The Best PhD Programs in Data
Science to Further Your Career

If you love mining information from large datasets, a PhD in Data Science could be a good choice for you. Earning a data science PhD will increase your earning potential as well as your knowledge of the subject.

To start, you need to find a program to enroll in. The best PhD programs in data science can be completed in four to five years. This guide lists some of the best programs to consider for your doctorate and what to expect from the programs.

Overview: The Top 10 PhD Programs in Data Science

You can get your PhD in Data Science online or on campus, though the latter is more common. The table below covers the top 10 programs. It also includes their tuition costs and locations. The information contained in this table was obtained from the school websites. The tuition costs are subject to change.

School and Degree State Tuition Online Option
Bowling Green State University
PhD in Data Science
OH Resident: $10,688 per year
Non-resident: $18,678 per year
No
Chapman University
PhD in Computational and
Data Sciences
CA $1,745 per unit No
Clemson University
PhD in Biomedical Data Science
and Informatics
SC In-state: $16,022 per year
Out-of-state: $21,646 per year
No
George Mason University
PhD in Computational Sciences
and Informatics
VA In-state: $643 per credit
Out-of-state: $1,531 per credit
No
Indiana University
Doctoral Minor in Data Science
IN $26,627 per year Yes
Jackson State University
PhD in Computational and
Data-Enabled Science
and Engineering
MS In-state: $460 per credit
Out-of-state: $960 per credit
No
Kennesaw State University
Doctoral Degree in Analytics and
Data Science
KS In-state: $296 per credit
Out-of-state: $1,066 per credit
No
New Jersey Institute of Technology
PhD in Business Data Science
NJ In-state: $20,624 per year
Out-of-state: $30,540 per year
No
University of Colorado Denver
PhD in Big Data Science
and Engineering
CO Resident: $626 per credit hour
Non-resident: $1,378 per credit hour
No
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
PhD in Data Science and Engineering
TN In-state: $13,380 per year
Out-of-state: $31,798 per year
No

What Is a PhD in Data Science?

A PhD in Data Science is a research degree. It is designed to give students a thorough knowledge of programming, statistics, data analysis, and other subjects relevant to data science. Students also learn artificial intelligence and machine learning.

During the program, students conduct their own experiments in data science using real-world data and a variety of professional data science tools. They also focus on theoretical data science to discover why they should use certain methodologies. Students will deconstruct technologies and tools to determine how they were built.

Why You Should Get a PhD in Data Science

There are many reasons to get a PhD in Data Science. One of the most important reasons is the opportunity to do research in an area that may change the industry or even solve long-standing problems. Other reasons to pursue a PhD are networking, improved critical thinking, specialization opportunities, and access to real data.

  • Collaboration with colleagues and experts. This degree allows you to network with experts in the field and collaborate with them.
  • Opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. A PhD in Data Science can improve your critical thinking skills. You will be able to know where, when, and why you should apply theoretical concepts.
  • Specializations and access to real-world data. This degree allows you to specialize in new and growing fields like biomedical informatics. You also gain access to large real-world datasets during your program. This will prepare you for research-oriented careers.

In Detail: The Best PhD Programs in Data Science

The programs listed below include PhDs in Data Science or a blend of one or more data science disciplines. Most of the programs listed must be completed on campus.

Bowling Green State University | PhD in Data Science

Students enrolled in this program focus on a blend of statistics and computer science. The program covers techniques for analyzing unstructured, structured, and dynamic datasets.

The 60-credit program trains students to understand analytical methods while articulating the limitations and strengths of those methods. The curriculum includes six credit hours of computer science and six credit hours of statistics.

Some topics covered in the program include ethical issues, data science exploration, applied data science experience, and advanced data mining. To complete the program, students need to take elective courses, a preliminary exam, a qualifying exam, and a written dissertation.

PhD in Data Science Pros

  • Multi-disciplinary program
  • Hands-on training

 PhD in Data Science Cons

  • No online option

Chapman University | PhD in Computational and Data Sciences

This program uses an interdisciplinary approach to solve critical problems. Students use physics, mathematics, chemistry, computing, biology, and statistics to solve these problems.

The program teaches the application of technology to answer complex questions through data mining, computer analysis, and software engineering. Other topics include population genetics, genomics, and drug design. The program also covers economic science, predictive analysis, and bioinformatics.

PhD in Computational and Data Sciences Pros

  • Interdisciplinary program
  • Hands-on training

PhD in Computational and Data Sciences Cons

  • Broad and extensive curriculum

Clemson University | PhD in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics

Students in this program can pursue a track in population health, precision medicine, or clinical and translational informatics. This course requires 65 to 68 credit hours and takes around five years to complete.

The courses in the program cover computer engineering, biomedical informatics, health systems, population health, and policy. Students take part in seminars, lab rotations, and doctoral research.

The program allows students with a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or related disciplines to enroll. Students must have experience in programming, calculus, and biology to enroll.

PhD in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics Pros

  • Available to students with a bachelor’s degree
  • Hands-on training
  • Solid curriculum

PhD in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics Cons

  • Not multidisciplinary

George Mason University | PhD in Computational Sciences and Informatics

This degree requires around 72 credits to complete. However, it allows students to transfer 48 credits from their master’s degree towards the coursework.

Students can choose a concentration in data science or computer modeling. They will complete 18 credits in their area of specialization. The program can be completed in four to five years and students with bachelor’s degrees can apply.

To enroll, you must have a degree in mathematics, natural science, computer science, or engineering. Experience with computer programming and differential equations is preferred.

