Fancy a data science education in the Sunshine State? Explore our guide on useful things to know—from job growth and research opportunities, to scholarships, online degrees, and cool events. Ready for Miami? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Florida.
Studying Data Science in Florida
Florida is laying out the red carpet for data science. In the past few years, it has been advertising its ties to the Latin American market, throwing money at tech education efforts like Miami Dade’s Idea Center, and investing like mad in economic development initiatives.
- One of these initiatives is the Florida High Tech Corridor. Now known simply as “The Corridor,” this project spans three public research universities and 23 counties. The aim is simple: to attract companies and projects like the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) across the Central Florida region.
- The Knight Foundation has a similar goal for South Florida. In addition to the Idea Center, the foundation has invested millions in hundreds of projects like Code Fever Miami, LaunchCode, and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (just to name a few).
The result? The Miami area is exploding with energy. Low corporate taxes and a strong healthcare system are luring start-ups and entrepreneurs to the city. In 2016, the Kauffman Index ranked Florida #2 in its Index of Startup Activity for Larger States (right behind Texas). Some of these start-ups are small, to be true, but success stories like Magic Leap have attracted a lot of attention.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Florida Universities
Florida universities are right behind these efforts. As a Public Ivy, the University of Florida is probably the most famous player in the data game, but it’s not the only one. Here’s how schools are supporting growth:
- With $3.8 million in state funds, the University of Florida has created the data science-focused Informatics Institute. Big data researchers at this Institute and other UF groups like the Data Science Research (DSR) Lab and Emerging Pathogens Institute have access to the school’s HiPerGator Super Computer. UF has also made its inexpensive Innovation Hub available to start-ups.
- The University of Miami draws its firepower from its Pegasus Supercomputer and its Center for Computational Science (CCS). CCS has a huge range of research interests, including smart cities and bioinformatics, and it runs all kinds of training programs. In 2016, it held its first-ever big data conference. Biotech lovers should also take a look at the school’s Life Science & Technology Park.
- Florida Atlantic University has a number of data science projects on the boil, including labs devoted to data mining, bioinformatics, and innovation. But its biggest coup may be the NSF-funded CAKE, an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) devoted to big data in all its forms. This work has attracted attention to FAU’s Tech Runway, an entrepreneurship hub and startup accelerator for Broward County.
- Florida International University’s $3 million Tech Station is deliberately designed to attract top computing talent. Meanwhile, folks at its Startup FIU incubator and its Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are hoping to keep students in the Miami area after graduation.
What’s more, almost every tech-minded private and public university in Florida is part of the Sunshine State Education and Research Computing Alliance (SSERCA). This alliance enables schools to share big data via a state-wide storage system, collaborate on research projects, and work together on education efforts. SSERCA has a list of computational resources at each school.
Online Data Science Programs in Florida
Florida schools tend to have a good track record in distance learning:
- Three Florida Universities—Florida Institute of Technology (#11), University of South Florida (#14), and Florida State University (#21)—were in the top 25 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs in 2016.
- In the same year, the University of Central Florida and Florida State University both appeared on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Online Bachelor’s Programs With the Highest 6-Year Graduation Rates.
- What’s more, Florida International University has invested considerable time into redesigning—and then analyzing—the quality of its online programs.
We cover general things to look for in an online data science program elsewhere, so here we decided to concentrate on what makes programs in Florida unique.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
You won’t have a lot of choice for online graduate certificates in Florida. Nova Southeastern has a Graduate Certificate in Business Intelligence/Analytics and the University of West Florida has a Graduate Certificate in Data Science, but after that you may have to look further afield. California, Massachusetts, and Illinois are good places to start.
One field to watch out for is health informatics. We’ve seen a lot of growth in this area, especially for short-burst qualifications, and Florida is packed with healthcare institutions that can supply data. For example, beginning in 2017, Jacksonville University is offering a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Health Data Analytics.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
You’ll see that interest in health spring to life in online master’s programs. The University of Central Florida, the University of Southern Florida, and Jacksonville all offer graduate degrees in health informatics; UCF’s program is a professional one, and students are required to complete an internship during the last semester.
