15 Best Master’s in Data Science programs in the USA

Masters in Data Science
St John’s College, Cambridge, UK Photo by Marty Sakin on Unsplash

You probably already know how important data science roles are in today’s world. And having a Master of Science in Data Science will open many more opportunities for you.

Without a degree, you’ll find yourself struggling to get the best job opportunities. Lack of promotions and also lack of a much deserved higher pay. To give you an example of how important a Master’s degree is, 88% of Data Scientists hold a master’s degree.

Most importantly, Data Scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century. Imagine the number of Tinder dates that’ll line up for you.

But since you are on this blog, it means you already want to pursue an MS in Data Science. The only thing you are struggling at right now is finding the best university. So let’s dive right in, and help you find the perfect university.

This blog focuses on MS in Data Science providing universities based in the United States of America (USA).

Here’s our thought process behind the ranking.

Our team, created this ranking by keeping at the front what we believe is most important for a successful career.

Legendary Richard Feynman once said people learn the most by 2 ways, by doing it (first) & by teaching it to others (second). Hence the MS in Data Science programs on our list includes only those who provide hands-on training, have an industry-standard curriculum and are ranked at a decent spot.

The cost of education is at an all-time high, and we understand that it must be a point of concern for you as well. Hence we have made sure to add the average graduate tuition for each university with help of college navigator. We have also mentioned other deciding factors such as Faculty to student ratio. And last but not least we have also mentioned the acceptance rate for multiple universities.

The rank of the corresponding university on the world stage has also been considered in creating the following list. We took into account the rankings provided by US News.

We narrowed down on the following list based on what we thought is a must for a useful data science program. Once we had the list we followed the ranking provided by US news.

Note: Prices may vary, contact respective universities for a final idea.

15. Villanova University – Villanova, Pennsylvania

Master of Science in Analytics

  • Faculty to student ratio: 11 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #53
  • Tuition (2019-20): $50,400 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: 47.9%
  • Website: Villanova University

This MS in Analytics(Data Science) program teaches you the whole analytics and builds a broad skillset of analytics within the context of business functions. The course will help you make a confident business decision from data while learning how to extract, analyze, interpret data.

The main drawback of this program is it is lesser on the technical side, it is more business-oriented, and it is a lot simpler than broader machine learning problems. If you are looking to go deeper into machine learning, then this is not the right program for you, but if you are looking more on the business side. Then this degree is decent for you to pursue.

The Masters of Science in Analytics program at this university will help you expand your knowledge in all areas of analytics including Data Management, Business Intelligence, and predictive and prescriptive models.

Course mainly includes:

  • Data Models and Structured Analysis
  • Programming in “R”
  • Enterprise Data Management

14. Northeastern University – Boston, MA

Master of Data Science

  • Faculty to student ratio: 14 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #49
  • Tuition (2019-20): $53,000 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: 27.4%
  • Website: Northeastern University

Do you get bored learning the traditional classroom way? Then this program of MS of Data Science at NU is the perfect match for you. This program is more self-study based and only a few courses offer live lectures. There is also a portal available to interact with other students and professors. Along with weekly assignments, the program has weekly discussions hosted by the professor as well.

NU stays true to the nationwide reputation of its quality education. In the program, you will learn how to utilize database systems and analytics software built upon open-source systems such as R, Python, and TensorFlow. You will also learn how to make trustworthy predictions using traditional statistics and machine learning methods.

Faculties come from various areas including data science, research, statistics, and computer science.

13. University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI

Master of Science in Statistics: Data Science

  • Faculty to student ratio: 17 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #43
  • Tuition (2019-20): $30,600 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: 54.4%
  • Website: University of Wisconsin

Are you midway in your data career, with a role such as data analyst? Then this is a good match for you to make the leap to your data scientist dream job.

Master of Science in Statistics: Data Science provides a 12 part program. This trains you to use and work with the latest state of the art tools and methods.

The program combines a statistical theory, practice relating to data science along with communication skills to make you a key player to use data effectively.

