Yes, it’s about Facebook. Yes, it’s about Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently one of the ten wealthiest people in the world. And yes, it gets ugly at times. Underneath the drama, however, was a very simple but profound insight: Data can change the world.
A better way to put that insight might be: what we do with data can change the world . . . for better or worse! In the case of Facebook, it had some very humble beginnings involving writing an algorithm that used existing data to create an entirely new way of interacting with others in the digital age.
Maybe Facebook changed the world “for better,” maybe it didn’t, or maybe it’s a bit of both. Whatever your opinion happens to be, there’s no escaping the fact that what Mark Zuckerberg did with some calculus chops and some basic data has completely and irreversibly changed the way we interact with each other.
You can study this field in depth with a degree in big data. If you want the flexibility of an online course of study, take a look at our ranking of the Best Online Big Data Degrees.
But that’s just one example. Imagine how much other data is out there about any number of things, and imagine the possibilities of what can be done with it all . . . yes, both good and bad! We are in the infancy stages of even knowing how to collect and store all this data, much less how to interpret it and use it.
Enter the desperate need for technical expertise in this rapidly growing area that has left no industry untouched. Schools are quickly mobilizing to create highly specific programs tailored to the needs we have now for professionals who know how to wrangle terabytes of information, interpret it, and explain to the rest of us how it effects a company’s needs on the ground.
Many schools have responded to this need through Master of Science degrees in a variety of different areas–some in business analytics, some in data mining, and others still in analytics.
They often go by different names, and many have different emphases, but what they all have in common is a commitment to training professionals in big data who can help us all figure out what to do with all the information at our disposal.
What Are the Best Big Data Degrees?
So where are these programs? And where do you start? That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of the top 50 degrees in big data with your needs in mind. Some are online, some not, and some offer flexibility in this particular respect.
The first thing we want to know, like you, is the bottom line: how much is this going to set me back? So we’ve included the annual tuition for each school right up front for you. We’ve also included our College Choice Score, which is computed based on each school’s reputation in the field and its return on investment.
The end result is a list of schools that balance cost, reputation, and, ultimately, what they can do for you and your unique goals.
The rankings you’re about to read are based on a few important sources. The first source is actual college freshman polled during a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.
These students rated academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost of school, and the survey also took into account graduate success rates ono the post-college job market. These factors were weighed equally alongside data from other publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.
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Carnegie Mellon University
College Choice Score: 100.00
Average Tuition: $1,920
Carnegie Mellon has a long history of excellence in technology, engineering, and business education and research. It offers a Master of Science in Information Technology, which can be earned online with a specialization in Business Intelligence & Data Analytics. Working adults and traditional students alike can complete the program at their own pace through Carnegie’s cutting-edge content management tools.
Carnegie’s big data program emphasizes data analytics, management strategy, and information technology. Coursework in the program includes training in economics, business, finances and accounting, geographic systems, database management, statistics, digital privacy, data warehousing, exploring and visualizing data, and applied data mining. Carnegie’s reputation precedes it, and its MS program in Information Technology with a specialization in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics is no exception.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
College Choice Score: 99.40
Average Tuition: $1,230
Missouri University of Science and Technology is one of the most respected STEM-focused public universities in the Midwest. While it is known for its engineering programs, it also offers recognized business programs and online education. Missouri S&T offers an online graduate certificate in Business Analytics and Data Science, which can be applied toward a masters degree in the field for students who want to continue their education.
Areas of concentration in Missouri S&T’s program include business analytics and data science, big data and security, or big data management and analytics. Students will benefit from coursework in the areas of big data analytics, information visualization, business intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning, applied time series analysis, and regression analysis.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 99.39
Average Tuition: $1,293
One of the country’s leaders in STEM education, Johns Hopkins University offers students interested in big data two options: an MS in Data Science and a post-master’s certificate in Data Science. Both programs can be pursued completely or in part, which provides options for today’s working professional. Emphases of the program include applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science.
Through its programs, JHU trains students not just to manage data but to interpret and apply it. Its faculty sets a strong precedent for this, being among the leaders in this emerging field. On-site students can also benefit from JHU’s state-of-the-art facilities. Coursework in the program includes the areas of data visualization, computer programming, mathematics, probability, statistics, and simulation.
University of California Berkeley
College Choice Score: 97.87
Average Tuition: $877
Berkeley needs little introduction. It is the flagship institution of the UC system, and it has been one of the country’s leaders in research and innovation for decades. Berkeley is home to the School of Information, one of the first and only centers of its kind. The School of Information offers an online Master of Information and Data Science program through which students have access to the best resources in the field as well as those of the social sciences, computer science, statistics, management, and law.
While Berkeley’s program is offered both on campus and online, online students do have a brief residency requirement as part of the program. The program is designed to train students in the following areas: research design, cleansing, communication, storage and retrieval, statistical analysis, mining and exploring, ethics and privacy, and data visualization. Graduates of Berkeley’s program have obtained employment in a wide variety of industries.
