Austin or Boston? College Station or the Bay Area? To help you decide whether Texas is the right fit for your data science degree, we’ve put together a primer on everything from job prospects to Texas university scholarships. Already committed to the Lone Star State? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Texas.
Studying Data Science in Texas
Texas is experiencing a 21st century boom. Affordable tuition rates, sturdy corporate infrastructure, and lots of young graduates have led to an explosion of interest in data science. Austin is often cited as one of the most attractive tech hubs in the country (with SXSW as an added bonus) and Dallas is coming on strong. From 2012-2016, both cities made the top 10 list of fastest-growing start-up scenes.
This growth has a lot to do with strong university programs. UT Austin is the best-known example—thanks to world-famous faculty, it usually appears in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Global Universities for Computer Science – but schools like Rice, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Galvanize have also been boosting their data profile.
Just to take a few examples of what’s happening on campus:
- UT Austin’s Department of Computer Science has a $120 million home with 10 research clusters (e.g. AI, data mining, bioinformatics, etc.) and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC)—generally regarded as one of the most powerful supercomputers on earth. To support all this activity, it also has an Office of Technology Commercialization devoted to start-ups and patent development.
- Texas A&M’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering has a vast range of research labs, with strong showings in cybersecurity. Like UT Austin, it has its own office of commercialization—Texas A&M Technology Commercialization (TTC)—and it’s right next door to Stata.com.
- It may be small, but Rice’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology (K2I) invests in a variety of research initiatives and receives a lot of funding from the government. In 2014, Rice was given a $1.2 million NSF grant to develop cloud computing tools that would make better use of big data; in 2016, it was awarded a further $1.4 million grant to fund a research training group in data science.
In addition, SMU, University of North Texas, and UT Dallas are part of an NSF-funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) called the Net-Centric Software and Systems Center. Projects encompass everything from Processing-In-Memory (PIM) technologies to the Internet of Things.
Online Data Science Programs in Texas
Your choices for distance learning in Texas will depend on the school. For instance, Texas A&M is deeply invested in online opportunities, including graduate programs. Better yet, Sam Houston State University (#6) and Texas Tech (#11) appeared in the top 25 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs in 2016.
We have a general checklist on what to look for in an online data science program, but here are some specifics about Texas.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
Unlike California and Illinois, which have a number of online graduate certificate programs in data science, Texas is fairly low on choice. Texas A&M gives you the option to concentrate on data mining and SAS in its online Applied Statistics Certificate, but this kind of program is a rarity. If you’re targeting a certificate that focuses on particular skill sets (e.g. business intelligence), you may wish to expand your search across the country.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
Online master’s degrees, on the other hand, do exist. Texas A&M’s Online Master of Science in Applied Statistics has been on the map since 2007; SMU’s Online Master’s in Data Science began classes in 2015.
Texas A&M University – College Station: Over the years, Texas A&M’s online MS has been ranked as the second-largest online program in the country (behind Penn State) and its very proud of its curriculum. Lectures, assignments, exams, and grading requirements are all the same as campus ones, no matter where you live. The program even mixes online students with on-campus students in data mining competitions.
Southern Methodist University: SMU’s online data science program uses the same infrastructure provider (2U) as UC Berkeley, George Washington University, Syracuse, and American University. SMU supplies the teaching and course content and 2U provides the tools and technology. According to 2U’s impact reports, these partnerships have a high rate of retention & graduation.
To get a sense of specifics, trying searching messageboards and forums like Quora.com. Many folks will give you unfiltered opinions about their experience with online degree programs in Texas.
Data Science Scholarships in Texas
Curious to know what kind of graduate funding in data science is available from Texas universities? We’ve put together a list of scholarships and fellowships (i.e. institutional aid) that specifically cover data science degrees.
But this isn’t the end of the story! For more ideas about funding, talk to your school’s Graduate Studies Office about your financing options.
- Andrew Ladd Memorial Excellence in Computer Science Fellowship: This fellowship is given to a well-qualified graduate student in Rice’s Department of Computer Science. Preference will be given to candidates who have already started their thesis research.
- Ken Kennedy-Cray Fellowship: Founded with an endowment by the supercomputer manufacturer Cray Inc., this fellowship is intended to support graduate students at Rice’s K21. Special consideration is given to applicants whose research focuses on high performance computing.
- Energy Industry Graduate Fellowships: Rice has teamed up with Texas companies like ExxonMobil, BP, Schlumberger, and Shell to offer a one-year fellowship to master’s and doctoral candidates at Rice. Applicants should be pursuing research related to high performance computing, computational science & engineering, and information technology and they must be willing to consider a paid industry internship.
Texas Tech University
- Rawls College of Business Scholarships: The Rawls COB, which includes the Department of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences (ISQS) and the MS in Data Science, lists all of its scholarship opportunities on one page. There are scholarships for undergraduates, graduates, and PhD students.
University of North Texas
- College of Business (COB) Scholarships: UNT’s COB, which includes the Department of IT & Decision Sciences (ITDS) and the MS in Business Analytics, has a list of both general scholarships and departmental scholarships. ITDS scholarships are available for undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students.
University of Texas-Arlington
- STEM Tuition Fellowship: The STEM program is open to full-time engineering and science graduate students who are seeking a doctoral degree. It includes monthly stipend, 75% tuition coverage, a graduate assistantship, and in-state tuition rate. New students in either a doctoral or doctoral-bound program may hold the fellowship for up to five years.
