The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Science to Solidify Your Career

A Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science is the most common way to start a career as a data scientist. Professionals with data science bachelor’s degrees can embark on successful and diverse careers in sports analytics, business, politics, software engineering, and more.

In this article, we’ll cover the best bachelor’s degrees in data science of 2021 in the United States.

Overview: The Top 20 Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Science

To get the best out of your learning, we created a list of the top 20 bachelor’s degree programs in data science in 2021. Note that the tuition costs cited below were sourced from the websites of the respective universities.

That said, make sure you double-check the tuition rates with your school of interest because fees are subject to change.

School and Degree State Tuition Online Option
California Institute of Technology
Bachelor’s in Information
and Data Science
CA $56,364 per year No
Carnegie Mellon University
Bachelor of Science in
Economics and Statistics
PA $57,560 per year Yes
Columbia University
Bachelor of Arts in
Data Science
NY $64,380 per year No
Cornell University
Bachelor of Science in
Data Science
NY $40,382 per year
for in-state
$60,286 per year
for out-of-state
No
Georgia Institute of Technology
BS in Industrial Engineering with a
Concentration on Analytics and
Data Science
GA $12,418 per year
for in-state
$33,014 per year
for out-of-state
No
Harvard University
Bachelor of Arts in
Computer Science
MA $49,653 per year No, although Harvard offers
short online courses in
data science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Science in
Computer Science, Economics,
and Data Science
MA $55,510 per year No, although MIT offers
free short online courses
Princeton University
Bachelor of Science in Engineering in
Computer Science
NJ $56,010 per year No
Stanford University
Bachelor of Science in Mathematical
and Computational Science
CA $1,233.73 per credit Yes
Thomas Edison State University
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
and Analytics
TX $399 per credit
for in-state
$519 per credit
for out-of-state
Yes
University of California – Berkeley
Bachelor of Arts in Data Science
CA $5,721 per semester No
University of California – Irvine
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
CA $11,442 per year No
University of California – San Diego
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
CA $12,570 per year No, although UC San Diego
offers a multitude of short
online courses
University of Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Statistics and
Computer Science
IL Tuition and fees
for in-state students
start from $16,866
per year
Tuition and fees for
out-of-state students
start from $34,316
per year
No
University of Maryland – College Park
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
MD $9,000 per year
for in-state
$36,683 per year
for out-of-state
Yes
University of Michigan
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
MI Tuition and fees
for in-state
students cost $15,948
per year
Tuition and fees
for out-of-state
students cost $52,266
per year
Yes
University of Pennsylvania
Bachelor of Applied Arts and
Sciences in Data Analytics
and Social Sciences
PA $54,652 per year Yes
University of Texas at Austin
Bachelor of Science in
Computer Science
TX $4,305 per semester
for in-state
$14,953 per semester
for out-of-state
No
University of Washington
Bachelor of Science in
Computer Science
WA Tuition and fees
for in-state students
cost $12,072 per year
Tuition and fees
for out-of-state students
cost $39,906 per year
Yes
University of Wisconsin
Bachelor of Science in
Data Science
WI $469.34 per credit
for in-state
$1,631 per credit
for out-of-state
No

What Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science?

A bachelor’s degree in data science is a four-year educational program that walks you through the theories and concepts involved in a data science project lifecycle. Modules can cover data mining, data modeling, machine learning, and algorithmic models.

Typically, bachelor’s degrees require up to 30 credit hours per year. To graduate, students need to have completed approximately 120 credits. Bachelor’s degrees help students develop technical skills as well as transferable skills like critical thinking, technical communication, and problem-solving.

Why You Should Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in data science is the most common way to become a data scientist. We listed a few pointers to highlight the benefits of getting a data science bachelor’s degree below.

  • Data scientists are in demand. There is an abundance of career options for data science graduates. The discipline is extremely versatile and a degree can help you land high-paying positions.
  • Cross-disciplinary learning. One of the benefits of getting a degree is that universities are research institutions. Most data science programs encourage collaborative work across disciplines. This is hard to do or achieve without good resources.
  • Networking opportunities. On top of your education, a university can help you build your network. College is the perfect place to meet friends and future collaborators or professional partners.

In Detail: The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Science

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of getting a degree, let’s get into each university program in more detail.

California Institute of Technology | Bachelor’s in Information and Data Sciences

Caltech is a private institution that was founded in 1891. The information and data science degree program merges computing and mathematical sciences in an exciting four-year program. Students can specialize in economics, social sciences, or engineering.

Bachelor’s in Information and Data Sciences Pros

  • Students can double major in another field.
  • Students can apply to study abroad for specific modules.
  • The program is interdisciplinary as it touches on science and engineering.

