Data Science Degree Programs in Nevada
Naturally, when most people think of Nevada, they automatically associate the 7th largest state with Las Vegas — the self-proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of the World.” While Las Vegas is the most populated city in the Silver State, and a majority of the biggest employers are located in “Sin City”, it’s definitely not the only location for those seeking to further their data science career through higher education.
Although Reno’s population is smaller than Vegas by more than 50%, it is less densely populated and the temperatures are much milder when compared to Southern Nevada’s blazing and unremitting summer heat. Both cities house major universities within the University of Nevada system (UNLV and UNR). Indeed, UNR is a mere four-hour drive to Silicon Valley and the technological trends, including data science, are adopted more quickly into their academic programs.
UNLV still has some catching up to do in terms of data science education as the main allure of attending UNLV is their highly ranked School of Hospitality. Certainly, the hospitality industry is in need of data scientists (in 2018, 42 million visitors flowed through Las Vegas, representing a massive amount of data that can be used for marketing and advertising). But, the casinos, in all of their bureaucratic machinations, have been sluggish in adding data scientists to their employment roster.
That being stated, Nevada does have career opportunities for data scientists.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in Nevada
Overall, Nevada’s prime revenue generating industries are tourism and mining (the desert landscape holds a wealth of gold, silver, lithium, and iron). So, a majority of all job types available within the state usually center on the casinos and the SMBs which support the casinos. Even though mining is a major industry, data science jobs within that sector aren’t frequently advertised. The tech industry is slowly moving into both Las Vegas and Reno as Nevada has a business-friendly tax environment, and there is no personal income tax levied from employees.
With regard to the data science career outlook in Nevada, there is much room for growth: only 4.5% of the workforce is in the tech sector, and a mere 40 people have been classified as working within data science (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics). This is not surprising when you consider that many SMBs, who are not directly in tech per se, continue to struggle with the value of employing a data scientist or assembling a data science team. Larger companies find it easier to see the benefits of having a data scientist due to much higher data volume and velocity.
However, there are employers in the healthcare and finance industries located within Nevada, more specifically in Las Vegas, who are seeking data scientists. A search through Indeed, Zip Recruiter or other job posting site will yield an increasing number of advanced analytics or data science jobs. A data scientist in Nevada can expect to earn roughly $98,000 per year, which is more than double the state’s average salary ($47,000). As such, a Nevada data scientist can live quite comfortably in either Las Vegas or Reno.
In contrast to the rest of the U.S., Nevada’s cost of living trends higher than the national average. This is likely to continue as California residents (and those from other states) flow into the Silver State, which offers less of a tax burden — both in terms of employment and other taxes that tend to degrade one’s take-home earnings over time. The downside of Nevada’s growing population is that it pushes home and rent prices higher, and places an added strain on water availability.
Regardless of whether you intend on staying in Nevada after graduation or plan on relocating, the Nevada University system offers several options that can pave a solid path towards a rewarding data science career.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Nevada
In all U.S. states, you will find plenty of standard undergraduate degree program options that are foundational to data science: statistics, math, business, computer science, etc. Nonetheless, data science undergraduate degree programs aren’t quite as widespread. Neither UNR nor UNLV currently offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science. But, you still have the option of studying the other aforementioned data science “biggies” for your undergraduate degree.
Currently, most employers prefer a computer science, engineering, math, statistics or other STEM-related major. This is sensible considering that computer programming, advanced math and statistics skills, and industry knowledge continue to be foundational expertise for data science. While automated data science and machine learning tools are becoming increasingly prevalent, as we move further into actualizing AI, data scientists will be encountering more “black box” scenarios. Consequently, those who do not have the established math, stats, and programming knowledge will likely hit a “knowledge wall” when trying to solve such issues.
Pro tip: Choose an undergraduate major that maintains both your interest as well as multiple possible career trajectories. You may decide that data science isn’t right for you (just because it’s still “popular” as an in-demand expertise doesn’t mean that it is the right fit for everyone).
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in Nevada
Both UNR and UNLV have on-campus Master’s Degrees in Data Analytics. At UNR, you’d enter the Master’s in Information Systems program and choose the Data Analytics track. Alternatively, UNLV’s Master of Science in Data Analytics and Applied Economics is offered via the Lee Business School which “prepares students for careers as data scientists.”
Realistically, either one of the above-mentioned master’s degrees will readily prepare you for a data science career. UNLV’s program does have a more direct emphasis on big data, data management, and programming. But, both have an econometric focus in terms of statistics.
On-Campus Data Science Master’s Programs in Nevada
Other than the previously described Master’s in Analytics, neither UNLV nor UNR has an on-campus data science master’s program at this time. The usual alternatives, other than data analytics, are present: Master’s in Statistics, Master’s in Computer Science, Master’s in Information Systems, and so forth.
It can’t be overemphasized enough that you don’t absolutely need a degree with data science in the title to attain a job as a data scientist. Data science is at the nexus of multifactorial skills, some of which can be attained on the job (e.g., a data or business analyst growing into a data science position). The advanced math skills are trickier to obtain through self-study, especially if you’ve never taken college level linear algebra or calculus (or it’s been years since you’ve completed those courses).
On-Campus Data Science Graduate Certificates in Nevada
UNLV has an on-campus graduate certificate in Data Analytics. Keep in mind that many colleges and universities entitle their programs as data analytics rather than data science. So, while the names may be slightly different, you’ll still take courses in programming, big data, statistics, etc.
Those interested in completing UNLV’s Data Analytics Graduate Certificate will need to be employed “in a position that treats with data”, submit an application through their Graduate College, have attained a bachelor’s degree (in any field), send two letters of reference along with a resume or Curriculum Vitae, and also include a letter of interest that discusses your reasoning for completing the certificate.
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Nevada
UNR does have an on-campus Ph.D. in Data Science, with the official title being Ph.D. in Statistics and Data Science. You’ll need to have completed either a Master’s Degree in Statistics or a Master’s Degree in Mathematics to be eligible for the program (at the very least, it is “strongly recommended”). On the plus side, UNR provides funding for those who’ve been admitted to the Ph.D. program: an annual stipend of $17,000, tuition is waived, and students receive a “subsidized medical plan.”
GRE scores, three recommendation letters, official transcripts, a Resume or Curriculum Vitae, and a Statement of Purpose are the primary admission requirements (in addition to having one of the aforementioned master’s degrees). International students will need to demonstrate their English language proficiency on either the TOEFL or IELTS.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in Nevada
There are currently no online data science degree programs of any level available via Nevada academic institutions. This includes bachelor’s, graduate certificates, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.s. For a list of other online programs, please visit our Online Data Science Master’s page.
If you already have a STEM master’s degree, there are also a solid selection of MOOC offerings that can help bridge any data science gaps. Coursera and edX are prime purveyors of certificates in data science and machine learning — IBM, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Microsoft, Harvard, and MIT offer certificates and MicroMasters through either Coursera or edX.
For those who either want another graduate degree (STEM-based) or want to take their formal studies beyond a bachelor’s degree, Coursera also partners with well known institutions to offer online master’s degrees in Computer Science (Arizona State University), Machine Learning (Imperial College London), Computer Science in Data Science (University of Illinois), and Data Science