Best Online Master’s Programs in Data Analytics: 2021

Everything you need to know about earning a master’s in data analytics online, including best-in-class programs, course offerings, career opportunities, and more.

Whether you already work with data and you’re looking to level up your skillset to qualify for a senior role or you have your bachelor’s in another field and want to jump into the world of data for the first time, an online master’s degree in data analytics can help you take the next step. It allows you to deepen your knowledge, sharpen your skills, develop specialized expertise in key industry areas like data visualization and business intelligence. Pursuing advanced study is a big choice, and it is crucial to have all the information you need to make a smart decision.

This guide answers important questions about earning a master’s in data analytics online, spotlights several top-ranked programs, discusses what to expect once you enroll, and reviews factors like cost and future job prospects. Keep reading to find out what this degree can do for you.

College Spotlights: Best Online Data Analytics Master’s Degree Programs in 2021

We’ve identified three top-tier online master’s programs in data analytics to help jumpstart your search for a degree program that meets your needs. These accredited programs rise above the rest and excel in the flexibility, affordability, and professional development opportunities you need to advance your career. Let’s see which programs stand out in 2021.

Colorado State University Global

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Colorado State University Global offers an online master of science degree in data analytics degree that is ideal for detail-oriented people interested in careers as database administrators, statisticians, and information research scientists. The program requires 39 credits for degree completion that most students are able to achieve thanks to CSU Global’s accelerated formats and flexible learning tools. The curriculum develops career-ready skills through coursework that emphasizes real-world problems and concepts. Prospective students must satisfy prerequisites in database concepts and data science before admission.

For added convenience, the program extends monthly start dates with no set times or locations. This asynchronous delivery method accommodates most busy schedules and requires no campus visits or in-person components. Students begin their course of study with core quantitative analysis courses, data mining, and business intelligence. As they move through the program, aspiring professionals can choose from over a dozen different specializations. These concentrations offer additional career readiness opportunities and cover areas like machine learning, cybersecurity, fraud management, information technology, project management, and strategic innovation.

Georgia Institute of Technology

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At the Georgia Institute of Technology, qualified learners can earn an affordable online master of science degree in analytics that lays a solid foundation for work in big data and high-performance computing. Administered by Georgia Tech’s professional education division, the 36-credit program teaches students how to identify critical problems in analytics and develop practical solutions using mathematical models and relevant data streams. The course of study also offers three distinct tracks in analytical tools, business analytics, and computational data analytics. These specializations support future research and develop additional expertise that can broaden job prospects.

The program delivers its curriculum entirely online and includes eleven courses that many students complete in two to three years. Seasoned faculty members and expert professionals provide on-demand course content covering a diverse range of topics such as analytics modeling, data visualization, computational statistics, and digital marketing. This program culminates with an applied practicum where students plan, develop, and implement an analytics project that deepens their core competency areas.

Oregon State University

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Oregon State University administers an online master of science degree in data analytics that prepares students for employment in private companies, government agencies, and other institutions. It requires 45 credits and draws on resources from the College of Science and Department of Statistics to develop a concrete knowledge base in data structures, information science, and applied machine learning. Graduates of the program stand fully-equipped with the tools and skills necessary to collect and examine small and large scale data.

The school offers two different start times for this program in the fall and spring terms. Curriculum offerings cover conceptual foundations and technical applications. Possible courses include data science tools, time-series analytics, multivariate analytics, and an applied capstone project. In addition to the capstone component, all students complete an oral examination before graduation. During this exam, candidates present and defend their research findings before a committee panel.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s Degree in Data Analytics

Pursuing a graduate-level study online has several benefits worth considering. Here are three key advantages to consider if you’re planning to pursue an online degree.

  1. Affordability

    Graduate-level education can be expensive, but earning an online master’s in data analytics can save you money in the long run. Most programs are cheaper than in-person alternatives, and if you attend a school with additional incentives (in-state tuition, for example), you could save even more.

