Torn between the bluegrass and the world over yonder? We’re here to help. Our short guide to earning a KY data science degree has details on everything from research & distance learning to startups & salary numbers. If you already have a university in mind, feel free to skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Kentucky.
Studying Data Science in Kentucky
Kentucky is part of what you might call the Midwest Incubator—a geographic area that includes Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, and Ohio. These states are working hard to ensure their tech & data science sectors get past infancy and into healthy adulthood.
But Kentucky still has a long way to go before it can rival Texas or Florida. That’s why booster organizations such as the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation (KSTC), the Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky (TALK), the Louisville Digital Association (LDA), and the Kentucky Innovation Network are offering incentives to young tech talent. With help from Interapt, TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY) is even working to retrain coal miners.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Kentucky Universities
None of Kentucky’s growth would be possible without the presence of its public universities—especially the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington. Because it’s at UK where you’ll find the:
- Institute for Biomedical Informatics (IBI): IBI’s brief is to advance biomedical science, but its data interests are wide-ranging. For instance, its members have access to data from the UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) Enterprise Data Trust and can collaborate with the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) to turn IBI inventions into commercial opportunities. In 2016, IBI received a $2.4 million award from the NSF to create the Kentucky Research Informatics Cloud (KyRIC).
- Applied Statistics Lab (ASL): With expertise from the departments of statistics and biostatistics, the ASL offers analytics consulting, statistical programming workshops, and assistance with research grants and partnerships.
- Center for Computational Sciences (CCS): A partner of the IBI, CCS’s research interests include ecological informatics, molecular science, and computational chemistry.
- Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments (CVVE): As the title would suggest, CVVE is all about the eye, and it’s involved with projects on 3D applications, immersive environments, advanced imaging, and user experience.
- Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE): VACE works closely with staff and students to create technology-based startups and spinoffs from university research. It’s achieved some fascinating success stories.
UK may be big, but it isn’t the only school with a stake in Kentucky’s future. For example:
- Northern Kentucky University (NKU)’s Center for Applied Informatics (CAI) runs an innovative virtual co-op program where students create data science & informatics solutions for organizations around the world.
- University of Louisville (U of L)’s Bioinformatics Center has close ties with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN). U of L also runs the Kentucky State Data Center (KSDC), which acts as the state’s official clearinghouse for Census data.
Online Data Science Programs in Kentucky
When it comes to distance learning and data science, Kentucky is playing catch-up with some other states (e.g. California). However, you will have some choice, especially if you’re willing to be flexible in your skill-set.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
For busy professionals, U of L has an online Graduate Certificate in Data Science. This 18-credit hour program will ground you in data mining and database fundamentals, but it also includes a generous bunch of electives in any topic you fancy (e.g. bioinformatics, e-commerce, AI, etc.). Better yet, U of L is often in the top 25 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs.
Interested in other options? We have a large directory of programs offered by respected schools throughout the country: Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
Though they don’t bear the title of “data science,” there are a couple of online degrees from Kentucky schools worth considering:
- U of L’s online Master of Science in Computer Science contains many of the same data science courses that appear in U of L’s graduate certificate (e.g. data mining, databases, AI, etc.). You can choose between a master’s thesis or a real-world project, and—like the grad certificate—you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to relevant electives.
- UK’s online Master of Applied Statistics is a part-time or full-time program and the curriculum is designed to provide graduates with big data skills, analytics expertise, and a thorough knowledge of statistical methodologies.
Is healthcare your one & only love? Check out NKU’s Master of Health Informatics. Offered in an online, on-campus, or blended format, this degree covers clinical informatics and health information systems. Even better, it allows you to specialize in healthcare data analytics, healthcare process management, or healthcare administration. EHR technologies, HIPAA compliance, FDA regulations—it’s all in there.
Data Science Scholarships in Kentucky
In our search for institutional aid (i.e. departmental scholarships) that relate to each school’s data program, we didn’t find much.
But it’s important to note that the Graduate Studies Office will have more info on general aid and alternative financing options (e.g. low-interest loans, Academic Common Market discounts, etc.). For example, NKU’s Office of Graduate Education, U of L’s School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, and Bellarmine’s Graduate Admissions Office all have helpful financial aid advice.
Data Science Events in Kentucky
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Kentucky
Kentucky isn’t awash with tech meetups, but we found a few that might meet your requirements. (Louisville.io also maintains a directory of groups/meetups in the area.)
- Lexington Tech Forum: Although it’s known as the official Microsoft Users’ Group of Central Kentucky, the Tech Forum goes beyond Microsoft to explore practically every topic in IT (e.g. machine learning, cybersecurity, the Cloud, etc.).
- Louisville Business Intelligence & Big Data Analytics Meetup: One of the largest data science communities in the state! It has a strong membership base and a mix of online & in-person events. You’ll find discussions on the use of BI in applications, machine learning tutorials, an IBM DataFirst Launch—you name it.
