Data Science Degree Programs in Iowa
Iowa’s relative low cost of living and growing technology sector make it an attractive location for budding data scientists. Data-savvy professionals will have little trouble finding work in Iowa City or Cedar Rapids. These two cities are rapidly establishing themselves as the state’s “creative corridor.” Moreover, Des Moines is considered by many to be a burgeoning tech center. Two industries that are benefiting greatly from machine learning, data modeling and optimization are digital agriculture and advanced manufacturing. In particular, central Iowa’s cultivation corridor is putting these new methodologies to good use.
Meanwhile, the Technology Association of Iowa is working hard to see that this trend continues. Its lobbying and advocacy has worked wonders so far. In 2014, Facebook took up residence in Altoona, a suburb of Des Moines. The $300-million facility houses dozens of servers and is the third-largest Facebook data center in the U.S. What’s more, Microsoft is building its own facility in West Des Moines. The state’s universities offer eager students a clear path to an exciting career in data science. Read on.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in Iowa
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data scientists in Iowa earn a mean annual salary of $91,470. While this is lower than the national median salary for data scientists ($100,910 as of May 2021), it’s much higher than the mean annual salary for the majority of Iowa’s workers ($51,140).
The BLS reports that other data-focused jobs in Iowa like information research scientist database architect have mean salaries more double statewide statistics. So for data scientists in the state, narrowing one’s focus can come with greater salary growth potential. Advanced job titles for data science professionals in Iowa could include:
- Big Data Engineer
- Senior Data Analyst
- Business Intelligence Consultant
- Data Analyst
- Clinical Data Analyst
Furthermore, BLS data indicates that data science jobs around the Des Moines metro area have a slightly higher mean salary at $98,530.
The slightly lower salary is offset somewhat by Iowa’s relatively low cost of living. The state’s cost of living is 90, compared to the U.S. overall, which is 100. This scale factors in housing, grocery and insurance costs. Iowa’s median home cost was $137,600 in 2018. The national average, however, was $216,200. This disparity means your relatively high salary as a data scientist will go even further. Additionally, the average rent in Iowa was $844, while the national average was $930. According to reputable job sites, there is medium-level demand for data scientists in Iowa, though there are signs that demand is increasing. LinkedIn’s job search yielded 205 results for data science positions in Des Moines. Positions on offer included Big Data Engineer, Sr. Data Analyst, Business Intelligence Consultant, Data Analyst and Clinical Data Analyst, among others. What’s more, according to Iowa State University, an analysis of 2018 employment data found that recent graduates of data science programs had a near 100% employment rate in the state. Hiring organizations included Accenture, Google and PwC.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Iowa
Iowa’s stellar universities prepare students to work in the data science field via various undergraduate programs. Iowa State University and the University of Iowa both feature robust data science programs. The four to five year programs offered by these schools will give you the knowledge you need to analyze complex data for large businesses.
Iowa State University B.S. in Data Science
30 miles North of Des Moines, you’ll find the quaint town of Ames, home of Iowa State University. ISU boasts more than 35,000 students, which makes it one of the largest colleges in the state. The school was established in 1859 and draws students from all over the world. Iowa State University offers a B.S. in Data Science. This major is the perfect fit for students with a strong quantitative background. If you love math, and if you love to manipulate data, this is the program for you. The program aims to educate students on the technical fundamentals of data science and can prepare you for perusing even higher education in the field. However, with this degree under your belt, you can go to work immediately if you so choose. The B.S. in Data Science consists of 120 credit hours and includes: 39 credit hours in the major, 23 credit hours in foundation courses, three credits in a capstone course and 9 credit hours in related electives. Just a few of the elective tracks you can choose are:
- Introduction to High Performance Computing
- Algorithms for Large Data Sets: Theory and Practice
- Distributed Systems
- Principles and Internals of Database Systems
Undergraduate admission to Iowa State University begins with a completed application and an application fee of $40. If you achieved a 245 or higher on the Regent Admission Index (RAI) and meet the high school minimum requirements, you will automatically be offered admission. However, if you scored lower than 245 on the RAI and meet the high school requirements, you will be offered admission at the school’s discretion. In general, you should have taken three years of science courses in high school, including two years’ worth of courses focusing on biology, physics or chemistry. Iowa residents paid $8,988 per semester on average, while out-of-state students paid $23,292. In 2019, tuition increased to $10,504 for residents of the state and $24,766 or all others. Various merit-based scholarships are available.
University of Iowa B.S. in Data Science
The University of Iowa, established in 1847, is located in Iowa City. It is the oldest school in the state and sits on a beautiful 1,700 acre campus. The school offers over 200 areas of study through 11 colleges. The school is well known for its actuarial science, environmental policy and geoscience programs. The university of Iowa offers a B.S. in Data science through a collaboration between The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and the Department of Computer Science. This program is an undergraduate-to-graduate program. This means that you have the option to graduate with either a bachelor or master’s degree in five years depending on your course load. The program requires 26 hours of core courses, nine hours of advanced courses, nine hours of electives and three hours of capstone courses. The program prepares students to analyze large data sets using statistical and probabilistic algorithmic methods and has a strong focus on technical foundations. The University of Iowa has a $40 application fee. If you’re an Iowa resident, you must achieve a RAI score of at least 245. Out of state applicants need to have achieved a 255 or better. While participating in the program, students are prohibited from pursuing a second major in computer science or statistics, though majors or minors in unrelated fields are permitted. Tuition for 2019 was $9,492 for residents and $31,458 for all others. There are various merit-based scholarships available.
