Many reputable non-profit universities now offer data science programs in an online/distance learning format. These are often part-time masters’ degrees or short-burst graduate certificates. Ready to apply? Feel free to skip ahead to our complete list of online master’s in data science programs.
Choosing an Online Data Science Program
Name recognition is still important with distance learning — people like to see qualifications from top tech schools. So before you sock thousands of dollars into a program, here are some questions to ask:
- How long has the program been offered for? The longer the better, obviously, though no online programs are going to be THAT old.
- What skills are covered? Remember that data science bootcamps and one-off online skills courses are other viable options.
- Where can I see a demo of the online student experience? Different schools use different technologies to facilitate online learning – let’s just say that some are better & more functional than others.
- What resources/data sets will I have access to? Strong schools often have research centers with entrepreneur programs, private/public partnerships, labs, incubators and sponsored competitions.
- Will I be working with great companies on real-world practicums? Ask to see examples of student projects and talk to alumni about the experience.
- Do you have job placement information for the most recent class of graduates? They should!
As a general gauge of quality, you can also look at university rankings in quantitative analysis, comp sci and statistics & awards for online offerings. There’s no U.S. News & World Report ranking specifically targeted at data science, but there is a list of Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs.
Featured Online Programs
Start your search with respected programs recruiting students from around the US.
More InfoSouthern Methodist University
* GRE waivers available for experienced applicants
More InfoSyracuse University
More InfoAmerican University
More InfoArizona State University
More InfoUniversity of California-Berkeley
Is An Online Degree Right for You?
Online isn’t your only option, especially if you live in a big city. You could consider a part-time, on-campus degree. Or you could look at blended programs that mix online coursework with evening & weekend classes. Not sure which one is right for you? Consider the following factors when you’re exploring distance learning…
What to Expect
Admissions criteria for online data science degrees & certificates are all over the map, so make sure the program is the right fit for your skill level.
Programs typically include a blend of core courses and electives. Multimedia lectures, discussion boards, video conferencing, group project work and virtual office hours are common elements.
Occasionally, masters’ programs will expect you come to campus at some point (or points) during your study. Sometimes it’s a handful of weekends, and sometimes it’s a longer, more concentrated session. Certain schools will have a kick-off and a final reunion week. Be sure to confirm what’s required.
Online courses should be just as demanding as traditional ones, if not more. In a good program:
- Hard deadlines and accountability markers (e.g. class presentations) will keep you on track.
- Team-based practicums and chat rooms will help you build career contacts.
- e-Portfolios will impress future employers.
Compare the online data science curriculum with your university’s campus offering. If it’s radically different, ask yourself why.
Teaching quality is incredibly important, especially when it’s not face-to-face. Read up on faculty profiles — these folks should be some of the same people teaching campus programs.
- If they’re full-time, tenured professors, are they working on cutting-edge research or collaborating with campus partners (e.g. IBM)? Have they won data science awards or research fellowships? You want folks who know what’s happening beyond the ivory walls.
- If they’re part-time, are they leading data projects in real companies? Do they have experience with start-ups and incubators? Again, you want people who understand today’s landscape.
Stay away from programs that try to foist under-qualified adjuncts and instructors onto unsuspecting students.
Along with the brand name (e.g. MIT), networking is a HUGE part of the reason students opt for university programs over alternatives. That casual chat in the hall or a coffee with your professor may just lead to an AI project or a government contract.
It can be harder to build relationships in an online setting, but it’s not impossible.
- Look for programs that incorporate networking opportunities, corporate days, guest speakers and/or on-campus visits.
- Think about whether a program in a tech hub (e.g. the Bay Area) or a foreign city (e.g. London) might help you forge new business contacts.
- Examine the class profile to see whom you’ll be meeting.
Generally speaking, online programs tend to be cheaper than campus. To start with:
- You can work and study at the same time.
- Fewer overheads mean tuition is usually more affordable.
- Universities may offer flat fees, even if you live out-of-state.
- You’re not paying for commuting costs or campus meal breaks.
And the list goes on. With the cost of living rocketing in cities like Cambridge and Palo Alto, distance learning may be your only choice.
However, we do recommend you ask about technology requirements and equipment costs. Some schools have developed fabulous virtual labs, with free access to common tools and programming languages; other schools have not!
It’s worthwhile thinking about long-term goals. Why are you doing this? Do you just want certain skills (if so, do you really need a degree)? Will an academic qualification improve your job prospects? Do you like structure & personal communication? Or do you prefer independent learning?
