Curious what Sioux Falls or Madison might hold for your future? Check out this quick guide to earning a SD data science degree. It has details on everything from research & online degrees to jobs & salary numbers. Already settled on a university? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in South Dakota.
Studying Data Science in South Dakota
In South Dakota, the mirror has two faces. Cynics will note that only 2.5% of the state’s workforce was employed in the tech industry in 2017 – the map of CompTIA Cyberstates ranked it #49 in the country. Data science meetups and conferences are exceedingly rare. And the entire state has fewer than 1 million people.
But optimists are smiling. Sioux Falls is a boom town, with low employment and a business-friendly tax environment. The tech sector is feeding off the city’s traditional strengths in agriculture, health, and finance, and new analytics companies are gradually taking root.
What’s more, organizations such as Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, the South Dakota Enterprise Institute (SDEI), and the Black Hills Business Development Center are dying to invest in early-stage companies. If you want to make your name in the field of data science, you’ll be well-loved!
Data Science Research & Initiatives at South Dakota Universities
In the realm of technology, South Dakota State University (SDSU) is exploring ways to transform data into growth:
- The 150-acre SDSU Research Park plays host to a Seed Tech Lab and a custom-built Innovation Center – a 43,000 square-foot startup business incubator for early-stage tech and science research firms. Budding entrepreneurs can also seek assistance from the Office of Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
- Meanwhile, the researchers in the SDSU’s Centers of Excellence are deeply involved in geographic science, water, biotech, and transportation (think tech applications). The Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence, for example, is a joint collaboration between SDSU and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Center for Earth Resources Observation and Sciences.
Over at the University of South Dakota (USD), excitement is building around the USD Discovery District, a large corporate and academic research park in Sioux Falls. Designed to serve as a catalyst for high-tech industry growth, the district has the support of the city government and local businesses. Qualified tenants have full access to the incubator services provided by Zeal.
Online Data Science Programs in South Dakota
DSU is the state’s leader in data-driven distance learning, but USD and SDSU also have skin in the game. If you’re concerned about the quality of a degree, have a gander at our bullet point list of what to look for in an online data science program.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
Trying to get the fundamentals down? SDSU’s online Graduate Certificate in Data Science is a 12-credit program with courses in statistics and statistical methods & programming. These are the core courses for SDSU’s campus-based MS in Data Science, so it’s very easy to transfer them.
Interested in acquiring business-ready skills? You have two choices:
- DSU’s online Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics is a 12-credit program with courses in data mining, databases, business decision-making, and predictive analytics. It’s aimed at IT professionals and analysts who want to hone their technical and programming skills.
- USD’s online Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics is a 15-credit program with a similar curriculum. Coursework covers areas like quantitative analysis, data mining, data management, and operational analytics. Better yet, credits can be applied toward USD’s MBA with Business Analytics specialization.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
DSU has an online degree to suit almost every goal. Depending on your career path, you could look at the:
- Online Master of Science in Analytics (MSA): This degree is custom-built for aspiring data scientists & analysts. Core courses include data mining, predictive analytics, programming, and applied statistics. For electives, you can follow one of three tracks: information systems, healthcare analytics, or approved general coursework (e.g. advanced business finance).
- Online Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI): This HIMSS-approved program includes a strong roster of classes, including training in analytics, network technology, data privacy, security, and data management. It’s designed to give you a solid foundation for CAHIMS or CPHIMS certification exams. DSU’s Center of Advancement for Healthcare IT (CAHIT) can also help with internships and project possibilities.
- Online Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS): Billed as an “MBA-like program with a technical edge,” the MSIS is geared toward wannabe IT managers and systems analysts. Though it’s not a true data science degree, you have the option to choose a career track specialization in your field (e.g. data management or healthcare information systems).
Business folks should also take a close look at USD’s online MBA with a specialization in Business Analytics. USD often ranks in the top 65 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online MBA Programs, and its program is AACSB-accredited.
The degree is founded on core business concepts (e.g. accounting, information systems, marketing, finance, etc.), but the business analytics specialization will allow you to get stuck into data analysis, data management, and operational analysis.
Data Science Scholarships in South Dakota
For this section, we chose to focus on university aid that could apply to your data science degree. But this is just the beginning! The Office of Graduate Studies will be able to assist you with general scholarships and alternative financing options (e.g. low-interest loans). Don’t be afraid to reach out for advice.