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in Iowa
An undergraduate degree in data science will prepare you to work in the field, but a graduate degree can help you earn a better starting position with a higher salary. Schools in Iowa offer competitive and innovative graduate degree and certificate programs that get you off on the right foot.
On-Campus Master’s in Data Science Programs in Iowa
In 1971, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, creator of the Transcendental Meditation technique, founded the Maharishi University of Management. Today, the school offers a wide range of courses focusing on business management. The school is well known for its focus on inner wellbeing, sustainability, inclusivity and diversity. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission as authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, the school offers a Masters in Computer Science with a data science track. The program includes the following core courses:
- Big Data
- Big Data Analytics
- Big Data Technologies
- Machine Learning
You’ll also be required to take the following three courses:
- Database Management
- Web Application Programming
To be considered for the program, students must have a GRE quantitative score in the 70th percentile or better. This equates to a score of 158 or higher. However, if you do not have a GRE, you can still apply. Your high school grades and math background will be scrutinized to determine eligibility. Note, however, that you should show significant aptitude in mathematics as evidenced by your high school transcript. At a minimum, this includes courses in calculus, probability, linear algebra and statistics. According to the school’s website, the program costs $33,350 per year. Student aid and scholarships are available. If you’re better suited to a more traditional campus environment, consider Iowa State University, which offers a Master of Science in Information Systems through the Debbie And Jerry Ivy College of Business. This program provides you with a strong set of technical skills with a background in business. With this degree, you’ll be prepared to aid large corporations make sense of the immense amount of data they collect every year. Though students have up to seven years to complete the course requirements, it’s possible to do so in two years or so. In addition, working professionals can complete the degree part-time. The program requires students to take 18 total credit hours, including 12 hours of core course material and 6 hours of electives. Core courses include:
- Intermediate Business Programming
- Information Systems Analysis
- Data Management Systems
- Project Management
The school accepts applications for the program year-round and offers a convenient online application system. Be prepared to submit several supporting documents, such as essays, transcripts and letters of recommendation. You will also need to submit a resume which outlines the following:
- Your professional work experience
- Test scores: GMAT and GRE
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Iowa
The state’s lone Ph.D. program in data science is offered by Iowa State University. The school offers a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. This program prepares you to work or teach in the emerging bio-tech field. The school has a master-level program by the same name, but the M.S. degree is not a prerequisite for the Ph.D. program. An important aspect of the training program is participation in the school’s Research Exploration Rotations Program. Students will be required to undertake three research rotations throughout the program. Research rotations give you exposure to the major professions you are likely to enter once you graduate, as well as give you a chance to participate in ongoing research. At least one rotation must take place in a “wet” setting, meaning actual lab work in a bio lab. Additionally, at least one rotation must focus on computation and mathematics. After the first year, students will be expected to select their major professor. After joining their lab, you will eventually conduct your dissertation. The school requires that all would-be Ph.D. students pass a preliminary examination in order to be considered for placement in the program. To get started, you would need to file a Request for Preliminary Examination—an online form— two weeks prior to examination. In order to be considered, you should take at least two of the four Bioinformatics and Computational Biology courses offered by the school.
On-Campus Graduate Certificate Programs in Iowa
A graduate certificate in data science will help you improve your resume and will qualify you for related vocations. It isn’t quite the door opener that a graduate degree is, but it can help you bolster your college application by supplementing your college transcripts. There are several such graduate certificates available in Iowa. Iowa State University offers the Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics. This program prepares you to deal with the demands of big data, enabling you to analyze data in a marketing, supply chain or forensic context. Additionally, there is a focus on risk management, business analytics, modeling and communicating data visually. The certificate is an asset for both working professionals and students currently enrolled in graduate programs. You can take the course online, but it’s also available on campus in Ames, Iowa, and at Capital Square in Des Moines. Loris College, a Catholic college located in Dubuque, Iowa, offers a Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics. Steeped in a rich liberal arts tradition, Loris College strives to prepare young entrepreneurs and professionals with the tools they need to analyze ever-growing volumes of data. The course is offered on the school’s scenic campus, nearly hidden away atop the bluffs of the Mississippi river. The program is geared toward individuals who already hold an MBA, but this is not a requirement. It is a 15-credit course. Students meet virtually one night per week in addition to on-campus course work. The University of Iowa, on the other hand, offers a Graduate Certificate in Informatics. The certificate has an emphasis on bioinformatics and computational biology and is open to graduate students. However, you may gain access by applying to the non-degree program. The program is designed to appeal to students with backgrounds in engineering, physical sciences, mathematics and statistics and prepares students to work in the growing bio-tech industry. The program consists of a total of 21 semester hours.
Online Data Science Programs in Iowa
The explosion in virtual education has meant that students can better balance work and school life. This is good news for budding data scientists as it means you can get access to a quality education in an in-demand field. However, Iowa’s online offerings are still rather sparse compared to the rest of the country. Note that attending an online university in your state can save you quite a bit of money due to lower in-state tuition.
Iowa State University Business Analysis Certificate
Iowa State University offers an online Business Analytics Certificate. This certificate will prepare you to analyze big data and extract actionable insights for your employer. The aim of this certificate is to make you an asset to any mid to large size organization. The program will give you a foundation in data management, business analytics and modeling. Business Analytics Foundation is the sole required core course, totaling three credit hours. Additionally, there are several elective courses, including:
- Data Management for Decision Makers
- Business Analytics Applications & Development
- Business Processes Management
- Topics in Business Analytics
In order to be considered for the program, you must:
- Hold a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business, STEM or related, approved field.
- Have post-undergraduate work experience totaling two or more years.
- Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
- Have completed a college-level statistics course with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 at an accredited university.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for data scientists reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2023.