Data Science and Related Programs Online – Exploring Online Options
Remember when online education used to have a certain reputation for being bland and not as rigorous as real life in-person class instruction? Well, that’s changed. As most other facets of our life have moved online — everything from catching up with old friends to career networking — it makes sense that online certifications, online bachelor degree, and online graduate programs have caught up and gone digital.
High quality online educational courses benefit both colleges and universities as well as faculty and students. Higher education institutions get the opportunity to interact with more students, without having to provide additional costly infrastructure, faculty can reach a wider audience with their ideas and lessons, and students get to learn in a flexible format that might allow them to better juggle life’s commitments and school.
Really, there are a lot of reasons why online education programs are growing rapidly (recent studies show that roughly six million college and graduate students will complete at least part of their degree online this year).
When answering surveys about educational choices, prospective degree students and current degree students say that the cost-effectiveness led them to complete all or part of their degree online.
Since online course are generally more budget-friendly than attending in-person course on a campus, they can help lower the overall cost of a degree program, or even put pricey degree programs back into reach of students that are looking for affordable educational opportunities.
Another big reason that students are increasingly looking at online course offerings is that some online degree programs offer credit transfers. Current college and graduate students are using online options to get caught up, or even get ahead, during breaks in the academic year by taking online courses and then transferring the credits to their home institution.
But high on the list of reasons that students cite for pursuing an online bachelor’s degree or graduate degree is because of the flexibility that online courses offer. Often, there are specific meeting times for group courses or class participation requirements, but online degree courses are still a lot more flexible and allow students to complete reading and assignments when they have time. This means that people can build a degree around real life commitments instead of having to drop everything to attend on-campus courses.
For working professionals, the flexibility might mean that they can keep advancing in their field while also brushing up on the latest technical skills. The flexibility inherent in online courses also means that students can find and pursue programs that are a good match for their interests and needs, without having to worry about relocating or settling on a program that is not exactly what they wanted.
Online course cater to different learning styles
Online courses are just better suited to some learning styles. Rather than an in-person lecture, online courses generally contain lessons and lectures in video or audio format that can be watched and reviewed as many times as needed (or even sped up), allowing students to set their own pace. Online courses generally also have associated chat rooms or forums that allow for instantaneous help and feedback while generating a sense of community that has a different feel than in-person courses.
One of the key features of online learning is that it allows for both synchronous and asynchronous educational opportunities.
Some courses need to be taught and understood in real time, which often means through live videos, live conferencing, and back and forth communication between the course instructor and the students. Technical subjects, like some computer programming courses or language acquisition courses, are better suited to synchronous styles.
Students might find that they like the accountability and deadlines inherent in the synchronous format. It most closely resembles a traditional lecture hall or class setting, but still affords some of the benefits of online learning outlined earlier, like cost savings and flexibility.
The other style of online learning is asynchronous, which means that lectures and other course material is pre-recorded and students can go through the lessons at their own pace, while completing assignments that will be evaluate as they are submitted. Unlike the synchronous format, which is very much like a traditional classroom, asynchronous courses can work well for students that have learning or time requirements that fall outside of the traditional education model. Some asynchronous courses also allow for repeat access, which is great if the course was used to complete a professional certification or technical component and the student needs to review the material periodically to stay current.
Data science and related online degree program information
Online data science degree, certificate, and professional training bootcamps are just now getting rolled out. Many colleges and universities began their data science offerings by first creating one or two year master’s degree programs. These programs also represent the first online data science degree offerings.
So far, over 40 universities, including prestigious schools such as UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins are offering online data science master’s degree programs. These programs generally track closely to the curriculum offered during the campus-based course.
There are also schools offering online master’s programs in closely related fields such as Business Analytics, Data Analytics, and Information Systems.
It takes between 18 to 24 months to complete an online master’s degree program if pursued at the equivalent of a full-time student pace. Taking the courses part-time could take up to three to three-and-a-half years.
Links to Online Master’s Guides
These guides cover the most important things to know about each of these programs as well as comprehensive school listings.
A master’s in data science is still the most popular option for those hoping to pursue a career as a data scientist. Our six step guide to choosing an online data science master’s program helps interested students gather the right information for this important decision. In addition there is a comprehensive list of schools offering a data science master’s fully online. There are currently over 45 schools listed and we are adding new schools each semester to make sure the list remains complete.
For those interested in analyzing data trends but not interested building machine learning models, an online master’s in data analytics might be a better choice. Our 6 step guide covers the following items: researching and choosing an industry focus, identifying your timeline, reviewing curriculum to create initial list of schools, reviewing the cost of each program, determining admissions criteria, and pointers to narrowing down to a single school. Currently the list of schools offering data analytics master’s programs 100% online is approaching twenty. As with data science programs we are reviewing each semester and adding as new schools as appropriate.
For those interested in being closer to the “business” and decision making side of the things, an online master’s in business analytics might be the right fit. The guide dives into exactly what to expect from this program to help students make sure they are going down the right path. This is another very popular master’s program with over 40 schools offering the option to earn a master’s degree completely online. This does not include the list of schools featuring an MBA with a concentration or focus in business analytics, which can be found here.
If you are interested in merging business requirements, computer systems, the end user (management, c-level executives, etc), and customers leveraging information technology, then a master’s in information systems might be for you. This guide covers what you can do with an information systems degree, online vs. on campus considerations, programs length and tuition considerations, and more. It also dives into the difference between information systems and information technology degrees. There is no shortage of school options as roughly 70 schools currently offer a degree completely online.
For students looking to pursue an analytics degree with a focus in the healthcare industry, a master’s in health informatics could be a great fit. The guide answers, “what is health informatics”, how to prepare for an online degree, along with four important steps in choosing an online masters’ in health informatics. There is also a comprehensive list of schools with tuition information to help interested students narrow down to a few choices.