Most Affordable Big Data Degrees

A ranking of the best big data degrees. Ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality. 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.

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Remember the movie The Social Network?

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.

What kind of Big Data degree should you get?

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.

How much money can you make with a Big Data degree?

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.

But not only is the need for big data analyst in demand, and exponentially so, the field is incredibly lucrative. PayScale, for example, places the average salary for Data Scientists above $96,000 a year. But for Directors of Analytics that number leaps way above $134,000 annually.

What can you do with a Big Data degree?

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.

So how will a degree in big data help you? One of these degrees will not only set you up for a lucrative, stable career. It will provide you access to one of the newest, most exciting industries. For example, graduates from this program have gone on to become:

  • Statisticians
  • Business Intelligence Consultants
  • Data Analysts
  • Data Miners and Data Engineers

What are the requirements for a Big Data degree?

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. These programs ensure you graduate an expert in big data. They do that through rigorous curriculums as well as hands-on experience. Indeed, these programs require practicums and internships

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 on 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

The Social Network was a big hit. Could a Social Network 2 be in the works . . . and could it be about you?


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh, PA



    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.


    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. Carnegie’s big data program emphasizes:

    • Data analytics
    • Management strategy
    • and Information technology


    CMU’s academic community is comprised of Nobel Prize laureates, Turing Award winners, and American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows, and much more. As a whole, the University is ranked among the top 25 best schools in the nation. And its information technology department is often considered the best.

  2. Missouri University of Science and Technology

    Rolla, MO



    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.


    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. 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


    Missouri S&T University has several rankings and awards to its name. It is home to some of the “World’s Coolest Labs.” It is nationally and globally ranked. And its engineering degrees are among the top 10 nationally, according to USA Today.

  3. Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, MD



    Johns Hopkins University is located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is considered the site of vibrant active research according to the Carnegie Foundation. JHU is strong in many areas, but is most known for its STEM and health programs.


    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.

  4. University of California-Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA



    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. The program is designed to train students in the following areas:

    • Research design
    • Cleansing
    • Storage and retrieval
    • Mining and exploring, and much more


    While Berkeley’s program is offered both on campus and online, online students do have a brief residency requirement as part of the program. Graduates of Berkeley’s program have obtained employment in a wide variety of industries.

  5. Villanova University

    Villanova, PA



    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.


    The degree can be completed fully online, and its graduates are in high demand. Villanova’s program is 33 credit hours, and its coursework includes training in everything from data models to structured analysis, multivariate data analysis to enterprise data management. Indeed, students can become experts in:

    • Analytic methods for optimization and simulation
    • Business intelligence
    • Advanced applications
    • And more


    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.

  6. Fairfield University

    Fairfield, CT



    Fairfield University is based in Fairfield, Connecticut. 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
    • Contemporary topics in marketing.


    Fairfield is one of the most well-respected regional schools in all of 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.

  7. University of Alabama in Huntsville

    Huntsville, AL



    The University of Alabama in Huntsville 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 more


    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.

  8. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

    State College, PA



    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, and more


    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. It is also one of the largest, with tens of thousands of enrolled distance students.

  9. Boston University

    Boston, MA



    Boston University is a nationally ranked university. 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
    • Web analytics and metrics


    Boston University is no stranger to our rankings or those of others. It has world-renowned programs in business, law, and medicine. Graduates of the program enjoy an excellent placement record in a wide variety of careers in computer information systems.

  10. Oregon State University

    Corvalis, OR



    Oregon State University is a large public institution known for its STEM programs. It has made great strides in recent years with its online offerings. It now offers an array of degrees, certifications, and professional programs online.


    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
    • Data analysis, interpretation, and visualization
    • And 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.

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