  2. Career advancement

    Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests a strong correlation between educational attainment, earning power, and employment rates. Given this data, obtaining this degree can significantly raise your profile, and it prepares you for more advanced leadership and management roles.

  3. Accommodation for working professionals

    If you’re already working in the industry, online learning offers students excellent accommodations. In most cases, this means you can complete your studies with little to no professional interruption. In many cases, you can keep your job while developing the skills you need to advance with your current employer. Depending on the school, you may also qualify for additional credit based on your professional experience.

What You’ll Learn in Master’s in Data Analytics Online Programs

Each program may have its unique characteristics and benefits, but most programs emphasize the same outcomes. They establish a working knowledge base in data science, modeling, and the industry’s primary analytics techniques. By the time you graduate, you will be an expert in database architecture’s underlying principles, including data visualization, mining, forecasting, and security defense measures.

Most online data analytics programs conclude with an integrative capstone project. This program component helps you synthesize the skills and knowledge gained throughout your study and prepares you for future employment. Additionally, you can expect curriculum offerings that include courses like those listed below.

Popular Courses

  • Data Management and Visualization

    This course surveys the fundamental concepts of data management. It also looks at applied tools and strategies for visualizing data for a wide range of audiences. Students develop the necessary skills for effectively managing and presenting data and learn how to engage in data-driven decision-making. Topics include data storage, indexing, heat mapping, and metadata management.

  • Data Mining

    Students in this class learn how to develop and implement data mining practices that support broader organizational goals. These courses focus on applied knowledge and best practices surrounding data classification, preparation, and clustering. Students examine and evaluate prominent data mining algorithms and practice standard techniques using industry-standard tools and software platforms.

  • Machine Learning

    This class offers an overview of the history and practice of varied machine learning techniques, including their use to enhance pattern-detection and informed decision-making. Students assess current and speculative applications in finance, marketing, government, and healthcare contexts. Additional subjects include cluster analysis, neural networking, supervised and unsupervised learning techniques, and precision measurement.

  • Statistic for Data Science

    This course aims to build strong quantitative reasoning skills and the main methods of analysis used in data science. It covers inferential and descriptive statistics along with sampling, experimental design, parametric difference testing, and logistical regression. Students study how these tools have been applied and implement them in their research projects.

  • Predictive Modeling

    An upper-level course offering, this class builds on machine learning and data mining foundations with a focus on large datasets. Students practice selecting, fine-tuning, and assessing different data models to forecast outcomes with precision and accuracy. They also utilize case studies related to longitudinal data analysis and relevant product launches.

Specialization Options

Some online master’s in data analytics programs may extend additional specialization opportunities while you’re in school. These concentration areas let you build out your expertise even further by focusing on one of several data analytics applications. Specializations like the ones discussed below are a great way to deepen your skillset and support long-term career growth with increased earning power and professional responsibility.

  • Analytics and Modeling

    This specialization focuses on how to develop informative models that simulate data analytics problems and forecast complex solutions. This course draws on insights in machine learning and software development to cultivate additional skills in computational analysis. It requires advanced mathematics knowledge and prepares students for work as project managers and statisticians.

  • Business Intelligence

    Students with this specialization learn more about how data analytics can inform smart business decisions with low risk and high rewards. They develop algorithms that support operations management and evaluate organizational efficiency. This course also develops additional skills in synthesizing data and communicating results in written reports for non-experts.

  • Health Analytics

    This area of concentration focuses on how data analytics can improve healthcare delivery to enhance outcomes. In addition to core skills in data science, students develop a working understanding of the healthcare system and the public health issues that often require data-driven solutions. It offers preparation for roles in clinical informatics and health information systems.

  • Data Engineering

    Specializing in data engineering builds out an additional competency in implementing analytic models to scale within existing infrastructures. It provides training in system creation, workflow development, and large quantities of data within self-contained networks. Additional topics may include information security, hardware troubleshooting, and database administration.

