Ready to hit the Silicon Slopes? You might want to scan our guide to earning a UT data science degree before you do! It has details on everything from research & scholarships to startup activity & salary numbers. Already have a school in mind? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Utah.
Studying Data Science in Utah
Utah is being called the new Silicon Valley. Like Arizona & Colorado, the state is absorbing data scientists from California and building on its reputation as a hardworking, hard-studying place. In CBRE’s 2016 report on Scoring Tech Talent, Salt Lake City was the #1 Small Market for Millennial Growth, with youngsters growing 23.7% from 2010-2015.
The startup scene is particularly strong. Entrepreneurs who crave cheaper costs and cleaner living are turning Utah into a hot spring of activity. You can see evidence of this bubbling up at Grow Utah. In its Utah Startup Connectory, there are scores of major support groups (e.g. Beehive Startups), associations (e.g. Utah Tech), accelerators (e.g. Boom Startup), contests, incubators, and events. Venture capitalists are everywhere!
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Utah Universities
The state’s data science juggernaut is the University of Utah (U of U). For proof positive, check out the research cores at the Scientific Computing and Imaging institute (SCI). Its many centers include:
- Center for Extreme Data Management Analysis and Visualization (CEDMAV): This center is involved in extreme data (e.g. astrophysics, climate modeling, medical imaging, etc.) and the research & tools required to deal with it. Partners include the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
- Biomedical Image and Data Analysis (BIDAC): This Health Sciences Core (HSC) facility supplies image & data analysis and scientific visualization services to research labs and private industry.
- SDAV Scalable Data Management, Analysis, and Visualization (SDAV): As you might expect from the title, the SDAV Institute works on data solutions that are broadly applicable to the computational science community.
- NIH/NIGMS Center for Integrative Biomedical Computing (CIBC): Researchers at CIBC develop open-source software tools for biomedical image-based modeling, biomedical simulation and estimation, and the visualization of biomedical data.
We’re also talking about projects at the Data Group in the Department of Computer Science; bioinformatics and medical informatics studies at the Global Knowledge Management Center; and work on the Utah Population Database (UPDB) at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. And we haven’t even mentioned the startup work at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.
Though Brigham Young University (BYU) may not have the same breadth, it’s still invested:
- The Department of Computer Science has interests in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), cyber security, and data & text analytics. It runs a number of labs in the latest arenas (e.g. Data Mining Lab and the Neural Network and Machine Learning Lab).
- BYU’s Rollings Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology is nurturing startup talent with the Miller Competition Series, the Utah Startup Marketplace (USM), and the Entrepreneurship Week (eWeek).
- BYU Analytics, an MBA student-run consultancy, provides insights & consulting services for business partners in tech, retail, manufacturing, etc.
Online Data Science Programs in Utah
There aren’t many universities in Utah and the ones that do exist (e.g. BYU and U of U) don’t have much in the way of distance learning for data scientists. If you decide to expand your search, check out our advice on what to look for in an online data science program.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
As of 2017, Utah universities did not offer online graduate certificates in fields such as analytics, information systems, or informatics. But not to worry! Our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science has a long list of programs developed by highly respectable schools (e.g. Boston University, Stanford, etc.).
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
If you really want a Utah school on your résumé, your best bet for distance learning is U of U’s online Master of Science in Information Systems. This full-time or part-time program closely parallels the campus version, and includes electives in data analytics. Every online student must also complete a capstone project.
Data Science Scholarships in Utah
For this section, we took a look at university scholarships that specifically apply to data programs. However, the Graduate Studies Office will have a lot more info on general scholarships and alternative financing options (e.g. low-interest loans).
Brigham Young University
- Marriott School Graduate Scholarships: MISM students are eligible for a variety of scholarships and only one application is required. Scholarships are awarded when a student is admitted into the program and is paying graduate tuition.
University of Utah
- Department of Bioinformatics Scholarships: There are lots of graduate scholarships & awards in this department. Most of them are focused on PhD-seeking students; a few are open to all.
- MSBA Graduate Scholarships: MSBA students are eligible for a number of awards—primarily graduate fellowships ranging from $2,500 to $19,000 in value. Fellowships are offered to both U.S. citizens and international students. A limited number of graduate and teaching assistantships are also available.
- MSIS Graduate Scholarships: Because the MSBA and MSIS are both in the David Eccles School of Business, students are eligible for similar scholarship opportunities, including fellowships and assistantships. The MSIS program is also approved as part of WICHE’s Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) for non-residents.
- School of Computing Research & Teaching Assistantships: Students in the MS program are welcome to apply for assistantships. Research and teaching assistants qualify for a tuition waiver (i.e. they don’t have to pay tuition).
