Check out this quick guide to finding your dream school (and big data job) in the Evergreen State. It has details on everything from scholarships and research projects to meetups and start-up opportunities. Already have a university in mind? Feel free to skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Washington.
Studying Data Science in Washington
Welcome to Dataville. The birthplace of software engineering has shifted its focus in recent years to incorporate the field of data science. After all, this is the land of Microsoft and its research division, Amazon, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If these institutions don’t know big data, no one does.
Life is looking up for start-up entrepreneurs as well:
- In 2016, a Venture Capital (VC) report from PitchBook noted that the Seattle Metro Statistical Area (MSA) was the sixth largest VC ecosystem in the United States.
- Thanks to all of its university hospitals and research institutions, Washington’s healthcare industry is deeply involved in data science partnerships.
- Seattle Startups has a lengthy list of companies interested in Big Data Analytics.
Better yet, many of these initiatives are being supported by organizations like the Washington Research Foundation (WRF)—which helps innovators launch companies in life sciences, physical sciences, and IT—and the extremely deep pockets of Paul G. Allen and Bill Gates.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at Washington Universities
We’ll tell you straight—the University of Washington (UW) is driving the data science bus. Ranked #50 in Best Global Universities for Computer Science and #6 in Best Graduate Computer Science Programs by U.S. News & World Report, the school has made a HUGE commitment to big data.
For example, UW’s eScience Institute is one of only three Moore-Sloan Data Science Environments, and it runs programs like Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) and the Data Science Incubator. It has partnerships with other universities (e.g. Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative) and researchers involved in the West Big Data Innovation Hub.
We could also mention:
- The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which has received millions of dollars in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for global health research.
- Urbanalytics, a research unit in the Information School focused on responsible urban data science.
- Data Intensive Research Enabling Clean Technologies (DIRECT), an NSF-funded graduate training program at UW’s Clean Energy Institute.
That’s not to disparage the work of other universities—UW Tacoma has an active Center for Data Science with multiple projects in play and Seattle University is doing great things for start-ups at its Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center—but UW is far and away the leader in big data research.
Online Data Science Programs in Washington
Intriguingly, Washington has fewer distance learning options in data science than other big states with a stake in IT (e.g. California and Illinois). This is probably because UW has chosen to focus more on its campus-based programs.
We cover general things to look for in an online data science program elsewhere, so here we profile your choices in the Evergreen State.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
As of 2017, Washington had just one distance program in this area—UW’s online Certificate in Data Science. It’s particularly geared toward tech professionals who already have some background in statistics, SQL, and programming and want to learn tools such as Hadoop and MapReduce.
If you’re beyond this skill level, or you need something more specific, have a look at our directory of Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science. There are certificates in every field (e.g. data mining, analytics, healthcare informatics, etc.) from solid schools across the country.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
When it comes to online master’s degrees, you’ll have a choice of focus:
- CityU’s online Master of Science in Computer Science with a Concentration in Big Data Management has a solid core of computer systems and engineering. Applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
- Alternatively, UW Tacoma’s hybrid Master of Science in Business Analytics (online + on-site) is offered by the business school. Although it covers major analytics and data science tools, the focus is on corporate applications.
Healthcare professionals may also wish to explore UW Tacoma’s online Master of Science in Clinical Informatics and Patient-Centered Technologies (CIPCT). Offered full-time or part-time, this program explores every spoke of informatics (nursing, biomedical, public health, etc.) in order to give students a comprehensive grasp of the field.
Data Science Scholarships in Washington
For this section, we focused on university scholarships (i.e. institutional aid) that apply to the school’s data science program. But the Office of Graduate Studies will have more info on general aid (e.g. CityU’s scholarships) and alternative financing options (e.g. low-interest loans). Since Seattle donors are very generous, you’re likely to find a lot of outside scholarships as well.
- Albers Graduate Scholarships: The Albers School of Business and Economics awards a large number of graduate scholarships to students in the PMBA, MSF, MPAC, and MSBA programs—most based on financial need and academic achievement (see the website for a full list). Only one application form is required.
- Albers Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) Merit Scholarship: Albers also offers merit-based scholarships specifically to incoming MSBA students (part-time or full-time) admitted to the fall term. Awards are based on a student’s GMAT score, an essay, and undergraduate performance.
University of Washington-Seattle
- Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) Program Scholarship: All incoming MSIS students are eligible for this scholarship. However, you must fill out a scholarship application in order to be considered.