The interdisciplinary curriculum includes courses in:

  • Data Warehousing
  • Prescriptive Analytics
  • Data Science and Strategic Decision-Making

There is a drawback though, you as a student are not allowed to accept research assistantships, teaching or project assistantships or other University appointments which often helps in waiver of tuition fees or academic fees.

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12. Boston University – Boston, Massachusetts

Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics

  • Faculty to student ratio: 10 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #42
  • Tuition (2019-20): $55,502 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: 22%
  • Website: Boston University

The hands-on ‘Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics’ program at Boston University exposes you to various database systems, data mining tools, data visualization tools and packages, Python packages, R packages, and cloud services such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Mass Open Cloud.

This is a perfect fit for students with a pre-existing background in computer science and mild knowledge of data science, who want to learn advanced data analytics.

This is a hands-on course taught by Ph.D. level expert faculty.

11. Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, Georgia

Master of Science in Analytics

The Master of Science in Analytics (Data Science) program at Georgia Tech is considered one of the best in the world.

This course combines business, statistics, computing, and operations research to provide an advanced program for data scientists. This program is designed to provide the needed skills to deal with business intelligence and decision making in a business setting.

Along with this, Georgia Tech provides a special emphasis on Networking. Students are funded to attend major analytics conferences, gain valuable exposure at Georgia Tech’s Big Data Industry Forum, this is done in addition to making contacts with leading analytics organizations during the course of the program.

10. University of California – San Diego, CA

Master of Advanced Study in Data Science and Engineering

  • Faculty to student ratio: 19 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #35
  • Tuition (2019-20): $32,588 for non California residents
  • Acceptance rate: <15%
  • Website: University of California

This university provides the perfect platform if you are someone who is in early to mid of their career as a data science professional.

The courses are delivered on Friday and Saturdays. The instructional material is also available online. This is a suitable course if you are looking to work on your career and learn simultaneously.

Similar to other universities on our list, MS in Data Science program provided by this university also focused on career aimed data science fundamentals such as programming, analysis, systems, and machine learning.

Main drawbacks include less focus on machine learning problems and way too much focus on databases.

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9. University of California – Santa Barbara, CA

Master of Arts in Statistics – Data Science Track

There are multiple specializations provided at UC Santa Barbara, these are; Mathematical Statistics, Applied Statistics, Data Science.

These specializations allow you to choose what you love, this is not seen in many other universities.

A more statistics focused hands-on program, the Master of Arts in Statistics – Data Science degree provided at UC Santa Barbara can be a strong initial state to a doctorate or an esteemed career in Data Science.

8. University of Virginia – Charlottesville, VA

Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS)

  • Faculty to student ratio: 18 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #26
  • Tuition (2019-20): $40,000 for the program
  • Website: University of Virginia

The University of Virginia has an amazing reputation, which it maintains with its top-quality education. With the price tag on the lower side and education on the higher side, this is a good university you should aim for.

This program is good for freshers and experienced folks as well.

The Master of Science in Data Science program is stretched over 11 months. It has a good balance of Maths and stats. This program is more on the machine learning side, multiple algorithms with programming skills in R, Python, SAS will be taught.

The course mainly includes

  • Data Mining
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Ethics of Big Data

7. University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

Master of Science in Applied Data Science

Master of Science in Applied Data Science program at USC is decent but not worth the price tag program.

The program provides students with a core background in Computer Science and specialized algorithmic, statistical, and systems expertise various processes relating to Data Science.

The program puts a heavy emphasis on stats, algorithms and systems expertise. The curriculum widely focuses on core computer science.

The course mainly includes:

  • Foundations and Applications of Data Mining
  • Machine Learning for Data Science
  • Foundations of Data Management

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6. Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, PA

Master of Computational Data Science (MCDS)

  • Faculty to student ratio: 5 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #26
  • Tuition (Fall’21): $27,300 for one semester of the program
  • Acceptance rate: <10%
  • Website: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is one of the most reputed and top universities for research in computer science in the world.

