Considering the sunny south for your education? We’ve put together a short guide to earning a data science degree in the Cotton State. It has details on research and scholarships as well as job opportunities and salary numbers.
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Southern Methodist University
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University of Denver
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University of California, Berkeley
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University of Dayton
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Already have a school in mind? Skip ahead to our list of all the data science programs in Alabama.
Studying Data Science in Alabama
Located in the data-fertile Tennessee Valley Corridor, Huntsville boast advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and aviation (not to mention defense). Some things that make it an appealing spot for tech include:
- The Cummings Research Park, which is one of the largest science and technology research parks in the nation. This is where you’ll find many of the organizations (e.g. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc.) that fuel the city’s economy.
- The Army’s Redstone Arsenal, which plays host to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and all its research into civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion.
- 21st century projects at the Alabama Robotics Technology Park near Decatur, manufacturing at Toyota and Polaris plants, and the presence of a Google Big Data Center in Jackson County.
One thing to note—unlike the tech scenes elsewhere, Huntsville has deep roots in traditional fields. Organizations like Rocket Hatch are helping to accelerate the startup community in North Alabama.
Meanwhile in Birmingham, there is Alabama Launchpad and Tech Birmingham. The Innovation Depot also has the UAB Innovation Lab (UAB iLab) and a Velocity Accelerator to help high-growth technology companies develop and scale.
Data Science Research and Initiatives at Alabama Universities
Most Alabama university has a vested interest in data science. Yes, the University of Alabama (UA), the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) are partners of the South Big Data Hub, but the fun doesn’t stop there:
- Auburn University runs a Data Science Lab in its College of Engineering that is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Air Force Research Laboratory. It’s also part of the Agricultural Data Coalition, which supports farmers and producers in the era of data-driven agriculture.
- UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration provides consulting services through the Alabama State Data Center for Business and Economic Research.
- The School of Computing at the University of South Alabama (USA) has research groups devoted to data science, the Internet of Things (IoT), and health informatics.
- The Samford University Center for Sports Analytics studies the relationship between big data and sports. The Center often partners with sports organizations, which gives students the opportunity to earn real-world experience. Students complete semester-long projects and present their findings to executives from partnering organizations, such as the NBA, Nike, and the Miami Dolphins.
Having said that, the schools with the widest variety of research interests may well be UAB and UAH. Just to take a few examples:
- UAB has the interdisciplinary Big Data Research and Analytics Laboratory (BDRAL), where project researchers work with institutions like the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the National Institute of Computational Science (NICS) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Facility (BBSF), which serves as a helpmate to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (UAB-CCC); and the Geospatial Mapping, Analysis, and Data (GeoMAD) Unit, which specializes in geospatial data management, spatial analysis, cartography, and data visualization.
- Strategically located near the Redstone Arsenal, strengths UAH is building on are its engineering, biotech and hard science. There’s theInformation Technology and Systems Center (ITSC), which deals with data management, data mining, geoinformatics, and visualization; the UAH Center for Management and Economic Research, with its stakes in supply chain and transportation research; and a number of relatedresearch projects (think IoT) at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Online Data Science Programs in Alabama
Your choices for online data science programs in Alabama are decent when it comes to degrees; limited when it comes to graduate certificates. We outline general things to look for in an online data science program elsewhere, so here we’ve concentrated on what’s available from local schools.
Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science
Auburn has one Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics, which is available online or on-campus. This program covers the basic skills necessary to manage big data in a business setting—data mining, predictive modeling, data management, and so on—but it doesn’t dive deep into specific areas.
If you’re looking for something more specialized, we’ve compiled a directory of programs offered by respected universities (e.g. Stanford) throughout the country: Online Graduate Certificates in Data Science.
Online Master’s Degrees in Data Science
When it comes to online master’s degrees, most Alabama universities have chosen to focus on the business end of data.
- For marketing analysts, there’s UA’s online Master of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Marketing Analytics. This combines subjects in marketing (e.g. global business, advanced import/export strategy, etc.) with in-depth statistics courses, including data mining.
- For operations professionals, there’s UA’s Master of Science in Operations Management – Decision Analytics Track. This begins with serious work in stats and data science, then adds courses in decision analytics.
- For diehard data analysts and managers, there’s UAH’s online Master of Science in Management Science – Business Analytics. This has a solid core of management science and business analytics, as well as some fascinating electives.