College Choice Score: 97.83
Average Tuition: $1,185
Villanova is regularly recognized for excellence in any number of areas. It is a top-ranked regional university, and it has developed a reputation in graduate programs, business, and online education. Villanova offers a Master of Science in Analytics degree through the Villanova School of Business. The program’s location in the Business School makes it a program with a practical emphasis, which will be appealing to students who are either already in the workforce or anticipate pursuing a career in business.
Villanova’s program is 33 credit hours, and its coursework includes training in data models and structured analysis, multivariate data analysis, enterprise data management, analytic methods for optimization and simulation, business intelligence, advanced applications, and a practicum. The degree can be completed fully online, and its graduates are in high demand.
College Choice Score: 96.98
Average Tuition: $755
Fairfield University, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, is a well-respected regional school in New England. Its graduates enjoy a high starting salary average, making it a good return on investment. It has a growing number of online programs, including data analytics. Fairfield offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics, a 30-credit degree that is no exception to the rule—graduates of the program are in high demand, and starting salaries are comparatively high.
In the MS in Business analytics program, students will take courses in information systems, database management, data mining, business statistics and analytics, and forecasting and predictive analytics. Electives provide additional opportunities to pursue further interests. The program also offers a marketing analytics concentration, which includes coursework in marketing management and research, multivariate data analysis for decision making, experimental research in marketing, and contemporary topics in marketing.
University of Alabama in Huntsville
College Choice Score: 96.90
Average Tuition: $551
University of Alabama in Huntsville has a long tradition of offering technical education in response to demand. Indeed, when a need arose for engineering education for the military, the University of Alabama system opened its Huntsville campus to meet the need. UAH is a major center for technology and research in Alabama and one of the region’s leading schools. UAH offers a Master of Science in Management Science with a specialization in Business Analytics, which can be completed on campus or online.
UAH’s MSMS-BA provides training in advanced analytic tools and techniques to meet the needs of organizations. Students will receive training in detecting patterns and relationships in data, predicting trends, developing forecasts, and improving decision-making within a business environment. They will also learn skills such as data mining, predictive modeling, design of experiments, and statistical analysis. Examples of how these skills can be applied include the ability to better understand customer buying patterns, improve customer retention, assess the impact of marketing programs, manage new product launches, and reduce production, inventory, and shipping costs.
Pennsylvania State University
College Choice Score: 96.88
Average Tuition: $854
Penn State remains one of the world’s undisputed leaders in online education, having been one of the original institutions to establish online offerings nearly twenty years ago. Penn State’s programs in big data draw on the resources of four colleges and departments for the best, broadest, and most thorough education in big data mining, analysis, and communication possible. It offers three programs in analytics: a general Master in Data Analytics, a graduate certificate in business analytics, and a Master of Professional Studies in Business Analytics.
Penn State places an emphasis on data mining, modeling, and architecture as well as extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) development. Its program can be completed online or residentially, and it is one of the first to offer training from multiple departments and schools. Students can expect to receive training in the areas of applied statistics, predictive analysis, data-driven decision making, database design, regression methods, genetic algorithms, and more.
College Choice Score: 96.10
Average Tuition: $830
Boston University is no stranger to our rankings or those of others. It has world-renowned programs in business, law, and medicine, and it has a growing offering of online programs through its Metropolitan College Online, a high-quality distance education system that provides degree programs for working adults. Through this college, BU offers a Master of Science in Computer Information systems, which focuses on data mining, analysis, and visualization.
BU’s program is shorter than those of some schools, and it also seeks to strike a balance between theory and practice. In addition to its primary objectives of analytics, data analysis and visualization, web analytics and mining, and data mining, the program also offers training in applied probability and statistics, data visualization techniques, and web analytics and metrics. Graduates of the program enjoy an excellent placement record in a wide variety of careers in computer information systems.
Oregon State University
College Choice Score: 95.87
Average Tuition: $576
Oregon State University, a large public institution, has made great strides in recent years with its online offerings. For working professionals in data analytics, those looking to change careers, or students entering the field fresh, OSU offers two graduate options: a Master of Science or a Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics. The programs can be completed online through OSU’s College of Science and Department of Statistics.
Both programs are intended to train students in statistical and analytical skills, and students gain expertise in data analysis, interpretation, and visualization through exploring real-world data problems. The program places an emphasis on quantitative methods, and students can expect to be well prepared for any number of scenarios in statistics, computer science, mathematics, policy, and applied sciences.
Illinois Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 95.55
Average Tuition: $1,250
Illinois Tech is one of the foremost polytechnic institutes in the Midwest. It offers a Master of Data Science program that can be completed in sixteen months on a full-time basis or two years on a part-time basis. The program emphasizes the proper application of data research, and it prepares data professionals for responsible, ethical design-making through the study of mathematics, statistics, and computer science.
