Data Science Degree Programs in Alabama
Alabama’s economy has been steadily rising for a measurable season and is currently projecting consistent increase in the decade ahead. As new businesses open in Alabama or migrate to the state drawn by this climate, the demand for data scientists will increase significantly. This, in addition to the state’s mix of rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, makes Alabama a prime location to start a career as a data scientist.
With up-to-date program information and recommendations for the best educational opportunities in the state, this guide is a resource for anyone interested in becoming a data scientist in Alabama.
Data scientists analyze extensive data sets to extract meaning from them. Sometimes this entails identifying patterns in what may seem to others to be meaningless data. Other times, it may involve discovering trends in consumer behavior and suggesting new products and services based on these discoveries. Across a broad range of industries, data science is an exciting career with a high potential for upward mobility.
Data scientists often find employment with large organizations where they streamline existing systems through advanced predictive analytics. By analyzing a business’s data in this way, data scientists help eliminate wasteful practices. This, in turn, helps the company cut costs. Alternatively, the act of collecting and analyzing data can help companies earn more money by identifying the demand for new products and services.
Career Outlook for Data Scientist in Alabama
Alabama’s economy is picking up speed. According to the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, “From June 2020 to June 2021, the state gained 89,200 jobs with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate this June of 3.3 percent, down from the 7.7 percent unemployment rate in June 2020.”
Naturally, not all of those jobs were in the field of data science, but demand for data scientists is increasing nationwide.
To help meet this increasing demand, the University of Alabama at Birmingham launched their Master of Science in Data Science in 2019. The program aims to equip graduates with the skills they need to solve real-world problems by managing and analyzing large data sets.
According to Yuliang Zheng, Ph.D. and chair of the UAB Department of Computer Science, data scientists are among the most sought-after professionals on professional sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
The demand for data scientists in Alabama — and indeed, across the country — will increase significantly as the energy sector continues to explore green energy options. Take the geospatial analyst, for instance. Data scientists in this area of the field specialize in pulling meaningful data from GPS and aerial photographs. Geospatial analysts also study geography to determine good mining locations and optimize the energy output of existing wind and solar farms. Demand for data scientists in this field will surely increase as the need for sustainable energy sources grows.
Likewise, the financial sector in Alabama is set to see explosive growth in correlation to the overall growth in the local economy. Banks and other financial institutions employ data scientists to study databases and other datasets to extract useful information. This practice is known as data mining, and demand for the skill set is huge. Banks use data miners to help them generate ideas for new products. In the highly competitive banking sector, institutions that aggressively analyze their data have an advantage over the competition.
Software development firms, similarly, are always in need of skilled data scientists. Many firms employ data analysts, data coordinators and data librarians to help them remain competitive in the marketplace. Software development can be a cutthroat market, and a series of accounts lost as a result of inefficiencies can undermine a firm’s financial and operational efforts. Software development firms in Alabama will be seeking the aid of skilled data scientists for decades to come.
Universities in Alabama Offering Data Science Programs
Several colleges in Alabama offer data science degrees, the most popular being the Master of Science, but students can earn associate, bachelor’s, and Ph.D. degrees in data science, both online and on campus.
Other data science-related programs in Alabama include data analytics, marketing analytics, and business analytics.
The universities with some of the best data science programs in Alabama include:
- The University of Alabama
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham
- The University of Alabama in Huntsville
- University of North Alabama
- University of West Alabama
- Auburn University
- Samford University
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Alabama
The term ‘undergraduate degree’ may bring to mind a traditional four-year bachelor’s program. But, depending on the program, an undergraduate degree could also be an associate degree.
Typically, an associate degree requires a lesser time commitment. An associate degree won’t qualify graduates for the same positions that as bachelor’s or master’s degree, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that unemployment rates for people who have an associate degree are lower than those for people who have only a high school diploma.
