Baltimore or Bay Area for a data science degree? The answer may not be as straightforward as you think. We parsed the data on research initiatives, career opportunities and tech communities in Maryland and found a vibrant data science scene. Already got a taste for crab cakes? You might want to head straight for our list of all the data science programs in Maryland.
Studying Data Science in Maryland
Maryland is a haven for technological jobs. So says CBRE Research, which found that from 2010 to 2015, Baltimore’s market for tech talent grew by 61.4 percent, taking it to the 10th best place for tech jobs in the country. B’more is trying to catch up to its southern neighbor, the District of Columbia, which holds on to the #2 spot. But is there a local pipeline to these jobs? Yes. The CBRE report also notes that residents of the DC area, which includes Baltimore, complete more tech degrees than anyone but New Yorkers.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Maryland Universities
The University of Maryland system and Johns Hopkins University are the main drivers of data science research in the state, with smaller institutions providing strong teaching-centered programs:
- If you want a preview of what a data science curriculum looks like, head to Coursera, where Johns Hopkins has made itself an authority on the subject by putting together multiple courses and programs that delve into topics like genomic data science, executive data science, software development in R, and advanced statistics. The JHU Data Science Lab can link you to these courses, textbooks the faculty has written on the subjects, and a free application for learning R (called Swirl).
- University of Maryland’s flagship campus in College Park is a research hub. The College of Information Studies at the iSchool houses the Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC), which is focused on archival analytics. Students at the School of Business, meanwhile, will benefit from its formation of the Smith Analytics Consortium, which connects researchers and educators with direct inputs from corporations such as Deloitte and Unilever.
- Loyola University of Maryland gives students the chance to find data-driven solutions to challenges at real area businesses. To keep the curriculum relevant to employers, the data science program maintains an Industrial Advisory Board composed of execs from Booz Allen Hamilton and other companies.
Online Data Science Programs in Maryland
Maryland’s public and private universities team up to provide a healthy mix of online degrees and certificates in the data science realm. Two of them — Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland-Baltimore County — even feature prominently in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
An online graduate certificate can be a great method for scaling up your skills quickly. Two Maryland certificate programs to consider are:
- Johns Hopkins’ Certificate in Government Analytics, a five-course program that requires no previous experience in quantitative methods
- University of Maryland-University College’s Foundations in Business Analytics Graduate Certificate, which requires high GRE/GMAT scores, industry certifications or undergraduate math coursework for entry.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
By opting for a full degree online, your total study hours increase but so do your potential destinations. To start with, the certificate programs above are built to lead seamlessly into the following two credentials:
- Johns Hopkins’ 12-course MS in Government Analytics
- UMUC’s 36-credit MS in Data Analytics, which covers data management, mining, modeling and visualization.
Other distance degrees in data science include:
- Johns Hopkins’ MS in Applied Economics, which is built around micro- and macroeconomic theory, statistics and econometrics
- Notre Dame of Maryland University’s MS in Analytics in Knowledge Management, which emphasizes computer studies (e.g., data visualization and data mining) while throwing in statistics and business coursework
- University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s MS in Information Systems, which begins with core work in networking and database management before proceeding to advanced electives.
Data Science Scholarships in Maryland
At the graduate level, financial aid typically comes from academic departments, often in the form of assistantships or fellowships. To win one, you may have to commit to teaching or serving as a research assistant for a set number of hours each week. Universities may also make scholarships available. We’ve found a few to apply for:
University of Maryland-College Park
- Laurence B. Heilpren Memorial Scholarship: This annual award is bestowed to the writer of a student paper “that best contributes to the field of information science.” Enrollees in the Master of Information Management (MIM) program are, by definition, eligible.
- MIM Alumni Scholarship: $2,000 is available every year to an exceptional MIM student with financial need.
Data Science Events in Maryland
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Maryland
Because Maryland wraps around Washington, DC, many of the state’s professionals can tap into that city’s diverse catalog of tech communities. That’s not to say there aren’t groups within the state’s borders. The Baltimore area, in particular, hosts active data scientist enclaves, including the following:
- Apache Spark and Distributed Computing Maryland: This Annapolis Junction community meets infrequently for discussions. With six corporate sponsors, the group provides a great avenue for networking.