Data Science Events in Washington
Data Science Meetups & Communities in Washington
Seattle is bristling with meetups for data scientists. Here you’ll find groups devoted to tools (e.g. Seattle Spark Meetup, Python Data Science – Seattle – Bellevue, etc.), specialties (e.g. Seattle Marketing Analytics Group), and even causes (e.g. Seattle Data for Good). We’ve highlighted 5 of the largest communities, but be sure to ask around for suggestions.
- Big Data Developers in Seattle: BDD is sponsored by IBM, which runs similar meetups across the country. It’s a chance for data scientists to play with tools and technologies and learn about IBM’s initiatives (e.g. Watson).
- Seattle Data/Analytics/Machine Learning (DAML): DAML is a pretty relaxed group of data scientists and software engineers who meet every month for lightning talks and tutorials. Meetups are usually hosted by big-name organizations (e.g. Twitter, Zillow, The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, etc.).
- Seattle Data Geeks: The self-proclaimed nerds at Seattle Data Geeks often ask authors, innovators, and data teams at cool companies (e.g. PayScale) to share their latest work and research. Meetups are very popular.
- Seattle Data Science: With 3,600+ members, SDS is organized by Galvanize and powered by paid workshops, parties, and community events (e.g. Cognitive Builder Faire Seattle).
- Seattle Scalability Meetup: One for the hard-core tech lovers! Talks and workshops are focused on engineering large systems for scalability (Distributed Systems, Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain, databases, etc.) and the organizers promise “no marketing pitches, no light use case discussions.”
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in Washington
Luckily for graduate students, Seattle is often a stop on the data science conference circuit—in recent years, MLconf, Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), IEEE’s Big Data Developer Conference, The Data Science Conference, and SIGKDD have all paid a visit to the city. Here are a few more regional events to explore:
- ACM SIGKDD Seattle Chapter Events: The Seattle Chapter organizes a variety of talks, meetups, and workshops centered around data science & analytics.
- Data Day Seattle: DDSea is a jam-packed independent data event held during September. There are sessions devoted to everything from Natural Language Processing (NLP) to Cassandra, SQL, and more.
- PASS Summit: Founded by Microsoft, PASS Summit is billed as the world’s largest conference for Microsoft SQL Server and Business Intelligence (BI) professionals.
- Seattle Symposium on Health Care Data Analytics: Organized by the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, this two-day conference in October tackles health research and methods that involve large healthcare databases.
- Summer Institute in Statistics for Big Data (SISBID): Every year, UW’s Department of Biostatistics hosts an intensive three-week-long institute for biologists, quantitative scientists, and statisticians. It’s focused on advanced analytics/statistical techniques for biological big data.
Data Science Jobs in Washington
Washington is swimming in data science jobs—in 2016, GoodCall’s report on Best Places for Data Scientist Jobs ranked Seattle #3 in large cities (behind San Francisco and Boston) and Bellevue #4 in small cities. Thanks to its “wicked smart” population, a 2016 report on Scoring Tech Talent placed Seattle #3 in tech talent markets.
We’ve already mentioned Microsoft and Amazon, but we could also add names like Tableau, Redfin, F5 Networks, and Cray with its supercomputers. Brick & mortar businesses like PACCAR, Starbucks, Costco, and REI also call the state home.
But, wait, there’s a whole lot more! For instance, there’s Globys and its spin-off, Amplero; KenSci, a healthcare data start-up born from research at UW Tacoma; and Maana, which raised $26 million in 2016 from the oil and gas industry. Other notable Washington start-ups include:
- INRIX: Car traffic analytics (founded by former Microsoft employees)
- PayScale: HR analytics (founded by former Microsoft employees)
- DS-IQ: Retail analytics (founded by former Amazon employees)
- Utrip: AI-related travel planning
- Medio: Mobile analytics
Tired of the rain? In a 2015 Jobvite survey that ranked universities with the most students hired by Silicon Valley companies, UW came in at #5—the only Washington State school on the list.
Data Scientist Salaries in Washington
Like their cousins in Silicon Valley, Northwest data scientists earn good money. According to Glassdoor, the estimated average salary for data scientists in the Seattle area was $118,593 in 2017—well above the national average.
Yes, a job in Seattle comes with very high living costs, but it also includes proximity to some pretty outstanding research.
We found 5 universities in Washington 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.