- For aspiring CIOs, CTOs, and IT directors, there’s UAB’s online Master of Science in Management Information Systems. This has a strong base of management information systems and concentrations in information security or IT management.
If you’re looking to be the next big business leader, there’s also Auburn University’s online MBA with concentration in Business Analytics. From start to finish, this degree is heavily invested in stats, big data, and analysis. Better yet, Auburn is frequently ranked in the top 25 Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News and World Report.
Data Science Bootcamps in Alabama
A bootcamp is an intensive training course that introduces and orients participants to a new field. There are a number of bootcamps in the state of Alabama dedicated to data science, the study of extracting knowledge from structured and unstructured information, and data analytics, the process of drawing practical conclusions from various information. While some of these bootcamps in Alabama focus exclusively on data science, others focus on data analytics, and some may combine the study of both. If you’re interested in learning more about bootcamps in Alabama, check out our guides to data science bootcamps or data analytics bootcamps.
Data Science Scholarships in Alabama
For this section, we’ve chosen to list university scholarships and assistantships that can be applied to the school’s data science/analysis program. But this isn’t the end of the money! The Graduate Studies Office will have advice on general scholarships and alternative financing options. You’ll usually find more aid for campus-based programs and less for online degrees.
The University of Alabama
- Departmental Graduate Assistantships: Most UA departments employ graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), graduate research assistants (GRAs), and/or graduate administrative assistants (GAAs). Assistants receive a reasonable stipend.
- Manderson Graduate School of Business and Culver College of Commerce Fellowships and Awards: There are UA awards that apply to the MS in Applied Statistics (Data Mining Track), the MS in Marketing (Specialization in Marketing Analytics), and the MBA program. Be sure to contact the department head for more information.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
- GEM Fellowship: UAH sponsors full-tuition fellowships for qualified students from underrepresented communities who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in a STEM field.
- UAH Graduate Assistantships: The university offers Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) and Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs). In return for the student’s work, UAH will pay for tuition and fees for up to 12 hours per semester.
Data Science Events in Alabama
Data Science Meetups and Communities in Alabama
Meetups are a great way to join the data science community. More and more data science meetups are popping up around Alabama:
- Data Science AL: This group focuses on the practical application of data science across industries.
- Birmingham Data Science Machine Learning and AI: This group appeals to both new and experienced data scientists and users of data. It currently has over 400 members.
- Futureproof Bama: Folks in Futureproof are deeply interested in advances in robotics, automation, machine learning, and AI (and their effect on the Alabama economy). The meetup is based in Birmingham.
Data Science Conferences and Workshops in Alabama
You’re going to have a hard time finding major conferences like Strata Data Conference,Predictive Analytics World, IEEE Conferences, SIGKDD, and The Machine Learning Conference in Alabama. If the following events aren’t specialized enough, you may want to check out regional conferences in Austin, Nashville, Atlanta, and/or Miami.
- Alabama Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Spring Conference: One for the healthcare specialists! Every year, the state chapter of HIMSS holds a one-day event in Huntsville. Sessions frequently cover the latest in technology advances, data security, data science, interoperability, etc.
- Sloss Tech: Billed as the “Southeast’s Premier Tech Conference,” Sloss Tech is a weekend of workshops, talks, and networking opportunities.
- Startup Weekend Tuscaloosa: This is one of many Startup Weekends powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. It’s part competition, part networking event, with the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary team.
- Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) National Summit: This annual science and technology summit brings together all kinds of high-powered academics, businesses, and government reps who are involved in the region’s industries.
Data Science Jobs in Alabama
The biggest tech employers in Huntsville are in all the fields you might expect. Think aerospace, aviation, telecommunications, and manufacturing. Think Davidson Technologies, Raytheon, Parsons Corporation, ADTRAN, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Sanmina, IBM, Xfinity, and SAIC.
The rest of the state has a more diffuse market, with Birmingham being your best bet. The biggest employers—such as BBVA Compass Bank, Protective Life, and Regions—are often in the banking and insurance sector, but ask around. There are some startups and smaller businesses—such as the data science consulting firm StrategyWise—that are devoted to data.
Data Scientist Salaries in Alabama
According to CareerOneStop, computer and information research scientists, including data scientists, received a median annual salary of $122,840 in 2019. The highest paying jobs were over $189,000.
Data Science Programs in Alabama
We found 5 universities in Alabama 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 email@example.com.