Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

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Published October 25, 2022

A data science associate degree can provide an affordable start to a new career in computer science. Explore our ranking of the top associate degrees in data science.

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Pursuing a data science associate degree is a good way to start a career in the burgeoning data science field. An associate degree can prepare students to transfer to a data science bachelor's program or find entry-level jobs.

In addition to the ranking of the top associate degrees in data science, this page explores the benefits of a data science degree, what to expect from a typical program, and career options for graduates.

Top Associate Degrees in Data Science

The following rankings use our proprietary methodology to offer insight into the best associate degrees in data science.

#1 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

Tunxis Community College

  • Farmington, CT
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Farmington, Connecticut, TCC first offered classes in 1970. Now home to more than 7,000 students, TCC provides degrees and certificate programs to meet the region's training, occupational, and cultural needs. 

Associate Degree in Technology Studies, Data Science Option

Students looking to transfer to bachelor's degrees in data science or technology management can consider TCC's data science associate degree. This program includes mathematics, science, data literacy, and programming coursework. Learners also complete general education classes.

TCC's associate degree in data science includes 67 credit hours. Classes in topics like statistics for technology applications, computer-aided design, and machine learning prepare students for capstone projects.

Completing the degree allows learners to enter Central Connecticut State University with junior-student standing. TCC is one of the 12 schools merging to form Connecticut State Community College in 2023.

Applying to TCC

Applicants submit proof of high school completion or equivalent and immunizations for consideration. Once accepted, each enrollee completes course placement forms, an online orientation, and applies for financial aid.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $174 per credit hour for residents; $523 per credit hour for non-residents
  • Credits Required: 67
  • Delivery Format: On-campus; synchronous
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 8%
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,984
Out-of-state
$11,952
Retention Rate
57%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,781
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

Montgomery College

  • Rockville, MD
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Rockville, Maryland, MC also has campuses in Germantown and Takoma Park/Silver Spring. MC offers degrees, certificates, and professional licensure programs to 43,000 enrollees and boasts a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. 

Data Science Certificate Plus Associate of Arts Degree Option

MC's data science certificate plus associate degree option blends the data science certificate program with its general studies STEM curriculum. Students complete 60 credits of coursework in anticipation of transferring to bachelor's degrees in science, engineering, or other technology-related disciplines.

Foundational mathematics and English courses accompany social science and natural science classes. STEM core courses and required data science classes in data visualization and statistical methods prepare students for project-based capstone experiences. 

MC offers Z-courses — these classes do not require textbooks, with students instead receiving materials electronically.

Applying to MC

Individuals submit high school transcripts or equivalent with optional SAT or ACT scores to apply. Assessment and placement exams precede orientation and course registration. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $201 per credit hour for Montgomery County residents; $342 per credit hour for Maryland residents; $468 for non-residents
  • Credits Required: 60
  • Delivery Format: On-campus or hybrid
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 10%
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,070
Out-of-state
$11,220
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
21,260
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

North Hennepin Community College

  • Brooklyn Park, MN
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

With more than 70 academic programs, NHCC prepares students to pursue employment or transfer to bachelor's degrees with partner institutions. NHCC, located on indigenous land in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, enrolls nearly 8,500 students annually.

Associate Of Science in Data Science

The associate degree in data science at NHCC includes 60 credit hours of general education and major coursework. Students complete required classes in structured query language, programming in Java and Python, and database modeling and design. Elective options in Linux, data structures, and discrete math accompany a course in interdisciplinary applications of data science.

NHCC provides seamless transfer to a bachelor's degree in data science in cooperation with Metropolitan State University. Enrollees qualify for NHCC's workforce development scholarship, which supports students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields.

Applying to NHCC

Applicants submit transcripts or GED certificates from the last four years with ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER scores. Candidates should also submit previous college transcripts. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $204 per credit hour; $213 per online credit hour
  • Credits Required: 60
  • Delivery Format: On-campus, hybrid; asynchronous
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 25%
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,080
Out-of-state
$4,080
Retention Rate
57%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,198
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

St Petersburg College

  • Clearwater, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, SPC opened its doors in 1927. As the first two-year college in Florida, SPC has expanded to 11 learning sites in the state. SPC offers more than 180 degrees, certificates, and workforce certification programs. 

Associate Of Science in Data Science

This associate degree at SPC includes 60 credit hours of general education and discipline-specific classes. Students complete coursework in computer programming, business intelligence, and data mining as part of the 33-credit major core curriculum.