Students will become experts in analyzing data, visualizing results, and articulating discoveries. The program also encourages critical thinking, communication, and good decision-making skills, which are essential to successful job performance. Students will learn to approach data using the scientific method, question premises, think structurally, and find real-world solutions to big data problems.
West Virginia University
College Choice Score: 95.46
Average Tuition: $569
Located in Morgantown, West Virginia, West Virginia University has a long history of providing practical education to the residents of the state. It has recently expanded that mission to online offerings, including a Master of Science in Business Data Analytics through its College of Business and Economics. This degree can be completed in as little as 12 months and requires two brief residencies on campus.
Classwork for this program includes the areas of business intelligence, ethics and data collection, business statistical methods, data mining, simulation modeling, visualization, decision science, management, and a business analytics practicum. Outcomes of the program include facility in statistical techniques, data mining strategies, databases, and sustainable and effective analytic tools.
City University of New York
College Choice Score: 95.33
Average Tuition: $405
The School of Professional Studies at the City University of New York offers ten bachelor’s degrees, eight bachelor’s degrees, and numerous undergraduate and advanced certificates and professional non-degree programs. It is designed to provide online and on campus programs that meet the needs of adults who are looking for a seamless way to finish or transition into a bachelor’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, advance in the workplace, or change careers. The SPS offers an online Master of Science in Data Analytics.
Through CUNY’s program students will build portfolios of increasingly complex projects using popular programming languages such as R and Python, popular languages in IT. Students will also gain experience building predictive and prescriptive models, practice giving presentations, and interactively . The MS in Data Analytics program culminates with a capstone project that represents highly sophisticated, but practical, solutions to address real world problems.
University of Wisconsin
College Choice Score: 94.13
Average Tuition: $675
The University of Wisconsin can be found on rankings lists across the curriculum and in a wide variety of specialty areas. UW features a growing catalogue of online courses as well, and it remains one of the most well-respected public universities in the country in areas as diverse as linguistics, business, and the sciences. UW offers a Master of Science in Data Science. Students are trained in statistical and predictive models for business analytics as well as forecasting strategic methods of management in finances and operations.
UW students are also trained in business intelligence solutions, data warehousing and mining techniques. UW also offers a Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics, which requires fifteen credit hours. Electives in UW’s program include business forecasting methods, web mining and analytics, marketing analytics, database marketing, and business intelligence technologies and solutions.
College Choice Score: 94.10
Average Tuition: $730
Regis University, a private Catholic institution in Denver, Colorado, is regularly featured in rankings of regional universities and online programs. Its College of Computer and Information Sciences offers an online Master of Science in Data Science, a 36-credit graduate degree that brings together technical skills with the Jesuit commitment to social impact, challenging students to consider the implications of big data on business and society. It specializes in the areas of data analytics, data engineering, statistics, predictive analytics, or data visualization.
A unique feature of Regis’s program is that students are required to take courses in the ethics, privacy, and social justice in data science in addition to standard courses in the field. Students in Regis’s program will be prepared to assemble data, identify trends and patterns, implement data to effectively communicate, analyze data to identify new areas of revenue, appraise data for ethical issues, investigate how data science affects society, and more.
Georgia Southern University
College Choice Score: 93.85
Average Tuition: $410
Georgia Southern University, part of the University of Georgia system, has been garnering national attention in recent years for a number of initiatives, perhaps most significantly for achieving status as a national rather than regional institution. It has been acknowledged by many rankings as “best value” school. GSU offers a Master of Science in Computer Science degrees with optional specializations in Data Mining or Data Warehousing.
GSU’s program is a thirty-hour program, and it prepares students primarily for careers in the IT industry. The MSCS seeks to educate students in both theoretical and practical skills, for instance, both data mining and business application. Students can expect to be prepared in areas such as databases, artificial intelligence, Web systems, data mining, data warehousing, and distributed database systems. Areas of practical application include software engineering and wireless and mobile systems.
Texas A&M University
College Choice Score: 93.80
Average Tuition: $1,500
Texas A&M University, located in College Station, Texas, needs little introduction, particularly in a list of rankings in STEM fields. It is not only one of the largest universities in the country but also one of the leaders in higher education in the sciences and technology. The flagship school of the Texas A&M system, it has also expanded its online offerings in recent years. A&M offers a Master of Science in Analytics through its Department of Statistics.
Coursework for the MSA is offered through the Mays Business School and welcomes working professionals with strong quantitative skills, for example bachelor’s degree holders in the sciences, mathematics, business, and engineering. It is a thirty-six hour degree, making it one of the more demanding programs on our list, but students can expect to be prepared to serve in a number of careers, such as utilities, manufacturing, information, healthcare, natural resources, transportation, warehousing, finance and insurance, and many other sectors.
University of Arkansas
College Choice Score: 93.70
Average Tuition: $410
The University of Arkansas, located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is home to the Walton College of Business, an increasingly well-respected fixture on the national management education landscape. Arkansas has also increased its number of online offerings in recent years. Students interested in big data will be interested in two of U of A’s programs: a twelve-hour online graduate certification in Business Analytics, or a Professional Master of Information Systems degree.
