Are you ready to discover your college program?
Earning a data science degree can qualify you for a variety of careers in a growing field. The analytics of data science helps businesses make financial decisions and expand their reach, and public agencies hire data science professionals to help them gain insights about societal trends.
This page discusses how to get a data science degree and alternative methods of learning these skills. If you are considering careers in data science, our guide can help you determine the next steps to take.
What Is Data Science?
Data science — a field where math, computer science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence intersect — is the study of data to find meaningful insights. Data scientists manage the data analysis process from start to finish. They collect data, create algorithms, and present findings to management.
Workers pursuing careers in data science can obtain a degree in computer science or data science. Learners in these programs study calculus, modeling, and programming. Graduates can find work in an array of industries, including green energy, logistics, and the public sector.
Data Science Degree Options
Data science educational credentials span from certificates to advanced degrees. Bootcamps and certificate programs take less time than degrees, so they can be a good starting point for professionals exploring this field.
Data science has multiple specializations, including data analytics and machine learning. Earning a bachelor's or even a master's degree in these areas can help learners deepen their knowledge and qualify for advanced data science roles.
We explore various data science education options below.
Data Science Certificates
Certificates in data science present data science concepts in a condensed timeline. Many certificate programs require 15-18 credit hours and take a few months to complete. Some certificates focus on specific topics within the data science field. Schools offer certificates on campus and online.
The typical curriculum for a data science certificate includes foundational courses about data analysis and a final project that requires enrollees to demonstrate their skills. While certificate-holders learn the basics of data science, many jobs in this field require additional education.
Associate Degrees in Data Science
Associate degrees in data science run online and on campus. Associate degree programs usually require two years of full-time study. Programs may have transfer agreements, allowing students to apply their credits toward a four-year institution to earn a bachelor's degree.
Featured Associate in Data Science Degrees
Learners in associate degree programs study topics like mathematics, programming, and data literacy. Typical courses include principles in statistics, precalculus, and data science in R. Graduates can qualify for entry-level jobs in data science, though most roles require at least a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's Degrees in Data Science
A bachelor's data science degree usually requires four years of full-time study. Students can attend these programs online or in person. Universities offer asynchronous programs, which lets learners complete coursework on more flexible schedules. Bachelor's degrees in data science may offer specializations in areas such as technology, bioscience, and business analytics.
Featured Bachelor's in Data Science Degrees
Enrollees in bachelor's programs study a combination of business, math, and computer science. Degree-holders can use their skills to transform raw data into useful insights and articulate their findings. Professionals with this credential can qualify for jobs like business intelligence developer, data analyst, and data scientist.
Master's Degrees in Data Science
To apply for a master's degree in data science, students usually need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Programs typically take two years of full-time study. Students can find online and on-campus degrees. Learners may need to complete a thesis or capstone project to demonstrate their knowledge.
Featured Master's in Data Science Degrees
Master's degree enrollees develop specialized knowledge about topics like regression analysis, machine learning, and data structures. With their advanced educational credential, graduates can qualify for upper-level roles like data architect, machine learning engineer, and statistician.
Doctoral Degrees in Data Science
A Ph.D. in data science is the highest degree available for this field. Programs can take 5-7 years of full-time study as enrollees complete coursework, research, and a dissertation. These doctorates are available on campus and online.
Enrollees work with real-world data sets, investigate methodologies, and collaborate with industry experts to raise new questions about or propose solutions to contemporary issues. Courses cover topics like integrative data science, data mining, and databases. Data science Ph.D. graduates can qualify for advanced data science careers or become professors.
Featured Data Science Doctoral Programs
Data Science Bootcamps
Data science bootcamps typically only take a few months and teach students the essentials of programming and data analysis. Students can complete bootcamps in person or online. In addition to full-time programs, learners can enroll in part-time or self-paced bootcamps for additional flexibility.
While degrees are offered through colleges and universities — some of which also run bootcamps — many data science bootcamps operate through private companies that specialize in bootcamp education.
Enrollees study topics like Python, SQL, and machine learning. While employers usually require a bachelor's degree for data scientist roles, bootcamps often provide career services to assist with mock interviews and job search strategies. Some bootcamps offer a money-back guarantee for graduates who do not find jobs within a specified time period.
Featured Data Science Bootcamps
More Options for Learning Data Science
In addition to formal classroom education, people passionate about data science can learn more about this topic through online resources, internships, and mentorships. Online resources provide free and low-cost options like videos, study guides, and massively open online courses. Internships and mentorships can provide interns individualized learning and hands-on experience.
Though these self-education methods may not be enough to qualify you for a job in the data science field, pursuing them can help you gain relevant knowledge. This baseline can help learners pursue degrees: For example, students applying for a master's degree in data science with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field may have a better chance of acceptance if they can demonstrate experience working with data from an internship.
Resources for Data Science Degree Students
FAQ About Getting a Degree in Data Science
Is majoring in data science hard?
As with any degree, majoring in data science can prove challenging. Data science combines the fields of math, computer science, and business. Individuals who enjoy these topics may be well-suited to earning a degree in data science.
Where can I learn how to get a data science degree?
This page provides information about data science degrees and includes links to rankings of top online data science programs. You can find additional information on schools' official degree pages.
Is a data science degree worth it?
Data science degrees can help learners qualify for in-demand careers like data scientist, which offer higher-than-average salaries. This can signal a positive return on investment for students in these programs.
Which data science degree should I get?
Many data science roles require at least a bachelor's degree in the field. However, schools and bootcamps offer a variety of options, including certificates and associate degrees, which can introduce learners to the field and help them determine whether they want to pursue further education.
Page last reviewed on July 20, 2023
Take the next step toward your future.
Discover programs you’re interested in and take charge of your education.