  • Data Visualization

    This track deepens data visualization skills with an emphasis on translating complex information to wider audiences within an organization. It includes the study of static and dynamic visualization tools alongside human-centered design principles and broader best practices. It looks at how the arts and interactive media can enhance visualization strategies to make data more intelligible.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Data Analytics

Accreditation is a priority for any reputable degree program and provides a quality assurance measure that protects your education. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provide guidelines and recognize accrediting agencies.

Institutional accreditation is the first thing you should look for in your search. Schools that are not accredited may not meet specific industry standards for your degree program. Most institutions possess regional accreditation, while others may receive national accreditation.

Some programs may hold a programmatic accreditation; this is a supplementary credential that does not replace institutional accreditation. Programs housed within a business, engineering, or computer science departments may possess programmatic accreditation from bodies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

What You Can Do with an Online Master’s in Data Analytics

Earning an online master’s degree in data analytics not only prepares you for a variety of career options but also instills high-level qualifications and hard skills that support growth and professional advancement in current or future roles. The range of positions available when you graduate will be broader, more lucrative, and more empowering than before.

The occupations and career pathways outlined below should give you a good sense of the possibilities. Each job listed is in high demand, and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that each offers quite a bit of room for compensation increases over time. Find out more about what you can do with your degree below.

Survey Researcher

Survey researchers use data analytics techniques to collect information and conduct surveys. These surveys help their organization enhance its products and services to meet demand and identify new target audiences. Survey researchers interpret and analyze data and often develop summary reports or fact sheets designed to improve outcomes.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$32,150 $59,170 $108,860

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Information Research Scientist

These professionals use insights from data analytics to design new computing technology applications and improve existing ones. They analyze experiment results and work with other engineers and analysts to troubleshoot recurring issues. They generate new algorithms to improve that process through rigorous testing and often publish their findings in industry publications.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$69,990 $122,840 $189,780

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Database Administrator

Database administrators work for companies, firms, and institutions that depend on large database networks to manage information. They ensure information integrity and use complex tools and platforms to store, recall, and organize sensitive data. They analyze performance and work to develop new databases, in some cases.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$51,800 $93,750 $148,060

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Information Security Analyst

Analysts in this area use their data analytics background to develop, evaluate, and execute security measures on their employer’s behalf. Most information security analysts work for consulting firms or private businesses that often use sensitive information daily. They also research the latest trends and develop new tools, standards, and techniques.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$57,810 $99,730 $158,860

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts work alongside other data analytics experts to assess their organization’s performance and enhance efficiency. Many lead a team of analysts tasked with designing and implementing new systems and evaluating the value of existing methods based on organizational goals. At times, analysts may be asked to generate cost and benefit analysis reports.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$55,180 $90,020 $147,670

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Pricing Your Online Master’s in Data Analytics

In addition to accreditation, the program cost will probably be the biggest factor to consider as you assess potential schools. You can visit our financial aid page for more information on ways to cover the costs. Depending on your background and school of choice, you may be eligible for opportunities like scholarships, fellowships, or work-study placements. Businesses and other stakeholders in data analytics may offer private scholarships as well.

You can use the table below to get a broad picture of the expenses involved in earning an online master’s degree in data analytics. The costs can vary widely and depend on key factors like whether the school is public or private and where you reside when you enroll.

What Your Online Master’s in Data Analytics Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

Indiana University

MS in Data Science – Online

30

$479/credit
(in-state)
$783/credit
(out-of-state)

$14,370
(in-state)
$23,490
(out-of-state)

Louisiana State University

Online Master of Science in Analytics

36

$862/credit

$31,032

Drexel University

Online Master’s Degree in Data Science

45

$1,342/credit

$60,390

Q&A with a Data Analytics Professor

Mr. Sanket Shah is an instructor for the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences (BHIS) at the College of Applied Health Sciences. Professor Shah has created a course curriculum focusing on healthcare business intelligence, healthcare data, knowledge management and consumer informatics. Professor Shah brings considerable strategic management and technology innovation experience. He has a wide range of experiences in healthcare information technology on the provider, payer, government and vendor sides of the healthcare business. He has served in positions in management, system design, logical database architecture, product management, consulting and healthcare value measurement for the past 10 years in the healthcare industry.

