Ann Arbor or Detroit? U-M or Michigan State? We’ve put together a quick guide on everything you need to know—from schools and 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 Michigan.
Studying Data Science in Michigan
Michigan is rising from its automotive ashes. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is pumping money into the tech economy; booster organizations like Automation Alley and TechTown Detroit are promoting data-driven accelerators and incubators; and Grow Detroit is attempting to turn Motown into the next Atlanta.
The result? The Southeast Michigan area is starting to catch up to “second tier” big data centers:
- Ann Arbor has SPARK, which is bolstering start-ups, and the University of Michigan, which is driving investment. CBRE’s report on Scoring Tech Talent noted that the school was responsible for 272 venture capitalist-backed firms from 2010-2015; Spark claims that Ann Arbor’s start-ups have more than double the national survival rate.
- Detroit has seen a 8.7% growth in millennials from 2009-2015 , a steady rise in tech employment, and a rash of new start-ups (Grow Detroit has a list of them). Dan Gilbert, the Quicken Loans king, has lavished more than $1 billion on his hometown, with the goal of turning downtown into the next big thing.
But keep your eye on the road. Thanks to its history, Michigan is becoming an interesting place to study automotive data science. Ann Arbor’s Mcity is a test site for connected/automated vehicles and systems, and Uber has opened a facility in Detroit to connect with car companies and tier-1 suppliers.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Michigan Universities
Mcity is a University Michigan-Ann Arbor initiative—just one of the many that has made the university world-famous. Southeast Michigan has plenty of sturdy tech schools, but it’s U-M-Ann Arbor that features in the top 30 of Best Global Universities in Computer Science and the top 15 of Best Graduate Computer Science Programs of U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Here’s how Michigan’s top dog and its neighboring rivals are competing (and collaborating) on the big data front:
- U-M-Ann Arbor’s Advanced Research Computing (ARC) facilitates data-intensive research and provides technology & consulting services. ARC is responsible for the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS), which was built with some of the funds from the school’s $100 million Data Science Initiative (DSI). U-M-Ann Arbor also runs the Big Data Summer Institute, develops new business at the Office of Technology Transfer, and takes part in data-led projects like ICPSR.
- Michigan State University’s Bio/Computational Evolution in Action CONsortium (BEACON) is an NSF Science and Technology Center that unites biologists, computer scientists, and engineers in the study of evolution (e.g. disease, climate change, genetics, etc.). Meanwhile, its Innovation Center is actively involved with technology start-ups.
- Wayne State University’s College of Engineering has developed a Big Data & Business Analytics Group, with a focus on real-world business problems. Projects include automotive & defense analytics, as well as healthcare and value management.
Even schools outside of Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) are getting in on the action. Michigan Tech has traditionally been known for its strength in mechanical engineering, but it’s making a shift to Computation, Data, Electronics, and Sensing research at places like the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI).
In addition, Central Michigan University is throwing its weight behind the CMU Research Corporation (CMURC), a business incubator and accelerator initiative for mid-Michigan companies, and Grand Valley State University is launching itself at big data research projects in places like its Data Inquiry Lab and Center for Healthcare Analytics.
Online Data Science Programs in Michigan
Compared to others states (e.g. California and Illinois), Michigan hasn’t developed many online programs in data science. Granted, there are plenty of distance learning initiatives (e.g. CMU Global Campus), but focused data degrees taught by experienced faculty are rare.
We cover general things to look for in an online data science program elsewhere, so here we profile your choices in Michigan.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
In the realm of graduate certificates in data science, Michigan State is one (if not the only) option. Its online Master Certificate in Business Analytics is run through the Eli Broad College of Business, and is primarily targeted at professionals who need to master essential data fundamentals and tools.
If you’re beyond this skill level, have a look at our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science. This has a list of certificates in all kinds of fields (e.g. data mining, analytics, healthcare informatics, etc.) from respected schools (e.g. Stanford, Boston University, etc.) across the country.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
Here again, you’re looking at limited options. Baker College runs an online MBA in Business Intelligence for managers who wish to understand information systems and IT technologies, but there aren’t many online degree programs in Michigan that tackle advanced technical skills in data science.
When in doubt, try exploring our databases of online master’s degrees in data science, business analytics, and information systems around the nation. You can also assess the quality of these programs by looking at feedback on Quora.com and Reddit.com, and by contacting alumni through LinkedIn.
Data Science Scholarships in Michigan
For this section, we focused on university scholarships (i.e. institutional aid) that would cover the school’s data science program. But this ain’t the end! The Graduate Studies Office will have more info on general aid (e.g. diversity scholarships) and alternative financing options (e.g. outside awards or low-interest loans). Money is almost always available for STEM degrees.
Central Michigan University
- Department of Mathematics Graduate Assistantships: This Department administers the MS in Applied Statistics & Analytics (MSAS), and it has a number of graduate teaching, research & PhD assistantships available to students. Assistants receive tuition waivers and a stipend.
- Graduate Tuition Awards & Scholarships: You may also wish to look into the university’s general graduate tuition awards & scholarships. Residents of Michigan are given in-state tuition rates.
Eastern Michigan University
- College of Business (COB) Scholarships: The COB administers the MBA in Business Analytics and it has a few scholarships open to any MBA major.
- Department of Mathematics Graduate Assistantships: The Department of Mathematics, which administers the MA in Applied Statistics, offers a variety of assitantships to incoming students. Assistants receive tuition scholarships.
- Department of Mathematics Scholarships: The Department of Mathematics also gives a number of awards to students each year. Please check with the Department for specifics on how to apply.
- K.G. Janardan Scholarship: This scholarship is offered by the Department of Mathematics and is specifically awarded to a graduate student in statistics (e.g. MA in Applied Statistics).
