Hearing great things about the Twin Cities? You’re in the right place. We’ve put together a short guide to earning an MN data science degree. It has details on everything from research & scholarships to startups & salary numbers. Already have a school in mind? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Minnesota.
Studying Data Science in Minnesota
Watch out, San Fran—Silicon Prairie is coming for you. The Twin Cities area has quietly been adding tech jobs to its economy, complementing the state’s existing powerhouses (e.g. GM, the Mayo Clinic, Target, Ecolab, Cargill, etc.). According to CBRE’s 2016 report on Scoring Tech Talent, Minneapolis experienced a 34.8% growth in tech talent from 2010-2015 and a high educational attainment rate. It’s gaining brains, not losing them.
The state’s tech sector is supported by a surprising number of organizations, including the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA), tech.mn, and MinneAnalytics. MinneAnalytics is a whole world of big data enthusiasts—it organizes regular conferences, funds scholarships, and assists in competitions (e.g. MUDAC).
And it’s not just the big companies that are seeing dividends. Twin Cities has a solid startup scene. Fostered by groups such as Beta.mn, minne*, Matchstick Ventures, and MN-SBIR (run by MHTA), entrepreneurs are creating new data jobs in software, healthcare, retail & more. If you follow the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, which tracks venture funding, you’ll see that Minnesota is often among other mid-tier players such as Indiana, Oregon, and Arizona.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Minnesota Universities
In response to demand, many Minnesota universities have stepped up their big data game. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMTC) #29 in Best Computer Science Graduate Schools. It has its own IMA Data Science Lab and plenty of active data science research projects & labs.
Better yet, UMTC has the Carlson School of Management. Carlson has an excellent reputation—#32 in Best Business Schools (#5 in Information Systems)—and many of its research projects focus on corporate applications. If you’re interested in linking your data work to business opportunities, you may wish to explore:
- The Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, which provides support for emerging entrepreneurs from UMTC and beyond. The Holmes Center helps organize the MN Cup—the largest statewide startup competition in the country.
- The Management Information Systems Research Center (MISRC), which has partnerships with companies such as GM, Medtronic, the Mayo Clinic, and UnitedHealth Group.
- The Institute for Research in Marketing, which links the latest research to practical problems facing managers.
- The Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI), which focuses on market evaluations, industry problems, and policy issues.
UMTC may be the star player, but it’s not the only athlete on the team. The University of St. Thomas (UST) has a small but thriving Center of Excellence for Big Data (CoE4BD). The Center is a Cloudera Academic Partner, and it has posted Hadoop How To and Technical Reports on its GitHub page.
Finally, there are the specialists, such as The College of Saint Scholastica (CSS). CSS has the oldest Department of Health Information Management (HIM) in the country, and its own Center for Healthcare Innovation. Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
Online Data Science Programs in Minnesota
Minnesota’s online degree offerings are fairly healthy—UMTC remains focused on campus programs, but other schools are happy to accommodate distance learners. We talk about general things to look for in an online data science program elsewhere, so here we’ve concentrated on what’s available in the North Star State.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
You’ll have a short list of specialties when it comes to online graduate certificates in Minnesota:
- Capella offers two online graduate certificates in Analytics Using SAS® (beginner and advanced). These programs include free SAS® certification exam vouchers, virtual internships, and access to SAS® software. Course credits can be applied to the MS in Analytics.
- CSS has concentrated on its strength (i.e. healthcare) and developed an online Healthcare Informatics Certificate. Coursework can be completed in fewer than three semesters, and it’s heavily focused on analytics and systems. Credits can be applied to the online MS in Health Informatics.
Looking for something a little less specialized? We’ve also compiled a directory of programs offered by respected schools throughout the country: Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
Capella has both technical and corporate options for master’s students:
- The online Master of Science in Analytics was developed in collaboration with SAS® and it focuses on serious “nuts and bolts”—tools such as SAS, R, Python, and Tableau; concepts of data mining; advanced analytics and modeling; and so on.
- The online MBA in Business Intelligence also covers statistical methods, modeling tools, and data collection & reporting techniques, but these skills are intended to help you make data-driven business decisions.
You may wish to compare Capella’s MBA with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s online Accelerated MBA with an emphasis in Data Analytics. This 30-credit degree focuses on areas such as data visualization, analytics strategy, and ethics, and includes a capstone project.
If you’re in healthcare, be sure to check out the CSS’s online Master of Science in Health Informatics. This rigorous two-year program uses real clinical data and patient info in courses such as systems design & software development, usability, and healthcare data analytics. Students can also earn eligibility to sit for the CPHI credential exam in the final semester of study.
Data Science Scholarships in Minnesota
We’ve highlighted university scholarships that can specifically be applied to the school’s data program. However, the Graduate Studies Office will have more info on general scholarships and alternative financing options. For example, the University of St. Thomas’s Financial Aid section; UMN’s Office of Graduate Studies Fellowships & Grants; and Saint Mary’s Graduate Financial Aid Scholarships section all have helpful links.
- MBA Create Your Future Scholarship: Students who are awarded this scholarship can receive up to two free MBA courses. Applicants must be in an eligible MBA program (that includes the MBA in Business Intelligence) and pass at least one MBA course per six-week session for three consecutive sessions. FlexPath applicants are not eligible. See the website for full details.
The College of Saint Scholastica
- Benedictine Health Care Facility Discount: CSS offers a 15% tuition discount to employees of Benedictine Health Care facilities. Students must be employed at least four-fifths (0.8). The discount applies to any number of credits for fall, spring, or summer semesters.
