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2023 Most Affordable Online Master's in Data Science Programs

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/17/2023
2023 Most Affordable Online Degrees Badge

An online master's degree in data science may help students learn creative ways to collect, analyze, and present data. Online learners practice sought-after skills in statistical modeling, machine learning, visualization, and data mining. At some schools, they can choose an optional concentration — such as business modeling or health analytics — to help tailor their studies to fit their career goals. Data science master's degree graduates might pursue positions as data scientists, management analysts, operations research analysts, or survey researchers. 

You may prefer an affordable online MBA program with a concentration in data science if you want a business-focused degree that covers some of the same topics.

View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for some inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Middle Georgia State University Macon (GA) $3,825
# 2 #2 The University of West Florida Pensacola (FL) $4,250
# 3 #3 Fort Hays State University Hays (KS) $4,478
# 4 #4 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta (GA) $4,950
# 5 #5 Ohio University - Main Campus Athens (OH) $6,324
# 6 #6 University of Southern Indiana Evansville (IN) $6,333
# 7 #7 The University of Texas at Austin Austin (TX) $6,667
# 8 #8 University of South Dakota Vermillion (SD) $7,057
# 9 #9 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia (AR) $7,395
# 10 #10 Colorado State University Global Greenwood Village (CO) $7,500
Annual Tuition: $3,825
Annual Tuition: $3,825
Annual Tuition: $3,825

Middle Georgia State University (MGSU) is a public institution featuring a Master of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in data analytics. This accelerated program contains 30 credit hours and is designed to last one year at full-time status. By the university's account, about 79% of the university's graduate students end up graduating with their degree within three years.

MGSU uses Brightspace as the digital learning platform where online learners complete coursework. The curriculum is split in two, with the first half focused on IT leadership and strategy and the second highlighting data science classes that include Statistical Data Analysis and Decision & Predictive Analysis. This means that graduates might find work as IT specialists or managers or in purely data science roles.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Average SATs: 943 -1160
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,890
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 384
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
Annual Tuition: $4,250
Annual Tuition: $4,250
Annual Tuition: $4,250

The University of West Florida (UWF) is a public school with two online graduate degrees relating to data science. The Master of Science in Data Science is a 30-credit program designed to last two to three years depending on full-time or part-time status. The university also offers a 30-credit Master of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in data analytics for students more interested in information technology.

UWF uses the Canvas learning platform to deliver a mix of synchronous and asynchronous online courses. Data science students take a few classes in statistical modeling alongside specialized courses for their concentration: analytics and modeling, analytics of business decisions, or health analytics. Computer science students complete two required data science courses and choose three electives.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Average SATs: 1040 -1230
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,047
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 3,451
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is a public institution that offers a Master of Liberal Studies in Information Analysis and Communication, requiring 31 credit hours. This often takes full-time students one year to complete.

FHSU uses the Blackboard learning management system to deliver a mix of synchronous and asynchronous online courses. The curriculum features core liberal studies courses that teach critical thinking and communication, along with concentration courses such as Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analysis and Assessment. Graduates can tailor their courses toward future careers as data scientists, management analysts, or government policy specialists.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,138
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,462
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
Annual Tuition: $4,950
Annual Tuition: $4,950
Annual Tuition: $4,950

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is a public school providing an online Master of Science in Analytics with possible concentrations in analytical tools, business analytics, and computational data analytics. This degree contains 36 credit hours and can take two years for full-time students or up to six years for part-time learners.

At Georgia Tech, online students use the Canvas system to access their coursework, which is asynchronous. The faculty seek to help students develop their data literacy through coursework in business, technology, and statistics. Some core classes include Introduction to Analytics Modeling, Data and Visual Analytics, and Deterministic Optimization. Alumni might pursue careers in business or technology, depending on their choice of concentration.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 72%
  • Average SATs: 1310 -1500
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 726
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 18,332
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
Annual Tuition: $6,324
Annual Tuition: $6,324
Annual Tuition: $6,324

Ohio University (OU), a public institution, offers an online Master of Business Analytics degree with 30 credit hours of coursework. This degree is designed for part-time working students to finish in as little as 20 months.

OU employs the Blackboard digital learning platform to deliver asynchronous courses for maximum flexibility. This master's degree curriculum focuses on using data to drive business growth, with courses such as Predictive Analytics and Strategic Use of Information Systems. Graduates might qualify for business-related careers as management analysts, managers, or statisticians.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Average SATs: 1070 -1290
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,341
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 3,042
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Overview of Online Master's in Data Science Degrees

An online master's in data science is designed to teach students how to process and analyze large data sets and use them to make data-driven decisions. Data science is an interdisciplinary field of study that combines aspects of computer science and programming and statistics which are often used to help make decisions in business to increase efficiency and revenue.

Graduate-level data science degree programs typically include classes on data mining and analytics, machine learning, natural language processing, statistical methods, big data processing, data visualization, predictive modeling, and computer programming with languages such as R and Python.

Some programs offer specializations for students who want to tailor their education to their specific career goals. Depending on what they plan to do with their degree, students might look for concentrations in areas such as applied data science, business analytics, artificial intelligence, data engineering, spatial analytics, cybersecurity, machine learning, bioinformatics, or big data analytics.

