Best Online Big Data Programs

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We live in the information age. There’s no denying it. The dramatic rise and constant creation of new data has resulted in an ocean of information.

Whether you work in finance, healthcare, information security, or engineering, every industry is currently confronting this inundation of data growth, and that growth has ignited a vital call for the identification, interpretation, and explanation of data patterns and trends.

Currently, the top five jobs in technology are positions that rely heavily on data mining and analytics, according to U.S. News & World Report. If you want to see the data on the best degrees available online, have a look at our ranking of the Top Online Colleges and Universities.

Top 10 Best Online Big Data Programs

Rank School Location
1 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
2 Virginia Tech Roanoke, VA
3 Boston University Boston, MA
4 Pennsylvania State University World Campus University Park, PA
5 Villanova University Villanova, PA
6 University of California–Berkeley Berkeley, CA
7 California State University–Fullerton Fullerton, CA
8 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
9 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
10 University of Massachusetts–Amherst Amherst, MA
Advertisement CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Accredited Online College Programs

From computer systems analysts to information scientists, the need for people to collate, investigate, and interpret big data is on a dramatic rise in the U.S. A recent study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute projects a 21 percent rise in data analysis jobs in the next eight years alone.

This means the need for people with analytical and data mining education is in high demand. Indeed, demand is high and the return is even higher; data analysts of all stripes and skills make, on average, between $81,000 and $131,000 annually.

Online programs in big data are an affordable, accessible, and flexible way to earn an advanced degree, especially if you find yourself in a situation that makes going back to school either logistically or financially problematic.

Despite the stigma online programs once held, they have mostly shed those stereotypes and have increasingly solid reputations, in large part because online programs are developed and taught by the same faculty who teach the traditional, on-campus courses. And in most cases, the diploma looks exactly the same as those garnered by “traditional students,” yet it was obtained at half the price.

What are the Best Big Data Programs in the Country?

Below are the fifty best online big data programs in the country. While some programs are MS in Data Science degrees and others are MS in Business analytics programs, they all share one thing in common despite the difference of name and emphasis: they are the best at teaching big data.

Here at College Choice we’ve collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of graduates from online big data programs across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation’s fifty best.

We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction—added those with the most economical accessibility, and finally we included the averages of early career salaries (care of PayScale) to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation.

Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Carnegie Mellon University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The top-ranked Information Technology and Management program in the country (by U.S. News & World Report, Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) degree offers a specialization in business intelligence and data analytics. This fully online program can be earned from anywhere in the world, requires no campus visits, and is delivered through an asynchronous model, meaning you can complete all of the coursework at your pace. Through multimedia video lectures and a state-of-the-art learning management system, you can engage in a curriculum that combines data analytics, management strategy, and information technology.

    As a Carnegie Mellon online MSIT student, you will take classes covering analysis in several spheres, including economics, business, finances and accounting, geographic systems, and more. Additionally, core courses will cover database management, statistics, privacy in the digital age, data warehousing, exploring and visualizing data, and applied data mining. Carnegie Mellon tops our list for a number of reasons: its excellent program ranking, its higher-than-average retention rate of 96 percent, and its early income averages of over $100,000 annually for graduates. Finally, CMU offers one of the more competitive tuition packages, making this a great return on investment and an overall solid academic choice.

    Carnegie Mellon is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  2. Virginia Tech
    Location

    Roanoke, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A leader in information technology and, specifically, in big data, Virginia Tech’s Master in Information Technology program is consistently ranked the second best in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Moreover, Virginia Tech is home to the Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics, the Discovery Analytics Center, and the Social and Decision Analytics Laboratory, where significant research gains are made in intelligence analysis and its related fields of sustainability, neuroscience, business data, social and behavioral science, and more.

    Virginia Tech has several avenues of graduate study in analytics, including three masters degrees and one graduate certificate in addition to their fully online Master in Information Technology program. Whether you’re interested in the business or technology end of the spectrum, Virginia Tech provides a multi-disciplinary foundation in descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. The number of degree opportunities (there’s a PhD certificate program too) plus the substantive and influential research activities make Virginia Tech one of the best schools in the nation for analytics.

    Virginia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  3. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Requiring only sixteen credits and a completion time of eight to twelve months, the graduate certificate in data analytics at Boston University is at once economical, affordable, and well recognized. For working professionals who are eager to advance their business or tech careers, or even transition to a new field of data analytics, this program blends theory and methodology, training its students on how to first collate and analyze data then how to generate compelling visual representation of that data.

    Through the four courses—foundations of analytics, data analysis and visualization, web analytics and mining, and data mining—students learn applied probability and statistics, how to explore data visualization techniques, how to navigate hidden patterns in structured and unstructured text, and they gain a broad understanding of web analytics and metrics. The certificate is already competitively priced (the whole program has an estimated cost of under $11,000), but Boston seeks to ensure affordability for its students, offering graduate loans, assistantships, scholarships, and payment plans. This program is offered completely online, and graduates have gone on to become computer and information systems managers, computer systems analysts, database administrators, and computer and information research scientists.

    Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

  4. Pennsylvania State University World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Ranked fourth among universities proffering online information technology masters degrees, Penn State World Campus offers three graduate analytics programs: a general Master in Data Analytics, a graduate certificate in business analytics, and a Master of Professional Studies in Business Analytics. Each prepare students to have working knowledge of the design and maintenance of big data and analytical systems. With an emphasis on data mining, modeling, and architecture as well as extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) development, the Penn State World Campus curriculum can be completed fully online. Despite the distance, Penn stands out for its cross-departmental model, as this program is specifically delivered through a partnership between four Penn State colleges.

