Considering the Cornhusker State for a data science degree? Our list of programs indicates loads of variety among Nebraska’s graduate programs. Read on for an overview of research initiatives, online offerings, graduate fellowships, professional forums, and employment avenues for data scientists.
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Studying Data Science in Nebraska
Nebraska is the home of big agriculture, a Great Plains state that generates medical research, and the birthplace of the world’s most famous investor. What’s that got to do with big data? A lot. First, Nebraskan ag has gone high-tech, with unmanned aerial systems (drones) and other data-collection tools stockpiling mounds of information that help farmers manage cows and crops. Second, medical research these days is backed by the Nebraska Research Initiative, a state-funded grant program that’s often used for bioinformatics. Last, the state’s business analytics program grads have a ready outlet for jobs, with financial advising companies sprouting up in Omaha as if just to be near Warren Buffett.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Nebraska Universities
Students can find all the above specialties at University of Nebraska’s flagship campus in Lincoln, which in 2013 made a conscious decision to focus on data science initiatives, particularly in the life sciences. Feel free to check its quarterly Big Data Report newsletter for updates, or read our quick roundup of what UNL and other schools are up to:
- UNL Big Data, which encompasses the Quantitative Life Sciences Initiative (QLSI), is an interdisciplinary effort with eight research areas: bioinformatics, business analytics, computational sciences, digital humanities and arts, earth sciences, mathematics, precision agriculture, and statistics. The biggest branch is bioinformatics, whose core research facility develops grant proposals for clients, creates analytical software for government and private organizations, and hosts research databases. On the research side, the Nebraska Center for Integrated Biomolecular Communication is powered by the Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC) facility.
- But QLSI doesn’t neglect agriculture. The Consortium for Integrated Translational Biology (CITB) is hacking agronomic challenges through phenotyping and genotyping of plant species. It helps that UNL is a member of the Midwest Big Data Hub’s agriculture spoke. In 2016 the school won a shared $1 million National Science Foundation grant alongside three other midwestern universities to automate big data applications for use with unmanned aerial systems and precision agriculture.
- Outside of QLSI, which is a life science initiative, UNL also specializes in business. In fact, both U.S. News & World Report and Financial Times love University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s online MBA program, which features a business analytics specialization, placing it near the top of their rankings.
- One more thing about UNL: It’s a huge football school, and its fanbase is accustomed to winning. To support the program and the school’s other sports teams, the football team formed a Department of Sports Analytics in 2015. The department, run by a full-time staff member and a handful of graduate students, analyzes performance and helps coaches modify their approach to recruiting or game preparation.
- Over at University of Nebraska-Omaha, that school’s College of Information Science & Technology leads the Consortium for Public Health Informatics. The consortium developed STATPack, a rapid diagnostic device that digitally checks samples for harmful organisms in cases of bioterrorism or disease outbreaks.
- UN-Omaha’s Consortium partner, University of Nebraska Medical Center created the System Science program in 2016. It provides $20,000 planning grants and $150K to $300K seed grants to faculty that incorporate data science into their research.
Online Data Science Programs in Nebraska
Three schools jump into the data science pool at the graduate level, with two concentrating on business analytics. University of Nebraska-Lincoln is the state’s main public university, which may be attractive to state residents looking to save money. Bellevue University, meanwhile, is a private university that gears every program to adult online learners, therefore competing on flexibility. Nurses, meanwhile, can get in on the trend of healthcare informatics at Nebraska Methodist College, a private institution focused on allied health.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Business Analytics Graduate Certificate assumes undergraduate exposure to statistics. From there, students learn to do regression analyses, run customer experiments and visualize data sets. The four-course program is best-suited to current business professionals looking to leverage data to fine-tune their growth strategies.
Nurses with an MSN can branch into data-driven healthcare with the Nursing Informatics Certificate from Nebraska Methodist College. The 17-credit program covers how to ethically use data to create patient-centric strategies. It includes two separate practicums.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
UNL offers an MBA with a Business Analytics specialization. The courses here don’t match up one-for-one with those in the certificate program, but it’s still probably best to have statistics coursework on your undergraduate transcripts – or take some side classes from UNL. Otherwise, no specific baccalaureate degree is required. Students get all the standard finance, marketing and management coursework with a comprehensive overview of how to create a data-driven workplace using mining and analytics. Nothing too technical.
Bellevue University’s Master of Science in Business Analytics degree is slightly more technical, although it still accepts a bachelor’s degree in just about anything for entry. Students not only learn all there is to know about running a business, but also get some IT coursework to become more comfortable with hardware and software design (learning to code is optional). Specialization courses cover data science standards like analytics and data mining.
Nurses have two paths to an MSN on the Informatics track at Nebraska Methodist College, depending on their starting point. BSN holders go straight into a 21-month program, where they’ll complete coursework plus a group capstone project and two practicums. RN holders require 30 months to get to the same outcome, needing undergraduate bridge courses in both nursing and research methodologies before continuing onto in-depth statistical and regulatory issues around client data.
Data Science Scholarships in Nebraska
Although scholarships may be available to all incoming students, fellowships and assistantships from individual departments remove a competitors from other disciplines. Check with your department for awards like these:
- Heider College of Business Graduate Assistantship: Working up to 20 hours a week conducting research alongside faculty isn’t just a resume booster. At Creighton, it also gets you free tuition plus a monthly stipend for up to two years.
