Considering a data degree in the heart of democracy? We’ve put together a short guide to the capital. It has details on everything from schools and big data research to scholarships and job prospects. Already have a university in mind? Feel free to skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Washington, D.C.
Studying Data Science in Washington, D.C.
D.C. is one of the hottest data science hubs in the country. Thanks to the presence of the federal government, the capital has a super-concentrated tech talent market and a highly educated population. CBRE’s 2016 report on Scoring Tech Talent noted that Washington, D.C. was the top large city for millennial growth, with a 25.8% increase from 2010-2015.
Interest in governmental big data really took off in 2012, with the launch of the Obama administration’s Big Data Research and Development Initiative. Now there are scores of federal agencies, offices, and research institutes involved in data science projects. Just to take a few examples out of thousands, there is:
- Research at Federal Statistical Research Data Centers, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the Office of Financial Research.
- Counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence work at the DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A).
- The Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has its own Center for Data Analysis (CDA). There’s also the Center for Data Innovation; ethics discussions at the Future of Privacy Forum; public policy research at the Brookings Institution; data visualizations from the Urban Institute—the list of institutions that are investigating the possibilities of big data goes on and on.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Washington, D.C. Universities
As you might expect, many Washington, D.C. schools have a strong focus on government, public affairs & international policy. American University (AU), George Washington University (GW), and Georgetown are often ranked in the top 25 of Best Public Affairs Schools by U.S. News & World Report.
This has led to an interest in interdisciplinary partnerships. For example, Georgetown’s most prominent data project is the Massive Data Institute (MDI), one of only 23 Federal Statistical Research Data Centers in the country. Biodata geeks should also check out the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Georgetown University Medical Center.
GW has developed initiatives such as:
- The Center for the Connected Consumer, with a large research stake in the Internet of Things (IoT).
- The Institute for Integrating Statistics in Decision Sciences (I²SDS), which focuses on modern statistical methodologies and their applications.
- The Shenkman Initiative: Applying Big Data for Political Success, which is devoted to studying the intersection of big data and politics.
It’s equally important to note that GW’s Virginia Science & Technology Campus is deeply involved in data science research & initiatives, with a commitment to centers such as the Institute for Nuclear Studies Data Analysis Center (DAC) and investment in Colonial One (a high performance computing center).
Meanwhile, over at AU, members of the Department of Information Technology are leading the Center for Information Technology in the Global Economy (CITGE), which is supported by corporate sponsors and the Department of Homeland Security. The Kogod School of Business also runs the American University Center for Innovation, which provides students and alumni with a business incubator and entrepreneurial funds.
Online Data Science Programs in Washington, D.C.
Compared to larger states (e.g. California and Illinois), the District of Columbia has fewer options for distance learners. We cover general things to look for in an online data science program elsewhere, so here we profile your choices in D.C.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
D.C. universities have chosen to pump their distance learning resources into degrees. As of 2017, there were no online graduate certificates in data science or analytics available from Georgetown, GW, or AU.
However, there are plenty of respected schools outside of the capital (e.g. Stanford, Boston University) that offer online certificates in all kinds of specialties (e.g. data mining, healthcare informatics, etc.). We’ve compiled a list of them in our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
AU’s online degree programs are run by the Kogod School of Business, so the emphasis is on corporate applications:
- The online Master of Science in Analytics focuses on technical tools and technologies. This is a qualification for mid-tier professionals who are interested in job titles such as Data Analytics Manager, Insurance Analyst & Business Consultant.
- The online MBA with a Business Analytics concentration is less intense, but it does cover areas such as predictive analytics, business intelligence, and big data databases. This is a degree for a leader who wishes to understand and make data-driven decisions.
Healthcare professionals who are interested in the possibilities of data should also check out GW’s online MS in Management of Health Informatics and Analytics. This degree is run by the School of Public Health, which has a hand in a number of fascinating research centers, including one focused on biostatistics.
Data Science Scholarships in Washington, D.C.
We’ve highlighted scholarships & assistantships (i.e. institutional aid) with direct relevance to the school’s data program. However, the Graduate Studies Office will have more info on general aid (e.g. GW’s Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships) and alternative financing options (e.g. outside awards & low-interest loans, etc.).
- Kogod School of Business Graduate Merit Prizes: Kogod administers the MS in Analytics, and all current graduate students in its campus programs are eligible to apply for a variety of merit prizes. Visit the website for the application form.
- United Methodist Graduate Scholarship: If you’re considering AU’s online degrees, the Office of Graduate Studies allows full-time graduate students in distance learning programs to apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be a full member of the United Methodist Church for at least two years prior to application.
George Washington University
- Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) Graduate Aid: CCAS administers the MS in Data Science, and it offers a variety of scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships to graduate students.