Students who complete the graduate certificate can transfer to the MSIS program. Coursework for the program includes training in data management systems, decision support and analytics, and business intelligence and knowledge management, IT ERP fundamentals, e-business development, and/or systems development. An additional benefit of U of A’s program is its partnerships with companies such as IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and others, which offer students opportunities to acquire experience with problems real companies face.
College Choice Score: 93.68
Average Tuition: $895
Does the name “Quinnipiac” sound familiar? If so, you probably heard the school’s name during the 2016 U.S. Presidential race, during which Quinnipiac offered its expertise in data management through a number of well-publicized election polls. Located in Connecticut, Quinnipiac has come into the national spotlight in recent years by investing in online education. Quinnipiac offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics through its online campus, and it is designed with working professionals in mind.
Quinnipiac is dedicated to turning its graduates into assets, and to this end, it offers coursework in a wide range of areas, such as data visualization, mining, management and warehousing, statistical analysis, information technology project management, and predictive modeling. Its graduates are in high demand in the data professions, and they have been placed in careers with marketing agencies, in financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and more.
University of Oklahoma
College Choice Score: 93.45
Average Tuition: $791
The flagship school of the University of Oklahoma system, U of O has a long history of excellence as a large, public institution in areas as diverse as health care, business, and the arts. It is also known for being one of the first public institutions to incorporate digital technology into higher education. U of O offers a Master of Science degree in Data Science and Analytics, an intensive fourteen-month program offered through the School of Computer Science and the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering.
Oklahoma’s program integrates both computer science and industrial and systems engineering. Coursework in the program includes data analysis, data analytics, and systems engineering. Oklahoma’s program is designed to be flexible—it offers both online and on-campus options as well as full- and part-time enrollment, and students can opt for one of two completion tracks: coursework only or research-thesis.
College Choice Score: 93.30
Average Tuition: $850
Auburn University has a storied history both in the South and, more recently, as a national-level research university that has attracted attention for its design, engineering, and business programs. Auburn offers a Master of Science in Information Systems through its Harbert College of Business. It is a thirty-credit degree that places a heavy emphasis on information technology.
Graduates of Auburn’s program can expect to be prepared in the areas of business intelligence and analytics, database analysis, administration, systems architecture, information security, and software engineering. Students will also explore big data issues through courses such as predictive modeling, data communication, quantitative methods, and advanced database administration and development. Students can complete the degree fully online if they wish.
College Choice Score: 93.10
Average Tuition: $1,561
Northwestern University, located in north Chicago, Illinois, needs little introduction. It is a pacesetter not only in national research universities but internationally as well. It leads the pack in any number of disciplines, from business and law to the arts and sciences. Northwestern offers a Master of Science in Predictive Analytics, one of the very first online big data degree programs in the country.
One of the features that sets Northwestern’s program apart from others is the areas of application they prepare students for, such as sports management and performance analytics, web and network data science, advanced modeling techniques, marketing and risk analytics, and data visualization. Students can expect to be prepared for database administration, predictive modeling and quantitative analysis, communication of analytics, and leadership skills. Students can pursue their degree on either a part-time or full-time basis.
University of Nebraska
College Choice Score: 93.05
Average Tuition: $600
University of Nebraska Lincoln is the flagship school of the University of Nebraska system and one of the leading public universities not only in the Midwest but in the country also. Its online offerings are robust, and students interested in big data will be interested in Nebraska’s Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Business Analytics. It will appeal particularly to students who have an interest in applying data solutions to business challenges.
Nebraska also offers a twelve-credit graduate certificate in business analytics, which can be completed in a year or less. Both programs offer training in information technology and statistics, as well as business analytics, econometrics, strategic database marketing, and data mining applications. Whether you are looking for a brief, specialized program in analytics or a more comprehensive program, Nebraska will appeal to a wide variety of students.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 93.05
Average Tuition: $1,151
Arizona State is another national-level leader in both on-campus degree programs and online education. It has quickly established itself as one of the standards in online higher education. Its Carey School of Business, one of the largest in the country, in particular has been a pacesetter in distance education for business students. ASU offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics, a sixteen-month program that can be completed on a part-time basis.
Each course in ASU’s program lasts five weeks, and students take classes one at a time. The program requires ten courses total, but students can work at their own pace according to their goals and capabilities. Coursework in the program includes training in enterprise analytics, applied analytics, data mining I and II, data-driven quality management, analytical decision-making tools I and II, business analytics strategy, marketing analytics, and an applied project.
College Choice Score: 92.68
Average Tuition: $745
DePaul University, located in Chicago, Illinois, is a Catholic university with a mandate to provide education access to lower-income and minority students. It has been recognized as the most diverse university in the country by the Princeton Review. DePaul offers a Master of Science in Predictive Analytics through its College of Computing and Digital Media. The MSPA is also affiliated with DePaul’s Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Center.