If you’re not involved in healthcare, you could consider Full Sail University’s Master of Science in Business Intelligence. However, we should point out that Full Sail is a for-profit university that is partly owned by a private equity firm called TA Associates.
Whatever degree/s you’re interested in, we strongly recommend a bit of background research. Quora.com and Reddit.com often have feedback and reviews on Florida distance learning programs, and you can always contact alumni through LinkedIn.
Data Science Scholarships in Florida
“Okay,” we hear you say, “but can I afford it?” For this section, we chose to focus on university aid that covers data science degrees in our Florida listings, but don’t take this as the end! The Graduate Studies Office will have additional info on general scholarships and fellowships (e.g. diversity funding) and advice about alternative financial options.
Florida International University
- College of Business Graduate Scholarships: The COB, which administers the MS in Health Informatics and Management Systems, offers both scholarships and tuition waivers to graduate students. It also has a COB-Graduate Need Grant for those with demonstrable financial need.
Florida State University
- Graduate School Funding: Graduate students from any department are eligible for a variety of institutional Fellowships and Student Awards & Grants.
Nova Southeastern University
- Edward Lieblein Memorial Fund Scholarship: This scholarship is open to students enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program at the College of Engineering and Computing, including Nova’s MMIS with a concentration in Business Intelligence/Analytics. Applicants must be employed by a branch of the United States Federal Government.
- Emerging Technology Professional Scholarship (ETPS): To be eligible for this need-based scholarship, students must be enrolled in a master’s program at the College of Engineering and Computing.
- Professor Laurie Dringus Endowed Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to current students in a master’s or doctoral program at the College of Engineering and Computing. Preference is given to students concentrating or researching human computer interaction or learning technologies.
- Scholarship Database: Nova has a searchable scholarship database, where you can search by level (e.g. graduate) and category. If you don’t qualify for the scholarships listed above, you may wish to browse through the entries.
University of Central Florida
- Health Care Informatics Scholarships: UCF occasionally offers scholarships to HCI students, but the scholarship will not pay the total cost of tuition. Talk to the program coordinator for more information.
- UCF Graduate Fellowships: UCF has graduate fellowships available for a variety of students, including minority and underrepresented graduate students. In addition to this list, you may also wish to investigate UCF Assistantship opportunities.
University of Miami
- Specialized Master’s Program Scholarships: All students accepted into Specialized Master’s Programs, including the MS in Business Analytics, are eligible for scholarships that are typically worth 25% or more of tuition.
University of Southern Florida
- Morsani College of Medicine Grants & Scholarships: Morsani, which administers the online MS in Health Informatics, has various funds available for women and students with financial need. Please check with the College to see if you qualify as an online student.
Data Science Events in Florida
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Florida
Florida has a data science meetup in practically every corner of every city, though some are obviously more popular than others. We’ve listed five of the biggest ones with some of the most active networks. If you’re near the Florida Institute of Technology, we also suggest a visit to Big Data Florida.
- Action Design Network Miami: Organized by Action Design Network and sponsored by the Knight Foundation, this intriguing group explores the intersection of data science, UI/UX, psychology, and advocacy. Topics might include memory vs. experience and behaviorally inspired political marketing.
- Fort Lauderdale Maching Learning: If you want to dive deeper into ML and get some hands-on experience with tools like Python and Tensor Flow, this is the place to be. The group sometimes visits Florida Atlantic University.
- Miami Data Science (MDS): MDS is open to anyone, of any skill level, interested in data science topics (e.g. R/Python programming, data visualization, data wrangling, big data analytics, machine learning, etc.). There are regular talks from experts and “Open Mike Nights” where participants can share their projects.