A data science bachelor’s degree typically requires a minimum of four years to complete. Students who have already obtained an associate degree in the field of data science may have the option to transfer their credits.
One notable data science undergraduate program is Auburn University’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Business Analytics Major. With a strong focus on learning the tools of the trade, this program prepares students to help organizations operate efficiently and remain competitive.
Another standout degree is the Bachelor of Science in Economics and Computational Analysis offered by the University of Alabama in Huntsville. This program provides students with a firm foundation in economics and the skills needed to analyze big data and drive the decision-making process.
Samford University offers a data analytics concentration that can be added to any business major. This concentration, which includes a real-world internship in data analytics, requires 12 hours of coursework in data management, data mining, econometrics, and market research.
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in Alabama
If a student has already obtained an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree is the next logical step in their journey to becoming a data scientist. A master’s degree typically requires a year and a half to two years of study. For those who want to take their education to the next level, some schools offer doctoral programs in data science, which typically take four to five years to complete.
On-Campus Master’s in Data Science Programs in Alabama
The Master of Science in Applied Statistics program at The University of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business includes an analytics track that emphasizes data mining. This degree arms students with the tools needed to help organizations extract useful insights from immense datasets and makes them indispensable to any company seeking to optimize its current operation or streamline expansion into a new market.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Master of Science in Data Science program (MSDS) is a 30-credit-hour program that prepares students for careers in the field of big data. The program includes coverage of machine learning, collecting and managing datasets, and applying data to solve real world problems.
At the University of North Alabama, students can obtain a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science. Geospatial analysts often find employment within the energy sector, where they analyze GPS data, aerial photos, and maps.
On-Campus Data Science PH.D. Programs in Alabama
The College of Engineering at The University of Alabama offers a Ph.D. program in computer science. Regarded as a research degree, the doctor of philosophy degree is granted based on demonstrated proficiency in original research. To earn the Computer Science Ph.D., students must complete a minimum of 48 hours of coursework and give a dissertation. The dissertation must clearly outline relevant independent research conducted while in the program. Information on other doctoral programs — including some out of state — can be found here.
On-Campus Graduate Certificate Programs in Alabama
Students can earn a graduate certificate in as few as two semesters. A typical graduate certificate requires the completion of four courses — the equivalent of 12 to 14 credit hours.
Students interested in earning a graduate certificate in business analytics may want to consider Auburn University’s Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics, which is offered on campus and on online through the Harbert College of Business. Students learn how to extract key information from large datasets and enjoy greater job mobility within the industry.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in Alabama
Online learning, which continues to be one of the fastest growing trends in education, can offer several advantages over traditional on-campus instruction.
Some of the primary advantages to online instruction include:
- Learning from home. With an online program, students learn from the comfort of their own home. Additionally, they typically have a bit more flexibility with their schedule.
- Greater flexibility. Studying at home affords students a great deal of flexibility in how they tackle their coursework. For instance, students who work part-time in the evenings have the option of completing their coursework in the morning to accommodate their work schedule.
Universities across the state of Alabama offer reputable online master’s programs that strive to enhance the student experience through rigorous coursework in data science and related disciplines delivered with the efficiency and flexibility of a distance-learning format.
Auburn University, for instance, offers an online Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in business analytics. This degree prepares students to efficiently manage business operations with an eye toward improving existing systems and saving companies money by optimizing wherever possible.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online Master of Science Management Information Systems degree designed to equip graduates with the skills needed to understand business processes with a focus on the management of information systems.
The University of Alabama offers a Master of Science in Marketing with a specialization in marketing analytics. Here, students use their data science skills to analyze market trends and predict consumer behavior. Large corporations employ data scientists in this field to help them maximize return on investment in massive marketing campaigns. Such contributions help organizations save millions of dollars in marketing funds.
University of West Alabama offers an online MBA with a computing and data analytics emphasis. This program provides students with an extensive foundation in business, and the emphasis equips them with knowledge and skills in data mining, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and database management systems.