Data Science Degree Programs in California
If you’re pursuing a career in the booming field of data science and are ready to relocate, you might want to consider making your way to the Golden State.
California is the center of the data science world.
The state is home to the world’s fastest growing tech startups and most innovative companies. Google, Apple, and Facebook are just a few of the juggernauts with huge operations in California. These companies drive significant demand for computer science, software engineering, and data science professionals.
California schools supply much of the talent that pushes these powerhouses forward. Between the University of California system and other prestigious schools, an incredible amount of investment goes into developing effective educational programs and research initiatives.
For example, some of the biggest universities in the state have been labeled by the NIH as Centers of Excellence for Big Data Computing. UC Berkeley currently plays a big part in a near $40 million Data-Driven Discovery Initiative that aims to build tools and sophistication around data science tools and techniques. The National Science Foundation has partnered with several major California universities to set up Industry / University Cooperative Research Centers. At a high level, the state is constantly buzzing with data science-related activity.
For current California-based data science professionals, there is no shortage of relevant groups or communities to join. San Francisco’s longest-running meetup, SF Data Mining, includes more than 10,000 members and features frequent conversations around data science and big data. Big Data Science out of Fremont is an organization that has been organizing webinars and meetups for data science professionals since 2012. No matter the niche focus or location, there is something for everyone in California.
Many of the world’s largest data science conferences also go through the state.
- Every November, MLconf San Francisco features speakers from major corporations who discuss the importance of machine learning and data science in the business setting.
- In San Diego, the Data Science Innovation Summit welcomes leaders from major tech companies all throughout the state and encourages them to network with one another.
- Stanford hosts Women in Data Science, a one-day technical conference that typically sees 400 attendees from 110 companies and universities.
Upon graduation, there are endless opportunities to remain engaged with the broader data science community.
Given its positioning in the realm of data science, it’s no surprise that California schools were among the first to offer advanced study in the field.
Today, more than 25 universities offer Masters of Data Science programs and new undergraduate programs are being launched every year.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in California
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California has the highest concentration of data scientists, employing 17,750 workers in the field statewide. This should come as no surprise given that the state is home to so many major tech companies.
If this sounds like good news, it only gets better: the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a job growth rate of 36% for data scientists by 2031, with 13,500 new job openings anticipated for each new year. In other words, those concerned about job security can trust that data science is a reliable field to plot a career.
Also unsurprisingly, more than half of the top 20 institutions that feed data science talent to Silicon Valley companies are based in California. This shows that choosing a degree program in California can be beneficial to your career in the long term.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports fantastic wages for California-based data scientists, with pay rates drastically exceeding the averages for the majority of other professions. The annual mean wage for data scientists in California is an impressive $133,110. Broken down hourly, this comes out to $64 an hour, considerably higher than many other occupations.
The state also boasts four of the top ten metropolitan areas in the country (listed below) for data science-related career opportunities.
San Jose / Sunnyvale / Santa Clara:
- Data science employment: 3,530
- Hourly mean wage: $75.53
- Annual mean wage: $157,110
The San Jose metropolitan area ranks first in the country on annual mean wage compared to all other metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
San Francisco / Redwood City / South San Francisco:
- Data science employment: 5,290
- Hourly mean wage: $73.65
- Annual mean wage: $153,180
The San Francisco metropolitan area ranks second in the country on annual mean wage compared to all other metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Los Angeles / Long Beach / Glendale:
- Data science employment: 3,830
- Hourly mean wage: $57.33
- Annual mean wage: $119,240
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Los Angeles metropolitan area ranks tenth in the country on annual mean wage compared to all other metropolitan areas.
When considering applying for a data science program in California, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, California is very expensive. The state ranks only behind Hawaii and DC on the Cost of Living Index scale. You should normalize the higher wages paid in California to truly understand the value of a data science job in the state. Second, develop a clear vision for how you would use your data science degree as there is an abundance of opportunity in California. You want to make sure you enroll in a program that will open the right doors for you after you graduate. Third, explore what financial options you have available and try to mitigate some of the costs of a program. Fortunately, there is a lot of scholarship funding and financial aid available for students in California.
California Universities and Data Science Degree Programs: On-Campus Undergraduate, Graduate, Masters, and PhD
Twenty-five different universities in California offer a diversity of data science programs. Prospective students in the state have a plethora of options available all across the state, from on-campus undergraduate programs to remote master’s degrees. Graduate certificates are also a popular path in California as many students prefer to enroll in skills-focused courses that can help them sharpen their skills for real-world applications. Choosing the right path for yourself depends on your future goals and interests as a data science professional.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs
Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of universities offering undergraduate data science programs. Behind this trend is the rise in analytical roles in the workforce that require skills in data manipulation and visualization.