- Baltimore SQL – Business Intelligence Group (B-SQL-BIG): A SQL-centric group headquartered in Columbia, the Business Intelligence Group meets monthly to listen to outside speakers get in the weeds on using applications.
- Data Science MD: Boasting eight corporate sponsors, this Meetup of 3,000+ data enthusiasts in Baltimore is worth putting on your calendar. One month you might get a tutorial on applying Bayesian statistics to baseball players and the next you might hear a talk from IBM on Watson.
- Maryland Big Data Research Organization: A small but dedicated group of big data lovers in Baltimore participates in member-delivered seminars several times a month.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Maryland
What’s true for communities is also true for conferences: Many big events land in Washington, DC, making them accessible for most Marylanders. Within the state, large conferences come to town every few years, such as Achieving the Dream’s 2016 Data & Analytics Summit at UMUC and INFORMS 2018 Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research.
Additionally, Maryland associations increasingly use their conferences to talk about data. For instance, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore held a conference entitled Detecting the Unexpected: Discovery in the Era of Astronomically Big Data in 2017, and the Maryland Assessment Research Center’s (MARC) 16th annual conference in 2016 used the theme of Data Analytics and Psychometrics. Below are a few Maryland conferences for which the theme is always big data:
- Chesapeake Large-Scale Analytics Conference: The Association for High Speed Computing organizes a three-day annual workshop in Annapolis for business professionals, government staff and academic researchers. 2016’s theme was streaming analytics and 2015’s was productive analytics.
- Fraud Analytics for Government: This two-day conference geared toward federal agency staff hops between DC and Maryland every year. It’s on the expensive side, so if you’re attending as a private citizen, see if your employer will pay the registration fee.
- Open Data Science Symposium: Put on by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, the symposium is a free yearly event that showcases how NIH uses big data to advance biomedical research.
- PhUSE Computational Science Symposium (CSS): A three-day annual gathering in Silver Spring, the CSS builds upon past symposia. Each event is a chance for working groups composed of academics, businesspeople, tech professionals and government regulators to present their progress on long-term projects.
Data Science Jobs in Maryland
When you think of the market for data scientists in Maryland, think government. The most obvious destination is the National Security Agency (NSA), which is charged with collecting, monitoring and analyzing data from billions of people around the world. But the National Institutes of Health is into big data for biomedical research, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg wades into the topic, and the U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland collects reams of data that legislators rely on to make policy decisions. These represent just a few potential federal government employers of data science grads.
Yet according to a 2016 report by Burtch Works, government jobs make up just one percent of all data science jobs in the country. That means that in the greater DC area you’re likely to encounter work you just can’t get elsewhere, but you’ll still be able to join up with the private sector. For one thing, Maryland has a glut of government contractors, such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which does frequent work for the NSA and NIH; Lockheed Martin, a Fortune 100 company based in Bethesda; and even smaller firms like Varen Technologies, which does contract work for the U.S. Navy.
Want a private sector job outside the military-industrial complex? No problem: You might be interested in HelioCampus, a Bethesda company that provides data analytics to postsecondary institutions. Or RedOwl, whose Baltimore office develops data screening systems that companies use to prevent internal security breaches. Or try Asymmetrik, an Annapolis Junction consulting group for business analytics.
Looking for a company that doesn’t exist yet? Data Tribe, located just outside the beltway, titles itself a “startup crucible” and will help you take your business concept from idea to market.
Data Scientist Salaries in Maryland
Ironically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t maintain data on data scientist employment or salary figures. It does, however, keep tabs on a broader classification of workers: computer and information research scientists. Maryland has more of them than any state but California and pays them a median average of $112,000, just above the national rate.
When we drill down to the jobs specifically for data scientists, we see that, according to Indeed.com, Maryland salaries are well below average. They hover just above $100,000, compared to a national average of $130,000. That’s primarily because the biggest employer, the NSA, drives down wages by offering packages around the $80-90K mark. But salary is just one part of the picture, as many job searchers flock toward the NSA’s generous benefits, which include healthcare and matching employer contributions toward retirement.
We found 6 universities in Maryland 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.