- Clinical Agency Discount: CSS works with a variety of healthcare providers in the local area to provide undergraduates with clinical training. If you are an employee of one of these sites, and providing professional guidance to CSS students, you may be eligible for 50% discount on tuition on your graduate program.
- Meaningful Work Award: Online graduate students are eligible for this award. It offers a 10% tuition discount to employees of a large number of participating organizations—many of these organizations are medical (e.g. Albany Area Hospital, Banner Health, Buffalo Hospital, etc.).
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- MBA Scholarships & Fellowships: The Carlson School gives a large number of financial awards to MBA students each year. There are scholarships for women, veterans, diverse candidates, international students—the list goes on. When you’re enrolled in a full-time MBA program, you will automatically be considered for any eligible scholarship.
- MSBA Scholarship: In 2017, the Carlson School offered twenty $20,000 merit-based scholarships to full-time MSBA graduate students. Please check the website to see if this offer is being repeated.
- MSBA International Student Scholarship: Carlson and UMTC dole out a limited number of merit-based scholarships to international students. As you might imagine, these are quite competitive. If you are eligible and enroll in the MSBA program, you will automatically be considered for the award.
Data Science Events in Minnesota
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Minnesota
The Twin Cities area is loaded with data meetups—many of them focused on specific tools & technologies. We also recommend you check out the website of MinneAnalytics, which has an active data science community and a helpful list of user group meetups on its website.
- Analyze This! Crowd-sourced Data Science: A fun one! Each quarter, teams work on a data science challenge issued by a business or organization (e.g. Habitat for Humanity). There are also workshops, bootcamps, talks, and monthly meetings to track progress.
- PyLadies Twin Cities: This is a regional offshoot of an international organization that promotes women’s involvement in the Python open-source community. There are regular study groups for beginners.
- Social Data Science: This altruistic group is sponsored by UST’s Center of Excellence for Big Data (CoE4BD) and it’s open to anyone who wishes to give back to the community. Meetups focus on applying data science to data provided by non-profit organizations.
- Twin Cities Big Data Analytics and Apache Spark User Group: This meetup is open anyone with an interest in analytics, big data technology, predictive modeling, Machine Learning, and—of course—Spark. It serves as the Twin Cities Apache Spark User Group.
- Twin Cities Spark & Hadoop User Group: As the title suggests, this is another one for the skills-lovers. It has a healthy membership base and plenty of workshops. Past talks have included presentations by Doug Cutting (creator of Hadoop) and Kudu Founder Todd Lipcon.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Minnesota
Minnesota may not be the first choice of conferences such as Strata+Hadoop World, IEEE International Conference in Big Data (IEEE Big Data), and MLconf, but Minneapolis & St. Paul still organize plenty of useful events for data scientists and entrepreneurs. (You may also want to look at options in Chicago & Detroit.)
- MHTA Spring Conference: Every year, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) hosts a one-day conference that puts the spotlight on local tech companies and their achievements. Conference tracks focus on areas such as digital transformation, cybersecurity, and leadership. Around 700+ tech professionals attend.
- MinneAnalytics Conferences: MinneAnalytics organizes a large number of annual conferences, including Big Data Tech, MAMA (marketing analytics), FARCON (financial and retail analytics), HALICON (healthcare analytics), SportCon (sports analytics), IoT Fuse (Internet of Things), etc. You’re bound to find something in your field!
- Minnesota Venture Conference (MVC): Co-hosted by the MHTA and the Minnesota Venture Capital Association, MVC was created to connect investors, entrepreneurs, and executives. There are workshops, panels, and innumerable opportunities for folks to pitch their ideas.
- Nursing Knowledge: Big Data Science Conference: Organized by UMN’s Center for Nursing Informatics, this conference features the latest big data trends and developments in the nursing field, and highlights the discoveries of virtual workgroups. There is also a skills-driven pre-conference.
- Twin Cities Startup Week: This jam-packed week takes place every fall in the Twin Cities Metro area (the self-title “Startup Capital of the North”). You have the option to take part in a wide variety of presentations, workshops, networking opportunities, and mentor sessions in multiple venues.
Data Science Jobs in Minnesota
You should have plenty of choice when it comes to data science jobs. The easiest places to start may be the MinneAnalytics job board, the MHTA Technology Job Board, and the tech.mn Job Board, but traditional job sites and your university will also be able to connect you with opportunities.
As we mentioned, the state plays host to giants such as 3M, Target, Best Buy, GM, Ecolab, Cargill, Xcel Energy, etc. Like so many businesses, these companies are making a strong push into data science and research.
Another key strength is health technology. Minnesota has its own Medical Alley, ranked as the world’s #1 Health Technology Cluster for innovation. This is the land of the Mayo Clinic, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, 3M Healthcare, Smiths Medical, Abbott, and Optum (a data services subsidiary of the UnitedHealth Group). Many Twin Cities companies are involved in creating and monitoring devices (think Internet of Things).
That’s not to neglect the data sector! The North Star State is home to the data mining & analytics startup Centriam; the big data consulting firm phDATA; the headquarters of Data Sciences International and The Nerdery; and a branch of Oracle built from Retek. Plus, there are innumerable software companies (established and startups) that are involved in everything from sports (e.g SportsEngine) to marketing (e.g. LeadPages).
Data Scientist Salaries in Minnesota
Minnesota tends to pay its data scientists well. According to Glassdoor, the average estimated salary for a data scientist in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area was $102,708 in 2017.
This is below the national average (which is skewed by Silicon Valley and Seattle), but well above estimated averages in cities like Boston, Atlanta, and D.C. In fact, this salary number is about par with New York City. The big names in town (e.g. GM) may have something to do with the healthy compensation.
We found 5 universities in Minnesota 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.