master’s of Information and Data Science (MIDS) program is hosted by the UC Berkeley School of Information. The 27-credit program can be completed in as little as 12 months of full-time studies or 20-32 months at a part-time pace. The curriculum focuses on skills such as research design, data visualization, machine learning, and statistical analysis. A capstone course combines learned skills to execute a full data science project. Another option is the Master of Public Health with a concentration in Spatial Data Science. Required courses for this program include Health Policy and Management, Epidemiologic Methods, and Environmental Health Science. This degree can be completed within 27 months and is designed for working professionals. Start dates are available for both programs throughout the year. Online students can access a number of support services, including academic advising and online library resources. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and submit a personal statement, official transcripts, and professional letters of recommendation.

#7 Clarkson University

  • Annual Tuition: $35,332
  • Median Salary: $125,550
  • Locations: Potsdam (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Clarkson University hosts two online data science master’s degree programs. The Master of Science in Data Analytics is a 36-credit program that is designed to prepare students for careers managing and interpreting big data. Alongside core and elective requirements, students will also complete a capstone project with an interdisciplinary team. The program can be completed within one to two years, either part-time or full-time. The Master’s of Science in Healthcare Data Analytics is a 36-credit program that is a mix of core and elective courses. The program is designed to prepare students for careers analyzing data in the context of public health issues and typically takes one to two years to complete. Courses for both programs are delivered in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous formats. Admission to both programs requires official transcripts, a resume, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. GMAT or GRE scores are also required unless the applicant has appropriate work experience or other graduate degrees. Students can take advantage of the Student Success Center, Writing Center, and Career Center throughout their virtual studies.

#9 Texas Tech University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,248
  • Median Salary: $113,156
  • Locations: Lubbock (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas Tech University offers an online Master of Science in Data Science through its Rawls College of Business. Designed to prepare students for a career analyzing data, this program follows a sequential schedule with courses running throughout the fall, spring, and summer terms. Online students follow the same schedule as traditional residential students and can complete the online data science Master’s Degree program in either one, two, or three years, with program start dates once a year in the summer term. Coursework includes topics like Statistics for Data Science, Database Concepts, Business Intelligence, Big Data Strategy, and more. Students will interact with professors and peers online via discussion boards and web conferencing and must submit assignments according to course deadlines. Applicants must submit a resume, official transcripts, and GMAT/GRE test scores. Online students have full access to the TTU library system and Student Support portal for 24/7 technical issues, as well as the Rawls Career Management Center for professional development help.

#10 University of Michigan - Dearborn

  • Annual Tuition: $16,965
  • Median Salary: $114,400
  • Locations: Dearborn (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Michigan - Dearborn offers a Master of Science in Data Science degree program that can be completed online. Students choose to specialize their degree in one of four topic areas: Computational Intelligence, Applications, Business Analytics, and Big Data Informatics. Students in the program learn about managing large-scale, complex data, formulating and designing data analytic solutions, and interpreting data analytics. The 30-credit online data science master’s degree program mixes required core courses and technical electives. A three-credit capstone course is recommended, though students can replace it with an additional course from their concentration. Online courses are delivered through the Canvas learning platform, and classes are offered both synchronously and asynchronously. Students have access to counseling and support services and career services. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field from an accredited program with an average of a grade of B or better. Students must also present official transcripts and two letters of recommendation, and should have completed one course in Probability and Statistics, one in Programming, and one in Calculus II.

#11 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign

  • Annual Tuition: $10,720
  • Median Salary: $110,124
  • Locations: Champaign (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has two options for students pursuing a master’s degree in data science online. The Master of Computer Science in Data Science is a non-thesis program that requires 32 credits and explores topics including machine learning, data mining, cloud computing, and data visualization. Students will join a cohort in either the fall or spring semester. Students can also enroll in the 40-credit Master of Science in Information Management with a concentration in Data Science and Analytics, which is designed to prepare students with a strong theoretical and technical understanding of data in society and within organizations. Students access lectures asynchronously through the Coursera MOOC platform, as well as other course materials. Students can take advantage of a number of resources, including academic advising, career development services, and student counseling services. Both programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and should have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants will also need to submit official transcripts, fill out an online application, and submit a statement of purpose and professional letters of recommendation.