Remember that an online degree bears just the same weight as a campus degree on your resume. If you feel it’s worth the investment, don’t be afraid to go for it.
Alternative Online Programs
This page focuses on pure data science programs. You can find online programs in closely related areas on other pages of our site:
- Online Business Analytics / MS in Analytics degrees
- Online Analytics certificates
- Online PhD in Data Science programs
- Online MS in Information Systems programs
- Online MS in Business Intelligence programs
- Online analytics-focused MBA programs
We found 27 universities in our directory offering online master's in data science programs. If you represent a university and would like to contact us about editing any of our listings, or adding new programs, please send an email to info (at) mastersindatascience.org.
Students enrolled in the online Master of Science in Data Science offered by Lewis University have a choice of concentrations: Computational Biology and Bioinformatics or Computer Science. The program requires students to complete 36 credits, and many students complete the program in 18 to 24 months. Classes are delivered online in eight-week terms, and most students take one or two courses per term. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants are required to have taken college calculus, and all students in the program take several math classes. Additionally, students will be required to work in mathematical programming languages, such as R or Matlab, and in traditional computer programming languages, such as C++, Java or Python.
Saint Mary's College
Students in the online Master of Science in Data Science at Saint Mary's College must attend one weekend session each August at the campus in Notre Dame, Indiana. The 36-credit program requires students to complete a practicum and make a practicum presentation. The program begins in the fall and can be completed in five to six semesters. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a quantitative field, such as a STEM degree or business with a quantitative emphasis, or work experience in a technical or quantitative area. Applicants should have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and must submit GRE, GMAT or LSAT scores. Core competencies include two semesters of calculus, computer programming (Python is preferred), and familiarity with statistics and linear algebra.
Southern Methodist University
The Master of Science in Data Science program at Southern Methodist University is designed to prepare and develop professionals in the ever-evolving data science field. The interdisciplinary curriculum helps students develop a comprehensive understanding of computer science, statistics, strategic decision-making, ethics and data visualization. Delivered online, the program includes live weekly class meetings, asynchronous coursework and an in-person immersion experience at SMU's campuses in Dallas and Plano, Texas. Students can choose an accelerated path and complete the degree in 20 months, although most students take 24 months to finish the degree. Applicants should have a strong technical background, and the college requests a GPA of at least 3.0 in bachelor's degree work. GRE scores are required unless an applicant has five years of related work experience. Prerequisites include knowledge of computer programming, two courses in calculus and one in statistics. Cohorts start in May, August and January.
University of California-Berkeley
Designed for data science professionals, the UC Berkeley School of Information's Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) prepares students to derive insights from real-world data sets, using the latest tools and analytical methods to interpret and communicate their findings in ways that influence decision-making. The MIDS program features a rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum focused on problem solving, preparing students to creatively apply methods of data collection, analysis, and presentation to address and solve problems in areas of human interest, government, and business. In addition to a hands-on, project-based approach to learning that features live, weekly classes and asynchronous coursework, students must also attend one immersion session on Berkeley's campus. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA above 3.0, as well as an understanding of data structures, linear algebra, algorithms and analysis of algorithms, and a programming language such as Java or Python. Students without this knowledge must complete at least one bridge course. Applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores, and the admissions committee also considers relevant work experience.
Bay Path University
Bay Path University has an online Master of Science in Applied Data Science that is open to students with a strong background in math or statistics. The program, which can be completed entirely online, is designed as a "bridge program" that gives students the background necessary to be able to collaborate with data scientists and analysts. Classes are offered in an accelerated eight-week format, with students entering the program in October or February. Students typically finish the program in one to two years. Students who take two classes per eight-week session can finish the degree in one year. Applicants should have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and a degree in math, statistics, computer science, engineering, finance or a related field.
Boston University offers an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Data Analytics. The program includes five courses in computer information systems and five courses in data analytics, which together provide students with skills in applied probability and statics as well as the ability to apply data visualization techniques to real-world data. Courses required for the concentration cover topics such as quantitative methods for information systems, web analytics, and data mining. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and must be able to demonstrate proficiency in business systems, the basic math needed for information technology, and the basics of developing computer software. Students may be required to take prerequisite classes if their transcripts do not show college credit for courses covering that material. Boston University ranked No. 3 on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings of Best Online Computer Information Technology Programs.
