Data Science Degree Programs in South Dakota
While data science and South Dakota seem to be unlikely connections, the major industries in the “Mt. Rushmore State” have been quicker to embrace data science as a value-added job function. Banking, finance, and insurance are prime industries for data scientists as they are quant-heavy sectors focused on predictive analytics. Due to heavy governmental regulations, the insurance industry is cautiously implementing data scientists as a part of their actuarial team, but the data science momentum is gaining traction in that industry as well.
Thus, based on the aforementioned industry presence, it’s not too shocking that South Dakota universities have data science and data science-related programs. The academic offerings for data science may not be as numerous as, say, California’s data science programs. But, given that South Dakota isn’t exactly a state that people are flocking to (the entire state has a population of less than one million despite the slow and steady population increase over the last five years), the resident universities are ahead of the data science curve.
Career Outlook for Data Scientists in South Dakota
Herding the variety of employment categories into strict classifications is tricky. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicates there are no South Dakotans employed as Computer and Information Research Scientists. There are, in fact, data scientists working within South Dakota industries, but they may not be called “data scientists.” Titles are helpful, but they don’t paint a complete picture with regard to actual job functions.
Since only 4.7% of South Dakota’s workforce is employed within the tech sector, this does provide an additional data point that hints at a lack of data science jobs. A quick search yields around 50 advertised data science jobs (as of this writing) within the “Mt. Rushmore State.” However, when the search terms are shifted to “business analyst”, over 100 job listings appear. This returns us to the problematic focus on job titles. Yes, technically, business analysts and data scientists perform different yet overlapping functions when it comes to analytics. But, not all industries have jumped on to the “we must have an official data scientist title” bandwagon.
Data science is still maturing; it’s currently situated between the growth and shake-out phases of the maturation life cycle. All of the marketing hype surrounding data science has concealed the reality that many industries aren’t quite certain that paying someone six figures to do “data science” is a value-added job function. Also, data scientists and marketing departments haven’t done a thorough job of communicating the true differentials between an analyst and data science.
Suffice to state that, in general, there are analytics jobs available in South Dakota. They may not have the title you’re seeking, but they’ll require a parallel skillset. The average yearly South Dakotan data science salary is not too far off from the national average: $112,583 (vs. roughly $120,000 nationwide).
One of the positive trade-offs of living in South Dakota is the cost of living: it’s lower in comparison to the rest of the U.S. You’ll pay less for housing, health care, utilities, and transportation. Consequently, whether your a data scientist, a business analyst, or a data analyst, it’s highly likely that you’ll have a far more affordable lifestyle.
South Dakota universities, on the other hand, have embraced what we like to call the “data science family” which consists of data science (of course), business analytics, and data analytics.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in South Dakota
South Dakota State University offers an on-campus Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science. Your major course requirements will include Calculus II and III, Linear Algebra, and Probability and Statistics I and II. Additionally, you’ll select another eight courses to fulfill the data science core competencies, which may include R Programming, SAS programming, Intro to Data Science, Predictive Analytics, or Exploratory Data Analysis (with many more to choose from).
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in South Dakota
As of the 2020-2021 academic year, South Dakota State University is the only academic institution in the “Mt. Rushmore State” that offers data science programs, specifically. But, as you will see below, a data science degree isn’t your only option for fulfilling data science core competencies.
On-Campus Data Science Masters Programs in South Dakota
In addition to the Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science, South Dakota State University has a Master’s Degree in Data Science, a 30-unit hybrid program (some of the courses can be taken online, but not all of them) that is designed for completion in as little as 12 months. You can certainly take longer than a year.
Courses include Modern Applied Statistics, Data Warehousing and Mining, Predictive Analytics, and Big Data Analytics (among others). The program is relatively inexpensive: $12,554 for South Dakota residents and $16,163 for non-residents. For those who aren’t the best test-takers, the GRE is not required for admission consideration. However, as a prerequisite for entry, you should have completed college-level coursework in Calculus, Statistics, and be familiar with Matrix Algebra, SQL, and C++ or Python.
On-Campus Data Science Graduate Certificates in South Dakota
When compared to data science, business analytics is a job function that doesn’t hold the same confusion for employers as it is long-established and well defined. As a data scientist, you’re going to need to understand and be able to communicate with business leadership and management as what you do will impact various departments: IT, sales, marketing, inventory, etc.
