The Hawkeye State has much to offer data geeks – if you know where to look. Happily, our guide to earning an IA data science degree is designed to act as your shortcut! It has details on everything from research & conferences to scholarships & salary numbers. Already have a university in mind? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Iowa.
Studying Data Science in Iowa
Iowa is still defining its data science identity. It wants to be a “second tier” presence, competing with Texas or Colorado to absorb talent from Silicon Valley, but it has a way to go yet. In its favor…
- Iowa City & Cedar Rapids have proclaimed themselves to be in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and Des Moines is often mentioned as a burgeoning tech hub. Digital agriculture and advanced manufacturing are two areas of particular interest. Central Iowa even has its own Cultivation Corridor.
- The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) has become the voice of the state’s tech community – advocating on public policy, promoting networking ties (e.g. TechBrews), and sponsoring awards for local achievers.
- Startups and entrepreneurs can find support from groups such as Plains Angels and Square One DSM. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) also runs its own Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund for tech businesses.
Yes, there’s a lot of talking up about the tech sector’s role in the state’s economy, but if you look at the percentage of workforce in tech on the map of CompTIA Cyber States, Iowa is way behind the big names. Even nearby states like Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois have stronger stats. The small number of data science meetups, conferences, and job postings also signal that there’s work to be done.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Iowa Universities
As a member of the Midwest Big Data Hub, Iowa State University (ISU) is being particularly aggressive in its quest to become a data science player:
- Often ranked in the top 20 graduate programs for Statistics by U.S. News & World Report, the university also has an active Department of Computer Science (DCS), with an intriguing Laboratory for Software Design and a number of computational research labs. The Midwest Big Data Summer School for Early Career Researchers was born here.
- In 2017, Kingland Systems gave ISU $1.5 million to fund data analytics programs, with money for new faculty, student scholarships, and student organizations. ISU often supplies interns and employees to Kingland.
- At the ISU Research Park, you’ll find startups, incubators, and widespread support for entrepreneurs. This is where Deere & Co. decided to base its Strategic Technology Office.
But the University of Iowa (UI) isn’t sitting on its hands!
- Its multidisciplinary Iowa Informatics Initiative (UI3) is responsible for a large number of informatics programs and research centers.
- UI3 often partners with the university’s Iowa Social Science Research Center (ISRC) on projects. In addition to offering statistical and data consulting, ISRC provides grant support, runs workshops in big data tools, and hosts UI’s data science institute.
- To foster corporate growth, the Tippie School of Business has created a Tippie Analytics Cooperative, where data students provide consulting for real-world clients, and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC), which offers free consulting help and seed money for startups.
Online Data Science Programs in Iowa
Iowa is still catching up to the idea of distance learning, so you’ll probably need to expand your degree search to other states. If you’re worried about quality control, have a look at our list of things to look for in an online data science program.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
As of 2017, no Iowa universities had developed online graduate certificate programs. However, our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science has a long list of programs offered by top-name schools (e.g. Stanford) around the country.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
ISU’s online Master of Business Analytics is pretty much your only choice for distance learning in Iowa. It’s not 100% online – there are required campus visits at the beginning, middle, and end of the program – but the vast majority of coursework can be done from home.
This is a blended program that pulls on expertise from ISU’s departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Statistics, and Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. Students can choose from a number of advanced electives in areas like machine learning and applied stats (online); everyone is required to participate in a capstone team project (on-campus).
Data Science Scholarships in Iowa
For this section, we chose to highlight university scholarships & assistantships that apply to the school’s data program. However, staff in the Graduate Studies Office will have more info on general scholarships (e.g. diversity funds) and alternative financing options (e.g. low-interest loans, state tuition discounts, etc). Talk to them about your options!
Iowa State University
- Bioinformatics & Computational Biology (BCB) Assistantships: BCB students are supported by graduate assistantships or fellowships. Students receive an annual stipend ranging from $24,000 to $30,000. Tuition costs and healthcare coverage are included.
- College of Business Scholarships: Graduate students in business programs are automatically considered for scholarships. There is no separate application process.
- Kingland Data Analytics Scholarships: In 2017, Kingland gave ISU $1.5 million to benefit students and faculty in three colleges. Part of this money is intended to fund a Business Analytics Scholarship, a Data Analytics Scholarship in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a Data Analytics Scholarship in Engineering. Please contact the ISU Graduate Office for more info on eligibility.
- MSIS Heartland Scholarships: Iowa residents who are admitted to ISU’s MSIS program may be eligible to receive $5,000. This amount covers approximately one semester of tuition.