Bachelor’s in Information and Data Sciences Cons

  • The course is strongly geared towards mathematics.
  • The program is expensive.
  • The selection process is very competitive.

Carnegie Mellon University | BS in Economics and Statistics

This program is exciting as much as it is challenging. CMU’s Department of Statistics and Data Science is world-renowned for its research contributions. The BS in Economics and Statistics offers specializations that include microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and more.

This is a great course for students with a keen interest in the world of finance. To apply, you must have a solid background in math and calculus.

BS in Economics and Statistics Pros

  • The Department of Statistics and Data Science has many ties with the tech industry and business partners.
  • The program puts a solid emphasis on interdisciplinary study. You will cover elements of economics, statistics, and computing.
  • The university offers many scholarships and financial aid options.

BS in Economics and Statistics Cons

  • The program is expensive.
  • The program is highly selective with only a 15 percent acceptance rate.
  • The program workload can be quite demanding and overwhelming.

Columbia University | BA in Data Science

Columbia University is one of the county’s most prestigious institutions. Aspiring data science majors should ideally have a background in math or computer science. Modules include calculus, linear algebra, data mining, computer science, and computer science theory.

BS in Economics and Statistics Pros

  • Columbia University is one of the top-ranked universities in the US.
  • Students can choose divergent minors and specializations such as business administration, medicine, or neuroscience.
  • The data science department is geared towards innovation and research.

BA in Data Science Cons

  • While prestigious, Columbia University is known for its expensive tuition rates.
  • It is hard to get into the program. Only five percent of applicants get into Columbia.
  • The university campus is small. This can be troublesome when looking for study or lab space.

Cornell University | BS in Data Science

Cornell is often commended for offering its students a great deal of academic liberty. The BS in Data Science offers many specialization options. Modules include a focus on data-driven web apps, machine learning, statistical data mining, and more.

BS in Data Science Pros

  • The program offers a wide range of concentration options.
  • Expect a well-rounded education. Mandatory courses include data ethics, policy, and society.
  • The university is world-renowned.

BS in Data Science Cons

  • There is no online option for the program.
  • The workload can be overwhelming.
  • The program is expensive.

Georgia Institute of Technology | BS in Industrial Engineering with a Concentration on Analytics and Data Science

The Georgia Institute of Technology offers an exciting degree that touches upon many cross-disciplinary fields. In particular, the program covers data science through the lens of industrial engineering.

This is a great option for students wishing to get into infrastructure systems and development. Modules include engineering economy, basic statistical methods, simulation analysis and design, engineering optimization, and more.

BS in Industrial Engineering Pros

  • The program is multi-disciplinary.
  • The degree is career-focused.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology offers many career guidance services.

BS in Industrial Engineering Cons

  • There are many core modules that you cannot opt out of.
  • The workload can add up very quickly.
  • The school has a 20 percent acceptance rate, making it quite selective.

Harvard University | BA in Computer Science

Harvard is the most prestigious university on this list. The program doesn’t have data science at its core. However, the computer science degree program allows students to choose many specializations, making it a great option for data science enthusiasts. Concentrations include mathematics, physics, economics, linguistics, and psychology.

BA in Computer Science Pros

  • The degree can lead to Harvard University’s exclusive Master of Science in Data Science.
  • The university is world-renowned and will light up your resume.
  • Harvard University has a large community as well as multiple events for computer and data scientists.

Computer Science Cons

  • The program is more about computational science generally than data science
  • The university is expensive
  • Expect a selective application process.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology | BS in Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science

MIT is arguably the country’s best institute for research in tech. This program is interdisciplinary and offers students the chance to experiment with econometrics, microeconomic theory, algorithms, and machine learning. This degree would suit those with an aptitude for mathematical modeling and game theory.

BS in Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science Pros

  • The program equips you with job-ready skills.
  • The program is interdisciplinary and thus allows for more versatility.
  • At MIT, you will be surrounded by a community of renowned researchers.

BS in Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science Cons

  • MIT is incredibly selective, with a seven percent acceptance rate.
  • Tuition is expensive.
  • Classes can have up to 50 students, which can lower the level of classroom engagement for some.

Princeton University | BSE in Computer Science

Princeton University is a renowned institution with a robust Department of Computer Science. The computer science program covers machine learning, computational biology, cryptography, and data structures.

BSE in Computer Science Pros

  • Students can choose focused pathways into applications, systems, or machine learning.
  • Students have the option of studying abroad for a year or more.
  • The university offers good career guidance services.

BSE in Computer Science Cons

  • The program doesn’t focus on data science.
  • The university is selective.