DePaul also offers a Graduate Analytics Certificate, a five-course program that is less involved compared to the MS degree. Students in both programs can expect exposure to a wide array of subjects relevant to big data, such as programming, tools and techniques for computational analysis, and statistics and data analysis. Additional subjects include mining big data, social network analysis, programming machine learning applications, intelligent information retrieval, and web data mining.
Central Connecticut State University
College Choice Score: 92.38
Average Tuition: $534
Central Connecticut State, an affordable school located in New Britain, Connecticut, has set itself up for success by expanding its online offerings in recent years. It puts excellent higher education in reach for a larger public. CCSU offers a Master of Science in Data Mining, a degree directly relevant to students interested in careers in big data. Coursework can be completed online, but students should be prepared to travel to campus at the completion of their degree to present a final thesis project.
CCSU’s program offers students cutting-edge training with the latest in data modeling technology, and students take courses they might not have the opportunity to take at other institutions, such as multivariate analysis, clustering and affinity analysis, predictive analytics, genomics and proteomics, and text mining. There is also room for particular areas of specialization—the program offers concentrations in experimental design, artificial intelligence, nonparametric statistics, and applied stochastic processes.
Oklahoma State University
College Choice Score: 92.23
Average Tuition: $825
Oklahoma State University has been investing heavily in online education in recent years and has managed to offer some of the most affordable distance education programs on the market. OSU offers a Master of Business Analytics, a 33-credit program designed for working professionals, through its Spears School of Business and Watson Graduate School of Management. Students can opt to specialize in Business Data Mining or in Marketing Analytics.
In addition to the Master of Business Analytics, students can also earn certificates in a Data Mining, Predictive Analytics, and Marketing Data Science. Whatever course students happen to opt for, students will take a diverse range of courses, including programming languages (such as Python), analytics, marketing, business, statistics, and MIS and industrial engineering. OSU’s programs are some of the most diverse and affordable on our list.
Thomas Edison State University
College Choice Score: 92.07
Average Tuition: $617
Thomas Edison State University, a public university with a mandate to address the needs of working adults and nontraditional students, seeks to help adult learners, working professionals, and military personnel achieve their goals of obtaining high-quality post-secondary education. TESU offers a Master of Science in Information Technology, which is available online and can be completed in two years.
TESU is known for its capability in technological education, and its MSIT program is geared toward IT. Graduates of the MSIT program will acquire facility in technical skills of the principles and theories of information technology, analyze the societal implications of the technical, ethical and regulatory issues of information technology, compare and contrast major IT components, and apply their knowledge to marketing, product, project and personnel management for an IT business. Students will also gain proficiency in computer networks, data communications, and distributed database management systems.
College Choice Score: 92.00
Average Tuition: $1,300
Indiana University in Bloomington, the flagship school of the Indiana University system, is a nationwide-leader in public education in a wide variety of fields, including business and STEM fields. It also features a highly active research community. IU offers a Master of Science in Data Science through its School of Informatics and Computing, a thirty-credit program that prepares students in data collection, analysis, and use. Students can choose either the Technical Path or the Decision-Maker Path, depending on whether their primary interest is in computing and statistics or in management and leadership.
In addition to the MSDS degree, IU also offers a twelve-credit graduate certification in Data Science. Coursework in the MSDS program includes business analytics, Python, real world data science, data semantics, systems and protocol security, applied machine learning, and the management, access, and use of big and complex data. IU offers a number of opportunities outside the coursework component of the degree through such programs as the BEST Aspiring Entrepreneur Program, ICE (Informatics and Computing Entrepreneurs) group, the Velocity Conference for graduate students, and VisionTech Entrepreneur Advisory Sessions.
California State University Fullerton
College Choice Score: 91.79
Average Tuition: $712
Cal State Fullerton, part of the California State University system, is regularly featured in national, regional, and state rankings. Located in Orange County, CSF has begun to increase its online offerings significantly in recent years. For the purposes of this list, CSF offers not one but two options: the Master of Science in Information Science and the Master of Science in Statistics. It also offers an accelerated online graduate certification in Data Science, a short, five-course program that will allow working adults to get the qualifications they need in the big data field quickly.
Students in the Master of Science programs typically take two courses per term, and courses are often interactive. Coursework in the MS degrees includes areas such as business intelligence, regression analysis, forecasting, statistics, project management, database design and processing, and data mining. Students will develop expertise in identifying, designing, and managing data storage and sets, recognizing strategies for analysis, methodology, and decision making.
Southern Methodist University
College Choice Score: 91.75
Average Tuition: $1,350
Southern Methodist University, located in Dallas, Texas, is one of the larger and wealthier private research institutions in the country, and it boasts a well-rounded offering of undergraduate and graduate programs in both the arts and sciences. It has also invested heavily in its online offerings. SMU offers a Master of Science in Data Science, an interdisciplinary program offered collaboratively by the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Lyle School of Engineering, and the Meadows School of the Arts.
