Best online master’s in data analytics 2021: Top picks

    A data analytics master’s degree blends mathematics and statistics content with information technology training.

    Today, data analytics professionals help businesses identify ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency. In healthcare, data analysts determine ways to streamline care. Workers in municipal and government roles apply data analytics to predict and prevent everything from crime to traffic jams.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roles for operations research analysts are projected to grow 25% by 2030. Other positions available to data analytics degree-holders, such as management analysts, are estimated to increase by 14% by 2030.

    As a high-demand, versatile option, data analytics master’s degrees have a lot to offer. Here’s a look at 2021’s best online data analytics master’s degrees.

    The best online master’s in data analytics degrees

    To provide the most relevant rankings for readers, we pull publicly available data from the most reputable sources. Read ZDnet’s ranking methodology to find out what information we used to create the below ranking of the best online bachelor’s in finance degrees.

    Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

    1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, Illinois

    About the program: Illinois’s online master of computer science in data science includes 32 credit hours of core and concentration coursework. Students complete advanced classes in data cleaning, curation, and modeling in preparation for a capstone requirement.

    Acceptance rate: 63%

    Graduation rate: 86%

    Avg. annual tuition: $10,720

    Years to completion: One to three

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is recommended but not required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: One (fall)

    Course delivery methods: Asynchronous, online

    Accreditation: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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    2. Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, Maryland

    About the program: Johns Hopkins master’s in data science unites coursework in computer science and applied mathematics through a 30-credit-hour curriculum. Required courses include data visualization and computer statistics.

    Acceptance rate: 11%

    Graduation rate: 94%

    Avg. annual tuition: $23,775

    Years to completion: Two to three

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is not required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online, hybrid

    Accreditation: Johns Hopkins is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    3. University of West Florida

    Pensacola, Florida

    About the program: The online data science master’s includes 30 credits. Students can specialize in one of three areas: analytics and modeling, analytics of business decisions, or health analytics.

    Acceptance rate: 58%

    Avg. annual tuition: $5,769

    Years to completion: Up to two years

    GRE/GMAT: Verbal and quantitative scores of at least 150 on GRE are required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Three (fall, spring, summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    4. Oklahoma State University

    Stillwater, Oklahoma

    About the program: Students enrolled in OSU’s 33-credit online data analytics master’s degree complete core classes alongside optional specialization coursework in marketing analytics, advanced data science, health analytics, or cybersecurity analytics.

    Acceptance rate: 67%

    Graduation rate: 64%

    Avg. annual tuition: $7,938.97

    Years to completion: Not publicly available

    GRE/GMAT: A score above the 51st percentile is required for GRE and GMAT. GRE and GMAT are waived for applicants with five or more years of work experience.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    5. University of North Texas

    Denton, Texas

    About the program: The online master’s degree in data science includes 36 credits of core and elective coursework. Students also complete a research project or take part in an internship requirement.

    Acceptance rate: 84%

    Avg. annual tuition: $5,450.22

    Years to completion: Not publicly available

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT scores are not required.

    Minimum GPA: 3.2

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online, hybrid

    Accreditation: The University of North Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    6. Texas Tech University

    Lubbock, Texas

    About the program: The comprehensive 36-credit online data science master’s degree emphasizes advanced technologies and statistical methods used to manipulate data and find actionable organizational strategies.

    Acceptance rate: 70%

    Graduation rate: 63%

    Avg. annual tuition: $24,415

    Years to completion: One to two

    GRE/GMAT: There are no set score requirements for the GRE and GMAT. GRE and GMAT scores were not required for the 2021-22 academic year. GRE and GMAT scores are not required for applicants with five or more years of work experience.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: One (summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, sequential

    Accreditation: Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    7. Colorado State University

    Fort Collins, Colorado

    About the program: CSU’s online applied statistics master’s degree includes 30 credits of coursework. Full-time students earn a degree in one year. Learners have an option to specialize in data science or statistical science.

    Acceptance rate: 84%

    Graduation rate: 70%

    Avg. annual tuition: $24,330

    Years to completion: One

    GRE/GMAT: GRE or Math Entrance Exam scores are required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: One (summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    8. University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Dearborn, Michigan

    About the program: UM-Dearborn’s online data science master’s includes 30 credits of core, specialization, and capstone coursework. Concentration areas include computational intelligence, applications, business analytics, and big data informatics.

    Acceptance rate: 68%

    Graduation rate: 55%

    Avg. annual tuition: $12,375

    Years to completion: Not publicly available

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is not required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Michigan-Dearborn is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    9. Southern Methodist University

    Dallas, Texas

    About the program: SMU’s online master’s degree in data science includes specializations in machine learning and business analytics. Learners complete the program in as few as 20 months.