Brandeis University offers an online Master of Science in Strategic Analytics that requires students to complete 10 courses. The seven required courses cover topics such as organizational leadership and decision making, foundations of data science, business intelligence, strategic analytics and visualization, and data governance, security, quality and ethics. Students are also required to take three approved electives. The program is open to applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, and students may enter the program in the summer, fall, or spring term. Online courses use a standard week that runs from Wednesday through Tuesday, and during that period students are expected to view and download class material, take part in online discussions, and submit assignments. Courses are taught by instructors with industry experience, last for 10 weeks, and enroll no more than 20 students. Brandeis provides career support including an alumni networking group on LinkedIn.
Data ScienceTech Institute
Students in the Master of Science in Data Science program at Elmhurst College can complete the program in two years of part-time study, with all coursework offered online. The program covers skills in statistics, computer science, and business to prepare students for a career in data science. All candidates must complete two project-based courses. The college is pursuing accreditation of the program as a Professional Science Master's degree. Applicants with a bachelor's degree in any field are welcome to apply. However, all applicants must have passed a basic statistics course and have taken computer science coursework. The college offers online, non-credit courses to meet those prerequisites. Applicants must show at least a year of profession experience and will be interviewed by the program directors.
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology offers a completely online Master of Science in Analytics program that combines mathematical and statistical classes with courses in computational and data analysis. The curriculum was developed with input from an advisory board that included representatives of employers such as IBM and LinkedIn. The university's industry partners also provide data sets and projects that students work on in the program. Courses cover all three areas of data analysis: predictive, or forecasting; descriptive, or business intelligence and data mining, and prescriptive, or optimization and simulation. Content for online classes is available 24/7, and students may enroll in the program as part-time or full-time students. The 36-credit program includes 15 credits in required core classes, 15 credits in electives, a three-credit research methods class, and an applied project or graduate thesis. Admission requirements are flexible, and applicants can show their academic potential in many ways.
Illinois Institute of Technology
Professionals seeking a Master of Data Science can complete the degree online through the Illinois Institute of Technology. The degree requires 33 credits, including a six-credit summer practicum. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a STEM field or in a business field and a GPA of 3.0. Students who do not have a technical background take a placement exam to determine which prerequisite computer science or math classes they have to take. Full-time students typically complete the program in 12 to 16 months, and part-time students can earn the degree in two years. The data science program has partnerships with companies such as Accenture, Accuen and Siemens, who provide software and other tools, guest lecturers, and real-world data for students.
Indiana University Bloomington
Students in the Master of Science in Data Science program at Indiana University Bloomington can complete all the required classwork in an online format. Indiana's 30-credit program includes 12 core credits and 18 elective credits, giving students the flexibility to tailor the program to their interests. The data science program offers two paths, one technical and one for decision-makers. Applicants are not required to have a specific undergraduate degree, but they should have a background in statistics and computer programming languages. Applicants must submit GRE scores, although the university will waive the requirement for students who have relevant work experience or another graduate degree. Full-time students typically finish the degree in two years or less, and all students must complete the degree within five years.
Johns Hopkins University
Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University Maryland has a Master of Science in Data Science that is delivered in a mostly hybrid format, combining online work with in-class activities. The program requires students to complete 31 credits, including a one-credit course offered at Loyola's Columbia Graduate Center in Columbia, Maryland. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and must meet prerequisites for introductory courses in statistics and computer science/programming, with a preference for Python. The admissions committee also looks for "mathematical maturity." Applicants must submit an essay describing how earning the degree will help them fulfill their professional goals. A letter of recommendation and resume may also be submitted. GMAT or GRE scores are not required. Students can complete the program in five semesters.
Northwestern University offers an online Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) with a specialization in Analytics and Business Intelligence. To earn the degree, students take three core courses, five courses in the specialization, and two electives. Classes within the specialization include project management, practical data science using machines, big data management and analytics, and statistical analysis. Students must also take a leadership course and complete a capstone project. For the capstone project, students may work independently or join classmates on a team project. The MSIS program has a partnership with IMB that provides students in the program with access to IBM resources including lists of real data sets for projects, the IBM DeveloperWorks IT Professional Community, and IBM job sites for internships and full-time employment. Part-time students can earn the degree in two to three years. The university recommends applicants have three to five years of professional experience before entering the program.