Grand Valley State University
- Biostatistics Graduate Assistantships: Grand Valley offers a limited number of assistantships to graduate students. Assistants receive tuition waivers and a bi-weekly stipend.
Michigan State University
- Graduate Assistantships: MSU hands out ~3,000 assistantships per year to qualified graduate students.
- Spartan Innovations Ventures Fellowship: If you’re thinking of a doctorate after you earn your MS, this intriguing PhD fellowship is intended to give MSU graduate students first‐hand business experience in the commercialization of breakthrough technology & start-ups. Fellows receive $6,500 for the eight month period in addition to their existing support.
- School of Business Administration (SBA) Assistantships: The SBA administers the MS in IT Management in Business Analytics and it has a limited number of assistantships open to full-time graduate students.
- W. Edwards Deming Scholarship: This award is given to a current graduate student studying statistics (e.g. the MS in Applied Statistics) who shows potential as a practicing statistician.
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
- Dow Sustainability Master’s and Professional Fellowship: This generous program provides up to $20,000 over one year to support terminal master’s students who are committed to finding interdisciplinary sustainability solutions on local-to-global scales. Students can be pursuing a wide range of majors.
- Funding for Master’s & PhD Students: U-M-Ann Arbor has helpful lists of more general funding opportunities for master’s students and doctoral students.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
- College of Business (COB) Admissions Scholarship: The COB administers the MS in Business Analytics and it offers merit-based scholarships to the top 3-5% of its admitted students. Awards are based primarily on previous GPA and GMAT or GRE scores.
- College of Business (COB) Graduate Scholarships: The COB also has a number of endowed/named scholarships open to any COB graduate student. Check the website for eligibility details.
Data Science Events in Michigan
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Michigan
Southeast Michigan has meetups focused on specific tools (e.g. Michigan Spark Users, Ann Arbor R Users, etc.), interests (e.g. Data+Visualization Detroit), and businesses. Here are 5 you might wish to explore:
- Ann Arbor New Tech: This meetup boasts 5,000+ entrepreneurs, technologists, investors, lawyers, marketers, students, and bloggers who are interested in local high-tech start-ups. As well as happy hours and talks, there’s a monthly demo/pitch event for new businesses.
- Big Data Developers Detroit: Sponsored by IBM, this meetup gives developers, data scientists, and data enthusiasts a chance to get their hands on tools and technologies. It also hosts regular web conferences and community events.
- Big Data Meetup in Southeast Michigan: Founded in 2016 and located in Canton, this group aims to help data scientists collaborate on applications and R&D activities among big data companies.
- D-NewTech (DNT): Like Ann Arbor New Tech, this group provides resources and networking opportunities for the Detroit and Southeast Michigan start-up community. Demo/pitch events take place every month.
- Machine Learning: Data, Science, and Industry: Based in Ann Arbor, this meetup has ties to MIDAS and the local start-up community.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Michigan
Major data science conferences (e.g. Strata+Hadoop World, Predictive Analytics World, IEEE ICDM, SIGKDD, etc.) tend to stick to bigger cities, but you may get lucky with Detroit. Alternatively, you can try some of the smaller events, which are often organized by URC universities or organizations like Grow Detroit. These include:
- Big Data & Business Analytics Symposium: Organized by Wayne State University in Detroit, this event brings together professionals to discuss business case studies and explore next-generation tools, technologies, and processes.
- Detroit Startup Week: Like other start-up weeks around the country, Detroit’s event is a five-day mash of hackathons, networking hours, workshops, talks, and tours.
- Digital Summit Detroit: Presented by TechMedia, DSD looks at everything to do with digital and business (e.g. marketing, UX & design, search, content, mobile, etc.). You may find it a useful networking hub!
- Frontiers in Data Science and Computing Workshop: The Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE) at Michigan State University holds an annual two-day workshop to explore groundbreaking developments in data science.
- Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) Annual Symposium: Since 2010, MIDAS has been running an annual symposium that features eminent data scientists and University of Michigan researchers. This also gives graduate students the chance to connect with potential employers.
Data Science Jobs in Michigan
Just like Boston/Cambridge in Massachusetts, you’ll find a lot of data science jobs swirling around Detroit/Ann Arbor in Michigan.
Along with the behemoth of Quicken Loans, Motor City has Detroit Labs, LevelEleven, start-ups like Locqus and Cripsot, and a lot of reasonably priced real estate. In 2015, Amazon announced that it intended to build a technology hub in downtown Detroit, joining Microsoft and Twitter with its presence.
Meanwhile, fueled by talent from the University of Michgan, Ann Arbor has become the Cambridge of the Midwest. This is a city of innovators like Llamasoft, Deepfield, Nutshell, FarmLogs, and Duo Security. It’s also home to the Google office that primarily handles sales for Google’s AdWords search ads.
Don’t fancy cold winters? After all that we’ve said, you won’t be surprised to hear that U-M was the only Michigan name to appear on a 2015 Jobvite survey that ranked universities with the most students hired by Silicon Valley companies. It came in at #17.
Data Scientist Salaries in Michigan
According to Glassdoor, estimated average salaries for data scientists in Detroit and Ann Arbor are below the national average, but not far from figures at comparable cities like Boston or Atlanta. It’s also important to remember that Detroit currently comes with a low cost of living, especially in housing.
While you’re considering salary numbers, you may also wish to ponder your long-term return on investment (ROI). In Payscale’s 2016 College ROI Report, Michigan Tech (#35) and U-M-Ann Arbor (#36) were neck-in-neck when it came to their 20 year net returns.
Data science is a new field, so these figures won’t be 100% accurate, but it’s still interesting to see that these two schools cracked the top 40.
We found 11 universities in Michigan 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.