SMU’s approach to education in data is project-based, which reflects how students might encounter problems in real-world scenarios. Its curriculum is intentionally interdisciplinary, and it offers an ideal balance between the flexibility of online education and a traditional graduate school experience. Recent graduates have been placed in education, government, large corporations, nonprofit, healthcare, and more.
University of Maryland University College
College Choice Score: 91.75
Average Tuition: $1,481
The University of Maryland University College occupies a unique and needful niche in higher education: it was founded specifically to meet the educational needs of working adults and non-traditional students. UMUC has therefore placed a heavy emphasis on online and distance education, which appeals to military personnel, working professionals, and others. UMUC offers two options for students interested in big data: a Master of Science or graduate certification in Data Analytics.
Students have a choice whether to pursue their degree online, on campus, or a combination of both. Coursework in the program includes areas such as decision management systems, data management and visualization, data mining, predictive modeling, and big data analytics, while electives delve more into methodology, data validation, and analytics initiatives. UMUC encourages students to combine technical expertise and business acumen from the outset of the program.
Iowa State University
College Choice Score: 91.28
Average Tuition: $1,204
Iowa State is a well-known public institution that has made its mark in affordable and accessible education for as many students as possible. It is one of the leading research universities in Iowa, and it is particularly well-known for its engineering and business programs. ISU offers a Master of Business Analytics, which reflects a combination of their areas of strength and utilizes faculty from computer science, electrical and computer engineering, statistics, and industrial and manufacturing systems engineering departments.
Students can complete their degree online, but brief residencies are required. Students can expect to encounter a wide variety of subjects in their coursework, including data analytics, project management, statistical and predictive modeling, consumer sentiment analysis, knowledge discovery, analytical reporting, segmentation analysis, and data visualization. Students are also required to finish their program with a capstone project.
Saint Mary's College
College Choice Score: 91.18
Average Tuition: $804
Saint Mary’s College, located in Notre Dame, Indiana, is a Catholic liberal arts college with a stellar reputation owing no small part to its extraordinarily high retention and graduation rate, generous financial aid, and strong placement records. Saint Mary’s offers a Master of Science in Data Science degree designed for students with strong mathematical backgrounds and interests. The program is designed to be completed primarily online.
Saint Mary’s program emphasizes the mathematical and computational aspects of data science, and it encourages expertise in the tools necessary to work with today’s big data problems. Students will learn a variety of programming languages, for instance, as well as the analytical skills necessary to apply them. One student in the program had this to say about his experience: “I’m able to dig beyond what a simple analyst can do, and not only tell them what happened, but why it happened, and why we came up with the answers we did.”
College Choice Score: 90.58
Average Tuition: $545
Another school with a mandate to provide education for non-traditional and working adult students, Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska, has likewise invested heavily in its online offerings. Its efforts have paid off—it is now recognized as one of the highest quality online educators in the nation. Bellevue offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics that is designed to prepare students for careers in managing the big data problems of today’s large corporations.
Bellevue’s degree is designed to be flexible, affordable, expedient, supportive, and real-world focused. It is also designed to cover as many disciplines as possible, from business to IT. Coursework in the program includes business administration fundamentals, project management, computer information systems, management systems, accounting, marketing, data mining, and enterprise data. Bellevue students enjoy an excellent placement record in a wide variety of industries.
Nova Southeastern University
College Choice Score: 90.39
Average Tuition: $933
Nova Southeastern University, located in Davie, Florida, occupies another unique niche in higher education—it was founded as a graduate school from the beginning rather than primarily an undergraduate institution. It emphasizes education in the social science and sciences, and is also well-known for education in technology and distance education. It is one of the most diverse campuses in the United States. Nova offers a Master of Science in Information Technology, a 36-credit graduate degree focused on the systems and software of big data.
Nova also offers a Graduate Certificate in Business Intelligence and Analytics. Both programs are offered through the College of Engineering and Computing, and they offer training in business intelligence, data mining, and organizational decision making. Coursework in the program includes decision support systems or business modeling, database management and applications, data warehousing, data mining, and a capstone project in business intelligence. Graduates of the program work in business intelligence analytics or architecture, data warehousing, and information technology business analysis.
College Choice Score: 90.05
Average Tuition: $750
Elmhurst College is a small liberal arts college in Elmhurst, Illinois, that regularly appears in rankings of best regional schools. It is located just outside Chicago and offers a Master of Science in Data Science that can be completed in as quickly as two years, even at a part-time pace. Elmhurst’s degree can be completed online or on campus. It also offers a Graduate Certificate in Data Science.
Elmhurst’s program emphasizes both the theory behind big data management as well as the applied skills involved in real-world scenarios, such as analytical modeling and decision making based on data sets, as well as the software skills involved in these applications. Coursework for the program includes quantitative methods, data warehousing, data mining and business intelligence, data mining project, programming languages and environments, analytical methods, advanced data mining, and research methods in data science.
