Data Science Programs: Compare degree level options
Colleges, universities, and private education companies are trying to fill the high demand for data scientists by creating different levels of educational opportunity for prospective students. Today’s data science students range from mid-career professionals taking an intensive bootcamp or certification course, to the traditional academic undergraduate and graduate tracks. More than half of the 63 academic programs are master’s degree programs, reflecting the need for a well-trained workforce. The admission and attendance requirements for each data science program varies by school and program level.
What follows below is a brief description of each data science program type. More information, with current school listings is available on each program page.
Data Science Bootcamps
Data science bootcamps are intense training programs that help students from all technical backgrounds transition into a data-oriented career. These private education courses have strong industry job placement records. Many mid-career professionals are learning data skills and are landing jobs in tech by going through the bootcamp model. However, due to the large variety of data-related jobs and the specific skill sets needed for different positions, navigating through the complex career transition is challenging. Typically, bootcamp programs can range from two weeks to three months. There are both in-person and online options available.
A bachelor’s degree is a great option for students with an early interest in a growing technical field. Ideally, undergraduates pursuing data science have a background or interest in mathematics, analytics, computer science, and/or statistics. Computer coding and programming skills, or at least the desire to learn those skills, is also important. There are limited data science major and minors available right now, but this option will continue to grow as the educational field develops and evolves.
A masters in data science is an advanced degree program that prepares students to take their career to the next level in the emerging and high-growth fields of data science and big data. Full-time students are able to complete these programs in one to two years, while part-time students will need up to three years to complete the needed coursework. All master’s data science programs combine in-depth understanding with hands-on skills, technologies, techniques, and analysis tools. There are some options that combine a bachelor’s degree with a master’s program allowing students to complete a master’s degree in only one extra year.
In general, a data science certificate program is ideal for experienced professionals looking to strengthen their credentials in the data science industry. Students learn how to extract information from large data sets, as well as understand and apply strategic decision-making tools based on data. Programs typically take a year or more to complete and may have prerequisites such as a bachelor’s degree and coursework in computer science programming and statistics. Data analysts, data researchers, medical researchers, data consultants and statisticians are examples of career paths that typically benefit from a certification program. The certificate program is significantly less expensive and time consuming then a master’s program.
Doctoral degrees in data science are ideal for individuals who are looking to become experts and academics in data science. Often the goal of doctoral students is to secure employment as a university professor or as scientist at a research institution. Experts with doctoral degrees are also in demand across the data science industry, often filling executive roles, such as chief data scientist. The programs usually take three years or longer to complete and emphasize big data, computer science, data mining and theories of data science. As the world becomes more and more data-driven, a doctoral degree in data science may be an important stepping stone to advance a scientist’s or analyst’s career to the next level. Doctoral programs typically include comprehensive research and dissertation in addition to coursework.