The Masters of Science in Data Science program at Carnegie Mellon includes 4 specializations machine learning, cloud computing, data science seminar, and interactive data science.

This program emphasizes on data collection, data modelling and analysis, human-computer interaction, and scientific experimental designing. The curriculum includes the usage of statistics, machine learning, and software engineering to solve real-world problems.

5. Cornell University – Ithaca, NY

Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Applied Statistics (Option II: Data Science)

  • Faculty to student ratio: 5 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #18
  • Tuition (2019-20): $61,401 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: –
  • Website: Cornell University

There was once a time when Cornell’s CS department was considered the best in the world, but the position has now been taken over by others.

Still Cornell offers a fantastic program to be reckoned. Built on a solid base of statistics, Cornell’s MS in Data Science program is a year long program.

Cornell’s program offers you the option to focus their graduate education in one of two areas: techniques of applied statistical analysis or data science (high-performance computing, databases and scripting).

The program is undertaken with a industry partner. Data analytics projects in the past have included collaborating with a health company to create a system that offered personalized article recommendations for anonymous users etc.

4. Columbia University – New York, NY

Master of Science in Data Science

  • Faculty to student ratio: 6 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #3
  • Tuition (2019-20): $60,540 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: 5.8%
  • Website: Columbia University

Columbia is an Ivy League university – there is absolutely no doubt in its reputation. The Master of Science in Data Science program offers a good foundation for machine learning and programming along with practical experience.

The program typically takes over 16 months to finish.

It consists of 6 core courses covering the essentials of computer science, probability, statistics and machine learning.

There is a capstone project in the last semester, you are also offered an internship to increase your practical knowledge.

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3. Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

Master of Science in Data Science

  • Faculty to student ratio: 7 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #2
  • Tuition (2019-20): $54,880 for the program
  • Acceptance rate: –
  • Website: Harvard University

Harvard’s three-semester, 12 course Master of Science in Data Science program provides all the skills needed to apply data science to any field.

The program focuses on topics such as reproducible data analysis, collaborative problem solving, visualization and communication, and security and ethical issues that arise in data science.

The degree includes a minimum of one research project or semester-long independent study, allowing students to apply their learning.

The program is on 3rd spot on our list for a reason. You should definitely give the program a priority accordingly.

2. Stanford University – Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, California)

MS in Statistics: Data Science

  • Faculty to student ratio: 5 to 1
  • USA Ranking: #4
  • Tuition (2019-20): $48,008/year
  • Website: Stanford University

The finest of the finest, the MS in Statistics: Data Science program offered at Stanford University is the best. Being located in the Silicon Valley is undoubtedly the biggest feature of this university.

You will develop a broad understanding of data science, statistical modeling, programming, and data mining. There is also scope for specializing in machine learning, big data in medicine, business intelligence, and distributed data management.

The program offers a balance in learning in Databases and machine learning. This course must be on your list.

1. University of California Berkeley – Berkeley, California

Master of Information and Data Science

Unarguably one of the best in the world, UC Berkley is a fortune if you get to attend. The Master of Data Science program is taught by industry leaders, with current experience and expertise.

The program is on the higher side for costing but is well worth it. The entire program is taken online. Students are required to attend 4-5 sessions at the institute in the course duration.

The course is generally completed in 20 months, but an accelerated program can be finished in 12 months as well.

The classes are very demanding, but if you think you can do it, then yes, you should definitely go for UC Berkeley.

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Final Note:

Deciding on a university is a big step, it can define your career down the line. Since this is an overwhelming decision, it becomes essential that you do thorough research for each university you want to apply to.

Do you want more such detailed blogs for other countries as well? Tell us in the comments below!

Who are we?

At aiadventures, we work in the field of Data Science. And provide training to aspirants.

We take great pride in our successful track record of over 1000+ students trained, few of which joined us to build their strong profile to get the best university for their Master’s in Data Science. Many of our students, with the help of their fantastic profile, have bagged a place at reputed universities.

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