#12 Missouri University of Science and Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $18,000
  • Median Salary: $110,878
  • Locations: Rolla (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Missouri University of Science and Technology hosts an online Master’s of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in Data Science. The 31-credit program requires six credits worth of research and includes a one-hour seminar course for graduation. There are start dates in both the fall and spring semesters. Both thesis and non-thesis options are available, and coursework will explore processes, algorithms, and systems, and how data can be applied to draw insights to benefit institutions and society. Students have the option to apply for assistantships and fellowships throughout the course of the online data science master’s program. Participants enrolled in the program access course materials through both the Canvas and Blackboard learning management systems. Applicants must submit proof of a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, with an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. GRE test scores are also required for consideration. Throughout their time at MST, students have access to online tutoring, the Curtis Law Wilson Library, and career planning support.

#13 Colorado State University - Fort Collins

  • Annual Tuition: $25,141
  • Median Salary: $112,828
  • Locations: Fort Collins (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado State University-Fort Collins offers an online Master of Applied Statistics Degree with a specialization in Data Science. The 30- to 31-credit degree can be completed full-time in one year or part-time in two to four years. Coursework focuses on developing a strong background in statistical and business computing. Program start dates are only available once a year in the fall semester, but online students can take foundational math and computing skills courses during the summer session leading up to the start date. Students can choose to watch lectures online, either live or recorded via the Canvas learning platform. Online students can access the university library and counseling and career services, as well as academic advising and technical support. Applicants must have a four-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university, must have completed calculus up to and including multivariable calculus, and should have completed a course in linear algebra and at least one statistics course. A 3.0 minimum GPA is required along with recent GRE scores or a passing Math Entrance Exam.

#14 University of Maryland - College Park

  • Annual Tuition: $16,065
  • Median Salary: $109,054
  • Locations: College Park (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland - College Park offers an online International Master of Professional Studies in Survey and Data Science degree. The degree is designed for students looking to broaden their understanding in data science beyond an undergraduate degree. It focuses on five areas: Research Question, Data Generating Process, Data Curation/Storage, Data Analysis, and Data Output/Access. The 30-credit degree follows the traditional semester schedule and can be completed in one year. The online Data Science Master’s program is designed to be flexible enough for working professionals, and students meet weekly to discuss course materials with their peers and instructors. Students will take one required fundamental course in survey and data science. Students can then specialize their degree by choosing from related data-specific topics that interest them as well as 11 credits of elective courses. Only a non-thesis track is available. Students can take advantage of a number of resources, including a peer mentoring program, the University Writing Center, and tutoring services. Students are required to submit a statement of purpose along with official transcripts proving the completion of a bachelor’s degree and relevant coursework.

#15 DePaul University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,030
  • Median Salary: $109,241
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media offers an online Master of Science in Data Science. The 52-credit program is a mix of foundation, advanced, and elective courses, and students can enroll in fall, spring, winter, and summer semesters. Students also have the option to choose a concentration in Computational Methods, which focuses on developing strong technical and programming skills for big data analytics. Students must fulfill a capstone requirement, either by taking a capstone course, completing a real-world data analytic project, or by participating in an analytics internship. They can also opt to complete a master’s thesis to fulfill the capstone requirement. Coursework is delivered asynchronously and includes recorded lectures and whiteboard notes. Online students can take advantage of academic services, technical support, and the university library. Applicants must submit an online application and official transcripts proving a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 as well as completion of Calculus I and Calculus II. Letters of recommendation and other supplemental materials are optional.

#16 Brandeis University

  • Annual Tuition: $23,580
  • Median Salary: $111,300
  • Locations: Waltham (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The School of Graduate Professional Studies at Brandeis University hosts an online Master of Science in Strategic Analytics. The 30-credit program is designed to teach students to extract meaningful insights from data that can inform organizational strategy. Students will study in ten-week sessions and can complete the degree in as little as 18 months or as long as four years. The online data science master’s degree program is part-time and requires seven foundation courses and three electives. Coursework explores topics like business intelligence, strategic decision making, predictive analytics, and data quality and governance. Classes are asynchronous and are conducted seminar-style. Students will be required to meet weekly deadlines, participate in class discussions, and submit assignments based on topics studied each week. Virtual meeting opportunities are also available for one-on-one meetings, review sessions, office hours, presentations, and group activities. Distance learners receive support services from enrollment advisors, student advisors, and faculty members. Applicants must submit official transcripts that prove they have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree as well as a resume, a goal statement, and at least one letter of recommendation.

