Wondering what the Mountain State holds for a tech lover? Check out this quick guide to earning a WV data science degree. It has details on everything from WVU research projects & tech conferences to job tips & salary numbers. Just want to enroll? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in West Virginia.
Studying Data Science in West Virginia
West Virginia is known as the state that tech forgot. Its data science sector is microscopic – in 2017, the map of CompTIA Cyberstates showed that only 2.2% of workforce were employed in the tech industry. Startups are rare. Meetups are non-existent. And dedicated programs in big data are few and far between.
But it’s not all bad news. TechConnectWV (TCWV) is working hard to promote economic development in West Virginia’s key sectors. And in its list of resources, you’ll find a number of incubators, accelerators, and associations.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at West Virginia Universities
The other thing you’ll find in the area is West Virginia University (WVU). WVU wants to do what Carnegie Mellon did for Pittsburgh – use its money & clout to revitalize the neighborhood.
For example, it has a ton of research centers where you might find your data science skills being needed. Not to mention developments in UAV/Aerospace, Biometrics, Research Computing, the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE), and the Biostatistics Consulting Group (BCG) at the WVU Cancer Institute.
Are you hoping to turn your research work into profit?
- The Launch Lab is a startup resource center for students who wish create new prototypes and products.
- The Health Sciences Innovation Center: Business Incubator offers facilities and support to life sciences startups – from both within and without the university.
- The WVU Innovation Corporation (WVUIC) provides access to WVU’s researchers, equipment, and test facilities.
Finally, we should mention Marshall University and its Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS). Geospatial science plays a huge part in West Virginia’s industry sectors (think coal, forests, water, and transportation) and CEGAS has been around for a very long time.
Online Data Science Programs in West Virginia
In addition to propping up the Morgantown area, WVU has a sturdy reputation for distance learning. U.S. News & World Report often places it in the top 10 of Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs and the top 70 of Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA).
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
WVU’s Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics is offered on-campus or online. It’s designed for folks who want to improve their job opportunities and acquire useful quantitative skills.
There are two mandatory course in statistical methods, but after that you can branch into your own track. These tracks include SAS, Data Science, Modeling, Applied Statistics, and Mathematical Statistics. As you might expect, the first two are the most practical!
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
WVU’s online MS in Business Data Analytics is offered by the AACSB-accredited College of Business and Economics. It’s aimed at folks who have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (e.g. business, statistics, engineering, economics, etc.) and want some exposure to the world of data. You’ll be expected to provide your work history on your application.
We like it because the curriculum has a strong technical flavor. Coursework covers business intelligence, statistical techniques, data mining, database management, data visualization, ethics, and analytical tools. Students are also required to complete a capstone project.
Data Science Scholarships in West Virginia
We couldn’t find any specific university scholarships for WVU and Marshall’s big data programs. But please talk to the Graduate Studies Office before you rule out any options. Universities will often go out of their way to help you find other sources of funding (e.g. low-interest loans, diversity scholarships, education grants, etc.).
Data Science Events in West Virginia
Data Science Meetups & Communities in West Virginia
In 2017, West Virginia had a number of meetups that never seemed to… meet up. We’ve listed one group with an active base, but it’s not focused on data science. You may want to start your own!
- Panhandle Web Tech: This friendly group of tech geeks meet on the third Tuesday of each month at Firebrand Media in downtown Martinsburg, WV. Meetups cover any kind of web technology – from software engineering to systems administration.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in West Virginia
West Virginia can only dream of hosting big-name conferences like Predictive Analytics World (PAW) and SIGKDD. Having said that, it does have a variety of tech events with some valuable industry contacts. You could also consider a trip to Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, or North Carolina.
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day at the Capitol: This one-day event in Charleston gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to network and meet key state officials. It’s sponsored by TechConnectWV and the TransTech Energy Business Development Program at WVU.
- TransTech Energy (TTE) Business Development Conference: Each year, this regional conference is filled with startup companies & researchers pitching their use of transitional technologies to reduce carbon emissions, promote advanced manufacturing, and build an energy-efficient future.
- Women & Technology Conference: Designed to remedy the under-representation of women in STEM sectors, this conference features speakers involved in technology research, private enterprises, the public sector, investing, and entrepreneurship.
- WV Bioscience Summit: Organized by the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV), this summit brings together folks from West Virginia universities, biotech companies, and technical assistance providers. Entrepreneurship is a big part of proceedings.
- WV Business Accelerator Bootcamp: This one-day event at the WVU Innovation Center is open to early-to-mature stage companies in the high tech, life science, or advanced manufacturing sectors. It’s designed to walk participants through critical growth stages.
Data Science Jobs in West Virginia
You’ll have to get creative to find a data science job in West Virginia. Traditional job boards like Indeed.com and Monster may have few (or zero) listings, and tech businesses tend to hide the mountains.
Try talking to your professors about opportunities, networking at local conferences, and contacting businesses directly. Promising areas in the region include:
- Fairmont: In addition to having its own Data Analysis & Signal Processing (DASP) team, with expertise in biometrics and analytics, the West Virginia High Technology Foundation (WVHTF) oversees the I-79 Technology Park. Among its 375 acre areas, you’ll find businesses such as Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc., Lockheed Martin, ManTech International Corporation, Northrop Grumman, TRAX International Corporation, and the West Virginia United Health System. The NOAA Environmental Security Supercomputing Center (ESCC) is an anchor tenant! Not far from here are data-driven companies like Tygart Technology, TMC Technologies, and Global Science & Technology.
- Morgantown: WVU is a major source of jobs in this college town. Startups such as IstoVisio were grown on its campus and WVU Medicine is the state’s largest private employer (16,000 workers). Morgantown is also the home city of Mylan Pharmaceuticals and a branch of the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
- Charleston/Huntington: South Charleston’s 258 acre West Virginia Research Technology Park (WVRTP) can boast the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC). On top of work in chemical product research, engineering, and manufacturing, MATRIC has an Advanced Software Technologies team involved in GIS, high performance computing, AI, big data applications, and the like. Advantage Valley also has a helpful list of key industries & companies in the area.
Data Scientist Salaries in West Virginia
According to Glassdoor, the average estimated salary for a data scientist in Charleston was $86,953 in 2017; data analysts could expect an average of $53,838. In Morgantown, the salaries were a little higher – $88,619 and $54,927 respectively.
These are some of the lowest figures in the country – below even small states like Vermont – but we should caution that Glassdoor was working off an extremely limited number of salary listings.
We found 2 universities in West Virginia 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.