Stanford University | BS in Mathematical and Computational Science

Stanford University has respectable mathematics and computer science department. Its degree program gives you the option to minor in statistics or data science. The data science minor has an array of fantastic modules. Topics cover programming in R, linear algebra, statistical methods, biostatistics, data mining, and social research.

BS in Mathematical and Computational Science Pros

  • This degree offers many concentration options.
  • Students can specialize in data science in their final year.
  • The program is interdisciplinary and innovative.

Mathematical and Computational Science Cons

  • The workload may be overwhelming for some.
  • The tuition is far from affordable.
  • Stanford University has an acceptance rate of only four percent.

Thomas Edison State University | BS in Data Science and Analytics

Thomas Edison State University offers a respectable BS in Data Science and Analytics. The program walks you through the principles of statistics, network analysis, data visualization, and more.

BS in Data Science and Analytics Pros

  • The curriculum is broad-ranging.
  • The program is cross-disciplinary. Human culture, civic, and global learning are core modules.
  • The school has a 100 percent acceptance rate.

BS in Data Science and Analytics Cons

  • TESU has a very low graduation rate of 40 percent.
  • The school is not the most reputable university on this list

University of California - Berkeley | BA in Data Science

Topics covered in this program include mathematics and computing, computational and inferential depth, human contexts and ethics, and more.

BA in Data Science Pros

  • The degree combines the practical and theoretical uses of data science.
  • The program is project-oriented.
  • The curriculum emphasizes human behavior and ethics.

BA in Data Science Cons

  • UC Berkeley offers little career guidance to students.
  • UC Berkeley has an acceptance rate of 16 percent, making it moderately selective.

University of California - Irvine | BS in Data Science

The first two years of the program focus on computer science and statistics. In their junior and senior years, students get to specialize in topics that include machine learning, information visualization, and algorithms.

BS in Data Science Pros

  • The program includes accelerated courses in C++ or Python.
  • The degree emphasizes human-centered programming.
  • The curriculum is very much career-oriented.

BA in Data Science Cons

  • The campus does not have many research lab facilities.
  • The university is located in the most expensive area of California.
  • UC Irvine has an acceptance rate of 26 percent, making it quite selective.

University of California - San Diego | BS in Data Science

The topics covered in the program include calculus, linear algebra, data mining, machine learning, and more. The program also requires the completion of a key capstone project, which is a great way to ramp up your resume.

BS in Data Science Pros

  • UC San Diego has an exhilarating visiting scholar program.
  • UC San Diego funds a lot of research on the impact of data science across industries.
  • The curriculum is career-focused and offers a lot of career services.

BA in Data Science Cons

  • The school has a 30 percent acceptance rate, making it moderately selective.
  • Students must earn a grade of C minus and above to meet the program requirements.

University of Illinois | BS in Statistics and Computer Science

The University of Illinois has put a lot of effort into creating an innovative computer and data science department. The BS in Statistics and Computer Science covers a broad range of topics. Modules include climate modeling, network analysis, parallel computing in statistics, and more.

BS in Statistics and Computer Science Pros

  • Undergraduate students can take part in the university’s data science research projects.
  • The university has a diverse staff and student body.

BS in Statistics and Computer Science Cons

  • Tuition is expensive.
  • The program had a challenging and demanding workload.

University of Maryland - College Park | BS in Data Science

The University of Maryland is known for its cutting-edge Data Science Department. The data science bachelor’s offers many concentration options. Mandatory modules cover linear algebra, probability, machine learning, and data design. Optional topics you can choose from include bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, game programming, and more.

Data Science Pros

  • The curriculum is extensive and career-focused.
  • The university offers a combined BS/MS (Master of Science) program option.

Data Science Cons

  • The university is moderately selective with a 44 percent acceptance rate.
  • Applicants need to submit three recommendation letters, with at least one coming from a tenure-track CS faculty member.

University of Michigan | BS in Data Science

The University of Michigan’s data science program has 42 required credit hours. The curriculum covers topics like machine learning, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and more.

Data Science Pros

  • The degree puts a big emphasis on interdisciplinary research
  • The degree includes an exciting capstone project in the final year to test your practical skills.

Data Science Cons

  • The degree itself is a specialization, meaning the program doesn’t offer much flexibility.
  • The school has a 22 percent acceptance rate, making it quite selective.

University of Pennsylvania | BAAS in Data Analytics and Social Sciences

The University of Pennsylvania’s data analytics and social science major combines theoretical learning with practical problematics. Modules include ethical reasoning, qualitative analysis, cross-cultural interactions, and more.

BAAS in Data Analytics and Social Sciences Pros

  • The curriculum is geared towards research.
  • Class sizes are quite intimate.
  • The program offers concentrations in topics such as statistical methods, writing with numbers, and writing for presentations.