SPC's data science associate degree culminates in a data science internship. To gain practical experience, learners complete course assignments and workplace projects and meet the requirement of 180 on-the-job hours. 

Students learn about using data for predictive and big data analysis across industries. Graduates can transfer their associate degrees to the institution's bachelor of applied science in technology development and management program. 

Applying to SPC

Candidates submit transcripts, optional ACT or SAT scores, any relevant placement scores, and a $40 application fee with their applications.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $112 per credit hour for residents; $387 per credit hour for non-residents
  • Credits Required: 60 
  • Delivery Format: Online, hybrid; asynchronous
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 33%
Average Tuition
In-state
$1,943
Out-of-state
$7,774
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
28,853
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

Northwestern Connecticut Community College

  • Winsted, CT
  • 2 years
  • Campus

NCCC, located in Winsted, Connecticut, offers degree and certificate programs in 18 areas of study. Additional credit-free programs accompany its Team Success program, which provides students with mentorship and guidance. NCCC will merge with fellow community colleges in the state to become Connecticut State Community College in fall 2023. 

Associate Degree in Technology Studies — Data Science Option

NCCC's technology studies degree in data science integrates classes in mathematics, science, data literacy, and programming with general education courses. The curriculum includes 67 credits of coursework and allows for smooth transfer into bachelor's programs.

By the end of the degree, students learn how to identify patterns from raw data using various tools and techniques in industries across the workforce. NCCC's data science associate degree also emphasizes communication and teamwork skills. 

Students can pair an additional data science certificate from NCCC with an associate degree in mathematics, science, computer science, business, or a comparable field.

Applying to NCCC

Applicants submit proof of high school completion or equivalent, proof of immunizations, and transcripts from any previous college coursework for consideration. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $174 per credit hour for residents; $523 per credit hour for non-residents
  • Credits Required: 67
  • Delivery Format: On-campus, hybrid, online; asynchronous
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 7%
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,984
Out-of-state
$11,952
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,308
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#6 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

Saint Paul College

  • Saint Paul, MN
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1910, SPC offers more than 50 associate degrees and nearly 75 certificate and diploma programs. Located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, SPC enrolls nearly 8,400 students annually.

Associate Of Science Degree In Data Science

SPC's data science associate of science degree introduces students to tools, techniques, and theories from mathematics, statistics, computer science, and information theory. As the program progresses, enrollees learn to collect, manage, interpret, and analyze data. 

This data science associate degree's ixty credit hours of coursework cover database management, microeconomics, computer programming, and algorithms and data structures. Technical elective options in topics like enterprise operations systems, cartography, and programming and scripting allow students to focus on aspects of the field. 

SPC has agreements with four-year institutions throughout Minnesota for seamless bachelor's degree transfer.

Applying to SPC

To apply, individuals submit high school (or equivalent) transcripts and SAT or ACT scores to waive placement requirements. An applicant must have a minimum 2.8 high school GPA within the last 10 years.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $183-$278 on-campus per credit hour; $205 online per credit hour
  • Credits Required: 60
  • Delivery Format: Online, hybrid, on-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 23%
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,996
Out-of-state
$4,996
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,656
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Best Associate Degrees in Data Science

Florida State College at Jacksonville

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

FSCJ offers nearly 170 degrees and certificate programs to over 37,600 students annually. Based in Jacksonville, FSCJ maintains campuses and administrative offices throughout the region. 

Associate of Science in Data Science Technology

By emphasizing how to effectively acquire, clean, model, and analyze data, FSCJ's data science technology associate degree trains students to extract insights using statistical processes and systems. Learners explore data sources and retrieval methodologies to pursue careers in business, finance, healthcare, and logistics.

General education coursework accompanies required classes in data visualization and warehousing, operations systems, computer programming, and information security. Additional classes for this data science associate degree include web technologies, statistical programming, and introduction to big data.

Students can also earn embedded technical certificates in data science and fintech. Individuals looking to transfer into the program must meet certain course and test requirements. 

Applying to FSCJ

Applicants submit high school diplomas or equivalent documentation, along with transcripts from any previous college coursework for consideration. The application fee is $25.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $105 per credit hour for residents; $402 per credit hour for non-residents; $219 per credit hour for online; $210 per credit hour for eligible Georgia residents
  • Credits Required: 60
  • Delivery Format: Online, on-campus, in-person
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 21%
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,095
Out-of-state
$7,947
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
24,605
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
74% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Why Get a Data Science Associate Degree?