#17 Northeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,698
  • Median Salary: $108,369
  • Locations: Burlington (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies offers a Master’s of Professional Studies in Analytics that can be completed online. The STEM-based degree offers three concentrations: Evidence-based Management, Informational Design, and Statistical Modeling. The degree program can be completed within two to three years, at either a part-time or full-time pace. Students can enroll in the spring, summer, or fall semesters. Students will explore the principles, tools, and methods of analytics to assist with the extraction, development, delivery, and implementation of data analysis. Coursework includes an experiential learning course, foundational courses, electives, and an experiential capstone course. Students who graduate from the program will work to create a portfolio of work samples to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Applicants should submit official undergraduate transcripts showing proof of having earned a four-year bachelor’s degree, an updated resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Online students have access to support from faculty and advisors throughout their program.

#18 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $33,200
  • Median Salary: $114,720
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California offers two options for students pursuing an online data science master’s degree. The Master of Science in Computer Science - Data Science is a 32-credit degree program designed to give students a core background in the field of computer science and engineering. Students can enroll for either spring or fall semesters. The Master of Science in Applied Data Science is designed to train students in a range of backgrounds to be skilled data scientists. This 32-credit degree program is available for both spring and fall enrollment. Both degrees are offered through the Viterbi School of Engineering, and online courses use the school’s DEN@Verbi platform. The proprietary program was designed specifically for engineering-related graduate degrees and offers both live and on-demand classes. Students participate in interactive discussions through virtual meetings, discussion boards, and live chats. The platform also offers academic advisement, assignment help, and administrative and technology support. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and GRE test scores. Two letters of recommendation are also suggested.

#19 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,512
  • Median Salary: $104,687
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University offers an online Master of Science in Business Analytics through the W.P. Carey School of Business. The 16-month program begins in August, and students will graduate in December of the following year. The online data science master’s degree is meant for students who have at least two years of professional experience and will build on the knowledge learned from prior undergraduate education and work experience. The curriculum includes foundation courses in analytics, data mining, marketing analytics, and business analytics strategy. All students will complete an applied project at the end of their program, where they will be tasked with solving a problem drawn from a real business setting. Students complete courses one at a time, and each class lasts five weeks. Applicants must submit official transcripts along with GMAT or GRE test scores along with their online applications. Virtual students can work with the student services team at the business school for support with course registration, academic planning, and technical assistance.

#20 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

  • Annual Tuition: $21,223
  • Median Salary: $106,084
  • Locations: Ann Arbor (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The School of Information at the University of Michigan offers a 34-credit online Master of Applied Data Science. Most classes are just one credit, lasting four weeks. Students can take up to three credits at once. They can choose to study either part-time or full-time, completing the data science online degree within 12 to 36 months. They will join a cohort of peers who move through the program at the same pace. Courses are offered in the fall, winter, and spring/summer semesters. The program focuses on the development of hands-on skills using a multidisciplinary approach of information, computer science, and statistics. Throughout the course of the program, students will complete three major projects, once of which is a capstone course that applies data science techniques to real-world scenarios. Online students have access to the Math Lab and Science Learning Center, and virtual access to the university library and the Sweetland Center for Writing. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or international degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. They must submit official transcripts, a resume, and three short essays on topics prompted by the school. After applying, students are also required to take an online entrance exam on introductory statistics and base-level Python programming.

#21 Rutgers University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,100
  • Median Salary: $103,213
  • Locations: New Brunswick (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Rutgers University offers two online data science master’s degrees. The School of Communication and Information hosts a Master of Information with a concentration in Data Science. It is a 36-credit program that takes one and a half to three years to complete. Full-time and part-time options are available. The Master of Business and Science in Analytics and Data Science requires 43 credits and can be taken on a full-time schedule, which allows students to graduate in 18 to 21 months, or a part-time schedule that takes two to four years to complete. Online students are required to visit the campus for a two-day visit during their final capstone presentation. Students in this program have the opportunity to participate in “Externship Exchanges” where they gain real-world experience completing projects at a company, research, or government organization. Classes are asynchronous but do require students to interact with both their peers and instructors every week. Students can take advantage of a number of support resources, including peer mentorship, success coaches, and online tutoring. Applicants for both degrees will need to submit official college transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.

