Data Science Degree Programs in Kentucky
The commonwealth of Kentucky has long been synonymous with horse farms and thoroughbred racing, mint juleps and bourbon whiskey, and the lush sod, not to mention the eponymous down-home American music, which gave the state its nickname. However, the Bluegrass State is also becoming an important part of a loose confederation of Midwest states, including neighbors Ohio and Tennessee, which is seeking to expand its collective technological and data science footprint to compete with those industry leaders in California, Texas, and Florida.
Kentucky’s educational institutions, innovation incubators, and burgeoning biotech and other data-driven companies provide a solid foundation upon which prospective data scientists can build lengthy and lucrative careers. The state’s flagship university, the University of Kentucky in Lexington, as well as the University of Louisville and Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, offers students degrees and certificates in data analytics and data mining, business and health informatics, and applied statistics, while potential in-state employers such as health care giant Humana and energy market intelligence pioneer Genscape are prime landing spots once the degree and/or certificate are in hand. Let us now take a closer look at the overall labor market for data scientists in Kentucky.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in Kentucky
The mean annual salary for data scientists in Kentucky is $79,860 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. While that may be lower than salaries for data science professionals in many parts of the country, the mean annual wage for all Kentucky workers is $48,270. However, mean wages for data scientists vary widely across the state.
The mean wage for data scientists in different regions of Kentucky are as follows:
- Central Kentucky: $77,540
- Lexington-Fayette: $75,840
- Evansville (including bordering parts of Indiana): $64,060
- South Central Kentucky: $53,390
Unfortunately, BLS data doesn’t include information about vast swaths of western Kentucky and Louisville, the state’s largest metropolitan area, as of January 2023. Specifically, Louisville is home to data-hungry giants like Humana (a leading health insurance provider) and multiple large hospitals.
Per BLS data, Kentucky’s workforce is made up of about 80,000 business and financial operations professionals and another 33,000 computer and mathematical professionals. In those industries, Kentucky’s data science experts may start careers as market research analysts, accountants, health information technologists, or even information research scientists.
According to the website BestPlaces.net, Kentucky’s cost of living index number is 89.5, which places the state in the lowest 20% in the nation when considering expense factors such as food, utilities, and transportation. However, it is the extremely affordable cost of housing that contributes mightily to that low index number. While the median price of a home in the United States is $216,200, that number drops by 36%, all the way down to $139,000, in the state of Kentucky The great news is that there are employers in the state that are actively hiring those with data science backgrounds, so you can take advantage of the relatively lucrative pay and the low cost of living. For instance, the aforementioned Humana is currently advertising on LinkedIn Jobs for both an associate director of data science and a data scientist II in Louisville, while The Rawlings Group has an opening for a data scientist at their location in LaGrange. Those are just a few examples of the types of exciting positions, LinkedIn Jobs returned 353 jobs alone on a recent search, available to those who have the requisite skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform the job to the employer’s satisfaction. So you may be asking yourself, “Which schools in Kentucky specialize in my data science interest areas? What types of certificates and degrees can I earn? Do I have to attend classes on campus or can I do it from the comfort of my home?” Fortunately, you simply have to read on to learn the answers to your queries. We will begin with those undergraduate data science programs who must attend in-person on any of the beautiful Kentucky campuses.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Kentucky
The schools in Kentucky have much more to offer than their historically stellar basketball teams; their success on the hardwood is paralleled, if not surpassed, by the innovative undergraduate data science programs they offer at their respective campuses. In the center of the commonwealth, you will find the flagship university, the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington, with its enormous undergraduate student body (22,425 in 2018), high acceptance rate (89%), and, according to the U.S. Department of Education, relatively moderate average annual cost for first-time, full-time undergrads ($16,000). About 80 miles due north of Lexington, near the Ohio River and the border with Ohio, the campus of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) in Highland Heights offers you a more intimate setting than in Lexington (19:1 student to faculty ratio, 12,000+ undergraduates), but with an equally established data science program.
University of Kentucky B.A./B.S. in Information Communication Technology
Offered through the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky, this undergraduate major program in information communication technology (ICT) affords the opportunity for students to pursue either a bachelor’s of arts or bachelor’s of science degree (120 credit hours) in this expanding field. Pre-major and core requirement courses for this program include personal knowledge management, introduction to databases, and ICT in society. Prospective ICT degree earners can choose between a commercialization track, consisting of courses such as e-commerce regulation, or an emphasis on technology management; both tracks require completion of 33 specialized credit hours above and beyond the pre-major, core, and general education requirements. In order to take advantage of this intriguing program, you must first gain admission to UK by submitting an application and its $50 processing fee, providing ACT or SAT I results that exceed the minimum scores necessary for admission, and tendering your transcripts showing you have completed the pre-college curriculum; submission of an academic letter of recommendation is not required, but highly encouraged. The University of Kentucky also offers many types of scholarships for incoming freshmen, including the Provost Scholarship, which requires applicants to have a 3.30 GPA (on a 4.00 scale) and test scores of at least a 26 on the ACT and 1240 on the SAT for an annual amount of $2,500 and 28 ACT and 1310 SAT for the $5,000 annual award, as well as the Presidential Scholarship, a competitive grant of full in-state tuition for those that carried a 3.50 GPA and scored over 31 ACT and 1420 SAT.