    Coursework covers applied statistics, predictive analysis, data-driven decision making, database design, regression methods, genetic algorithms, and more. Faculty—who are recognized leaders in their respective fields of business, technology, and systems management—work closely with students to teach the collection, classification, analysis, and modeling of data across domains. Students thus graduate from Penn State World Campus fully knowledgeable of and trained in statistics, computer science, machine learning, and software engineering.

    Pennsylvania State University World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  5. Villanova University
    Location

    Villanova, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The online Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) at Villanova University is all about the analysis of complex, real-world business problems. So, whether you want to advance your career, change paths, or become a leader in analytics, this program will help you develop in-demand skills that can be applied to almost any and every industry. Offered through Villanova’s AACSB-accredited business school, students gain access to a breadth of networking opportunities while working closely with Villanova faculty and peers.

    The thirty-three credit hour curriculum covers data models and structured analysis, multivariate data analysis, enterprise data management, analytic methods for optimization and simulation, business intelligence, advanced applications, and a practicum. Though the degree is fully online, it is expected that you will take one to two classes per term over the course of five semesters, finishing around twenty months. Forbes recently ranked Villanova in the top 100 of “America’s Top Colleges,” and U.S. News & World Report specifically ranked the Villanova School of Business School as 6th in the nation for its online graduate business programs.

    Villanova University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  6. University of California–Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) degree program at renowned UC Berkeley is offered both on campus and fully online, though the latter option requires students to attend at least one three-to-four day immersion experience on campus. The MIDS curriculum comprises a number of disciplines and departments—the social sciences, computer science, statistics, management, law—and develops eight key skills in its students: research design, cleansing, communication, storage and retrieval, statistical analysis, mining and exploring, ethics and privacy, and data visualization.

    A top-ranked program, Berkeley’s MIDS wholly prepares its students to advance their careers or transition to new work in data science. In fact, in a recent survey 45 percent of graduates reported receiving a promotion and 76 percent reported receiving a raise. These graduates have also gone on to work with top tech companies (e.g., AirBnB, Fitbit, Linkedin, etc.) as well as in the finance, healthcare, and computer science industries, solving complex social, economic, and health problems. Full-time online MIDS students are able to finish the degree in twenty months, while students on the accelerated path finish in as little as year. UC Berkeley also offers an online part-time track, which takes thirty-two months to complete.

    The University of California Berkeley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

  7. California State University–Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Through the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University, you can earn a Master of Science in Information Technology entirely online. This program—ranked first in the state and sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report—takes twenty months to complete and is delivered through a synchronous, year-round model, in which students take two courses per term along with the rest of their cohort. In fact, CSU’s program is notably relational (rather than independent), as students participate in online lectures, discussions, chats, and course readings.

    This MSIT degree allows students to choose from two concentrations, one of which is data science. In addition to the core curriculum, this specialization includes classes on business intelligence, regression analysis, forecasting, statistics, project management, database design and processing, data mining, and more. Through this blend of business and tech classes, students learn to identify, design, and manage data storage and sets, while also recognizing strategies for analysis, decision-making, and effective methodology. If you’re looking for a program that emphasizes relationships as well as leadership building, this MSIT with a concentration in Data Science may be the perfect fit for you.

    California State University–Fullerton is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

  8. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Johns Hopkins University, a leader in information technology, offers a MS in Data Science degree (as well as a Post Master’s Certificate in Data Science) that can be pursued online or as a hybrid degree, in which the student takes classes online and on-site. This program concentrates on applied mathematics, statistics, and the fundamentals of computer science in order to introduce students to complex data sets and how to discover patterns and relationships among those sets.

    The faculty at JHU is comprised of leading and practicing data scientists (and engineers) who work closely with students to create models that solve real-world problems. And for those students who choose to take classes on campus in addition to online, they have access to the state-of-the-art facilities at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Either way, both online and on-site students take a range of courses, the cores covering data visualization, Java programming, Python, and mathematics, and electives that cover the stochastic process, game theory, simulation, and probability, among others.

    Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  9. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The MS in Computer Science degree at the University of Southern California includes the option to specialize in data science. Offered through the Viterbi School of Engineering, this online MS program trains students on the algorithmic, statistical, and systematic elements involved in acquiring, storing, accessing, analyzing, and visualizing data. Students take classes on artificial intelligence, information integration on the web, geospatial information management, machine learning, and information retrieval and web search engines.

    This degree requires completing thirty-two units, and graduates from the University of Southern California have found work in an array of industries, applying their gained knowledge of heterogeneous and real-time data knowledge to energy research, environment and health promotion, media interpretation, medicine advancement, tech research, and transportation engineering, and more. Though most of the courses for this MS in Computer Science degree can be taken online, some on-campus (in Los Angeles) coursework is required.

    The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

  10. University of Massachusetts–Amherst
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Massachusetts–Amherst offers a Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics that prepares students to process and visualize data as a way to solve real-world business problems. This fifteen-credit degree is for new graduates or working professionals who seek leadership positions in today’s business world. Proffered through the renowned Isenberg School of Management, this certification is comprised of core courses on data management and business leadership, business data analysis and statistical methods, and business intelligence and analytics. Electives cover a range of topics, from e-commerce and social media management to SEO, lean process improvement, and sport analytics.

    Graduates from UMass Amherst have found rewarding careers in all sectors of the business world, making on average, over $62,000 annually in the first few years of their career. Though this degree certification in business analytics is offered completely online, having access to campus will be a huge benefit to your studies, as campus is home to a number of research centers, including its Center for Data Science, its Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and its Computational Social Science Institute.

    The University of Massachusetts–Amherst is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

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