Wondering if tech is blooming under the magnolias? Welcome to our guide to earning an MS data science degree. Here you’ll find info on universities, online degrees, scholarships, conferences, meetups, and jobs. Ready to commit? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Mississippi.
Studying Data Science in Mississippi
Mississippi is not the 1st (or the 31st) state that springs to a data scientist’s mind. The number of STEM graduates is small. R&D investment is scarce. Tech companies are few. In 2017, the CompTIA Cyberstates noted that 2% of the state’s workforce was in the tech industry – #50 in the country. It was also ranked #50 in innovation.
Local organizations are trying to get some momentum going:
- Innovate Mississippi is devoted to supporting emerging tech companies with capital and mentorship. It’s located in the Mississippi Innovation Hub in downtown Jackson, along with co-working spaces like Coalesce and Mantle.
- Oxford benefits from the presence of the North Mississippi Enterprise Initiative (NMEI), Ole Miss’s Insight Park, and The Edison.
- And Mississippi Enterprise Technology (MSET) is using its ties to the Stennis Space Center to attract high-tech companies to the area and foster startups. The Gulf Coast is also home to the Innovation Center and The Junction.
However, unless the state can persuade talented grads to stay in the area and cajole investors into sinking big bucks into tech, it’s likely to be a long haul.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Mississippi Universities
The public university system has developed pockets of data science expertise, with Mississippi State University (MSU)’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC²) leading the way.
- HPC² oversees multiple centers & institutes, including the Geosystems Research Institute (GRI), the Institute for Computational Research in Engineering and Science (ICRES), and the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology (IGBB).
- It’s also responsible for the Distributed Analytics and Security Institute (DASI). As a partner of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), DASI is deeply involved in areas of distributed computing, big data analytics, and cyber security.
Over at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC)’s School of Population Health, you’ll find the Department of Data Science. Founded in 2016, the department has been involved in projects like the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) and the NIH-sponsored Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC).
Meanwhile, out in rural Cleveland, Delta State University (DSU)’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information has been quietly developing projects for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the U.S. Marine Corps. Like MSU, it’s an NGA Center of Academic Excellence in Geospatial Science.
Online Data Science Programs in Mississippi
Mississippi is pretty short on online data science degrees, but there are a few. If you’re trying to decide between a campus program and distance learning, check out our advice on what to look for in an online data science program.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
As of 2017, we couldn’t find any data science or data-related online graduate certificates in Mississippi. However, we do have a national directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science that should be able to help in your search. Many well-respected schools are represented.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
If you’re open to a broad-based degree, MSU’s Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) is offered both online and on-campus. It’s not a data science program by any stretch of the imagination – it’s much more about business and administration – but does include some exposure to subjects like data mining and analytics.
DSU’s strengths in geoscience have found their way into its online Master of Applied Science in Geospatial Information Technologies. In addition to grounding you in geo-fundamentals (e.g. remote sensing, GIS, photogrammetry, etc.), this 16-month program includes coursework that draws on expertise from DSU’s Department of Biological Sciences. A capstone is required.
Data Science Scholarships in Mississippi
For this section, we chose to focus on university aid that directly applies to the data programs in our directory. But there’s plenty more money out there!
MSU, for example, has info on general assistantships and travel grants. JSU lists opportunities for assistantships, tuition waivers, and diversity scholarships. Talk to the Office of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) about funding options.
University of Mississippi Medical Center
- PhD in Biostatistics and Data Science Dean’s Scholarship: This full-tuition scholarship is awarded to potential PhD students for outstanding academic achievement. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible.
- PhD in Biostatistics and Data Science Stipends: Stipends are distributed to students – on a competitive basis – when funds are available. As of 2017, the graduate student stipend was $24,150 per year for up to five years.
- Predoctoral Financial Assistance: MS students may be eligible for stipends or assistantships. Inquiries should be addressed to the Director of the Graduate Program.
Data Science Events in Mississippi
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Mississippi
Mississippi has a smattering of tech meetups across the state, with hotspots in Jackson, the Gulf Coast area, and Oxford.
- Jackson Area Web and App Developers: Sure, it’s for developers, but it’s also one of the two largest tech groups in Jackson (JXNTech is the other).
- JXNTech: JXNTech is aimed at Jackson area folks who want to start, work for, or invest in tech companies. You may also want to check out the weekly early-stage company presentations at 1 Million Cups Jackson.
- MS Gulf Coast Tech Meetup: Like JXNTech, this Ocean Springs group is a community of folks who are interested in all aspects of tech startups. Having said that, it includes a lot of technical talks and hands-on sessions.
- North Mississippi Technology Group: Presentations at NMTG cover the gamut – from robotics to artificial neural networks to game development. It meets in Oxford.
- Oxford Machine Learning Group: Open to anyone who’s interested in ML and data science, this meetup dives deep into skills & technologies.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Mississippi
Famous data science conferences (e.g. Strata+Hadoop World, Predictive Analytics World, and SIGKDD) don’t stop in Mississippi, but they often make a beeline for New Orleans. In addition, Jackson and Oxford sometimes host startup weekends if they’re feeling organized.
- Conference on Technology Innovation (COTI): Run by Innovative Mississippi, COTI attracts a lot of movers & shakers in the MS tech community. The one-day conference includes breakout sessions, a keynote presentation, and networking opportunities.
- eTech Conference: eTech aims to help industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners gain exposure to the latest innovations and strategies in tech. It takes place every August in Jackson.
Data Science Jobs in Mississippi
Finding your dream data science job may take some creativity! Universities try very hard to place their students in local spots, but even MSU estimated it was losing about 2/3 to 3/4 of its computer science graduates to other states in 2016. Boom towns like Huntsville, AL have accelerated the brain drain.
Having said that, you will have options. When conventional job boards fail you, try investigating:
- Jackson Area: On top of its startup communities, Jackson has Hudson’s Bay Company, FuseCloud, and UMMC. Ridgeland has Venture Technologies, Geocent, Bomgar, and C Spire.
- Oxford Area: Although Ole Miss is the largest employer, FNC (real estate collateral IT) and Next Gear Solutions (restoration construction software) are also major job creators in North Mississippi.
- Gulf Coast Area: The Stennis Space Center is often on the look-out for data scientists and geospatial experts. What’s more, in the client list for MSET, you’ll find a lot of useful corporate residents and affiliates, including well-known tech employers like Vencore.
Data Scientist Salaries in Mississippi
Jackson is probably your best bet for top salaries, though no one is going to pay you Silicon Valley numbers. In 2017, Glassdoor noted that the average salary for a data scientist in Jackson was $91,903. It was $88,456 in Oxford, $86,443 in Hattiesburg, and $89,637 in Gulfport.
We should point out that Glassdoor was working off a limited number of data points to calculate these averages. (Indeed.com didn’t even list Mississippi as an option in its salary search.)
We found 4 universities in Mississippi 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.