- Heider College of Business Tuition Waiver: Part-time students aren’t eligible for assistantships but can apply to receive 50 percent off the price of one class. You can receive two tuition waivers across your enrollment in the MS-BIA program.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Ellen Ann Qualsett Fellowship: Not every adult student goes online for an MBA. This award, which typically goes to Nebraska high school graduates, is worth $2,000 and available only to full-time, on-campus learners. The department hands out at least two each year.
- MBA Fellowship: This nonrenewable fellowship goes to the top 15 or so incoming full-time MBA students based on GMAT scores and GPA. It’s worth anything from $1,000 to $3,000 for on-campus learners.
- MBA Graduate Assistantship: Sometimes you have to work harder for financial aid. Full-time residential students who secure a teaching assistantship receive free tuition during the semester, plus a stipend and health insurance.
Data Science Events in Nebraska
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Nebraska
Most of the data science communities form in eastern Nebraska, although groups with statewide audiences may make it as far west as Kearney for meetings. There are more communities for data science professionals and students than what you see below – such as Omaha Data Viz – but the following are the most established:
- Data Science and Big Data – Omaha: This collection of data junkies meets roughly once a month, usually at UNO. Members and externals experts present on everything from machine learning algorithms to graphics processing units. In 2017, the group began looking to spinoff a separate meetup for the use of unmanned aircraft systems and big data in precision agriculture.
- Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Nebraska Chapter: HIMSS is a national professional society for nurses. The Nebraska Chapter puts on a fall meeting in Omaha and a spring gathering in Kearney, and its informatics committee plans the occasional boot camp for members. Student membership are heavily discounted, making it easy to network and learn from current professionals.
- Nebraska AI and Data-Driven Innovation Meetup: This group, founded in 2017, meets at the Fuse Coworking Space in Lincoln on the first Monday of the month. The vibe is a mix of social and informational, so every meeting includes free beer and a couple of 10- to 15-minute talks by area professionals working on AI.
- Omaha SQL User Group: This vendor-specific meetup comes together once a month to talk about databases, so don’t expect data analytics to get mentioned every time. Most meetings cover some professional challenge, and presenters hail from a variety of sectors, with recent speakers coming from Farm Credit Services of America and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Nebraska
From agriculture to education, Nebraska hosts several annual events with a strong data science component:
- AQuESTT Conference: Formerly titled the Nebraska Data Conference, the AQuESTT Conference is put on by the Nebraska Department of Education. It seeks to harness educational data to shape learning assessments and teaching pedagogies. The state’s K-12 administrators convene in Kearney for two days of talks from educators and data analysts.
- Bridging Big Data Workshop: University of Nebraska-Omaha began sponsoring this one day event in 2015. The goal is to use data monitoring and analytical techniques to maintain and replace the Midwestern bridges most needing attention. The workshop attracts attendees who own large bridge data sets and data scientists interested in infrastructure.
- Infotec: This annual one-day symposium in Omaha has multiple tracks, allowing data science to feature prominently. Participants attend a series of short breakout sessions given by educators and IT professionals.
- Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Associate(NEATA) Conference: NEATA’s two-day conference and trade show in Lincoln has a track specifically for data management, in addition to research presentations on the latest data analysis techniques from local academics.
- Nebraska Data Analytics Workshop: The Informatics and Algorithmic Foundations faculty group at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln launched this annual one-day event in 2016. It’s primarily a chance to showcase what university faculty are working on across sectors – from agriculture to engineering – in the hopes of establishing partnerships with organizations in the region.
Data Science Jobs in Nebraska
Nebraska is something of a hotspot for financial analysis. After all, Omaha is home to billionaire investor Warren Buffett. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, is the state’s most prominent Fortune 100 member. Unfortunately, it’s close to being a one-man show, so look for jobs elsewhere in the sector. Orion Advisor Services is a good place to start. The company, which has offices in Seattle, upstate New York and Omaha, recruits financial data analysts who create tools for financial advisors, such as data visualization dashboards. Another big player is Nelnet, a student loan provider headquartered in Lincoln that needs analysts to help it set proper interest rates and take appropriate risks with its money.
Outside of finances, the company many Nebraska data science grads aim to work with is Gallup. The international polling and analytics firm maintains a big office in Omaha and recruits big data engineers to improve its hardware and cloud-based infrastructure. And defense contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton snatch data scientists to work at Offutt Air Force Base, home to the Air Force Weather Agency and its database of climate information. Back in Lincoln, you might find a home with one of the companies at the Nebraska Innovation Campus, a UNL-linked research park. MetaGenome Analytics, for instance, is in the DNA sequencing business. And there are even a few pure data science firms in the state. Contemporary Analysis is one of them; it uses predictive analytics to solve problems for regional business clients. It also runs Omaha Data Science Academy with Interface, teaching technically driven courses on predictive analytics, data visualization, Python, and statical modeling.
Data Scientist Salaries in Nebraska
Advanced degree holders from Nebraska tend to do well salary-wise. MBA graduates from UNL’s class of 2015 reported a median salary of $75,000. That number isn’t disaggregated by specialization, but Creighton does keep such info. It shared that graduates from its 2015 MS in Business Intelligence & Analytics class earned even more: $84,500.
That means that graduates of either institution are getting starting salaries that put them around the 50th percentile for all computer and information research scientists in the state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for such professionals in this generic category was $80,440 in May 2016. Data scientists’ earning potential seems to be higher, with Salary.com estimating a $100K+ salary for experienced professionals in the Omaha area.
We found 5 universities in Nebraska 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.