Saint Louis University
College Choice Score: 89.53
Average Tuition: $1,105
Saint Louis University is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River and regularly receives attention as one of the top national research institutions in the United States. It offers programs up to the doctoral level and also a number of online programs. SLU offers a Master of Science in Applied Analytics through its School of Professional Studies, which is designed specifically for working professionals. The program is structured in accelerated eight-week courses for both full-time and part-time students alike.
The program prepares students in the areas of data science, information technology, business analytics, programming and problem solving, applied research methodology, data mining technique, information retrieval and visualization, project management, and leadership development. The program requires thirty-six credit hours to complete, and students are required to complete a capstone project in analytics to finish the program.
Saint Joseph's University
College Choice Score: 89.09
Average Tuition: $1,003
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University is a private, Catholic university that has invested heavily in its online programs in recent years. Through its Haub School of Business, it offers a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics. One of the unique features of Saint Joseph’s program is that it includes an SAS certification, which will provide graduates a leg up on the competition in the job market.
The degree is available fully online for those who are looking primarily for a distance program. Coursework for Saint Joseph’s program includes subjects such as data warehousing, DSS modeling, enterprise data, business intelligence, critical performance management, and business process modeling. Graduates of Saint Joseph’s program have secured employment in IT, healthcare, and education.
College Choice Score: 89.07
Average Tuition: $1,406
Brandeis, a relatively younger university located in Waltham, Massachusetts, has wasted no time establishing a world-class reputation in New England and beyond. Indeed, it is regularly featured in rankings of the top universities of any sort in the country. Brandeis offers a Master of Science in Strategic Analysis, a degree that prepares professionals specifically for decision-making positions in big data. The degree is available fully online.
Skills that graduates of the program at Brandeis can expect to acquire include identifying, interpreting, and communicating patterns in large data sets and then creating actionable and prioritized items for whatever organization they happen to be working for. Coursework in the program includes business intelligence, marketing analytics, data governance, and visualization. Graduates of the Brandeis program have secured employment in a wide range of fields, including but not limited to project consultants, compliance managers, data architects or scientists, marketing consultants, and senior IT managers.
Colorado Technical University
College Choice Score: 89.03
Average Tuition: $585
While a for-profit university, Colorado Technical University has nevertheless worked its way into national recognition by outlets such as, U.S. News & World Report, NSA, and Homeland Security. CTU has established a reputation for its online degree programs, which are both diverse and growing. CTU offers the only Doctor of Computer Science on our list with a specialization in Big Data Analytics. It is a 96-credit hour program designed for students who are not just interested in big data but want to pursue careers as leaders in the field.
Courses in CTU’s program include database systems, business intelligence, analytics for big data, principles of research methods, qualitative and quantitative research methods. Doctoral students are expected to complete a dissertation, and the degree is typically completed in three years. Graduates of CTU’s program will be equipped to pursue careers in senior level leadership, consulting, higher education, and in the technological sectors of the business, government, nonprofit, and education industries.
College Choice Score: 89.00
Average Tuition: $770
Lewis University is a small, private Catholic liberal arts university that regularly receives attention as a leading school in the Midwest region. Lewis has increased their online offerings to great effect in recent years. Lewis offers a Master of Science in Data Science, which prepares students for all of the technical and analytical demands of big data. It is a thirty-six credit hour degree that offers two specializations: computer science and computational biology and bioinformatics.
Coursework in Lewis’s program includes data mining, visualization, predictive analysis, and data management. Students who opt for the computational biology specialization will take courses in data systems in the life sciences, mathematics for data scientists, and the healthcare industry. Faculty and students work closely together in Lewis’s program, and students can expect to receive training in large-scale data storage systems, encryption and authentication systems, statistical programming, and languages such as Python and Java as well.
Slippery Rock University
College Choice Score: 88.35
Average Tuition: $531
Slippery Rock, part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, has grown out of its humble beginnings as a teacher’s college and now offers undergraduate and graduate programs in technology, business, education, and more in addition to a variety of online programs. Slippery Rock offers a Master of Science in Data Analytics through its Mathematics Department, a thirty-three credit program that can be completed in as little as ten months or in two years on a part-time basis.
One of the benefits of Slippery Rock’s program that is shares with only one or two others on our list is that students will graduate not only with their degree but also with a joint certificate in statistical applications and data analytics from SRU and the SAS (Statistical Analysis System) Institute for advanced analytics. Coursework in SLU’s program includes training in statistics, data mining, regression methods, big data analysis, and forecasting.
College Choice Score: 87.81
Average Tuition: $538
Capella is another for-profit university that has managed to garner the respect of the higher education world through its consistent quality and regional accreditation. Capella is unique as the first university to receive U.S. Department of Education approval for an innovative competency-based curriculum model, in which students demonstrate accomplishment in skills areas rather than working through a traditional credit-hour system. Students interested in big data will find a home in two different programs: Capella’s MBA program, which offers a specialization in Business Intelligence, which also offers opportunities for students to earn additional graduate certifications, and their Master of Science in Analytics.