California schools offer a number of undergraduate data science programs for prospective students. Prerequisites vary from school to school. However, it’s helpful to have a background in statistics or computer science when applying.
Mills College offers a major in data science with four specialization tracks covering sociological, economic, mathematical, and computational analytics. A minimum of 53 credits must be completed in order to earn the degree. You can also pursue a one-year master’s in computer science or applied economics if you work closely with an advisor to optimize your curriculum.
The University of California Irvine’s data science degree program includes a capstone project and covers many areas, including machine learning, Bayesian statistics, and computer science. You must complete 135 credits in order to earn the degree.
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs
There are many on-campus and online graduate data science programs all across the state.
Students can earn graduate certificates or degrees in the field that are extremely valuable and immediately useful.
The California State University and University of California school systems both offer many options. However, if you prefer smaller institutions, there are also numerous high-quality programs available at private universities.
On-Campus Master’s in Data Science Programs
Stanford, USC, and the University of California San Diego offer three of the best master’s programs in the country in data science. Outside of these schools, there are plenty of alternatives that provide different course designs and areas of concentration.
Stanford’s MS in Statistics Data Science program is a 45-credit track that can be completed in 2 years. No thesis is required in order to complete the program and students are exposed to a wide array of topics, including statistical modeling, data mining, and discrete mathematics.
Furthermore, if you’d prefer Southern California living, USC offers a 32-unit Master of Science in Computer Science program that covers various fields, such as artificial intelligence, database systems, and data analysis. The program costs $61,984 and can also be completed online.
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D Programs
When it comes to Ph.D. programs, California has a few data science-specific programs and several tangentially related programs.
At the USC Marshall School of Business, students can complete a 5-year Ph.D. in Data Sciences and Operations along one of two paths, operations management or statistics. Program completion requires at least 60 credits of coursework. Tuition is $114,720 total ($1,912 per hour). Full financial support is available for four to five years for selected students.
More specifically, Chapman University in Irvine, California offers a 70-credit Doctorate in Computational and Data Science program consisting of 13 core credits, 45 elective credits, and 12 dissertation research credits. Classes are delivered online and the program costs $109,550 ($1,565 per credit).
On-Campus Graduate Certificate Programs
If you are relatively new to data science and want to build a strong foundation of knowledge and skill in the field, a graduate certificate could be a great option.
Five different California schools offer graduate certificates for data science-related sub-specialties:
- UC Irvine
- Humboldt State
- San Jose State University
Start your search with one of these schools to see which one offers the type of experience and focus you are seeking.
Also keep in mind that California is a large state with subcultures that vary as much as the geography. UC Irvine and Fullerton are located in sunny Southern California vs. Stanford and Humboldt State are much further north (Humboldt State is not far from the California and Oregon border).
Stanford is one of the private universities in California which dominates data science education. Stanford’s Data Mining and Applications program introduces students to predictive modeling and teaches statistical methods for working with large sets of data. Students must complete 10 units of coursework in under 3 years. The cost of tuition is $12,600. The more specific Mining Massive Data Sets Graduate Certificate program helps students master techniques for gleaning insights from extremely large datasets. Students must complete 15 units of coursework in under 3 years. Tuition for the certificate costs $18,900.
For those of you who are more interested in what Southern California schools have to offer, UC Irvine’s Data Science Certificate program consists of 15 units of coursework that can be completed in 9-15 months. Students must take an introductory data science course before choosing from a number of electives covering a wide range of topics, including data modeling, Python, and Hadoop. The average cost of the program is $4,795.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in California
Although there are fewer online data science master’s programs than graduate certificate programs, there are still a number of options available across the state. Universities, such as UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, have been offering online programs for several years.
As you explore online data science degree programs in California, consider what specific area of concentration you are most interested in, as well as what your career goals are. Data science and data engineering are intertwined, but they are different daily functions (e.g., building data pipelines, database architecture, maintaining the health of data processing systems, is the domain of the data engineer).
UC Berkeley offers a flexible and multidisciplinary 27-unit online Master of Information and Data Science program. You can complete the program on an accelerated timeline or on a part-time basis. Additionally, you must complete a capstone project. Berkeley’s online MIDS program costs $62,991. Fortunately, the university offers many graduate fellowships to help reduce some of the cost burden on students.
Data scientists who would intend on adding data engineering knowledge and skills to their repertoire may be interested in UCLA’s 36-unit data science engineering program. You’ll be required to complete a capstone project or pass three written exams. The program typically takes 2.25 years to complete and costs $36,000 ($4,000 per course). A GRE is required in order to be accepted.