Data Science Degree Programs in Montana
At first glance, Montana seems like an unlikely player in the data science industry. The state’s small population obscures a new frontier for the field. The market for data science jobs in Montana has trended upward in recent years thanks to the business-friendly environs of Billings, Bozeman, and Missoula. Your career can also benefit from reputable data programs at the University of Montana and Montana Tech.
A steady pipeline of young professionals has boosted Montana’s reputation as a tech sector player. The Montana High Tech Business Alliance found that high-tech jobs generated revenue growth rates nine times larger than the state’s overall growth rate in 2017. This influx of new jobs combines with established natural resource industries to make Montana an attractive place for data scientists like you. It is important to understand the state of the job market in Montana before jumping into a data science career in the state.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in Montana
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives reasons for optimism when considering Montana as the next step in your career. BLS gave Montana a location quotient of 0.70 compared to a 1.0 location quotient for the entire country in 2017. This rating means that data science jobs in Montana represent a smaller portion of available jobs than in the national job market. Given Montana’s location, however, the BLS rating shows a lot of promise for the data science field.
The average median salary for a data scientist in Montana was $105,360 in 2017. This salary fell below the national median salary of $119,570 for the same job category. If you earned a typical salary in Montana, you would be in the same salary range as a financial manager ($106,920) or a personal financial advisor ($103,890).
Montana’s cost of living varies on whether you rent or own your home. The cost of living rating for Montana is 102.8 compared to the national rate of 100. Montana’s costs for healthcare, transportation, and utilities are substantially lower than the national average. A limited supply of homes in the state accounts for a median home price of $230,500 compared to the national median price of $216,200. Montana’s rental market is more promising with an average monthly rent of $641 for a one-bedroom apartment compared to the national average of $930 per month.
Major job listing sites showed a number of promising leads for data scientists in March 2019. LinkedIn listed data science positions with employers like the Montana State Fund and Perficient. ZipRecruiter featured 133 jobs for data scientists in Montana including positions with SoFi and the U.S. Geological Survey. There were more than 300 jobs available on the Indeed for data analysis professionals in Montana with companies like Island Mountain Development Group and the State of Montana.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Montana
You can start your data science career in Montana by completing an undergraduate degree in the field. Montana Tech’s four-year data science program is representative of the state’s higher education options.
Montana Tech B.S. in Data Science
Montana Tech trains the next generation of engineers and scientists from a small campus in western Montana. The school’s B.S. in data science is the only four-year program in the discipline offered by Montana universities. According to the program’s educational objectives, graduates of the data science program are trained to enter the work force and pursue graduate degrees within five years of completion.
The data science program starts with introductory courses in statistics and computer science along with general studies courses. In the second year, students are challenged to learn database design, statistics for science, and multivariable calculus. Juniors in the data science program delve into courses on data mining, probability, and software engineering. By your senior year, you are prepared for the job market with coursework in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Data science students are also expected to complete data science projects prior to graduation.
To gain admission to Montana Tech, you need to complete an application and submit a $30 fee. Your application requires official school transcripts and ACT or SAT reports to demonstrate math and writing proficiency. During the 2018-2019 school year, base tuition for a full-time student was $5,707 with additional fees charged by program. Montana Tech offers first-year and continuing student scholarships that can offset tuition costs for promising students.
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in Montana
Montana provides several options for data scientists who need graduate courses and degrees. The University of Montana and Montana State University attract professionals around the world interested in perfecting their computer science, math, and business skills.
Montana State University M.S. in Data Science
Montana State University is the state’s flagship university with faculty and students flocking to Bozeman due to its reputation. The university’s M.S. in Data Science combines courses in computer science, math, and statistics to provide a well-rounded education for data professionals. Graduate applicants need to demonstrate completion of courses in calculus, algorithms, and statistics to gain admission to the program. In fact, the university’s graduate committee offers a free screening form so you can determine your readiness for the program prior to application.
If you are ready for the program, you can start with an application and $60 application fee. The university requires three letters of recommendations, school transcripts, and a personal statement as accompaniments to the application. You can bolster your prospects of admission by including your GRE scores if you feel those will push you over the top.
The master’s program in data science at Montana State University starts with six courses split across the three program departments. Every student completes courses on algorithms, experimental design, and foundations of machine learning to complete half of this requirement. The remaining requirements and electives are taken from a pool of classes including advanced database systems, mathematical optimization, and time series analysis. Graduates of the program are trained to take classroom lessons into the real world due to a focus on practical uses of data science.
The University of Montana M.S. in Data Science
The University of Montana uses its considerable resources to prepare data scientists for the marketplace. The Department of Mathematical Sciences has developed a graduate degree program in data science that prepares its students for the challenges of the industry. The M.S. in Data Science combines courses in math with big data courses that are offered only to graduate students.
If you pursue this degree, you need to complete 30 graduate credits and a thesis or 36 graduate credits without a thesis. Every data science student needs to take four graduate courses in data analytics and numerical methods. The required coursework includes a math colloquium and an applied math seminar. After completing this work, the program requires completion of a comprehensive exam to demonstrate knowledge. You then consult with your advisor to select statistics, computer science, and business courses that shape the remainder of your time in the program.
The application process starts with an online application to the University of Montana. Your application needs to include official scores from the GRE test, official school transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. The university also asks graduate applicants to submit descriptions of college courses applicable to the program and personal statements of their goals. Data science graduates can apply for research and student instructional assistant positions that strengthen their resumes while paying tuition.
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Montana
There are no Ph.D. programs specific to data science in Montana. You can learn about data science Ph.D. programs throughout the country by clicking here.
On-Campus Graduate Certificate Programs in Montana
The University of Montana’s Data Science Initiative offers a less intensive option for data professionals who don’t require master’s degrees. The Big Data Analytics Certificate program focuses on data scientists who need to store, process, and analyze complex data sets. This 12-credit program is ideal for anyone who wants to specialize in big data and previously studied data science at the undergraduate level.
The certificate program requires completion of two courses before students can select electives. Every student needs to complete the data analytics introduction course before completing a big data or data analytics project. This project combines lessons on project management with real-world uses of data science. Once these required courses are complete, you choose two electives to match your professional goals. The University of Montana offers certificate electives in big data mining, marketing analytics, machine learning, and data analytics.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in Montana
Montana’s colleges and universities do not offer online data science degree programs at present. You only need an Internet connection to access some of the nation’s best degree programs from your home. The University of California-Berkeley offers a master’s degree in information and data science that offers live online courses with projects to fit your schedule. The University of Wisconsin’s online M.S. program uses recorded lectures and online message boards to guide data scientists through coursework. You can grow as a data scientist in Montana by completing an online data science degree program.