#22 George Mason University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,950
  • Median Salary: $103,038
  • Locations: Fairfax (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

George Mason University hosts an online master's in data analytics engineering degree. The 30-credit hour program can be completed in as little as two years. The curriculum requires 15 credits in foundation courses and 15 credits of elective courses. Assignments and course materials focus on using raw data and technology to make informed decisions. At the end of the program, students can choose to complete an independent research project supervised by a graduate faculty member. Online classes are offered in an asynchronous format. They can be viewed on-demand; however, students are still expected to meet regular assignment deadlines and interact with their peers and instructors virtually. The Student Support and Advocacy Center provides a number of student resources, including counseling services, financial well-being resources, and other personal resources. Students can also access the university’s library and academic advisors online. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and a minimum GPA of 3.0. A background in engineering, business, computer science, or mathematics is recommended, though not required. Two letters of recommendation, a statement of career goals, and a resume are also required.

#23 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

  • Annual Tuition: $15,300
  • Median Salary: $103,000
  • Locations: Oshkosh (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Data Science at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is a 12-course, 36-credit, fully online degree program. Students can enroll in the fall, spring, or summer terms, and can choose to study full-time or part-time. The curriculum focuses on interpreting unstructured data and deriving conclusions and strategies that can be applied to real-world scenarios. Courses include Programming for Data Science, Statistical Methods, Visualization and Unstructured Data Analysis, and Ethics of Data Science. Students will complete a three-credit capstone course to demonstrate their knowledge before graduation. Classes are asynchronous so students can login when convenient for them. Online discussion boards allow students to connect with their peers and professors. Distance learners can take advantage of virtual academic resources, including the Reading and Study Center, the Writing Center, Math Lab, technology support, and tutoring services. Admission into the program requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and an overall minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants will also need to submit a resume, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.

#24 Fort Hays State University

  • Annual Tuition: $4,604
  • Median Salary: $97,738
  • Locations: Hays (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fort Hays State University offers an online Master of Liberal Studies with a concentration in Information Analysis and Communication. The 31-credit program is designed to prepare students for a career as a data analyst in a variety of fields. Students will complete 21 credits within the concentration, as well as ten credits of foundational coursework. Classes explore topics such as quantitative methods, advanced management information systems, policy analysis, database design and programming, and big data analytics. Data science online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system and include discussion boards, videos, presentations, team projects, and exams. Classes follow a 16-week semester schedule and summer courses last eight weeks. Enrollment is on a rolling basis, and there are program start dates in the spring, summer, and fall terms. To be considered for admission, students must have at least 60 undergraduate credit hours and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Online students have access to a virtual tutoring and writing center, career services, and technical support.

#25 Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Annual Tuition: $52,368
  • Median Salary: $116,109
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Columbia University in the City of New York offers an online Master of Science in Applied Analytics. The online degree is offered as a part-time program that can be completed in six consecutive terms. Students will need to complete 36 credits to graduate, and there are entrance dates in both the fall and spring semesters. The program is designed to prepare students with practical data and leadership skills to succeed in various fields. Students will complete a capstone project based on a real-world analytics scenario by one of several leading organizations. To be considered for admission, students must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or international equivalent. A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is also required, as well as proficiency in English and a demonstrated ability for critical thinking and leadership skills. Online students will have access to all of Columbia’s resources, including academic advising, career support, virtual access to the library and research catalog, and resources for international students and students with disabilities.

What Is a Data Science Degree?

In simple terms, a data science degree teaches you how to organize complex information. During an online master's degree in data science, you'll learn how to collect, analyze, and interpret large collections of information through the lens of computer science and information technology. These programs also include economics, math, and business courses to offer you a well-rounded education in the ever-evolving data science field. You may also take a specialized route in health care or cybersecurity, depending on what industry you want to work in.

Master's degree level data science generally takes one to two years in order to complete after you've earned a four-year bachelor's degree in data science or a STEM field. Along with holding a relevant bachelor's, you'll need to meet other prerequisites, such as keeping a 3.0 GPA or higher, two years of entry-level work experience in the field, and have completed coursework — such as multivariable calculus, linear algebra, or computer programming. Keep in mind, each master's program may have different prerequisites for admissions.