- Louisville IIBA: The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) is a non-profit association for Business Analysis professionals, and this meetup is designed for folks in their Louisville Chapter. There are workshops, talks, and plenty of chances to socialize.
- Lousville Innovators and Entrepreneurs: Planning your own startup? You’ll find plenty of support from this informal cocktail & coffee community. The Startup Louisville Events Calendar also lists a number of opportunities to connect with collaborators and investors.
- Louisville Predictive Analytics Meetup: This stalwart group of data science geeks meets every month to chat about projects, tools, and opportunities. Listen to talk on “How to Build a Hadoop Cluster for under $250” or a watch a demo of BI software before grabbing a beer with other big data enthusiasts.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Kentucky
Major conferences such as Strata+Hadoop World, IEEE International Conference in Big Data (IEEE Big Data), and MLconf tend to stick to bright lights. However, it’s worthwhile remembering that you’re not far from Indiana & Indy Big Data, Missouri & the StampedeCon Big Data Conference, and Tennessee & the Nashville Analytics Summit.
Since Kentucky is still in the “baby” stage, we expanded our list to include development, startup, and tech events. Though not exactly targeted, they’ll offer a chance for you to network like crazy.
- Code PaLOUsa: Sure, it’s about software development, but this Louisville event has plenty of sessions on big data, the Cloud, and databases. If you’re interested in playing with geo-data visualizations or assessing the consequences of “cloud-ifying” your data warehouse, you’re in the right place.
- Kentucky Digital Government Summit (KDGS): Organized by GovTech, KDGS is a place for government organizations, as well as public sector and private sector participants, to get together and tackle technology challenges. Smart cities, wrangling big data, security issues—these are the kind of sessions you can expect to attend.
- Startup Weekend Louisville: Call it 54 hours of hustle. Typically held two times a year (April & October), this weekend is a chance for wannabe startup stars to pitch ideas and collaborate with others on a hypothetical early stage business. You don’t need to have an idea to participate—just bring your skills and enthusiasm.
- Techfest Lou: Hosted by the Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky (TALK), Techfest is a biannual summit for Kentucky’s tech geeks. Anything and everything is covered—from IoT and healthcare to advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity.
- UK CCTS Conference: The UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science has a vested interest in improving public health, and its annual research conference brings together a lot of healthcare data experts across the UK ecosystem.
Data Science Jobs in Kentucky
Louisville and Lexington are probably your best bets for data scientist jobs. Backed by Startup Louisville and Endeavor Louisville, and supported by U of L, Louisville entrepreneurs are quickly gaining ground. Meanwhile, Lexington is hopping with quick-growing software, mobile app & game development companies (see RunJumpDev for proof).
Having said that, Elizabethtown and Bowling Green boasted a fast rate of startup activity from 2009-2014, and Corning has a major manufacturing facility in Harrodsburg, so it’s worth poking around.
In your search, you’re likely to see postings in areas such as:
- Healthcare & Biotech: Humana is the “big one” round Louisville, but you’ll also see data activity at pharma companies (e.g. PharMerica & Catalent), healthcare analytics firms (e.g. Carewise Health & Personal Medicine Plus), biotech research labs (e.g. Hera BioLabs), life science firms, and clinical organizations.
- Data Consulting & Intelligence: We’ve already mentioned Interapt & its efforts in Eastern Kentucky, but there are plenty more data-driven businesses in the bluegrass, including names like Genscape, GlowTouch Technologies, Usterix, Edj Analytics, Certilytics, El Toro, and the Rivera Group.
- Higher Education: Kentucky’s universities are substantial employers, and data & informatics centers are often looking for new blood. The state also has some interesting tech firms that are taking advantage of data generated by students (e.g. Capture Higher Ed).
Like unique ideas? There are Lexington firms exploring areas such as IoT (e.g. Cirrusmio & Scante), microgravity applications (e.g. Space Tango), and financial operating networks (e.g. Hijro), and Louisville companies involved in everything from social media data (e.g. Monstro) to motorcycle technologies (e.g. Revio). AngelList has a helpful overview of many of these Kentucky Startups, as well as open job postings.
Data Scientist Salaries in Kentucky
As of 2017, Glassdoor was reporting that the average estimated salary for a data scientist in Louisville was $93,837 and Indeed.com had a similar salary average of $94,336. Glassdoor reported a slightly lower salary figure ($91,699) for Lexington, but it didn’t have many job listings to create this average.
The upshot is you won’t be paid as much as a data scientist in Indianapolis or St. Louis, but you will be enjoying a reasonable cost of living. Though it’s not as high falutin as Austin or Boston, Kentucky is a great place for fresh air and short commutes.
We found 5 universities in Kentucky 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.