- School of Business Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships: GW’s School of Business handles the MS in Business Analytics, and it has a number of scholarships for business students, including master’s students interested in a career in local, state, or federal government.
- Master of Science in Analytics Scholarships & Assistantships: Georgetown offers merit-based scholarships to a limited number of incoming and current graduate students in its MS in Analytics program. Research & teaching assistantships are also available.
Data Science Events in Washington, D.C.
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Washington, D.C.
As the hub of the capital region, Washington, D.C. is a great place to network. The most active organization in the region is Data Community DC, which connects folks to jobs and promotes the work of data professionals. We’ve highlighted a few of its many meetups below, but please check the website for a full list.
- Data Science DC: This super-popular meetup is organized by Data Community and meets monthly to cover topics like deep learning, statistical modeling, big data tools & technologies—anything that’s relevant. Check out the Twitter feed for up-to-date info.
- Data Visualization DC: It’s all about the visuals. This Data Community meetup features tutorials, case studies, presentations on tools and technologies, parties & hacks.
- DC Analytics: This IBM-sponsored meetup covers the gamut—from big data & predictive analytics to social media, text, and more. A number of meetings feature IBM projects (e.g. Watson).
- Internet of Things DC: Geared towards anyone involved in the specialty (creator or user), this meetup often invites companies to give talks on the latest IoT technologies and tools.
- Women Data Scientists DC: Organized by Data Community, this meetup is for women in any stage of their data science career (beginner, intermediate, or expert). There are talks, workshops, networking events, and opportunities to hear about job openings.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Washington, D.C.
Major data science conferences like Strata+Hadoop World occasionally land in D.C.—IEEE International Conference in Big Data (IEEE Big Data) was here in 2016. Surprise, surprise, the capital also plays host to a number of conferences and summits focused on federal government. The biggest of these is PAW Government.
- ATARC Federal Big Data Summit: The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) is a non-profit organization tackling emerging technology challenges in government and industry, and it hosts a number of data-focused summits. The big data event often has very well-respected speakers.
- Data Management Association (DAMA) Day – National Capital Region: The local chapter of DAMA hosts an annual, one-day conference in the Bureau of Labor Statistics building in D.C. The 2016 event focused on big data.
- Government Analytics Breakfast (GAB) Forum: Co-hosted by Johns Hopkins University and REI Systems, GAB is a popular bi-monthly meeting in D.C. that attracts government workers, industry professionals, and academics. The main focus (as the title suggests) is data-driven decision-making in the public sector.
- Predictive Analytics World (PAW) for Government: PAW Government is a smorgasbord of data analytics case studies and workshops, with tons of real-world examples from government agencies. Attendees include government experts (federal, state & local), analysts, and program managers.
- Washington Big Data Technology Conference: This event is the new kid on the block, with its first conference occurring in October 2017. We can tell you it was created by Conference Ventures, which hosts the popular Indy Big Data conference in Indianapolis.
Data Science Jobs in Washington, D.C.
You won’t have to look hard to find data science jobs in the DMV area (District of Columbia, Maryland & Virginia). In addition to openings in arms of the federal bureaucratic octopus, there should be plenty of opportunities in organizations that rely on government data.
Along with the examples we’ve already mentioned, D.C. is home to the Pew Research Center, American Institutes for Research, Gallup, and a global office of the Berkeley Research Group. What’s more, it’s the headquarters of major unions, which are increasingly relying on data geeks.
There are also consultancy firms that are taking advantage of available data to further the causes of their clients. For instance:
- Quorum Analytics has developed an online legislative strategy platform to generate data-driven insights about Congress.
- BlueLabs, which was created by senior members of the Obama for America analytics team, uses data science in the service of its political clients.
- Arc Aspicio is an IT and management consulting company that focuses on homeland security and intelligence.
To this list, you could add Aquicore (energy data), TrackMaven (marketing analytics), AgSquared (agricultural data), Vero Analytics (SQL IDE), and many, many more. If you’re thinking of starting your own firm, DMV Startup has some helpful resources to get you going.
Data Scientist Salaries in Washington, D.C.
Despite being a hub of data, the capital area doesn’t pay as well as some other big centers (e.g. Silicon Valley). According to Glassdoor, the average estimated salary for a D.C. data scientist was $95,000 in 2017. This figure was below the national average, and even below cities like Boston and Atlanta. This may be because the government and non-profits can’t offer the same astronomical sums as tech firms.
It’s also interesting to consider your long-term return on investment (ROI). In Payscale’s 2016 College ROI Report, Georgetown was ranked #68 in its 20 year net returns, the only university in D.C. to crack the top 100. However, since data science is a new field, this report won’t necessarily reflect the earning power of recent data graduates from GW or AU.
We found 3 universities in District Of Columbia offering Masters of Data Science programs (and/or closely related programs, like MS in Analytics / Masters in Business Analytics).
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.