Rutgers University offers a Master of Information degree that can be completed entirely online. Students selected a concentration in: Data Science, Library and Information Science, or Technology, Information and Management. To earn the degree, students must complete 36 credits and submit an e-portfolio as their capstone. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree and submit official college transcripts, a personal statement, and GRE scores. The university waives GREs if a student has a GPA over 3.0, has earned an advanced degree, or prefers to submit GMAT, MCAT or LSAT scores. Students may enter the program in the fall, spring or summer, and they may attend as full-time or part-time students.
The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama delivers a completely online program that leads to a Master of Science in Operations Management with a track in Decision Analytics. The program combines the prescriptive modeling and analytical skills students learn in the operations management program with data mining and data management skills. Students can complete the 30-credit program in less than two years by taking two courses per semester, including the summer semester. Required courses cover topics such as knowledge discovery and data mining, management science and spreadsheet modeling, systems simulation, and statistical data management. Students also complete three electives and a capstone project that requires them to apply their knowledge to a real business issue. Applicants to the program should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, good quantitative skills, and good communication skills. At least one semester of calculus is a prerequisite for the program.
University of California-Riverside
The University of California Riverside offers an entirely online program leading to a Master of Science in Engineering with a specialization in Data Science. Students can complete the nine-course program in a year. The curriculum includes four core courses in engineering management, four courses in data science, and a design project. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field such as physics or math. Applicants should have work experience as an engineer and must submit GRE or FE scores. Test scores may be waived for students who have at least two years of work experience for an engineering company. Other factors considered in the admissions decision include GPA, professional certifications, and letters of reference.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a completely online program for its Master of Science in Computer Science's Data Science Track. The Department of Computer Science offers the degree in partnership with the Department of Statistics and Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.2 or higher. A degree in computer science is preferred, but applicants with a background in computer programming, data structures, and algorithms are also accepted. Lectures are delivered through the Coursera MOOC platform, but faculty members advise and assess student's work in an additional "high-engagement" component. The curriculum requires students to complete eight semester-long classes, which will be delivered as two shorter Coursera courses plus the high-engagement component.
University of Missouri-Columbia
The University of Missouri's Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics program offers a choice of emphasis areas: Data Journalism, Biotechnology, Strategic Communication, High Performance Computing, Human Centered Design for Data, and Geospatial. Students take classes online and attend a one-week face-to-face intensive session each year on the Missouri campus. Students complete the 34-credit, executive-style program in two years. The curriculum requires 19 credits in core courses, nine credits in the emphasis, three credits in case studies and three credits for a capstone. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and submit a resume and letter of interest, but GRE scores are not required. Program partners include IBM, Google, Deloitte, KPMG, The New York Times, and Amazon Web Services.
University of Notre Dame
University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
The School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics degree that can be earned online. Full-time students can complete the program in 14 months, but part-time students are also accepted. Courses in the program represent collaboration between the schools of computer science and industrial and systems engineering. The six core courses cover topics such as computer structures, database management, algorithm analysis, statistical analysis and system design, and intelligent data analysis. Students can choose a non-thesis option, which requires an additional nine credits in electives and a four-credit engineering practicum, or a thesis option, which requires three credits in electives, a one-credit engineering practicum, and a research project. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Prerequisites include having completed classes in Calculus I and II and linear algebra, and a year of programming experience or coursework.
University of Wisconsin Colleges
The University of Wisconsin offers an online Master of Science in Data Science that does not require any on-campus meetings. Faculty for the program come from six campuses within the University of Wisconsin system, and the multidisciplinary curriculum includes courses in computer science, math and statistics, management, and communication. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, including coursework in statistics, computer programming, and databases. Relevant work experience might be acceptable in place of the coursework. GRE or GMAT scores are not required. Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format. The curriculum requires students to complete 12 courses, including a capstone in which students develop and complete a project involving real-world data.
Wittenberg University offers a hybrid Master of Science in Analytics that combines online work with a monthly three-day residency on the Wittenberg campus in Springfield, Ohio. The cohort completes the program in 12 months, beginning in August and ending the following July. The intense residency periods take place from Thursday through Saturday, typically during the second week of the month. Students must complete a four-phase capstone project, and part of each residency involves work on the capstone project. Courses cover topics such as advanced statistics and modeling; data mining; descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics; data visualization; and two case study courses. The program is open to recent graduates and experienced professionals who have a background in a technical or quantitative field such as business, math, statistics, economics, engineering or computer programming. Students must pass a test on their knowledge of statistics and may have to take an online refresher course.