Wondering what Roughrider country has to offer a data expert? Check out this short guide to earning an ND data science degree. It has details on everything from research labs & incubators to online degrees & job options. Already sold on the Badlands? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in North Dakota.
Studying Data Science in North Dakota
Forget the Coen brothers – North Dakota is coming on strong. In 2017, the map of CompTIA Cyberstates noted that 3% of the workforce was employed in the tech industry (#36 in the country); its innovation ranking was #32. For a state of fewer than one million souls, those are highly respectable numbers!
Yes, the oil boom has helped fuel investment, but the presence of a Microsoft campus (and all of the accompanying vendors) has gone a long way to turning the Fargo/Moorhead area into a center of development. Emerging Prairie will be thrilled to tell you about the area’s low costs of entrepreneurship and the growth of high tech centers, incubators, and co-working spaces.
The other field to keep an eye on? Drones. Approximately 90% of North Dakota land is used for agriculture and the UAS industry is beginning to be a key player in the state’s economy. In addition to crops, UAVs are also being used to monitor wind turbines, power lines, and more. Check out Grand Sky, the country’s first UAS Business & Aviation Park, at Grand Forks Air Force Base if you don’t believe us!
Data Science Research & Initiatives at North Dakota Universities
Many of the local initiatives happening in data science revolve around the state’s two big public universities: the University of North Dakota (UND) and North Dakota State University (NDSU). These two schools form the anchor points of the Red River Valley Research Corridor.
At UND, for example, you’ll find strengths in:
- Big Data: UND is a key player in the Midwest Big Data Hub (MBDH) and its Computational Research Center (CRC) stands ready to help students and researchers with high performance computing challenges. As part of its commitment to MBDH, the university also hosts an Early Career Big Data Summit (ECBDS) for students.
- Tech & Innovation: Founded in 1984, the UND Center for Innovation in Grand Forks is devoted to helping innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers launch new ventures and commercialize technologies. It runs two technology incubators – the Skalicky Tech Incubator and the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center – and offers a number of internships to current UND students.
- Geospatial Science: UND is a state leader in this area, and the Department of Geography organizes a number of community-based GIS projects. Geography research labs include the Geographic Analysis and Remote Sensing Laboratory (GARSL), the Weather Record Facility, and the Physical Geography Laboratory.
At NDSU, you’ll find intriguing things happening in the realm of:
- Drones & UAVs: In 2016, NDSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering launched a “first-of-its-kind” agricultural research project that incorporated drone technology. You can read more about the work of the Machinery Systems and Precision Agriculture Research Lab on the Department’s website.
- Tech & Innovation: Researchers in the NDSU Research and Technology Park are involved in areas like RFID, high performance computing, and nano technologies. The Park manages a Technology Incubator for tech-based entrepreneurs and hosts an annual Innovation Challenge for NDSU students.
- Transportation & Logistics: Many of the programs at NDSU’s Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) incorporate sophisticated data analysis and geospatial science techniques. You can browse their research projects by topic.
Online Data Science Programs in North Dakota
As of 2017, it was slim pickings for big data distance learning programs in North Dakota. UND and MSU have specialized offerings, but all the rest is silence.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
Love geospatial data? UND’s online Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science (GISc) may be a good fit. The one-year, 12 credit program is a blend of theoretical concepts and practical technical skills. Courses cover areas such as cartography, GIS, remote sensing, and digital image processing. All students pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency.
Alternatively, you can run through our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science. There are oodles of interesting programs from a number of well-respected schools.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
The only data-related program we could find in 2017 was MSU’s online Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS). It’s not a true data science program – it’s focused on areas such as business management, cyber security, and system analysis – but it does address the issue of big data management.
Data Science Scholarships in North Dakota
For this section, we chose to focus on university assistantships & scholarships that applied to degrees in our directory. But there’s plenty more money out there! The Office of Graduate Studies will have details on many sources of funding (e.g. general scholarships, low-interest loans, outside fellowships, etc.). For example, NDSU has an entire section on fellowship & funding opportunities.
Minot State University
- College of Business (COB) Scholarships: Although most of these scholarships are aimed at undergraduates, MSIS graduate students are eligible for a limited number of general COB awards (e.g. Bruce and Diane Walker Scholarship).