Interested in discovering similar degrees to data science? Check out the best online master's degrees for computer science, cybersecurity, and information technology.

Can You Get a Data Science Degree Online?

Online data science graduate programs are widely available from both online colleges and traditional four-year universities, and they're just as respected as their on-campus counterparts.

Some online universities that specialize in STEM programs will offer data science degrees with more options for relevant concentrations, like web analytics or business data analytics.

Online programs are offered through a learning management system (LMS), with video conferencing and chat room discussions, where you can engage with your teachers and peers. Some of the best online data science masters programs will prepare you for a career working remotely from anywhere in the world.

Financial Aid for Online Master's Students

Once you hold all the requirements and are ready to apply for college, you may also want to begin searching for financial aid.

Federal loans can help ease the burden of tuition and provide an opportunity to attend a program that would normally be out of financial reach. As long as your school of choice is accredited, you'll be eligible to receive financial assistance after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the largest financial aid program from the U.S. Department of Education. There's also the PLUS loan that specifically offers support for master's students seeking financial aid.

Data Science Degree vs. Bootcamp

With the rising cost of tuition, many students are seeking ways to get an education without committing to a full-scale university.

Data science bootcamps condense coursework into months-long — or in some cases weeks-long — programs by teaching specific skill sets. They often give you a crash course in a single subject, such as statistical analysis or data visualization software. Bootcamps are great if you're switching careers and want to quickly learn a new skill.

Unless you have a relevant STEM background, you might be overlooked by employers. It helps to have the necessary mathematical and computer science education students learn in a comprehensive master's program.

Data science bootcamps provide you with specific skills to enter the workforce and offer a certification at the end of your short program, all for around $20,000. However, unless you have a relevant STEM background, you might be overlooked by employers. It helps to have the necessary mathematical and computer science education students learn in a comprehensive master's program.

Common Courses for a Data Science Master's Program

Master's in data science programs involve courses that teach a variety of computer software programs as well as how to analyze and interpret information and upper-level mathematics. You'll also learn about the laws and ethics that surround big data, which will be especially helpful when seeking employment.

Your coursework will vary depending on the concentration you choose, but most of the classes will revolve around computer science, information technology, and the data therein. Below are some common core classes in a data science master's program online:

Data Visualization

In this course, you'll develop models based around statistics. This technique helps organizations predict trends in big data. You'll learn to classify clusters of information, analyze links between data points, and test your models for accuracy.

Machine Learning

Another common data science course is machine learning, where you'll look at ways to enable systems to identify patterns and improve their capabilities. This coursework involves algorithms, statistical principles, and learning the various applications used to program machines.

Data Security

science programs also teach you about data security, one of the most important aspects of information technology. Security and privacy issues, organizational policies, and threat prevention techniques will be taught in this course, alongside the various ways intruders will try to infiltrate data systems.

Human-Centered Data Science

course explores the way data affects the human experience and how data privacy laws and ethics can lessen its impact on society. You'll study intellectual property, data preservation, user experience design, and data communication.

Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing refers to the relationship between humans and computers. This is the technology that powers smart assistants, like Apple's Siri. As a student in this course, you'll learn how to program computers to understand data offered by humans via voice or text.

What Can You Do With a Master's in Data Science?

In order to turn your degree into a viable data science career, it's best to understand the professional paths that are available. While job titles and responsibilities vary, each role requires you to work closely with machines and software programs while also communicating effectively with business leaders. Data drives many industries, and working as a data scientist can take you into positions with government agencies, the U.S. military, private tech companies, or even public hospitals.

Here are some common data science jobs you can get with a master's degree:

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Annual Median Salary:  $131,490
Job Growth Rate: 22%

Computer and information research scientists take existing technology and come up with new ways to utilize it to benefit companies and organizations. They may find themselves working in medicine, science, or business, among other fields that rely heavily on computer systems. They earn a very healthy salary, and benefit from much higher job growth than the average role.

Data Scientists

Annual Median Salary:  $100,910
Job Growth Rate: 15%+

Data scientists design the applications that translate information into useful statistics that benefit their organization. They also implement modeling, language processing, and analysis to transform clusters of data into readable information. Once processed, they may have to report their findings to business leaders or government officials. Similar to information research scientists, data scientists also see a higher than average salary and a positive job outlook.


