Data Science Degree Programs in Idaho
The Gem State is known for many things, but a thriving tech industry isn’t one of them. Idaho’s economy relies on agriculture as its largest contributor to the state’s GDP. While the agriculture industry can certainly use data science to improve food production and significantly reduce waste, e.g. Smart Farming, the industry hasn’t been as swift in fully embracing data scientists, specifically.
However, if Idaho’s Department of Commerce is correct in their industry projections, there is a 10-year projected growth level for each of its other major sectors that delineates the following:
- Manufacturing: 10% increase;
- Technology: 20% increase;
- Aerospace: 40% increase;
- Food Production: 8% increase;
- Energy: 19% increase.
Thus, farming isn’t the only industry that has a deep impact on Idaho’s economy, and as the tech sector continues to flourish, it is highly likely that additional data science and data analytics jobs will be surfacing over the next five to ten years. Additionally, there are several well-known enterprises that call Idaho home: Albertsons, Micron Technology, Winco Foods, and many others. So, there are career and academic opportunities now and in the future for data scientists who intend on moving to The Gem State.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in Idaho
The percentage of Idaho workers represented in the local tech industry is a mere 6.8%. However, as stated above, the probability of Idaho moving up the tech ladder in terms of data science occupations is strong. Tech manufacturing is currently the leading subsector (which makes sense considering that Micron Technology is headquartered in Boise, Idaho).
Data assembled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) indicate that 14,610 Idaho employees fall under the Computer and Mathematical Occupations category, and out of that number, only 150 employees have been classified within Computer and Information Research Scientists (BLS does not yet have a data science specific designation beyond this). This does align with job site searches at Indeed, Monster, and Zip Recruiter, which currently yield only a handful of data science job postings.
The already employed Idaho data scientists earn, on average, $119,000 per year. This is almost double the average annual salary that an Idaho resident can expect to earn ($58,000). Idaho’s cost of living is roughly on par with the national average: 100.2 vs. 100. So, depending on an individual’s lifestyle, a data scientists salary in Idaho can translate into a more than adequate standard of living.
For data science students, Idaho has several institutions to choose from, with the main institutions being Boise State and the University of Idaho. Below we’ll explore a few of the data science or data science-related offerings that are currently available.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Idaho
As of this writing, your on-campus data science bachelor’s degree options focus on choosing one of the data science pillars at either Boise State or Idaho State University: computer science and math. Either one of the programs will establish the core data science competencies, but computer science has more fluid applicability in terms of overall tech sector job demands (meaning, what employers tend to seek the most).
If you’d prefer to complete a degree in Information Systems or Informatics, these are offered via Idaho State University, make sure that the curriculum includes advanced math, statistics, machine learning, and database systems (if there are data mining and Big Data courses, then make sure to take those courses as well!).
Right now, data science education is evolving. Universities design their offerings based on student demand, which is essentially dictated by industry demand. If there are very few or no jobs available in a particular concentration, then the academic program is less likely to survive without additional funding from grants — whether public or private. So, as the field of data science grows and/or crystallizes into a widespread career, you’ll see more universities deploying data science academic programs at all levels.
On-Campus Data Science Graduate Certificates in Idaho
There are no data science graduate certificate offerings in Idaho. But, Boise State does have a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Analysis (GIS). You’ll take courses in Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing and Image Processing, Geographic Information Analysis, or Advanced Image Processing (choose 2), and then follow up with elective courses in other disciplines.
If possible, supplement your GIS core courses with data science core competencies including advanced statistical analysis, machine learning, Big Data, database systems architecture, data mining, or in whatever data science skill you need to expand.
On-Campus Data Science Masters Programs in Idaho
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Idaho
None of the Idaho universities have an on-campus Ph.D. in Data Science as of the 2019-2020 academic year. Your on-campus Ph.D. options will be one of the following:
- Ph.D. in Computer Science: Boise State, Idaho State University, University of Idaho;
- Ph.D. in Informatics: Idaho State University;
- Ph.D. in Statistics: University of Idaho;
- Doctor of Arts in Math: Idaho State University.
Certainly, if you’re interested in other sciences, such as geoscience, biology, or engineering, then these concentrations can be mapped out to incorporate data science core competencies that may be missing from the standard academic plan. Your Ph.D. advisor will help you map this out at the beginning of your program.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in Idaho
The University of Idaho can provide you with an online Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics, Sadly, none of the Idaho university’s offer online degree programs for data science at any level. That means that, should you wish to undertake an online degree program in data science while living in Idaho, you’ll need to apply for admissions through one of the many online programs located in other states.
Online Data Science Masters Programs in Idaho
Currently, the only online master’s program in Idaho is The University of Idaho’s Master’s Degree in Statistics. Fortunately, statistics is one of the data science core competencies. With a few additional courses in programming (Python, R, SQL), machine learning, and database systems, you’ll be well on your way to entering the data science career path.
Online Data Science Graduate Certificates in Idaho
There are no online graduate certificates in data science, nor are there any other data science-oriented graduate certificates available online through Idaho universities.
Online Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Idaho
If you want to complete a Ph.D. in Idaho, you’ll need to review the available on-campus programs as there are no online Ph.D. programs in data science or in a discipline directly related to data science within the Gem State.
Two potential programs that may be slightly re-oriented towards data science are Boise State’s online Ph.D. in Nursing or the University of Idaho’s Ph.D. in Environmental Science. Realistically, with the guidance of your Ph.D. advisor, data science core competencies can be merged with the standardized curriculum for the Ph.D. program. The issue arises when you’ve not established the advanced math and statistics prerequisites, which are much more challenging to come by via self-study. You can, absolutely, teach yourself programming — a computer science degree is not required.