So, a graduate certificate in business analytics will give you the requisite analytics knowledge from a business perspective. Dakota State University has designed an on-campus Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics that is directly applicable to data science for the business world. You’ll complete 12 credits in Data Warehousing and Data Mining, Predictive Analytics for Decision Making, and Advanced Data Mining.
Earning a graduate certificate is a great way to a. clearly demonstrate to employers that you have the knowledge and skills and b. ease into the possibility of continuing on towards a master’s degree in data analytics or data science (and at a lower cost).
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in South Dakota
Since statistics is a core data science competency, and there are no options available for earning a Ph.D. in Data Science via a South Dakota university, South Dakota State’s Ph.D. in Computational Science and Statistics is an equitable option.
To be eligible for admission, you’ll need to have achieved a Master’s Degree in Mathematics or Statistics (preferably an M.S.). While other STEM degrees are considered, the admissions team is looking for evidence that you’re ready for advanced math coursework that moves beyond the masters level.
Since no one is certain as to the future of data science within the context of job titles and job functions (we now have machine learning and AI engineers; two functions that overlap with data science), earning a degree in statistics will give you a broader array of career choices.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in South Dakota
There are many paths to becoming a data scientist. Majoring in computer science at the undergraduate level is one such path. Dakota State has an online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science that will put you on the fast track towards entering a data science career.
After you complete the usual coursework in English, Humanities, and Math, you’ll then focus on Parallel Computing, Programming Languages, Data Structures, and Probability and Statistics. Consequently, you’ll have far more in-depth knowledge as to the technical aspects of data science. Furthermore, if you ever decide that data science isn’t the career you thought it would be, your tech degree will provide entry into other tech-related jobs such as software engineering.
Online Data Science Masters Programs in South Dakota
Although the emphasis has been on data science, the skill shortage frequently reported by the likes of Gartner and other high profile research producers references “analytics” as a whole. The title only matters in relation to the expected salary. As has been stated elsewhere, there are “analysts” who are actually data scientists (and vice versa). That’s why we focus on the core competencies required for data science as opposed to the title.
A Masters of Science in Analytics, such as can be found at Dakota State University, will meet those core competencies if they provide coursework in Foundations of Programming, Applied Statistics, Predictive Analytics, Data Mining, and Data Warehousing. These are foundational to data science. The upside of many analytics degree programs is that you can focus on a specific track.
For example, Dakota State’s program offers a Business Analytics, Information Systems, and Healthcare Analytics track. By choosing one of these, you’ll gain valuable hands-on experience within a particular industry, which will send a clear message to potential employers who are seeking knowledgeable candidates to fulfill their analytics needs.
Online Data Science Graduate Certificates in South Dakota
When it comes to data science programs in South Dakota, the unmistakable winner is South Dakota State. In addition to the other academic offerings already discussed, they have a fully online Data Science Graduate Certificate as well.
You’ll complete the exact same courses that their masters level students take for the Master’s Degree in Data Science which includes Statistical Programming, Modern Applied Statistics, and Statistical Methods.
Prior experience with R, SAS, and SQL is highly recommended prior to admission. Also, you should have statistical knowledge equivalent to an introductory statistics course. Keep in mind, however, that non-resident tuition for the program is a bit steep: $711.55 per credit, and this is a 12 credit program. So, expect to pay just under $9,000 in total including any books or other possible fees.
Online Data Science Ph.D. Programs in South Dakota
Earning a Ph.D. is a long road to travel, and these programs are primarily designed for those who desire to be an academic, e.g., teaching, researching, publishing. So, if you’re considering a Ph.D., keep in mind that you’ll likely need to make extra effort to bridge the gap between what academia trains you to do and what your employer expects from you.
That being stated, Dakota State University has an online Ph.D. in Information Systems that does meet data science core competencies. For example, you’ll take courses in Data Warehousing and Data Mining along with Applied Statistics and Foundations of Programming. You’ll also choose a specialization: Application Development, Network Administration & Security, Data Management, or Health Information Systems.
It may take you between three and seven years to meet all of the coursework, research, and dissertation requirements. Make sure that you have the time, financial resources, and emotional support (because you never know what life is going to throw at you in the middle of your program) to carry you through several years of full-time study.