Thanks to super-hot cities and deep-dive research, Tennessee is a great choice for data geeks. To help you sort through your options, we’ve put together a short guide to earning a data science degree in the Volunteer State. Already have a school in mind? Feel free to skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Tennessee.
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Studying Data Science in Tennessee
In Tennessee’s tale of two cities, Nashville is the star. According to CBRE’s 2016 report on Scoring Tech Talent, the city was second only to Charlotte N.C. in fastest growing small markets. It experienced a whopping 67.9% growth rate in tech talent from 2010-2015.
Known as the “healthcare capital of the world,” the city benefits from its proximity to Vanderbilt, research hospitals, and a dizzying number of health-related companies. Nashville is also putting its data stakes into advanced manufacturing, biotech, finance, and—you guessed it—music.
- Organizations such as Launch Tennessee, WorkIT Nashville, the Nashville Technology Council, and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) are promoting opportunities.
- EC accelerators such as Project Music (music tech) and Project Healthcare (early stage healthcare companies) are fostering new businesses.
Memphis may be playing catch-up, but big companies such as FedEx and organizations such as the Greater Memphis IT Council and the Memphis Technology Foundation are doing their best to ensure the city doesn’t get left behind.
Plus, like Nashville, Memphis has an abiding interest in healthcare & bioscience (e.g. Memphis Bioworks), data-driven startups (e.g. Start Co.), and accelerators (e.g. medical device inventions at ZeroTo510). Even smart cities have a place in its development plan (e.g. big data projects at Innovate Memphis).
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Tennessee Universities
Tennessee schools love data science research, especially when it relates to their traditional strengths. Just to take a few examples:
- At Tennessee Technological University (Tennessee Tech), the College of Engineering is now conducting research into Advanced Manufacturing, Networking and Algorithms for Big Data, and the Smart Grid.
- At the University of Memphis (UM), you can’t go past the FedEx Institute of Technology, which is involved in all kinds of big data research innovation clusters. Its MD2K Center of Excellence is one of only 11 national Big Data Centers of Excellence founded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) tackles psychological, biological, and artificial systems. UM’s Department of Computer Science boasts over $23M in active grants.
- At the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK), tech experts have deep bonds with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Examples of this partnership include the Bredesen Center, as well as the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) and the JICS-operated National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). Both JICS and NICS are partners of the South Big Data Hub. Be sure to check out the Business Analytics Forum and Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.
- At the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC), it’s the interdisciplinary Big Data and Analytics Research Center (BDARC) that’s leading the way. Like JICS and NICS, BDARC is a partner of the South Big Data Hub and its researchers tackle problems of high national and global value. Interested in engineering applications? The SimCenter is conducting data-driven research into aerospace/defense, energy & environment, health & biological systems, manufacturing, and urban systems.
- At Vanderbilt, the biomedical and clinical informatics programs are closely tied to the medical school and the Department of Biomedical Informatics. In fact, the Vanderbilt HEAlth Data Science Center (HEADS) was built to tackle big data in the biomedical domain.
Online Data Science Programs in Tennessee
Compared to states like Missouri and California, Tennessee has fewer distance learning options for data scientists. However, you will still have some choice when it comes to master’s degrees. (Once you have a shortlist, be sure to check out our advice on what to look for in an online data science program.)
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
As of 2017, no university in Tennessee was offering an online graduate certificate in data science. Having said that, there are hundreds of schools in other states that do. Our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science has a list of programs in multiple specialties (e.g. data mining, analytics, healthcare informatics, etc.) from many big name schools (e.g. Stanford, Boston University, etc.).
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
Austin Peay State University (APSU) offers two degrees that focus on analytics, including the:
- Online Professional Science Master’s in Data Management and Analysis
- Online Professional Science Master’s Degree in Predictive Analytics
“Professional” programs tend to tone down research requirements and amp up career training. For example, APSU’s degrees include a component focused on areas such as communication, policy, business, law, or cybersecurity.
You could also consider UTC’s online Professional MBA with a concentration in Business Analytics. As we discuss in 25 Top Schools with Master’s in Business Analytics Programs, MBA programs are traditionally geared toward decision makers. However, UTC’s degree is really pushing technical skills, with courses in databases, data warehouses, and analytics.
Data Science Scholarships in Tennessee
For this section, we’ve highlighted university scholarships and assistantships (i.e. institutional aid) that apply to the school’s data programs. But there’s more money out there! The Graduate Studies Office (e.g. MTSU’s Graduate Studies Finance page) will have plenty of details on general aid (e.g. diversity scholarships), alternative financing options (e.g. low-interest loans), and tuition discounts.
Middle Tennessee State University
- MS in Health Care Informatics Graduate Assistantships: MTSU offers graduate assistantships to full-time students in the Health Care Informatics program. Assistantship holders receive a monthly stipend. The university will also cover all tuition and most fees.
