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. For some of the largest companies in Montana, the demand for data science professionals is continuing to rise. 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. Additionally, some of the most innovative renewable energy positions are opening across the state. 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
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean salary for a data scientist in Montana is $77,830 as of May 2021. This falls below the national median salary of $100,910 for the same job category. However, it’s quite a bit more than the annual mean salary earned by Montana’s entire workforce which only comes to $49,340.
Data scientists who seek more specific roles in the industry may be able to increase their earning potential in Montana. For instance, software developers in the state enjoy a mean salary of $92,980 while their management analyst counterparts earn a mean annual wage of $96,800 per BLS data.
As of November 2022, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry lists these industries as top employers in the state:
- Trade, transportation, and utilities
- Education and health services
- Professionals and business services
Employers like the Montana State Fund, State of Montana, and the US Geological Survey sometimes seek data science professionals in the state.
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. For students aiming to specialize in a different technical field but wish to gain more experience in data science, Montana Tech offers a minor in the program.
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 2020-2021 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.
Carroll College B.S. in Data Science
The B.S. in Data Science from Carroll College integrates traditional programming concentrations on math, statistics, and computer science with business analytics. As a result, students learn how to work with data in order to achieve overarching business goals. By learning how to gather, analyze, and make conclusions from data, students will be prepared to build predictive modeling practices and visualize diverse data sets.
A unique trait to getting a B.S. in Data Science from Carroll College includes the entry into the Montana Mathematical Modeling Contest and the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Through these hands-on competitions, students have a greater opportunity to network with professionals in the field at the same time that they impress with their own independent research projects.
Tuition for Carroll College’s B.S. in Data Science is currently $46,316. This price point covers all annual fees, tuition, and room and board. Students regularly receive additional awards and scholarships through the college to make the cost of the degree more affordable.
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. Because there’s so much overlap between the degree program and the University of Montana Computer Science department, the M.S. in Data Science combines courses in math with big data courses that are offered only to graduate students.
If you pursue the University of Montana Data Science Master’s 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. At the same time, there is one program in Montana that includes more generalized training in data science. You can learn about data science Ph.D. programs throughout the country by clicking here.
Montana State University Ph.D. in Computer Science
Montana State University degrees are some of the highest profile and sought after qualifications in the state. The institution’s Ph.D. in Computer Science is the closest thing to a doctorate in data science in Montana right now. Designed for students who yearn for a career in academia or in research, the Ph.D. in computer science will prepare students to have an advanced, specialized knowledge base in order to contribute to cutting edge advancements in the field. Importantly, the degree is split among coursework, independent research, qualifying examinations, and the dissertation process.
The goal of getting a Ph.D. for most students is to teach or conduct research in a university setting. Several graduates of the Ph.D. in Computer Science from Montana State University have gone onto professorial roles at institutions across the country. In order to apply, students must have completed either a bachelor’s or Master’s degree in the field. Additionally, students must display previous coursework experience in computer architecture, software engineering, operating systems, programming languages, and networking. To fund the degree, which usually takes five to seven years to complete, students can apply for graduate teaching assistantships, graduate research assistantships, or the Benjamin Fellowship, which is awarded to three new Ph.D. students in any engineering or computer science discipline.
On-Campus Certificate Programs in Montana
Two certificate programs in Montana offer students an expedited, hands-on path becoming a specialized leader in the field. These certificate programs do not require an undergraduate or graduate degree, making them more accessible for students of diverse academic backgrounds. Still, their focused nature will provide students the opportunity to learn more about concepts and practices and data science to advance their career.
University of Montana Undergraduate Big Data Analytics Certificate
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.
University of Montana Undergraduate Cybersecurity Management Certificate
The University of Montana’s Cybersecurity Management Certificate is structured to prepare students to help organizations develop and enact effective, forward-thinking cybersecurity policy. While the program isn’t specifically dedicated to data science, it does give students the opportunity to engage with the field from a security perspective. Foundationally, students learn how to locate problem areas in security architecture, protect sensitive data, detect leaks, breaches or hacks, and recover information that may have been compromised.
Students who get the Undergraduate Cybersecurity Management Certificate come away from the program equipped to manage cybersecurity frameworks that protect important, delicate data. Some of the topics explored in the program include networking technology, database analytics, statistics, and the policy of cybersecurity. The program consists of 18 total credit hours and can be completed in approximately two semesters.
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.
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.