What is data science?
Data science is the study and application of large data analysis, mining and programming to reveal insights that can be used to communicate, capture and maintain intelligence for businesses and organizations.
The primary purpose of data science is to create and leverage various forms of data in order to better understand trends and phenomena. Data can be useful in almost all career fields, but is often associated with businesses, science, public policy and health.
In the business world, data science is geared towards understanding consumer and market trends and best positioning corporate functions to make use of these understandings. In other fields, data is used to collect information and examine trends, but usually has different end goals – such as gathering census data (for public policy) or statistics about diseases and ailments (for medicine).
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Data Science Programs and Related Degrees
The first step in entering the field of data science is to pursue higher education to acquire or fine tune the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Do you see yourself working in data analysis? Statistics? Data Engineering? There are many different areas of data management to choose from. In an effort to provide you with all the materials necessary to make an informed decision, we have compiled information on master’s in data science and related degree programs that can guide your decision to launch your career in the field.
Pursuing a degree in data science is a wise career choice for those looking to gain a wide breadth of skills in various tech-related areas. Typical data science program coursework features core classes in topics like applied statistics and hones in on lessons in programming skills such as SQL and Python as well. Master’s in data science programs may help prepare graduates for job opportunities in a wide variety of fields and sectors – from data architecture to computer engineering and programming.
Master’s degrees in business analytics focus on the application of data to study consumer, market and world economic trends. Students of business analysis study processes and techniques in turning large amounts of collected data into actionable business strategy insights. For example, a business or market analyst might observe a trend in consumer behavior and advise operational changes as a direct result of their observation. For business analytics enthusiasts, “data-driven decisions” is the name of the game.
First things first: What is an Information System? An information system is a system, typically technology driven, that collects, organizes, illustrates and synthesizes various forms of information and data. Today, most information systems fall under the category of “computer-based” and are used to support the business processes of organizations.
Master’s degree programs in information systems (IS) are usually geared towards individuals interested in technology management in business settings. Information systems students are trained in IS design and analysis, database management and systems architecture.
Data science, business analytics, and information science are not the only degree programs that deal with data and analysis – there are a variety of others to explore. Depending on your career aspirations, it may be worthwhile to consider some other options for advanced degrees.
For those with a specific interest in computer programming, degree programs concentrated in fields like computer science, computer engineering or cybersecurity might be worth pursuing. These fields are experiencing huge career growth, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting 13% growth in jobs for computer science and 28% growth for cybersecurity.
Another route to take, specifically if you have a duel interest in data science and another unrelated field, is to explore programs that merge data science with unique other fields:
- Health Informatics: Learn to create, analyze and interpret biological data to help discover trends in world health and medicine.
- Geological Information Systems (GIS): For the field of geology, GIS are a vital tool in unearthing geographic data, analyzing spatial information, and even in editing data in mapping.
- Data Analysis for Public Policy: The field of public policy makes heavy use of data in order to interpret domestic and world trends in fields like population, mortality, and education levels.
How to Choose Your Data Science Master’s Program
Online vs. On-Campus Data Science Programs
It is quite common for those interested in pursuing a master’s in data science to be busy working professionals. For these individuals, the various factors involved in enrolling in a traditional master’s program (relocating, putting your career and income on hold, etc.) may seem challenging and, in some cases, insurmountable. Online data science programs could be an easier way to obtain a master’s in data science because of the flexibility and efficiency they offer students.
Even with the many advantages online master’s in data science programs offer, some people are still reluctant to enroll for a variety of reasons. Peer networking opportunities, face-to-face interaction, and relationship-building with professors are a few commonly cited reasons for dismissal of online programs. Although these are all valid, online data science degrees do exist that integrate each of these factors into their degree programs – and it is important to look out for comprehensive online degrees when researching program options.
Full vs. Part-time Data Science Programs
Depending on your availability, you may wish to consider an part-time graduate program in data science. Universities often will offer both options of enrollment.
Students may be able to complete their part-time data science degree within three years. Some data science programs will provide the option to enroll in two classes per semester over the course of fall, summer, and spring semesters.
Full-time students in data science programs can complete their degree in a little more than one year or less. Registration options for coursework may include up to three courses a semester.
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