Earn a Data Science Degree Online

Data science (alternatively known as data-driven science) is not so much a field of study as a method. It concerns the extraction, processing and understanding of information from masses of compiled raw data. Increasingly, users acquire and process this information through electronic means and store it in the cloud for reading and use by multiple stakeholders. It has many industrial, commercial, scientific and government planning uses today and is expected to be an area of significant growth for many years to come. Students with math degrees and a keen interest in information technology may find openings in data scientists.

A degree in data science or related will provide the student with transferable skills that they may use in almost any industry, and in almost any field. There are uses in climate science - for example examining and analyzing environmental data sets (temperature, sea levels, cloud cover, seismological events, freak weather) over a geographical area or period. You may also use your skills in commerce; retailers use big data to examine customer trends by area, city, state or country and plan their retail operations based on customer profile.

Courses in Data Science

Data science is a growing area with an expected skills shortage right across the developed world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 22% growth in demand between 2020 and 2030. To cope with this increased demand, we expect more data science courses at bachelor and master level over the next few years; at present, most options exist at master's level while students wishing to enter this career need to study math or statistics at bachelor level. Students can approach the degree from a math focus and become a data science generalist. Or they can combine their data science studies with any environmental science to enter into a career as an environmental data scientist. Further options include combining studies with geographic information system and become a GIS specialist. Present data science degrees will usually contain modules that cover the following subjects:

  • Data mining (how to gather data from a variety of sources)
  • Data modelling (projection of future events based on accumulated past data)
  • Data architecture (rules that specify which data is collected, for what purpose and how)
  • ETL development (extraction, transformation and loading)
  • Business intelligence development (how commerce and industry develop the tools and apply data science principles)

Data science is a tool with many practical applications across the theoretic and practical scientific board, helping decision makers plan their strategies with more information to hand and make better decision. How the course proceeds depend on the makeup of the individual course and whether it is applied or theoretical in nature. At undergraduate level, it will also depend on the student's major.

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for Computer and Information Research Scientists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

Data Science for Environmental Sciences

Data science is already in use for some areas of environmental science, some of which have already been discussed here. Most notably, it is the collection and collation of surface and water temperatures through which the global community of climate scientists have been able to track the rise regionally and globally. In 2016, EPA reported in an online article that they had used big data for many years, taking environmental samples from air and water to look for pollutant levels. With this, they and health organizations here in the US are able to examine the results of pollution on local environments and determine what is and is not a safe level. Most notably, they use big data and data scientists to determine the Environmental Quality Index (EQI).

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New Developments in Data Science

Big data and big data analytics are still undergoing a period of expansion. In 2015, the term made its way into the public sphere largely for one reason - the cloud although there were many more reasons for it than this public face. Cloud technology has been around for several years, but the last few have seen a larger availability of mass storage, cheaper technology and exponential increase in online services. It's no longer necessary for each organization to invest in large, expensive, custom servers. Scalability and flexibility have made the technology cheaper and standardization means greater cooperation.

Most of our web advances in the last five years have been driven by big data and the technology it uses. It has been a boon for government and regional planning, urban development, commerce, science and many other areas. There has been a fundamental shift in how organizations store their data, with more sharing (while remaining within data protection laws) and pooling of resources. This technology has helped international research just as much as it has enabled commerce. With more processing power, organizations are able to source more information - sometimes direct from users at the time they are generating the data - and process it in many different ways at once.

List of Data Science Degree Programs

California Polytechnic

San Luis Obispo, CA

Cal Poly does not offer dedicated data science degrees, but they do have a comprehensive list of minors for the subject including data structures, method and proof in mathematics and three levels of data science modules. This permits the student to tailor their degree with statistical analysis and data science (a great option with an environmental degree).

California State University

Long Beach, CA

Offering a number of postgraduate certificates, students are able to take their studies further than their BA/BS into such areas as healthcare, business, information systems, engineering, environment or as a data science generalist ideal for most science areas.

Elmhurst College

Elmhurst, Il

Their graduate certificate in Data Analytics is a shortened version of their master's program. This flexibility allows students with the aptitude and the desire to expand the postgraduate certificate to a full master's degree if they so desire.

George Washington University

Washington DC

GWU offers one of the most comprehensive data science MS degrees in this list. Working closely to promote science-based decision making through the application of data in government, students may have the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill, promoting this growing science area.

Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Although this MS is Data Analytics, its strong focus on the data science aspects of study makes it a great bridge between these growing applied science study areas. The program's full title is MS Analytics with a Concentration in Data Science.

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Known as one of the best universities in the world, Harvard provides a postgraduate certificate in data analytics and a number of MS degrees in specific field - especially in the realms of business analytics. Their data science certificate is online only.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, IL

This college offers a broad masters degree in data analytics through their campus and online. The course educates students in analyzing statistics, using the latest technologies and advanced mathematics to extract relevant information for better decision making.

Kennesaw State

Kennesaw, GA

This college offers both masters and doctoral programs in data science, analytics and statistics through their dedicated Department of Statistics and Analytical Sciences, and in association with the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, depending on the chosen course. Theirs is one of the most comprehensive choices.

New York University

New York, NY

Their MS in Data Science selects the best-performing students in math, statistics and other related fields to output high-quality graduates to become decision makers of the future. This is a general degree, so students can apply their studies in almost any field.

Northeastern University

Boston, MA

Northeastern has many choices for prospective students of the data sciences at certificate and master's level. Students will receive a comprehensive understanding of statistics, big data, data extraction and other concepts in this growing area.

Northern Kentucky University

Newport, KY

NKU is a great place to study data science as a bachelor student, one of only a few that offer undergraduate study in the US for this growing field. Students will also find options in business informatics, but generalist studies for data science are here too.

Regis University

Denver, CO

Offering both a master's and a postgraduate certificate in data science, Regis is at the forefront of this new area of data and scientific decision-making. It focuses on practical applications of data science including analysis, decision-making, problem-solving and the scientific method.

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

One of the world's leading universities offers a number of data study options including data analytics, statistics and data science, data mining and data information systems. This provides a large and comprehensive choice of study for students wishing to enter government, business, research science and planning.

University of California - Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

One of the top universities in the US, they are now one of the global leaders in data science in all its forms. From choices in business, data systems and data information, these provide flexible and transferable skills for students wishing to apply information technology to big data problems and the solutions organizations wish to extract.

University of California - Irvine

Irvine, CA

One of several campuses for UOC that offer degrees and other courses of study in the data sciences, Irvine has a strong focus on general data science and business intelligence. Students will learn the methods and technology of data analysis.

University of California-San Diego

San Diego, CA

Students who wish to pursue a career in data science have two options here. The first is an MS in Business Analytics. The second, and more relevant to the sciences, is a Master of Advanced Study in Data Science and Engineering. Both are within the departments of Data Science and Engineering.

University of Illinois

Champaign, IL

The Bloomington Campus provides a range of options for students of this study area, particularly in the area of data science. You won't necessarily need to study at a campus as they offer several online options for your data science degrees.

University of Montana

Missoula, MT

This research university provides a number of choices to study big data from BS in business analytics, data science certificates and master's degrees. Each focuses on the three major areas of study within big data, ensuring the most comprehensive education in the field.

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

Students wishing to study here will find several options in the form of online MS degrees in data science. The program is set up to provide students with the best range of skills applicable in government, research science, business and many other areas.

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

There are several options here in the data science area. The broadest option is the MS in computer science & data science. This will develop broad skills applicable in almost any area. This is primarily a computer science degree course, but the student will focus heavily on data science to complement the IT core skills.

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Data Science - Related Degrees

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