    Acceptance rate: 53%

    Graduation rate: 81%

    Avg. annual tuition: $28,542

    Years to completion: 20-28 months

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are not required.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: Three (fall, spring, summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Southern Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    10. Southern Arkansas University

    Magnolia, Arkansas

    About the program: SAU’s online master’s degree in computer science with a focus in data science emphasizes data analytics, decision theories, and big data. Learners complete the 30-credit-hour program in two years.

    Acceptance rate: 69%

    Graduation rate: 43%

    Avg. annual tuition: $4,395

    Years to completion: 2

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are waived for applicants with a minimal 3.0 GPA.

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Three (fall, spring, summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Southern Arkansas University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    11. New Jersey Institute of Technology

    Newark, New Jersey

    About the program: NJIT’s online data science master’s degree builds an understanding of statistical inference, machine learning, data visualization and mining, and big data. The comprehensive curriculum includes 30 credits of coursework.

    Acceptance rate: 66%

    Graduation rate: 70%

    Avg. annual tuition: $16,230

    Years to completion:Two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is not required for applicants with a Canadian or U.S. degree in engineering, mathematical sciences, computer science, or data science. GRE and GMAT are waived for Spring 2022 admission.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: The New Jersey Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    12. North Carolina Central University

    Durham, North Carolina

    About the program: NCCU’s online master’s degree in mathematics with a specialization in data science emphasizes innovation in mathematical research. Alongside core requirements, data science students complete 12 credits of concentration coursework.

    Acceptance rate: 87%

    Graduation rate: 52%

    Avg. annual tuition: Not publicly available

    Years to completion: Not publicly available

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is required. GMAT test scores are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 2.7

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online

    Accreditation: North Carolina Central University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    13. The College of St. Scholastica

    Duluth, Minnesota

    About the program: CSS’s online master’s in applied data analytics emphasizes ethical use of data and decision making. Learners complete the 37-credit-hour program in less than two years.

    Acceptance rate: 73%

    Graduation rate: 69%

    Avg. annual tuition: $10,637.50

    Years to completion: Up to two years

    GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available

    Minimum GPA: 2.8

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online, synchronous

    Accreditation: The College of St. Scholastica is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    14. Syracuse University

    Syracuse, New York

    About the program: Syracuse’s interdisciplinary online master’s degree in applied data science allows students to specialize in data and business analytics, language analytics, or data pipeline and performance.

    Acceptance rate: 69%

    Graduation rate: 83%

    Avg. annual tuition: $30,294

    Years to completion: 18 months

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are not required.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: One (fall)

    Course delivery methods: Online, synchronous

    Accreditation: Syracuse University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    15. Rochester Institute of Technology

    Rochester, New York

    Graduation rate: 71%

    Avg. annual tuition: $18,555

    About the program: Designed as a part-time program, RIT’s online master’s in data science focuses on enhancing career knowledge and skills. Through 30 credit hours of coursework, students study machine learning, programming, data mining and analysis, and data visualization.

    Acceptance rate: 74%

    Years to completion: Two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is not required for applicants with a U.S. degree. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Rochester Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    16. DePaul University

    Chicago, Illinois

    About the program: DePaul’s online master’s degree in data science includes concentrations in computational methods, healthcare, marketing, and hospitality. Students complete 52 credit hours of coursework in two years or less.

    Acceptance rate: 70%

    Graduation rate: 71%

    Avg. annual tuition: $22,932

    Years to completion: Up to two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are not required.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Four (fall, winter, spring, summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    17. Dakota State University

    Madison, South Dakota

    About the program: Alongside core knowledge and analytics courses, students enrolled in DSU’s online analytics master’s complete coursework in one of four concentration areas. Specializations include business, general, healthcare analytics, and information systems.

    Acceptance rate: 84%

    Graduation rate: 49%

    Avg. annual tuition: $4,998.75

    Years to completion: Two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is waived for applicants with a 3.25 GPA or higher. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 2.7

    Enrollment periods per year: Three (fall, spring, summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    18. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, New Hampshire

    About the program: SNHU’s online data analytics master’s degree integrates 36 credit hours of coursework in data visualization, management, and presentation. Learners also study decision methods and models in anticipation of a capstone requirement.

    Acceptance rate: 94%

    Graduation rate: 37%

    Avg. annual tuition: $11,286

    Years to completion: 15 months

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are not required.

    Minimum GPA: 2.75

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

    19. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    About the program: Drexel’s 45-credit-hour master’s in data science includes core requirements alongside elective coursework in analytics, algorithms, visualization and communication, and management and accountability.