- Orlando Data Science (ODS): Sponsored by Purple Rock Scissors, ODS hosts monthly data science events at Envy Labs, an entrepreneurship and collaboration hub in Orlando.
- Tampa Bay Data Science Group: This meetup is targeted at professional data scientists and analysts in the Tampa Bay area. There are lots of meetings, courses, and camps. Many of its members also belong to Big Data Developers in Tampa.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Florida
Major data science conferences (e.g. Strata+Hadoop World, Predictive Analytics World, IEEE ICDM, SIGKDD, etc.) tend to bypass Florida for larger centers like New York City and California, but that doesn’t mean Florida is a wasteland. Along with training events and workshops at the CCS, here are a few other options to consider:
- Big Data Bootcamp Tampa: The Global Big Data Conference holds a 3-day bootcamp in Tampa each year. It’s vendor agnostic and trainees get hands-on experience with data science tools like Hadoop, NoSQL & Machine Learning. No prior knowledge of databases or programming is assumed.
- Blacktech Week: Funded by the Knight Foundation and located in Miami Beach, this is a week-long cultural celebration that highlights cutting-edge technologies and entrepreneurial innovation. Events include bootcamps, start-up workshops, panels, and after-hours networking.
- Disney Data & Analytics Conference (DDAC): You knew there had to be one! As you might expect, the DDAC attracts companies and universities who are interested in the rich data fields of The Walt Disney Company, but this Orlando conference actually has a much wider focus on business & big data applications. As a bonus, attendees have photo ops with Mickey Mouse.
- eMerge Americas: Based in Miami, eMerge is a cutting edge, 2-day technology conference centered on innovation across a variety of sectors, including health, education, and finance. In addition to traditional talks, there’s a hackathon, a start-up showcase, a Women in Technology (WIT) summit, and much more.
- IoT Evolution Expo (East): Usually located in Fort Lauderdale or Miami, this conference/exhibition explores everything to do with IoT—the Internet of Things. There are talks, case studies, certification tutorials, awards, special events, and plenty of networking opportunities.
Data Science Jobs in Florida
Here’s the deal on Florida job market—if you’re in a hot spot, you’re in pretty good shape. Miami and Fort Lauderdale are obvious choices, but Tampa ain’t so bad either. In CBRE’s 2016 report on Scoring Tech Talent, Tampa showed a brain gain from 2011-2015 (14,740 tech jobs added) and a 9.8% growth in millennials.
Many of these opportunities are in new and exciting ventures. Just to take a few examples:
- Broward County is home to Magic Leap, the virtual reality start-up that attracted a whopping $542 million from companies like Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, and Qualcomm. Not far away is the telehealth provider MDLIVE, Citrix Systems, and the Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine.
- Miami has leased office space to well-known tech names such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Uber, Lyft, and Vice Media. 23% of Vice’s U.S. audience is Hispanic and the company is jumping on the opportunity to connect with Latin America (just like YellowPepper and Open English).
- Gainesville is drawing on its University of Florida roots to support companies like Mindtree and foster biotechnology start-ups in the Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute. This has been named the World’s Best University Biotech Incubator by UBI Global.
We don’t want to get you too excited. Florida is still considered a mid- to small tech market by many analysts, and there’s plenty of work to be done to turn small seed companies into large trees, but it’s nice to see things are happening.
Data Scientist Salaries in Florida
Glassdoor supports the message that South Florida is the place to be. Although average salaries for Miami/Fort Lauderdale data scientists were well below the national average, they were:
- ~$2,000 more than Tampa salaries
- $4,000-5,000 more than Gainesville and Orlando salaries
Having said that, Glassdoor is working off small numbers (e.g. 9 reported salaries), so you’ll have to take these data with a healthy grain of salt.
Wondering if your alma mater will make a difference when it comes to your return on investment (ROI)? Check out Payscale’s College ROI Report. In 2016, the Florida Institute of Technology was the first Florida school to appear on the list (#53). The second was the University of Florida (#178).
We found 14 universities in Florida 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.