The field of data science emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, drawing from computer science, mathematics, and statistics. Data science careers grew more common starting in the 2010s: In 2012, Harvard Business Review deemed data science the "sexiest job of the 21st century." Ten years later, in 2022, the publication noted that demand is still very high for data science professionals.

Data science analyzes big data with mathematical models, algorithms, and other tools to answer questions and solve problems. Data scientists identify patterns, generate insights, and create visualizations based on the data they work with.

Most data scientist jobs require more than just a data science associate degree. Data scientists typically need a bachelor's degree or master's degree in data science or a related field. However, an associate degree can be a good way to begin your data science education.

Some junior-level data science jobs may accept candidates with just an associate degree, especially if you are working toward a bachelor's degree while employed. Prospective data science professionals who hold a bachelor's in another field may want to consider a data science bootcamp to get intensive training that prepares them for tech careers.

Benefits of pursuing data science associate degrees include:

  • Learn New Skills

    Completing an associate degree in data science can help students gain tech skills in areas like data analysis, algorithms, and data management.
  • High Earning Potential

    According to Payscale, the average salary for data scientists is $97,610 as of October 2022. Typically, this salary increases with experience: Data scientists with 10-19 years on the job earn an average annual salary of $123,350 as of October 2022.
  • Job Stability

    High demand for data science professionals can make it easier to find jobs in this field. The BLS projects 21% job growth (much faster than average) between 2021 and 2031 for computer and information research scientists, a grouping of occupations that includes data scientists.

What To Expect From Two-Year Data Science Programs

Data science programs focus on the theories, practice, and tools of data science. They help students learn to use data to tell stories, answer questions, and gain insights. The top associate degrees in data science prepare students to transfer to four-year programs or apply to entry-level tech jobs.

A typical data science associate degree takes two full-time years to complete and requires about 60 semester credits. Many associate degree credits can transfer to a four-year college or university, counting for as many as two years of coursework required for a bachelor's degree. Make sure to ask your program about credit transfer before you start.

Data science students take general education classes and courses focused on data science fundamentals. Some schools require a data science internship or capstone experience.

Admissions Process

Associate programs in data science typically require applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applying often requires submitting an online application, application fee, and high school transcripts.

Some programs may require a minimum GPA or standardized test scores. Previous data science experience is not usually necessary.

Popular Data Science Associate Courses

Available data science classes vary by program. Below, we describe three common data science classes at the associate level.

  • Introduction to Data Science

    This course surveys fundamental data science topics. Students learn the basics of managing, organizing, and analyzing data. They get experience with the major tools, practices, and theories of data science.
  • Data Visualization and Communication

    Learners explore techniques for data visualization. Topics include quantitative summary, using data to make effective arguments, and data storytelling.
  • Introduction to Programming

    This class develops beginner skills in computer programming languages. Enrollees learn about running and editing code.

How Much Do Associate Degrees in Data Science Cost?

The cost of a data science associate degree varies by school. Factors that affect price include school type (public or private) and program format (online, in-person, or hybrid). Attending an institution where you can pay in-state tuition typically costs less than one where you must pay the out-of-state rate.

For students considering a bachelor's degree, completing an associate degree at a community college and transferring to a bachelor's program can save you money. Tuition usually costs less at a community college than at a four-year school.

Besides tuition, students may incur other costs during their education. This can include the price of textbooks, technology, and application fees. You may also want to factor in the cost of housing, travel, and other basic living necessities.

Data science associate programs offer various types of financial aid to help students pay for their degree. Consider options like scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.

Data Science Careers

Most data science careers require advanced education, so the top associate degrees in data science are often designed to help enrollees transfer to a bachelor's program. Further education typically qualifies degree-holders for more job opportunities and higher salaries. However, graduates can pursue some entry-level careers in tech with just an associate degree.

A data science associate degree can qualify students for roles like junior data analyst or data technician. Education requirements vary by employer and position. Organizations may be more likely to hire you for one of these roles if you commit to earning a bachelor's degree upon hiring. Below, we describe some potential career paths.