    Acceptance rate: 77%

    Graduation rate: 71%

    Avg. annual tuition: $30,487.50

    Years to completion: One to two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is not required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: (online, asynchronous, etc.)

    Accreditation: Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    20. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    About the program: Designed for working adults, NSU’s online master’s degree in data analytics blends immersive case studies and hands-on work with classroom learning. Students complete the 30-credit program in one year.

    Acceptance rate: 76%

    Graduation rate: 62%

    Avg. annual tuition: $13,575

    Years to completion: One

    GRE/GMAT: GRE is not required. GMAT test requirements are not publicly available.

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Three (fall, spring, summer)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    21. Regis University

    Denver, Colorado

    About the program: Students complete Regis’ online master’s degree in data science in under two years. The comprehensive 36-credit curriculum includes an optional data engineering specialization.

    Acceptance rate: 78%

    Graduation rate: 67%

    Avg. annual tuition: $16,560

    Years to completion: One to two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are not required.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Six

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    22. Central Connecticut State University

    New Britain, Connecticut

    About the program: CCSU’s online master’s degree in data science includes 31 credits of coursework. Learners choose from specializations in bioinformatics, text analytics, advanced methods, computational, and general data science.

    Acceptance rate: 65%

    Graduation rate: 52%

    Avg. annual tuition: $11,067

    Years to completion: Two

    GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Two (fall and spring)

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: Central Connecticut State University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

    23. DeSales University

    Center Valley, Pennsylvania

    About the program: DeSales’ data analytics master’s degree emphasizes quantitative, analytical, and technical skills alongside Christian humanism philosophy. Students complete 36 credits of coursework and can specialize in information systems.

    Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

    Graduation rate: Not publicly available

    Avg. annual tuition: $15,390

    Years to completion: Two

    GRE/GMAT: Applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA may be required to take the GRE or GMAT.

    Minimum GPA: 3.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous with interactive components

    Accreditation: DeSales University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    24. Merrimack College

    North Andover, Massachusetts

    About the program: Students complete Merrimack’s online master’s in data science in under 16 months. The 32-credit program, designed by an industry advisory council, emphasizes engineering skills and business knowledge alike.

    Acceptance rate: 82%

    Graduation rate: 74%

    Avg. annual tuition: $15,744

    Years to completion: 12-16 months

    GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: Six

    Course delivery methods: Online

    Accreditation: Merrimack College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

    25. University of Maryland Global Campus

    Largo, Maryland

    About the program: UMGC’s online data analytics master’s degree combines theory and practice through 36 credits of classroom and experiential learning requirements. Industry experts, scholars, and employers helped develop the career-focused curriculum.

    Acceptance rate: Open admission

    Graduation rate: 18%

    Avg. annual tuition: $12,492

    Years to completion: Two

    GRE/GMAT: GRE and GMAT are not required.

    Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

    Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    Insights from a data analytics graduate

    Tim Roy, a man with brown hair, brown eyes, and a short-cropped beard, smiles in front of a neutral background.Tim Roy, a man with brown hair, brown eyes, and a short-cropped beard, smiles in front of a neutral background.

    Tim Roy is a data science manager at SparkPost. Tim has an M.S. in mathematical statistics from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.

    He’s been in data science and analytics for 12 years and leads the data science department for the SparkPost division of Message Bird (which acquired SparkPost in May 2021).

    ZDNet: Was there anything about your data science master’s degree program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

    Tim Roy: A wide variety of backgrounds from peers. Some students had strength in computer science, pure math, applied math, physics, etc., but also students who previously studied in unrelated disciplines are now making a pivot.

    ZDNet: What was the most challenging, rigorous course you took in your data science degree program? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

    TR: My first exposure to machine learning, other than toying with the knobs in scikit-learn, was from a theoretical perspective. I took a couple courses that were mostly pencil + paper proofs, reading academic papers focused on theory, and math jargon like Hessian matrices, Lagrange multipliers, and duality.

    I benefited more from this course than any other as it allowed me to think about solutions that were not already neatly programmed in a python library and allowed me to be more creative by beginning with the fundamentals, then seeing what libraries already existed that I could tailor to my needs.

    My advice is to try to take some courses like theory but also others in areas like ethics, where you are getting exposure to things you typically would not when employed as a data scientist. Ethics is becoming an increasingly important part of the data and AI conversation so having a starting point that predates doing the actual work is helpful.

    Sure, learning how to use the latest machine learning frameworks are important, but you’ll have your whole career to improve on that. You won’t spend much time on the fundamentals once out of school.

    ZDNet: How did you make the most of your data science degree program so that it prepared you for post-grad jobs?