The University of Tennessee
- MBA Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships: Full-time MBA students are eligible for merit-based assistantships and fellowships. Assistantships provide a university tuition waiver (excluding university and MBA fees) plus a stipend. A few MBA fellowships are open to students in any concentration.
- MSBA Graduate Assistantships: UTK offers a limited number of merit-based assistantships to MSBA students. Most students receive financial assistance for at least one semester.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- Online Professional MBA: Military Scholarship: This $4,800 scholarship is awarded to current service members or veterans of the armed forces, as well as spouses, who are enrolled in the online PMBA. It is not intended to affect government-awarded educational benefits.
- Online Professional MBA: Merit Scholarship: This $2,400 scholarship is based on a candidate’s academic merit.
- Online Professional MBA: Achievement Package: To be eligible for this $2,400 scholarship + GMAT waiver, candidates must have at least a 3.25 undergraduate GPA and five years of professional, management-level work experience.
Data Science Events in Tennessee
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Tennessee
Unsurprisingly, Nashville has more networking opportunities than Memphis. Here are a few of the most popular groups:
- Data Science Nashville: This is one of the largest (850+ members) data science meetups in the state. It’s a practical group, with a focus on tools & technologies in data analysis, statistics, machine learning, and data visualization. But it also includes plenty of casual opportunities to network.
- Greater Nashville Healthcare Analytics: You knew there would be one! Created by folks from VUMC, MedSolutions, HCA, and TennCare, this meetup is open to anyone in the industry.
- Memphis Technology User Groups: The Memphis Technology Foundation maintains a community calendar for tech user groups & meetups in the Memphis area. Events occasionally focus on data science. Some user groups deal with specific languages and tools (e.g. R).
- NashBI: Designed for Business Intelligence analysts and developers, this meetup is part of the Microsoft Power BI User Group Program and affiliated with the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS).
- Nashville Machine Learning Meetup: This group is open to anyone—beginner, intermediate, or expert—who wants to explore the possibilities of ML.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Tennessee
Like other “mid-tier” states, Tennessee has trouble competing with NYC and California when it comes to big conferences such as Strata+Hadoop World, IEEE International Conference in Big Data (IEEE Big Data), and MLconf. However, there are plenty of smaller events with clout. If you can afford to travel, you might also want to check out opportunities in southern centers like Austin/Dallas, Charlotte, and Miami.
- 36/86 Technology Conference: This is one of the city’s most popular startup events, with four days of panels, talks, networking, workshops, and a pitch competition.
- FedEx Institute Events: Run by the University of Memphis, the FedEx Institute organizes plenty of workshops, talks, and meetups. Check out the Emerging Innovation Series.
- Nashville Analytics Summit: Nashville’s two-day conference in August has been around for quite a while, and sessions cover everything you might expect—from data science and Business Intelligence to security and ethics.
- Nashville Technology Council (NTC) Event Calendar: The NTC maintains a helpful list of small(ish) tech events around town, including networking opportunities, hackathons, and workshops.
- RISE Nashville Summit: RISE specifically focuses on risk adjustment and quality performance optimization for healthcare plans & providers—think performance analytics, data management, and the like. If healthcare is your passion, you may also want to consider the Health:Further Festival.
Data Science Jobs in Tennessee
Healthcare is a huge source of employment for data scientists in the Nashville/Franklin area. In addition to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI), and TennCare, you’ll find names such as 3Cords Solutions (healthcare consulting) and eviCore (healthcare management) that exist in the same ecosphere.
But it’s not the only field where you may unearth opportunities. Along with the industries we mentioned in the intro, Nashville has businesses that are specifically devoted to data (e.g. Digital Reasoning).
Prefer the Birthplace of Rock and Roll? Memphis is experiencing a bit of a tech skills shortage, so you’re likely to be in demand. Here you’ll find big employers like FedEx, ServiceMaster, and AutoZone, as well as ALSAC (the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital) and Wright Medical Group (medical devices).
Data-based companies are also gaining ground. We’re talking names like RocketFuel (predictive analytics), RemitDATA (healthcare analytics), and Quire, which is based in the Memphis Bioworks building. Even Expedient Data Centers has a facility in Memphis.
Data Scientist Salaries in Tennessee
In 2017, Glassdoor noted that the average estimated salary for a data scientist was $97,263 in Nashville and $95,566 in Memphis. Nashville’s estimate is on par with Atlanta; Memphis is about the same as Washington, DC.
It’s important to note that Memphis has a lower cost of living than Music City, which may account for the difference in numbers. Naturally, both cities are below big salary figures in NYC, Seattle, and San Francisco.
We found 8 universities in Tennessee 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.