PhD in Computational Sciences and Informatics Pros

  • Available to students with a bachelor’s degree
  • Credits are transferable
  • Interdisciplinary program

PhD in Computational Sciences and Informatics Cons

  • Admission is restrictive

Indiana University | Doctoral Minor in Data Science

This program gives students the opportunity to master data science approaches and apply them to decision-making. Students learn and practice how to collect, manage, curate, analyze, and visualize large and complex data.

Students must complete 24 credits of core courses in data science, 18 credits in their specialization, 18 credits in methods topics, and 30 dissertation credits. They must also write qualifying exams and finish the program within seven years.

Doctoral Minor in Data Science Pros

  • Online option available
  • Hands-on training

Doctoral Minor in Data Science Cons

  • Expensive tuition

Jackson State University | PhD in Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering

This program offers five concentrations including computational public health, computational biology and bioinformatics, computational mathematics and statistical science, computational physical science, and computational science and engineering.

The program can be completed in five years. Students are allowed to take up to eight years to complete it. The curriculum includes core courses, specialization courses, electives, and dissertation research.

PhD in Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering Pros

  • Multidisciplinary
  • Option to choose a concentration

PhD in Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering Cons

  • Does not accept transfer credits

Kennesaw State University | Doctoral Degree in Analytics and Data Science

This program trains students to work with complex data to enhance the decision-making process. The curriculum focuses on data mining, programming, and statistical modeling.

Students also learn mathematical foundations for data analytics and data science. It requires 78 credit hours to complete. Students take core courses and electives. They also must complete an internship and dissertation research.

Doctoral Degree in Analytics and Data Science Pros

  • Hands-on training
  • Affordable

Doctoral Degree in Analytics and Data Science Cons

  • Takes longer to complete than others

New Jersey Institute of Technology | PhD in Business Data Science

This program accepts students with bachelor’s degrees that are relevant to the field. Students with master’s degrees must take 18 credits. Students with bachelor’s degrees start with 36 credits before moving to their dissertation.

Some courses include data mining, business research methods, statistical computing using SAS and R, data management system design, and regression analysis. At the end of the first two years, students take qualifying exams. After the fifth year, students must defend their dissertation.

PhD in Business Data Science Pros

  • Hands-on training
  • Bachelor’s degree holders are eligibile

PhD in Business Data Science Cons

  • More expensive than others

University of Colorado Denver | PhD in Big Data Science and Engineering

This program is a fellowship that was designed to train computer scientists in several data science application fields. These fields include geosciences, health informatics, business analytics, precision medicine, and cyber security.

All students in the program are expected to complete 30 credit hours of dissertation research. They must also complete 30 credit hours worth of computer science classes.

PhD in Big Data Science and Engineering Pros

  • Hands-on training
  • Affordable

PhD in Big Data Science and Engineering Cons

  • Can be highly taxing

University of Tennessee, Knoxville | PhD in Data Science and Engineering

Students in this program can specialize in data science while applying the resources and skills they learn to different domains. The coursework requirement is 36 credit hours, which is in addition to 36 credit hours of dissertation research. The program is interdisciplinary and has several courses, allowing students to customize their degree program.

PhD in Data Science and Engineering Pros

  • Interdisciplinary
  • Strong elective options
  • Hands-on training

PhD in Data Science and Engineering Cons

  • Higher-than-average tuition
Online vs In-Person PhD Programs in Data Science

Online vs In-Person PhD Programs in Data Science

There are not many online PhD programs at the moment because of the intensity of the program and the research required. However, you can still choose to pursue your data science PhD online.

Benefits of an Online PhD in Data Science

  • Flexible. Online programs often allow students to learn at their own pace. They also allow you to balance work, school, and family life.
  • Affordable. Since you don’t need to pay for transportation, housing, and other expenses, online programs can be more affordable.
  • Convenient. Students can learn from almost any part of the world.

Benefits of an In-Person PhD in Data Science

  • Networking opportunities. In-person programs make it easier to network with your peers.
  • More facilities. In-person programs give you more facilities to work with like labs and libraries.
  • More student support. Students who attend in person might receive more support from faculty.

How to Pick the Best Data Science PhD for You

You will need to consider some crucial factors before choosing a PhD in Data Science. For instance, some schools offer funding and tuition waivers for students while others do not. Some other considerations are the program’s accreditation status and its format.

Accreditation

This is an important feature to look out for. It proves the credibility of your PhD. You would be unlikely to get funding or financial support if the institution were not accredited. You can find accreditation information on the program page.

Cost

Some programs do not offer funding for the doctoral program. This would mean you need to shoulder the cost yourself. First, check the program cost and see if the school offers funding packages for doctoral students. This will help you decide which program is best for you.

Online or In-Person

There are both remote and on-campus options for data science PhDs. If you want to study remotely, you need to find a school that offers an online program. Some schools have hybrid programs that allow students to attend classes on campus and remotely. Find which options the school has and choose the one that suits your preferences.

How Much Can You Earn With a Data Science PhD?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data scientists earn a median salary of $98,230. These experts earn high salaries in different industries like research labs, tech-focused companies, and government agencies. With a doctoral degree, you have the opportunity to earn more than candidates who don’t have a PhD.

The Top Data Science PhD Careers

Profession Average Salary
Chief Information Officer $153,679
Data Scientist $119,413
IT Director $106,655
Information Security Analyst $99,944
Statistician $97,643
Information Systems Manager $90,937
Network Engineer $90,926
Database Administrator $86,833
Software Developer $86,523
Computer Systems Analyst $72,176

Why You Should Study Data Science in 2021

A data science degree prepares you for a career that is in high demand. You should study data science if you want to work in a growing and relevant field that is applicable in many industries. Aside from employability, this career offers the potential for a more rewarding salary.

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