University of Texas-Austin
- Department of Computer Science Fellowships & Scholarships: UT Austin provides an extensive and extremely helpful list of computer science scholarships—some of these are only for UT Austin students, but many of them (e.g. DHS Graduate Fellowship) are offered by outside organizations.
University of Texas-Dallas
- Cyber Security Scholarship: UTD’s scholarship is open to undergraduate students and graduate students (MS or PhD) in the Computer Science Department. The scholarship is part of UTD’s efforts as an NSA/DHS Center for Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Research.
- Jonsson School of Engineering & Computer Science Fellowships: UTD has many fellowships open to MS students and PhD students at the Jonsson School of Engineering & Computer Science, including the Lars Magnus Ericsson Graduate Fellowship for full-time graduate students in computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering.
- Naveen Jindal School of Management (JSOM) Graduate Scholarships: A number of data science degrees at UT Dallas (e.g. business analytics) are offered through JSOM, and you’ll find all kinds of donor-funded scholarships and fellowships on its website.
University of Texas-San Antonio
- College of Business (COB) Scholarships: UTSA’s COB, which includes the Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security and the Department of Management Science and Statistics (i.e. the MS in Data Analytics and the MS in Applied Statistics), offers all kinds of scholarships, including the UTSA Presidential Graduate Scholarship.
Data Science Events in Texas
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Texas
Texas plays host to large number of data science meetups, with interests ranging from data visualization and natural language processing in Dallas, to AI in Houston, to healthcare predictive analytics in Austin. Companies like Galvanize and General Assembly also have their own groups. Here are a few others to explore:
- Austin Data: With almost 2,000 members, this group has no allegiance to language or technology stacks—its goal is to explore topics around data processing, machine learning and predictive analytics, and data visualization.
- Action Design ATX: Founded by Robin Krieglstein, a member of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, ATX looks at the intersection of psychology and technology. Topics include behavior design, persuasive technology, behavioral economics, choice architecture, emotional design, cognitive design, positive psychology, etc.
- DFW Big Data: This meetup is all about NoSQL, large scale analytics, and the latest big data tools. It also serves as a HUG (Hadoop Users Group) for the Dallas/Fort Worth area. DFW Data Science has similar interests.
- Dallas R Users Group: RUG loves everything to do with R. Meetings are a judicious mix of learning, networking, and talks. Newcomers and advanced users are welcome.
- Houston Energy Data Science: Since the energy industry is a world unto itself, this meetup aims to bring data scientists together to share subject matter expertise. Experienced practitioners and novices are welcome.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Texas
Big data science conferences (e.g. Strata+Hadoop World, Predictive Analytics World, IEEE ICDM & DSAA, SIGKDD, SIAM International Conference on Data Mining, etc.) tend to favor big hubs like New York and Silicon Valley, but they sometimes visit the Lone Star State. You might also be interested in:
- SXSW: The interactive/tech side of South by Southwest has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. Now it looks at everything from development & code to the intelligent future.
- Austin Startup Week: Each fall, Austin hosts five days of events celebrating city startups and the organizations and meetups that support them. There are all kinds of workshops, demos, career fairs, tours, and social opportunities.
- Data Day Texas: DDT bills itself as the largest independent data conference held between the coasts. It is usually held at the AT&T Conference Center at UT Austin.
- TEXATA Summit: TEXATA is a one-day event designed to showcase the latest big data analytics innovations in Texas and worldwide. TEXATA also runs an annual Big Data Analytics World Championship for Business and Enterprise.
- Gigaom Change: Sponsored by Gigaom, this is a hands-on summit aimed at C-level executives. It deliberately targets the most disruptive technologies that are widely known but little understood (e.g. AI, virtual reality, robotics, cybersecurity, etc.). Its first conference was in Austin.
Data Science Jobs in Texas
Texas likes to do things big. According to UT Austin, its Department of Computer Science pumps out 18% of all computer science graduates from top-tier universities, and its data scientists are particularly popular. In a 2015 Jobvite survey that looked at universities with the most students hired by Silicon Valley companies, UT Austin came in at #7—the only Texas name in the top 20.
Of course, many graduates never leave the state. In 2015, there were 54 Fortune 500 companies in Texas, second only to New York. Though most of the big boys and girls are in oil & energy (who have plenty of data to play with), there are lots of businesses with a solid footprint in tech. For example:
- Austin has Google and Facebook offices, Adometry, Vast, an IBM Research Laboratory, Indeed’s technology operations, Square Root, and a boatload of start-ups.
- Dallas plays host to AT&T, Texas Instruments, State Farm’s Dallas Hub, and Ericsson’s North American headquarters in nearby Plano. Stitchdata’s 2015 study on The State of Data Science noted that AT&T was one of the big employers of data scientists.
- Houston is home to a large number of energy and aeronautics companies, as well as IBM and Chevron offices. A 2015 report from SmartAsset ranked the Space City #9 in the Top 10 Best American Cities to Work in Tech.
Data Scientist Salaries in Texas
Glassdoor salary figures for Texas data scientists fall below the national average and are nowhere near as high as Silicon Valley, but you have to remember the state’s low cost of living. You may appreciate the chance to experiment with start-ups without losing your proverbial shirt.
And don’t forget your long-term earning potential. According to Payscale’s College ROI Report, Rice (#29 in 2016) and Texas A&M (#49 in 2016) saw the best rate of return on their 20 Year Net ROI.
We found 10 universities in Texas 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.