Northern Kentucky University B.S. and Minor in Health Informatics
For those of you who would like to attend a smaller, less crowded campus than the one at UK, Northern Kentucky University and its College of Informatics may be the ideal place for you. The College of Informatics offers four-year degrees in computer information technology, data science, electronic media and broadcasting, and many more fields, but we will discuss more in-depth its offering of a bachelor’s of science degree in health informatics. This concentration will provide to students an outstanding educational foundation that merges knowledge of the always-in-demand health care industry with that of big data and information technology. The 87-credit program consists of 56 credits of core courses such as medical and biological terminology and IT project management, 22 credits in major courses including foundations of health informatics, and 9 credits of electives within the program. Students may also choose to gain competence within the health informatics field by pursuing a minor, which consists of 25 credits in courses ranging from introduction to databases to management information systems. Whether you are pursuing the B.S. degree or just a minor in health informatics, you must first complete the necessary requirements to be admitted to Northern Kentucky University. These admission requirements include a non-refundable $40 application fee as well as the submission of both an official high school transcript and your ACT/SAT test scores. Those incoming freshmen who qualify with a 3.0 GPA or higher as well as a 24 ACT or 1160 Sat score or higher can apply for a full-tuition scholarship through the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar Program. In addition to this program, NKU offers a host of other merit-based and educational diversity scholarships.
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in Kentucky
If you already have your undergraduate degree in hand and you are looking to expand your knowledge base and boost your job prospects, enrollment in a data science graduate program is the next logical step. Luckily for you, Kentucky’s universities offer a plethora of innovative on-campus Master’s, Ph.D., and certificate data science programs. Let us start our look at these in-person graduate programs with those in which you can earn a Master’s degree. Along with the previously discussed B.A./B.S. in information communication technology (ICT), the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky also offers a master’s degree in ICT. This program builds upon the knowledge gleaned in the bachelor’s degree program by offering students the opportunity to acquire more in-depth knowledge of the utilization and management of technology to solve data-related issues. Master’s degree candidates must complete 36 credit hours and can choose between one of three tracks in which to concentrate: policy and regulation, technology and analytics, and health. The entrance requirements for the Master’s program are a little different from those wishing to be admitted to the undergraduate program. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have earned a 3.00 GPA or higher. They also must submit a 200-to-300-word personal statement delineating their career goals and the reasons they want to be admitted to the UK ICT program as well as a CV and the names of three persons from whom the department will request letters of recommendation. A quick jaunt southeast down I-75 from the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington will bring you to the city of Richmond and the home of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). Within EKU’s Department of Computer Science, students can pursue a Master’s degree in applied computing, which offers candidates four options of concentration: software engineering and computer security, business intelligence, computational data science, and industrial computing. This 30-credit-hour program consists of 15 credit hours of core computer science courses, 12 of courses within one of the four concentrations listed above, and 3 of elective courses. Tailored for working professionals, computer teachers, and lab managers, the courses are mostly offered in the evenings, Monday through Thursday.
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Kentucky
As of this writing, there are no Kentucky Ph.D. programs in data science. To view data science Ph.D. programs in other states, as well as a handy guide to choosing a doctorate program, please visit our PhD data science page .
On-Campus Graduate Certificate Programs in Kentucky
Graduate certificates in data science are great paths for advancing your career in the field within a short period of time. They allow you to keep your skills current while gaining specialized knowledge and growing your professional network. In Kentucky, there are a few pertinent data science on-campus graduate certificate programs of which you should be aware. The University of Louisville offers a graduate certificate in data science, which can be completed in a 12-month period. Offered through the Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), this 18-credit course requires students to complete the required courses of databases, data mining, and data mining with linear models as well as three electives within the CECS and Mathematics Departments. For those working professionals out there too busy to make it onto Louisville’s campus for classes, they also offer this certificate via their online platform. In Highland Heights, Northern Kentucky University features graduate certificate programs in both business informatics and health informatics, which are both 18-credit programs. The business informatics certificate program requires completion of the two foundation courses: analytical tools in business informatics and strategic leadership for informatics. The rest of the program is augmented by 12 credit hours in courses including systems analysis and design and database management systems. As for the health informatics certificate program, students must complete 9 credit hours in the core courses of introduction to healthcare operations, technical foundations of health informatics, and information science in healthcare organization, with the 9 additional credits being completed through electives.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in Kentucky
The availability of online and distance-learning degree programs in data science have been a boon to the industry in the state as Kentuckians are able to achieve an equitable work/life balance as they gain valuable skills, knowledge, and abilities needed by the burgeoning businesses.
University of Kentucky M.S. in Applied Statistics
Through the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts and Sciences, you can pursue an online Master’s degree in applied statistics. Geared toward working scientists and other professionals looking to enhance their marketability and learn new skills, this virtual program utilizes weekly “chats with the professor” and lightboard technology to allow students the flexibility to work at their own pace. The curriculum consists of 11 online courses: 5 are required courses, including statistical computing with SAS, regression modeling, and computational theory and data visualization, and the remaining 6 are guided elective courses, such as advanced programming with R and statistical quality control. In order to gain admission to this popular online Master’s program, prospective students must submit an application through the Graduate School Apply Yourself portal with an accompanying fee of $65 per application for domestic applicants and $75 for international applicants. Applicants must also submit undergraduate transcripts showing at least a 2.75 GPA and any graduate work transcripts with a 3.00 GPA as well as self-reported GRE test scores and three references whom the college will contact directly for their letters of recommendation.
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.