While admissions processes vary by institution and degree desired, here is a compendium of some common application materials to gain entry into a distance-based data science program:
Please note that a candidate interview or submission of a writing sample may also be required.
Thomas Edison State University based in Trenton, NJ partnered with the the Institute of Statistics Education to offer an online bachelor of science (BS) in data science and analytics. This program is 100 percent online with no expected campus visits and provides instruction in machine learning tools; neural nets & regression; dimension reduction, clustering & associative rules; forecasting analytics; interactive data visualization; and introduction to social network analysis. TESU also has several electives available to students in this program, including introduction to database queries (SQL and R); regression analysis; introduction to Python programming for analytics and financial risk modeling, among others. The 2016-17 tuition costs $6,350 for New Jersey residents and $9,352 for those living out-of-state.
Southern New Hampshire University of Manchester provides an online BS in data analytics, a field closely allied with data science. Students get instruction in areas such as decision support presentation; fundamentals of data mining; applied statistics (regression analysis); management science through spreadsheets; and elective courses such as Oracle SQL fundamentals and introduction to structured query languages. This program costs approximately $960 per course ($320 per credit hour), or $675 per course ($225 per credit hour) for active military and their spouses.
Ottawa University based in Ottawa, KS has an online BS in data science and technology with instruction in network architecture; network security; data mining, cybersecurity; data visualization; information forensics; applied information science; and ethical hacking & intrusion detection, among other areas. This program can be completed 100 percent online and costs $495 per credit hour (2016-17).
Harvard University’s Extension School offers an online certificate in data science comprising four courses, taking a year-and-a-half to complete. In addition to a required course in data science, students choose between electives such as advanced scientific computing (stochastic methods for data analysis, inference & optimization); big data analytics; database systems; and big data in healthcare applications. This program costs $10,200 total.
Interestingly, several major corporations have developed their own certificate-granting academies. For example, Microsoft currently has an online data science professional program with instruction in querying data with transact-SQL; analyzing & visualizing data with Excel or BI; principles of machine learning; introduction to R for data science; applied machine learning; implementing predictive solutions with Spark in HDInsight; developing intelligent applications; and a final project. Notably, auditing this program was free as of February 2017 during its BETA release, and students can purchase a verified certificate if desired.
Columbia University provides an online certificate of professional studies in data science with a minimum of 12 credits of coursework in areas such as algorithms for data science; probability & statistics; machine learning for data science; and exploratory data analysis & visualization, well as electives including translational bioinformatics; sustainability technology & the evolution of smart cities; and big data analytics. This program costs $1,858 per credit hour for the 2016-17 year.
The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering based in Elkridge, MD offers a fully online master of science (MS) in data science with coursework in the principles of database systems; data science; statistical methods & data analysis; data visualization; introduction to optimization; statistical models & regression; and computational statistics. This program costs $50,410 annually and is also offered as a post-master’s certificate.
Kent State University of Ohio provides an online master of digital sciences (MDS) with a concentration in data science with courses such as enterprise architecture; knowledge organization structures, systems & services; semantic analysis methods & technologies; instructional design; and network management & design technology. This program costs $11,090 annually in tuition for Ohio residents and $19,362 for non-residents.
Finally, the University of California, Berkeley has a 27-unit online master of information and data science (MIDS) program with multidisciplinary instruction in areas such as research design & applications for data & analysis; statistics for data science; storing & retrieving data; and data visualization & communication. Please note that students must attend one 3-4 day immersion session on the Berkeley campus. The program typically takes 12-20 months to complete and costs $2,333 per unit.
With technology rapidly changing the field of data science, there’s no surefire career path to becoming a data scientist, but those who have success in this field share some common attributes. For example, effective data scientists are lifelong learners, invested in keeping up with the ever-evolving platforms, programming languages, and machine-learning techniques which help to process large datasets.
While a majority of data scientists have at least a bachelor’s degree, many top-level employers prefer those who have completed a graduate education in the field. Above all, these professionals must have facility with various programming languages; a solid grasp of applied mathematics and statistics; an ability to learn quickly; and personality traits such as grit and curiosity.
More specifically, there are a number of skills which help data scientists to thrive. Some of the qualifications include:
Additionally, some employers ask for specific certifications among data science job applicants. According to an analysis of job postings across SimplyHired, Indeed, LinkedIn, and TechCareers, Tom’s IT Pro (Nov. 2016) found the five most in-demand big data certifications for 2017:
Overall, the field of data science can prove a rewarding career, allowing a person to provide high-level insight to organizations, businesses, and governments across the world. While the specific skills required are dynamic and continually evolving, those with inquisitive minds and varied interests are the most likely to succeed in this lucrative field.
Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information
Ms. Greiner is an alumni of both the University of Michigan and UC Berkeley, where she currently serves as a web developer and designer for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), the supercomputing center at the famous Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She formerly helped build a website for the DOE Joint Genome Institute, leveraging her knowledge of biomedical science as well as web development. Her research interests include prototyping; scientific computing; and user-centered design. She teaches the data visualization and communication course in UC Berkeley’s online master of information and data science (MIDS) program.
Assistant Professor and Lecturer at Kent State University’s College of Applied Science and Technology
Mr. Amiruzzman has been featured in several high impact journals such as Advances in Computer Science and Information Technology and the International Journal of Multimedia and Ubiquitous Engineering. He co-authored a chapter in the Handbook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning. He has numerous awards and achievements to his credit, including receiving the President’s Scholarship at Korea University and Sejong University. His research interests include applied engineering; communication and networking; learning theories; and statistics.
Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dr. Peng is a professor of biostatistics who is especially interested in the effects of air pollution. With Jeff Leek and Brian Caffo, Dr. Peng co-directed the development of JHU’s online data science program. He recently published a book titled “Conversations on Data Science” and co-hosts two podcasts: “The Effort Report” and “Not So Standard Deviations.” He has numerous awards and honors to his name, including the 2016 APHA Mortimer Spiegelman Award.
Microsoft Senior Content Developer and Harvard University Lecturer
Mr. Malcolm received his master of science degree from the University of Stirling and has served as a trainer, consultant, and author during his accomplished career life. He’s a renowned SQL server specialist and has provided business intelligence solutions to some of the largest companies in the world. He not only develops content for Microsoft Learning Experiences, but he’s also teaching the fundamentals of data science through Harvard University’s online data science certificate program.
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