- MSIS Research Assistantships: Research assistantships are available for the MSIS program. In general, research assistants are expected to complete 5 hours of work per week during the academic year or 10 hours during the summer term.
- MSIS Scholarship: This award is open to MSIS graduate students enrolled in at least 6 credits with a GPA of 3.0 or greater.
University of North Dakota
- Department of Geography Graduate Assistantships: MS students are eligible for both research & teaching assistantships. Most assistantships are half-time and require ~15 hours of work per week. They are assigned on a competitive basis and include a full tuition waiver.
- North Dakota View Scholarship: UND awards a limited number of $750 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students who are using remote sensing and/or other geospatial technologies in their research.
- Virginia George Memorial Scholarship: This scholarship is open to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in geography. Award amounts vary.
Data Science Events in North Dakota
Data Science Meetups & Communities in North Dakota
The Fargo/Moorhead (FM) area has a small number of tech & data meetups. Some groups are more dedicated than others!
- 1 Million Cups Fargo: This informal caffeinated event is a weekly opportunity for FM entrepreneurs to present their ideas to the community.
- Data Science and Big Data -Red River Valley: Sponsored by the Midwest Big Data Hub, this Fargo group is open to anyone interested in big data applications and technology, as well as related topics (e.g. Cloud computing).
- Geek Meet FM: This friendly meetup of tech geeks, nerds, and hackers meets every month in Fargo to discuss their latest projects and ideas.
- ND Red River Valley – UAS Digital/Precision Ag and Big Data: Hosted by UND and NDSU, this meetup brings together the agriculture industry and data experts to discuss big data, UAS, and the latest agricultural applications.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in North Dakota
No surprise – Fargo isn’t at the point where it can attract big data conferences such as Predictive Analytics World (PAW) and SIGKDD. But Microsoft often hosts events on its campus (e.g. Dynamics GP Tech Conference in 2017) and there’s a TEDEx Fargo every year. Minneapolis may also have some conferences worth investigating.
- Cart Summit: Geared at e-commerce professionals, this one-day conference is full of keynotes, workshops, and networking.
- Drone Focus Conference: It’s all about UAS tech at this two-day event. Along with talks & training opportunities, there are drone races, demos, student pitches, and a special Drone Focus Film Festival.
- Midwest Mobile Summit (MWMS): Mobile tech pioneers should put this two-day conference on their calendar. The sessions, keynotes, and hackathon are open to experts and beginners alike.
- ND GIS Users Conference: Often held on a North Dakota campus, this two-day conference is full of sessions & workshops on every aspect of geospatial technologies, including GIS, remote sensing, the UAS industry, crowd-sourcing, etc.
- Prairie Capital Summit: Organized by Emerging Prairie, PCS brings investors, startup founders, and wannabe entrpreneurs together to discuss investments in the Midwest.
Data Science Jobs in North Dakota
North Dakota is a small state, so finding your dream data science job will involve a little bit of creative thinking. Microsoft is the behemoth, but you’ll find other options in the Fargo/Moorhead (FM) and Grand Forks corridor. For comparison, check out:
- The tenant list at the NDSU Research and Technology Park, where you’ll find names like Phoenix International (run by John Deere), Appareo, and numerous incubators. Data-driven companies such as Myriad Mobile and Intelligent InSites are former residents.
- The tenant list at UND Center for Innovation, where businesses such as Edge Data, AgriData, and Northrop Grumman mingle with the Unmanned Applications Institute (UAI) International and Grand Sky.
Other data-driven employers in the area include Sanford Health, U.S. Bank, HERE Fargo, and the universities themselves.
Remember, too, that many agricultural companies, especially manufacturers who create equipment and tools, have a keen interest in geospatial data and the Internet of Things. We’re talking about businesses like John Deere Electronic Solutions, RDO Equipment Co., Titan Machinery, Bobcat Company, and True North Equipment.
Data Scientist Salaries in North Dakota
According to Glassdoor, the average estimated salary for a data scientist in Fargo was $94,423 in 2017; data analysts could expect an average of $54,429. In Grand Forks, the salaries were a little higher – $95,968 and $55,190 respectively.
These numbers are on par with small tech cities like Burlington, VT. However, we should caution that Glassdoor was working off an extremely limited number of salary listings. In fact, the salary section of Indeed.com didn’t have enough data points to list North Dakota.
We found 3 universities in North Dakota 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.