Annual Median Salary:  $105,630
Job Growth Rate: 13%

Data science is at the heart of an economist's day-to-day responsibilities. Their role is to collect, analyze, and interpret economic trends based on financial records and statistics. Organizations and businesses hire economists to help them save money, organize their finances, and make important decisions related to spending.

Computer Network Architects

Annual Median Salary:  $120,520
Job Growth Rate: 5%

Computer network architects create the data systems that are used by a number of businesses in a variety of industries. They're responsible for understanding the latest hardware and software innovations, solving complex network and storage issues, and ensuring data systems are functioning efficiently. The job demand isn't as high for this role; however, if you're able to land a position, you can expect a salary well into the six figures.

Professional Organizations for Data Science Graduates

Like many technical professions, data science also has a robust network of organizations that help disseminate information and keep members up-to-date on innovations in their field. These organizations can be great for meeting like-minded professionals, attending events, and even getting career assistance. 

The most popular organization is the Association of Data Scientists (ADaSci), which is an international consortium in the data science and machine learning professions. They offer a regular publication with peer-reviewed studies, conferences, webinars, and a career center to browse job listings. 

The American Statistical Association (ASA) is another group focused on uplifting the data science community through education resources, meetings and events, policy advocacy, and career help. 

Even if you attend one of the best masters in data science programs, you can still benefit from an outside organization after you graduate.

Is a Master's Degree in Data Science Worth It?

The best data science master's programs are difficult to obtain — not because they aren't readily available online, but because they require a great deal of complex technical skills and advanced knowledge in information technology and computer science. However, if you're capable of achieving your degree, you'll be rewarded with benefits that many other careers cannot offer. 

Let's take a look at the possible rewards and drawbacks of pursuing a master's degree in data science:

Potential Benefits

Data scientists earn a much higher wage than the average American. The average median salary for professionals in this field is $100,910, while the average American salary is just $58,260.

Data science professions are expected to grow at a high rate. Along with economists and information/computer research scientists, a data science role has a high job growth of 15% or higher. 

Work on the front lines of technological innovation. Data science graduates will be thrust into a competitive field filled with innovative technologies that drive the growth of nearly every industry in the world. 

Potential Drawbacks

Data science requires an understanding of complex mathematics. If you're not excited about re-learning calculus or linear algebra, then data science may be an especially difficult degree to achieve. 

Data scientists may be asked to make hard decisions surrounding data privacy. The issue of privacy and security is constantly resurfacing as both public perception and policies change nationwide. Therefore, data scientists may have to tackle ethical issues related to people's private data.

Some can work in data science without a master's degree. Bootcamps can be a cheaper and quicker route to a professional career without spending several years and tens of thousands of dollars on graduate programs.

Alternative Master's Degrees to Data Science

One similar degree program to data science is computer science. You'll find many of the same courses in each program, especially when it comes to mathematics and statistics. Computer programming courses will also be similar, including classes in operating systems and coding.

A master's degree in cybersecurity crosses into the same territory as data science, particularly when it comes to the subject of data privacy and how data is organized in complex information systems. In some cases, data science can be a sort of catch-all term. If you're interested in a more specific career route, you may consider an alternative degree with a related subject matter.

Bottom Line

Earning an online master's degree in data science can offer a very fulfilling career with a lucrative salary and positive job outlook. Not only is the field growing at a faster rate than other industries, but as technology moves forward, so will your opportunities for advancement. Nearly every major industry requires knowledgeable data analysts to help them understand the information that makes up their business. If you have the desire to understand these systems, you can turn your data science degree into a lifelong career.

If you identify as a woman and are looking to enter a STEM field in college, check out the best online colleges for women in STEM.

Related Articles

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Biology

View rankings of the best online master's in biology programs for 2023 with data on tuition, salary, debt, and return on investment.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 5/26/2023

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees

A master's program can expand your employment options and earning power. Explore our list of the best online master's programs based on alumni salaries.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 3/22/2023

2023 Best Online Master's in Computer Science Programs

Compare the best online master's in computer science programs and learn about the degree prerequisites, curriculum, and career opportunities for graduates.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 2/6/2023


Start Your Online College Search:

Review schools that align with your career aspirations.