Dakota State University
- Graduate Assistantships: DSU assistantships are available for the MSIS (Information Systems), MSA (Analytics), and DScIS (Information Systems). In return for reduced tuition rates and a stipend, students must work for up to 19.5 hours per week and maintain a 3.25 GPA.
South Dakota State University
- MSDS Assistantships: Because the MS in Data Science is a professional master’s degree program, designed to be completed in a year, graduate teaching assistantship (GTAs) and graduate research assistantships (GRAs) are only available in exceptional circumstances.
- PhD in CSS Assistantships: Assistantships are available for the PhD in Computational Science and Statistics. Students receive a near-total waiver of tuition and fees, and a generous stipend. In return, they’re expected to complete 20 hours per week of either teaching or research duties.
Data Science Events in South Dakota
Data Science Meetups & Communities in South Dakota
Unfortunately, South Dakota doesn’t have a lot of data science meetups. There are a few hardy souls who are committed to the future, and you’ll probably find them in these groups…
- Data Science and Big Data – South Dakota: As of 2017, this highly relevant meetup was still getting off the ground. It’s organized by the Midwest Big Data Hub and open to anyone interested in discussing big data, data science, high performance computing, and the like.
- Sioux Falls CIO Exchange: Created with the help of Sioux Fall leaders in finance & banking, this group provides local CIOs with opportunities for education and collaboration. All meetings are for accepted members only.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in South Dakota
We’ve listed some industry-focused conferences below, but if you’re looking for a true data science forum, you may have more luck in Omaha and the Twin Cities area. The Bakery Sioux Falls also occasionally hosts targeted events (e.g. Future of Tech Startup) in its Sioux Falls space.
- Siouxland IT Symposium: This invitation-only event is open to IT executives, their respective management teams, and a few select vendors. Sessions focus on the latest industry advances & challenges.
- South Dakota Biotech Summit: Run by South Dakota BioTech, this one-day summit features South Dakota companies discussing their latest breakthroughs in biotech applications (e.g. human health, animal health, agriculture, etc.).
- Trendigital: Sponsored by Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, Trendigital is a one-day marketing technology summit aimed at business owners and marketing professionals. It’s held in Sioux Falls every January.
Data Science Jobs in South Dakota
Wondering where to find local companies with a significant stake in data science? Check out the membership list for Sioux Falls CIO Exchange. Here you’ll discover representatives from some of South Dakota’s key industry sectors. These sectors include:
- Agriculture & Biofuels: Farmers Business Network (FBN), Raven Industries, John Deere, POET – South Dakota is the land of corn & soy and everything that comes with it. Agriculture is the state’s #1 industry and many ag-related companies now have a massive stake in technology and geospatial science. FBN, for instance, is built on analytics.
- Banks: Banks and financial service institutions adore South Dakota’s business-friendly tax structure and low operating costs – according to the FDIC, the state was home to $3 trillion in bank assets in 2016. Major tech employers in the area include names like Great Western Bank, Wells Fargo, and Citibank.
- Health: Healthcare accounts for a significant portion of the state’s economy. Sanford Health is one of the largest healthcare systems in the Upper Midwest (20,000+ employees) and Avera Health is not far behind. Both require analysts & data experts, and you’ll often find positions being advertised in Sioux Falls.
- Biotech: Buoyed by partnerships with healthcare providers (e.g. SAB Biotherapeutics is a Sanford Research collaborator), bio is becoming big. A 2016 survey Electronic Modeling Specialist International (EMSI) projected the biotech sector would grow 10.8% through to 2020. Check the membership list of South Dakota BioTech if you’re looking for potential employers.
- Tech: SD’s diverse spread of industries also helps support all kinds of tech companies. For example, in Sioux Falls, you’ll find Fiserv (financial transaction services), DocuTap (urgent care analytics), and Zuercher Technologies (public safety & law enforcement software) – just to name a few.
Data Scientist Salaries in South Dakota
According to Glassdoor, the average estimated salary for a data scientist in Sioux Falls was $89,127 in 2017; data analysts could expect an average of $55,199.
These are some of the lowest averages in the country – far below the national average, and even behind small states like Vermont. However, Sioux Falls also has a very reasonable cost of living (housing is usually cheap) and no corporate and personal income tax.
We found 3 universities in South 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.