Q. People are drawn to online education for a variety of reasons, but it does present its own challenges. What are some things data analytics graduate students should be aware of on that front?

A: The technology for online learning has exponentially progressed in the last five to ten years, enabling a more immersive and interactive experience. For data analytics, the online format complements nicely by way of working with datasets and other business intelligence or data science platforms from anywhere and at any time. The challenges that come to mind are for those in the research communities that may be working with multiple large data sets that require substantial computing power. In these cases, ensuring one has the right technical set-up at home will be critical. But for most, learning online doesn’t require additional investment. Your set-up at home is more than enough to succeed.

Q. How can prospective graduate students position themselves for success in data analytics?

A: I often tell my students to stay connected. For whatever industry you want to enter, setting up news feeds on the latest developments will provide you industry-specific content and illuminate current trends. Students should also take full advantage of university resources such as the library or career services. There are plenty of resources for students to augment their learning experience and further their skill sets. Finally, network, network, network. University professors and fellow classmates have diverse backgrounds and experiences. Students should take the time to introduce themselves and broaden their professional network.

Q. Are there any lesser-known resources in data analytics that graduate students may not know about?

A: I would play close attention to industry conferences, especially those that are in a virtual format. These trade conferences have various industry thought leaders and plenty of content spanning a variety of broad and targeted topics. More often than not, they are free to attend or at a very reduced fee for students. I’d also recommend doing a bit of research to see if there are local groups/chapters connected with your industry. Many of these groups post events that are in-person or virtual. This is a great way to network with folks locally.

Q. Given your experience as a data analytics instructor, what additional advice would you give to prospective graduate students in this field?

A: Manage your time. We all have a lot of things going on, but planning your week ahead of time and adhering to a schedule will pay dividends in the long run. Know what is ahead of you and what needs to be prioritized. You will find yourself less stressed and more efficient in the process.

FAQs About Online Data Analytics Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in data analytics?

Most programs at the graduate level use a similar admissions process. The most important thing is to make sure you’ve completed a relevant, accredited bachelor’s degree with a competitive GPA. Specific requirements could still vary a bit, but generally speaking, applicants should be prepared to provide the following materials:

  • A resume or CV that outlines your qualifications and professional background
  • Transcripts indicating successful completion of an accredited bachelor’s degree
  • Letters of reference from previous employers (usually 2-3)
  • Standardized test scores (typically the GRE, but some don’t require this)
  • A written personal statement that discusses your aspirations and future career goals

A few schools may do additional interviews, but this is rare and not a universal requirement. Be sure that you pay close attention to the deadlines (some are rolling, others specify a single date).

How long do online master’s in data analytics take to finish?

Online learning means you can streamline many components that would typically take more time in traditional formats. Outside factors like professional responsibilities and personal commitments will still have an impact, but in most cases, you should be able to graduate in no time at all.

For example, the online master’s in data analytics programs at Villanova University and Arizona State take approximately two years to complete; most other programs follow a similar timetable. If you enroll in a program with accelerated options like the ones at UC Berkley and Southern New Hampshire University, you may be able to finish within one year.

Can I earn a master’s in data analytics completely online?

Like other fields in the information technology sector, data analytics relies on electronic tools used in digital environments. This makes it a natural fit for remote learning opportunities. In most cases, you should be able to complete all program requirements entirely online, taking full advantage of the flexibility and convenience distance learning offers.

Some programs may extend hybrid learning opportunities if you want to practice your data analytics skills in person, but this isn’t usually required.