Capella’s MSA program prepares data analytics professionals to work with, understand, and transform data. Students will also learn to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and communicate their results to whatever organization they happen to work for. Students are introduced to tools such as SAS, R, Python, and Tableau. They will also develop expertise in data mining, statistics, applied analytics, modeling, forecasting, visualization, and they will strengthen their collaboration, communication, presentation, and negotiation skills.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
College Choice Score: 86.94
Average Tuition: $792
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, part of the University of Tennessee system, has a long history of offering a wide variety of practical education opportunities at an affordable rate for a diverse student body. That has continued to be true as it has expanded into the online education market. Well known for its business curriculum, UTC offers an MBA degree with a concentration in Business Analytics, which prepares students not just for the technical know-how necessary for data professionals but also the professional business training necessary to thrive in management.
Students who concentrate in UTC’s MBA Business Analytics focus will receive training in data storage, reporting, and analysis. For full-time students, the program can be completed in as few as 16-24 months, while part-time students can expect to take longer. Coursework for UTC’s program includes database and data warehouses, prescriptive analytics, data mining and data analytics, and advanced data analysis.
University of North Carolina Greensboro
College Choice Score: 86.50
Average Tuition: $1,310
A mid-sized, regional, public research university, the University of North Carolina Greensboro has been hard at work appealing to students in need of advanced education in business and technology, particularly non-traditional students and part-time learners. UNCG offers a Master of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Business Analytics as well as an online post-bachelor’s certificate in Business Analytics that has been developed in partnership with SAS.
Coursework for UNC Greensboro’s program includes data management, systems analysis and design, information systems management, project management, models and methods in business analytics, and more. The program is designed to provide the most up-to-date information, knowledge, and skills possible in the field, and students will be prepared to both work with large amounts of data and also apply that knowledge to the needs of organizations.
City University of Seattle
College Choice Score: 84.96
Average Tuition: $678
The City University of Seattle is a small, private university in Seattle, Washington, that has garnered quite a bit of attention in recent years for its online education efforts from outlets such as U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. CUS offers a Master of Science in Computer Science degree with a concentration in Data Management/Big Data. The degree requires 45 credit hours to complete.
CUS’s program is designed to offer both technical education and business knowledge, that is, both theory and practice. The program is flexible but also rigorous to meet the demands of the highly competitive job market. Coursework in the program includes computer architecture, software engineering, software testing, information security, and technical project management. Students can also specialize in programming, technology management, development management, cloud development, data management/big data, and more.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 84.77
Average Tuition: $627
Southern New Hampshire University, a private research university and standard-bearer of online education, is regularly recognized for its innovation in the field of distance learning. Its business programs in particular receive regular attention for excellence, and it also offers a Master of Science in Data Analytics, a program designed as a Professional Science Master’s for employment in scientific and technology-oriented industries.
SNHU’s program is recognized by the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) national office as a Professional Science Master’s program, which is any degree designed to allow students to pursue advanced training in science or mathematics while developing workplace skills valued by employers. Coursework in SNHU’s program includes foundations of data and decision methods and modeling, presentation and visualization of data, optimization and risk assessment, and predictive analytics. Students are required to complete a capstone project in analytics.
College Choice Score: 83.86
Average Tuition: $1,579
Located in Washington, DC, American University is known for its political activity, public service, and commitment to traditional American values. It is recognized for national-level excellence, particularly in the business and management fields, by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the Princeton Review, and more. American University offers a Master of Science in Analytics, which can be completed between one and two years.
American University places equal emphasis on the theoretical and practical dimensions of big data. Students will be able, for instance, to both identify data-based issues and communicate them—and their solutions—effectively and clearly. The program also provides students with numerous opportunities for hands-on experience through local organizations, career services, networking, and more. Students at American University’s MSA have the option of specializing in seven different areas: accounting forensics, biostatistics, business fundamentals, computational statistics, IT consulting, marketing, and quantitative financial analysis.
Dakota State University
College Choice Score: 83.09
Average Tuition: $442
Dakota State University has established its reputation as a leader in research and education in the areas of technology and STEM fields. It has also invested heavily in various types of online, distance, hybrid, and on-ground education models to great success. DSU offers a Master of Science in Analytics, which offers the opportunity to specialize in either Healthcare Analytics or Information Systems. The program prides itself on being both flexible and affordable.
Possible career outcomes for DSU students include data analyst, scientist, architect, governance specialist, visualization specialist, predictive modeler, business intelligence developer, marketing analyst, financial analyst, and computational scientist. There will be few things DSU students aren’t prepared to face. One of the most unique aspects of DSU’s program is its optional emphasis on healthcare, which offers courses in healthcare information, healthcare informatics and systems technology, data analytics in healthcare, and health information lifecycle governance.