Junior Data Analyst

A data analyst uses tools and techniques to analyze data. Their insights help organizations make data-driven decisions. They need good communication, analytical, and computer skills. Data analysts with multiple degrees can sometimes advance to roles like data scientist or analytics manager.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): N/A
  • Average Annual Salary: $63,510 as of October 2022

Junior Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analysts study and organize business data to help companies make strategic business decisions. They need skills in data processing, web analytics, and market analysis. They can advance to roles like business intelligence manager or data engineer.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): N/A
  • Average Annual Salary: $71,530 as of October 2022

Data Technician

A data technician collects and analyzes information. Typical duties include scanning files, organizing information, comparing records, and verifying data. With advanced education, they can move into roles like data analyst, data scientist, or information technology manager.

  • Required Education: High school diploma
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): N/A
  • Average Annual Salary: $45,180 as of October 2022

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write code that allows computer programs and applications to function properly. They need proficiency with languages like Java, C++, SQL, and PHP. Frequent tasks include editing code, writing code, and troubleshooting problems. Programmers can advance to roles like computer and information systems manager or computer network architect.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): -10%
  • Median Annual Salary: $93,000 as of 2021

Choosing the Right Data Science Associate Degree

To find the best associate degree in data science, think about which programs will help you achieve your educational and career goals. Consider the following:

  • Program Transferability: Does the school have a transfer agreement with a four-year institution? For students planning to pursue a bachelor's degree after completing an associate degree, transfer agreements can facilitate carrying credits over more easily.
  • Cost/Financial Aid: How much will you pay for this degree? What kinds of financial aid does the school provide enrollees?
  • Accreditation: Check that all prospective schools are institutionally accredited. Accreditation makes it easier to get financial aid, transfer credits, and apply to other degree programs.

Should You Get Your Associate Degree in Data Science Online?

Learners can attend some of the best associate degrees in data science online. Students and employers alike increasingly recognize that online degrees can provide education equal in quality to in-person learning.

As a computer science/tech major, data science degrees are particularly suited to the online learning experience because students complete much of their work digitally with software tools.

Distance education programs can offer convenience and flexibility, especially for students who work as they earn their degree. Online degrees also allow learners to enroll in programs in other cities or states without requiring relocation.

Should You Pursue an Associate, Bachelor's or Bootcamp?

It can be hard to decide between a data science associate degree, bachelor's degree, or data science bootcamp. Each program requires different commitments. Consult the table below to see some of the differences between these options.

Comparing Associate, and Bootcamp, and Bachelor's Programs
Comparison Point Data Science Associate Degrees Data Science Bootcamps Data Science Bachelor's Degrees
Program Focus Data science theory and skills, data analysis, programming, data structures Machine learning, data science theory and skills, software engineering, programming Machine learning, data science theory and skills, programming, statistics
Main Program Goal Prepare students to apply for entry-level jobs or transfer to a bachelor's program Prepare students for entry-level tech and data science jobs Prepare students to apply for professional careers in data science
Typical Program Length 2 full-time years 4-6 part-time or full-time months 4 full-time years
Admission Requirements A high school diploma or GED certificate A high school diploma or GED certificate; occasionally, coding or other tech experience A high school diploma or GED certificate, a minimum GPA, SAT/ACT scores
Types of Classes Introduction to data science, introduction to programming, data visualization N/A Predictive modeling, mathematical statistics, applied data science methods, linear regression

Other Educational Paths

Besides an associate degree in data science, students may pursue other educational paths. Advanced credentials can offer more career opportunities and increased earning potential. Data scientists almost always need a bachelor's degree, and many employers even prefer or require a master's degree for these roles.

Explore other data science education paths:

Online Bachelor's in Data Science

Online Bachelor's in Data Science

Online Master's in Data Science

Online Master's in Data Science

Doctoral Degrees in Data Science

Doctoral Degrees in Data Science

Computer Science Degrees

Computer Science Degrees

Questions About Data Science Associate Degrees

Is it worth getting a data science associate degree?

Getting a data science associate degree is a good first step in your data science career. It can prepare you to transfer to a bachelor's program in data science or apply for entry-level tech jobs.

Can you get a data science job with an associate degree?

Most data science jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. However, some employers may hire someone with just an associate degree if they have relevant experience or commit to earning a bachelor's degree while employed.

What is the difference between data science and data analytics?

Data analytics is part of data science. Data science is a larger field of study that uses mathematical models and advanced techniques with data. Data analytics helps organizations make decisions through analysis of relevant data.

What are the advantages of earning an associate degree?

Earning an associate degree usually takes less time and money than completing a bachelor's degree. Associate degree students usually pay lower tuition than enrollees in four-year institutions, so learners planning to complete a bachelor's program can save on educational costs by completing associate degree coursework at a community college before transferring.

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