Data Science Events in Utah
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Utah
Utah has a handful of meetups devoted to data science and lots of communities for developers (e.g. Salt Lake City Python, Salt Lake PyLadies, etc.). Startup lovers should also check out the list of groups & hangouts in the Utah Startup Connectory.
- Big Data Utah: With 1,000+ members, this is the biggest data science meetup in Utah. You’ll find tons of strong technical talks & lunches focused on areas such as Hadoop, Cassandra, MongoDB, predictive analytics, etc. Meetups are usually held at local businesses (e.g. Adobe).
- Salt Lake City Data Science: Open to current and aspiring data scientists, this group has focused its attention on areas such as stats, Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc.
- SLC Tech Startups: If you’re thinking of creating a startup or want to network with Utah’s tech entrepreneurs, this is a good place to start. Events include a lot of happy hours and informal get-togethers.
- Utah County Data Science Meetup: Based in Lehi, this meetup convenes twice a month. In the first meetup, you learn about the latest tools & technologies. In the second, you have a chance to apply your knowledge.
- Utah Deep Learning: Interested in the potential of image classification, facial recognition, computational linguistics, augmented reality, self-driving cars, and the like? You’re going to love this group!
Bonus Round: Want to give back? Big Mountain Data is devoted to combating intimate partner violence; Data Charrette is a biannual service event; and Utah Open Source is dedicated to education projects and conferences such as OpenWest.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Utah
Thanks to some superb skiing, Utah is a regular stop on the conference circuit. IEEE International Conference on Healthcare Informatics was held in Salt Lake City in 2017 and SuperComputing (SC) visited the mountains in 2012 and 2016. We’ve listed some of the local meetings below; Utah Geek Events and Silicon Slopes also maintain event calendars.
- Big Mountain Data Conference (BDMC): Organized by Utah Geek Events, BDMC covers the latest in big data developments (e.g. data lakes, data forges, etc.). It’s often held on the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) Miller Campus.
- Domopalooza: Domo’s conference is mainly focused on—you guessed it—the use of Domo’s business intelligence (BI) and visualization tools, but there are also training sessions, parties, and a ski day.
- Healthcare Analytics Summit (HAS): Held in Salt Lake City, HAS is targeted at healthcare organizations who want to improve their data science capabilities. Sessions focus on everything from governance and patient safety to Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and text analytics.
- StartFEST: Billed as Utah’s largest grassroots tech & startup festival, StartFEST is a week (or so) of competitions, talks, awards, parties, and more.
- Winter Conference on Business Analytics (WCBA): This annual “snow” conference features high-quality big data and business analytics research. It’s organized by U of U’s David Eccles School of Business and the Global Knowledge Management Center.
Data Science Jobs in Utah
With its low disaster profile, affordable power prices, and a great connectivity infrastructure, Utah is the home of tons of massive data centers (e.g. NSA, eBay, and Oracle) and plenty of fascinating tech businesses. We’re talking companies like:
- Domo: BI tools and data visualization
- InsideSales: Lead tracking software built on a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine
- Instructure: Educational technology
- PluralSight: Online professional tech training
- Qualtrics: Research software and tools that enable online data collection and advanced analysis
But we could also mention data-hungry ventures such as Entrata (property management software), InMoment (customer experience management), Health Catalyst (healthcare data warehousing and analytics), HireVue (digital recruiting via predictive analytics and video), NUVI (social media mining), and SimpleCitizen (the “TurboTax for green cards”). Over at U of U, you’ll find biotech businesses such as Recursion Pharmaceuticals and BioFire Diagnostics.
And we haven’t even started on the big names! IBM, Adobe, Dell, Symantec, Jet.com, eBay, Netflix, and O.C. Tanner all have a sizeable presence in Utah. What’s more, IM Flash Technologies, Ancestry.com, Overstock, Zions Bancorporation, Vivint, and Progrexion are headquartered here. Whether you’re thinking of a startup or a steady salary, you should have options.
Data Scientist Salaries in Utah
As you might expect, Salt Lake City pays the best compensation rates. According to Glassdoor, in 2017 the average estimated salary for a data scientist was $97,905 in the capital area and $93,841 in the Provo area. Having said that, the cost of living in Salt Lake City is also higher, with housing and transport driving up costs.
Intriguingly, these salary figures are well below the national average for data scientists (though on par with cities such as Denver and Tucson). Perhaps folks are willing to sacrifice compensation in return for quality of life. Scrappy new businesses may also be bringing the averages down.
We found 2 universities in Utah 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.