Online programs usually offer more flexibility for students than enrolling on-campus, especially those who need to fit classes in around work, family, and other responsibilities. Working adults with busy schedules might prefer asynchronous classes where they can complete classwork when it's convenient for them rather than logging in at a set time. Students who need more structure or face-to-face interactions might benefit from synchronous classes, where students meet with their class on a set schedule. 

Admissions Requirements

Students applying to a master's in data science program will need a bachelor's degree, often in a related field such as computer science, statistics, or mathematics. While it's not necessary to have a bachelor's degree in a STEM field, students may need to take prerequisites or gain some programming experience through online courses or a bootcamp before they enroll. 

Colleges will likely expect students to have experience with calculus, linear algebra, and programming before they start their program. Some schools may also require GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, or a resume. 

How To Pay for a Master's In Data Science

Most students use financial aid to help pay for their college degree. For graduate students, the most common types of financial aid are grants and scholarships, graduate assistantships, student loans, and employer tuition assistance programs. Most schools offer payment plans, and many online students work through college or use personal savings to cover costs and reduce the amount they need to borrow.

Financial Aid

The first step in getting funding to help pay for college is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). When you fill out the FAFSA, you send your financial aid application to any college you're interested in attending. They assess your financial need and typically award you any grants, scholarships, assistantships, and student loans you qualify for. Once you get your financial aid award, talk with each school you're interested in to see if there are other scholarships or funding opportunities you can apply for separately.

Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for school because it's money for college that doesn't need to be repaid. Grants and scholarships come from federal and state governments, colleges, nonprofits, businesses, and other organizations. Your school might also offer you an assistantship, where you work as a research assistant, a teaching assistant, or another position in exchange for a stipend and sometimes a tuition discount.

There are many scholarships available for students in data science and analytics programs, especially for women and students of color who are underrepresented in the technology industry. Once you receive your financial aid offer from your school, look for additional scholarships from nonprofits, trade and professional associations, businesses, and other organizations to help bridge the gap.

Employer-Funded Tuition Assistance Programs

Using employer-funded tuition benefits is a common way for graduate students to pay for a master's degree, and nearly half of employers in the U.S. offer tuition assistance, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. For many companies, the benefit of having more highly educated employees is worth the investment in their education, especially for professionals going to graduate school in business and tech-related fields such as data science. There are a wide range of companies that will pay for graduate school, including Boeing, T-Mobile, Discover, and Chipotle.

Student Loans

Once you've exhausted all other financial aid options, you can use student loans to bridge the gap between aid and cost of attendance. In general, federal student loans are a better option than private loans

Graduate students are only eligible for direct unsubsidized loans or graduate PLUS loans from the federal government. Direct unsubsidized loans tend to be the more affordable option because they offer lower interest rates and origination fees than PLUS loans. The best way to keep student loan debt down is to only borrow what you need to pay for school, even if you're offered more money. Our student loan guide can help you borrow responsibly and answer common questions about student loans.

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

A master's in data science programs can open the door to a variety of careers, including roles in data science, data analytics, machine learning engineering, data engineering, business intelligence analytics, and research. Most careers open to graduates of master's in data science programs tend to be in the tech and business fields and often net high salaries. 

Data Science Careers

Graduates of data science programs might pursue careers in a wide variety of fields such as business, healthcare, education, and social services. The following are a few career options for data science professionals, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Data Scientists

Median Annual Salary: $100,910
Job Growth: 36%

Data scientists are responsible for designing and implementing data-driven systems for organizations. They use statistical tools and machine learning algorithms to analyze and interpret complex digital data. They also present their findings, create images and graphics, and draw insights from the data to advise stakeholders on different business decisions.

Operations Research Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $82,360
Job Growth: 23%

Operations research analysts use data analytics to help improve operations, solve problems, and make data-driven decisions in business. They might gather data from a variety of sources, such as sales and revenue, social media engagement, customer demographics, or budgets and overhead costs. They then use statistical analysis to improve operations, increase revenue, and maximize efficiency.


Median Annual Salary: $96,280
Job Growth: 31%

Statisticians apply their mathematical and statistical knowledge to the design of surveys and experiments; the collection, processing, and analysis of data; and the interpretation of the results.

Looking to maximize your return on investment? Our list of the best online master's degrees in data science can help you find the top programs for salary.

Is an Online Master's in Data Science Worth It?

Whether or not an online master's in data science will be worth it depends on your strengths as a student, your career goals, and other personal circumstances. Generally speaking, a master's in data science will likely be financially worth the investment. Many students enroll online to save time and money on their degree, and the jobs you can get with a master's in data science tend to net high salaries compared to other master's degrees.

That being said, many students find STEM degrees to be challenging, and may struggle to learn science and math concepts in an online environment. It also will likely be difficult to balance work and school for those who plan on working during their education.

Students who enjoy the combination of math, science, and business concepts will likely enjoy the career paths available to them after their program and find a master's in data science is worth it. While many of the data science jobs available to graduates after their program will be focused on maximizing profits for businesses, there are also careers available at nonprofits, healthcare companies, and in research for those who don't want to work in business.

Students can maximize their investment in higher education and get the most bang for their buck by choosing more affordable degrees like the ones on this list, fast-tracking their degree through accelerated programs, and finding other ways to save money in college.

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