BAAS in Data Analytics and Social Sciences Cons

  • The university has a seven percent acceptance rate, making it very selective
  • The university is expensive.

University of Texas at Austin | BS in Computer Science

The University of Texas doesn’t offer an undergraduate degree in data science. That said, you can opt for data science specializations through the computer science program. The computer science curriculum includes modules in statistics, data science, and biostatistics.

BS in Computer Science Pros

  • The program offers an array of specialization options.
  • The degree is divided in a three-way between math, science, and computer science.

BS in Computer Science Cons

  • The degree does not solely focus on data science
  • The degree requirements can be quite demanding

University of Washington | BS in Computer Science

The University of Washington offers an exciting computer science program in which you can enroll in data science modules. The computer science curriculum includes computational mathematical sciences, bioengineering, human-centered design and engineering, and more.

BS in Computer Science Pros

  • The degree doesn’t have data science as a core module.
  • The curriculum is career-focused.
  • The school offers many networking and socialization opportunities.

BS in Computer Science Cons

  • The computer science degree isn’t focused on data science
  • Classroom student numbers are huge, which can lessen individual engagement.

University of Wisconsin | BS in Data Science

Students taking the data science program get to solve data problems by using mathematical, computational, and theoretical means. The program’s four-year plan includes modules that delve into math, ethnic studies, linear algebra, statistical modeling, social science, and more.

BS in Data Science Pros

  • The school provides top-notch career guidance services.
  • There are many opportunities to study abroad.
  • The school encourages students to apply for internships.

BS in Data Science Cons

  • The program doesn’t have many concentration options.
  • Class sizes can be quite large.
Online vs In-Person Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Science-1

Online vs In-Person Bachelor’s Degrees in Data Science

The principal benefit of getting an online Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science is flexibility. This is great for students who already have a busy schedule like working professionals and parents.
Top of mind for in-person learning, meanwhile, is the structured coursework and classroom engagement. In-person learning is beneficial for those who learn best when working with others and with a fixed schedule.

Ultimately, your learning experience can vary greatly by a program’s mode of delivery. Below is a more detailed review of the benefits of pursuing an online or in-person bachelor’s degree.

Benefits of an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science

  • Flexibility. Online programs allow for flexibility. You can study without putting your other obligations on hold.
  • Affordability. Online programs in data science are cheaper than in-person programs.
  • Course content. Online degree programs offer the same content as in-person degree programs.

Benefits of an In-Person Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science

  • Interactive learning. Attending an in-person program will make for a far more interactive and engaging experience.
  • More resources. University campuses have laboratories and research spaces, often only available to in-person students.
  • Networking. In-person degrees have many extracurricular opportunities, such as data science societies and networking events.

How to Pick the Best Data Science Bachelor Degree for You

You can start by watching YouTube videos posted by your prospective school’s alumni. You can also read through review websites. There are many resources online to help you with determining which data science bachelor’s degree is right for you.

We’ve listed three other strategies that should help you in your search.

Reach Out to a Careers Advisor

Most university colleges offer free consultations with educational advisors. It is always a good idea to arrange a phone call with a university representative. This will allow you to get more information about the program and university life.

Program Structure

Make sure you sift carefully through program core modules and structures. Some data science programs offer concentration options that others might not. Make sure you know exactly what a degree program has to offer before you enroll.

Tuition

Tuition can vary greatly depending on which program you’re looking at. Make sure you can afford a particular degree. It is also worth looking at scholarship and grant options. Many programs offer financial help, so have a look to see if you qualify.

How Much Can You Earn With a Data Science Bachelor’s Degree?

According to PayScale, the average data scientist salary is $96,609 per year. That said, data scientists are extremely versatile and can work in many other fields. Below is a list of jobs for data science bachelor’s degree holders to help give you an idea of possible career paths and salaries.

Note that you can negotiate for higher salaries if you also hold a Master’s Degree in Data Science.

The Top Data Science Bachelor Degree Careers

Profession Average Salary
Enterprise Architect $134,772
Senior Data Scientist $126,933
Application Architect $116,262
Machine Learning Engineer $112,749
Data Engineer $92,401
Software Engineer $87,102
Statistician $74,253
Business Intelligence Analyst $69,526
Data Analyst $61,329

Why You Should Study Data Science in 2021

Data science has transformed the way we live over the last few decades. Data scientists are in demand in almost every field, from agriculture to healthcare and commerce. They help professionals and businesses make informed and intelligent decisions.

Now that the tech industry is growing, a career in data science is increasingly viable. 2021 is the perfect year to enroll in a bachelor’s degree in data science.

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