University of Iowa
- Full-time MBA Scholarships: The Tippie College of Business administers the MBA in Business Analytics and it has a healthy list of scholarships open to full-time students. This lists includes funds for women, scholars, and Iowans.
- Informatics Graduate Research & Teaching Assistantships: Research assistantships typically demand 25% (or more) of a student’s time in return for Iowa resident tuition, a stipend, a partial tuition scholarship, and health insurance benefits. Teaching assistantships are more common & similar benefits are given.
Data Science Events in Iowa
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Iowa
They may be small, but they do exist! In addition to these suggestions, have a look at techcorridor.io. It aggregates tech meetups from a number of different groups (e.g. R Users Group at UI’s College of Public Health).
- Central Iowa R User Group: This meetup has weekly study groups, talks on Python, online stats workshops – everything you might expect from folks devoted to R.
- Data Analytics Users Group: Organized by the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (Ignite Quad Cities), this data science group usually meets in Davenport. Local experts & academics often give useful talks on the latest in data analytics.
- Des Moines SQL Users Group and I-380 PASS SQL Server User Group: Both of these groups represent local chapters of the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS).
- Ignite Quad Cities – Entrepreneurs Meetup: It’s not devoted to tech, but IQC’s meetup in Moline is one to know about if you’re trying to start your own business or make connections.
- Startup Ames: ISU students and folks in the Des Moines/Ames area can mix & mingle with other entrepreneurs at these monthly meetups. Its “First Shot” events even allow you to pitch your company to the community.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Iowa
Though it’s not a stop on the circuit for big events like Predictive Analytics World (PAW) and SIGKDD, Iowa has university-based conferences that are worth knowing about. You might also want to consider tech conferences in nearby cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Omaha.
- The Ag Data Conference: First held in 2016, this conference is the brainchild of Penton Agriculture. Talks are aimed at farm owners & operators and focus on all kinds of big data applications.
- Iowa MBA Business Analytics Case Competition: In UI’s competition, teams of MBA & analytics students from around the U.S. compete to solve a real-world business problem. At least 2 students on each team must be currently enrolled in a full-time MBA program. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners receive monetary prizes.
- ISU Spring Analytics Symposium: ISU’s College of Business symposium is a well-attended (~500 people), one-day event in Des Moines. There are speakers from big corporations (e.g. PwC), analytics powerhouses (e.g. SAS), and universities around the country. ISU students should also check out the monthly Big Data Seminar Series.
- Loras College: Business Analytics Symposium: Like ISU, Loras hosts a one-day analytics event in Spring that is dedicated to exploring data and innovative ideas. There are breakout sessions on all kinds of industry applications (e.g. manufacturing, healthcare, digital finance, etc.).
- UI Computing Conference: Hosted by the UI ACM student chapter and the Department of Computer Science, this conference covers a huge range of computing topics (e.g. AI, robotics, coding, new technologies, etc.). UI’s Iowa Social Science Research Center also hosts a summer data science institute and runs skills-based workshops (e.g. Introduction to R, Introduction to Python, Stata, etc.) throughout the year.
Data Science Jobs in Iowa
Agriculture & food production, advanced manufacturing, chemical production, renewable energy & fuels – these are some of the key sectors in the state’s economy to consider. Think names like DuPont, John Deere, Helena Industries, Kemin Industries, and the like.
Judging by job listings, DuPont – in particular – wants data scientists. It’s doing a lot of advanced research at its DuPont Johnston Innovation Center, and it needs data professionals with an interest in food, agriculture, and biotechnology. On a similar note, the John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group has a solid commitment to new ag technologies.
Outside of these sectors, you could try financial firms (e.g. Wells Fargo, EMC Insurance, Principal Financial Group, etc.) or established tech companies. Three of the biggest data science names in Hawkeye territory are:
- Kingland Systems, which provides technology and outsourcing services for the financial sector.
- Workiva, which develops cloud-based software.
- CDS Global, which offers business process outsourcing and customer data management to various industries.
Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have data centers in the region, but that doesn’t always equate to jobs. Therefore, other places to scout for employment opportunities include the Tenant directory of the ISU Research Park and TAI’s Job Board.
Data Scientist Salaries in Iowa
According to Glassdoor, the average estimated salary for a data scientist in Des Moines was $96,445 in 2017; in Cedar Rapids, it was $94,003. Indeed.com put the average salary in West Des Moines even higher, at $99,004. However, we’d caution that both sites are working with a small number of salary listings to calculate their averages, and DuPont tends to lead the way in pay.
We found 5 universities in Iowa 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.