    TR: I had already spent a few years working after undergrad and chose to make a career pivot before entering grad school. At that point, networking and learning how to work in industry was less important than shoring up my technical weaknesses.

    My background was in math and statistics, so I tried to focus my electives on areas where I was weak — mainly computer science fundamentals. It may have been easier to take a more familiar elective, but I wanted to come out of the program as a more well-rounded data scientist.

    What to expect in an online master’s in data analytics degree program

    Core classes emphasize theories and principles of statistics, data analysis, and database systems. Learners study computational tools and techniques and complete hands-on learning activities and group projects.

    Students have options to complete electives in advanced or niche data analytics topics. Many online programs incorporate a cumulative capstone requirement.

    Synchronous programs present coursework to students sequentially, while asynchronous degrees provide more flexibility. Some online data analytics master’s degrees incorporate scheduled meeting times and face-to-face activities.

    Data analytics courses

    Common courses for data analytics degrees build a foundational understanding of the field. They also train students in essential tools and techniques of data acquisition, visualization, and analysis.

    Data visualization

    Data visualization coursework introduces students to theories, techniques, and tools of visualizing, investigating, and understanding data. Learners explore data representation, volume rendering techniques, and applied human perception alongside topics like advanced display devices and the future of data visualization.

    Applied machine learning

    By examining learning models and algorithms, students learn to apply strategies like decision trees and logistic regression to performance issues and signal models.

    Database systems

    Database systems courses introduce learners to concepts and theories of database management. Coursework explores relational and non-relational database management systems. Students study database system architecture, data models, database design, and information organization from user and system perspectives.

    Data mining

    A data mining course covers techniques for extracting and analyzing data to discover and assess patterns and clusters. Data mining coursework integrates theoretical content with practical application of methods to preprocess, visualize, and find coherence in data.

    Data analytics degree levels

    Students can earn an associate degree in data analytics in two years or less, while a bachelor’s degree typically includes four years of coursework. Earning an undergraduate degree sets the foundation for entry-level positions across economic sectors or for continued study.

    A master’s degree in data analytics spans two years or less, while a doctorate can last four years or more. These degrees allow for advancement to administrative and managerial roles.

    Outside of data analytics degrees, learners have options to complete data science bootcamps or earn a certificate in the discipline. These often take less time and money than earning a data analytics degree.

    Associate in data analytics

    Length: Two years

    Cost: $12,000-$30,000

    Post-grad careers: Computer support specialist, data entry associate, junior data analyst

    An associate in data analytics generally includes 60 credits of coursework in data science fundamentals. Students learn data policy and decision-making as they develop an understanding of the role of data analysis in organizations.

    Data analytics associate degrees also introduce learners to tools and techniques of data analysis. Experiential learning opportunities accompany collaborative projects and possible opportunities for internships and practicums.

    Bachelor’s in data analytics

    Length: Four years

    Cost: $18,000-$50,000

    Post-grad careers: Operations research analyst, market research analyst, data scientist

    Through roughly 120 credit hours of coursework, a bachelor’s degree unites business, information technology, and mathematics content. Students learn to use cutting-edge tools and technology to assess data and guide decisions based on their findings.

    Many business analyst and data science professions require at least a bachelor’s degree in data analytics or a comparable field. A data analytics bachelor’s program also prepares learners to enter a graduate degree.

    Master’s in data analytics

    Length: Two years

    Cost: $15,000-$55,000

    Post-grad careers: Senior data scientist, data engineer, data management consultant

    A master’s degree in data analytics hones students’ existing analytical and critical-thinking skills. Through an advanced curriculum that incorporates theoretical and practical data analysis content, learners gain proficiency in using data to optimize decision-making practices.

    Master’s degrees in data analytic typically include about 30 credit hours of coursework. Students attend lectures and take part in independent and group projects, practical learning exercises, and capstone requirements.

    Doctorate in data analytics

    Length: Four or more years

    Cost: $30,000-$80,000

    Post-grad careers: Business intelligence officer, chief data officer, data analytics professor

    A doctorate in data analytics emphasizes qualitative research in the field of data science. Learners also build programming, communication, and decision-making skills. With a doctorate in data analytics, individuals achieve leadership roles in academia and industry alike.

    After completing advanced coursework in topics such as statistical analysis, data mining, and analysis methodologies, students complete a qualifying exam and a dissertation.

    In conclusion

    A data analytics master’s degree incorporates interdisciplinary coursework designed to grow existing analytical and critical-thinking skills.

    Many industries value graduates’ advanced abilities to assess raw data using the latest tools, technologies, and techniques. This degree may open the door to many data science jobs.

    Use the information and resources above to help you find the data analytics program that’s right for you.

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