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Five reasons to pursue a master’s degree in data science

Pursuing a master’s degree in data science can lead to attractive career opportunities and provide important—and meaningful—real-world experiences through research projects and capstone courses.

Smartphones, wearable technologies, laptops and an ever-increasing number of Internet of Things devices are creating massive amounts of data. The relatively new profession, data scientist, has emerged as an essential role for businesses across industries to harness this data for strategic thinking. Health care companies are also identifying new ways to improve clinical care.

This need for businesses to harness information has made data scientist an attractive career choice. But you may wonder—with bootcamps and al-a-carte programming opportunities available—why should I invest time and money in a master’s in data science? But if you want to enjoy a rewarding career as a data scientist, then the steps you take to advance your career must be carefully considered. Here are five benefits of earning a master’s degree in data science that will advance your career.

data science masters degree quote graphic

Learn the skills and methods you need to enjoy a rewarding career in data science with Meharry.

1) Learn in-demand data science skills

Data science requires mastering programming languages like Python, R programming and others as well as methodologies such as machine learning, data wrangling and data visualization. A master’s program with a curriculum designed by expert faculty will provide a thorough education that prepares you for future success by acquiring skills to capture, aggregate and analyze disparate types of data, recognize patterns and trends within that data, and communicate results. These in-demand skills will be integrated throughout the slate of courses and you will also find opportunities to apply them to draw conclusions from real data sets.

2) Become more hirable

Earning an advanced degree is critical to positioning yourself for the career opportunities available in the date science profession. First of all, your competition for job opportunities will likely hold an advanced degree. KDnuggets, a website on data science careers and other topics, says that 88 percent of data scientists have a master’s degree and 46 percent hold a Ph.D. DiscoverDataScience.org also emphasized that trend in its data science career guide, saying that “data science is a field where career opportunities tend to be higher for those with advanced degrees.”

Sterling Osborne, a Ph.D. research student in artificial intelligence at the University of Manchester (UK), shares his personal story describing the professional benefits of his master’s degree for the blog TowardDataScience.com.

“I had two goals to achieve; to demonstrate that I understand machine learning and apply these with coding. The course not only provided a clear ‘box tick’ against these on my CV but enabled me to continue to expand my skills after with more and more interesting projects. Part of any job application is to get past the initial checks and I was now doing this much more consistently. Furthermore, as I moved into interview stages, I had all these project to discuss and truly demonstrate confidence in my understanding far more than I would have achieved on my own.”
Sterling Osborne
Was it Worth Studying a Data Science Masters?

3) Earn a higher salary

Using education to improve your position for job opportunities should lead to an attractive salary in the data science field. The good news is that compensation only projects to improve. For instance, SalaryExpert says the December 2020 average data scientist salary of $114,012 will increase by 10 percent in 2025 to $125,790.

The 2021 Robert Half Technology Salary Guide also breaks down job title salaries for companies hiring employees into four groups—25th, 50th, 75th and 95th percentiles. The demand for compensation increases as candidates gain more experience and develop skills and expertise.

The following is a breakdown for five job titles in the data science profession.

Title25th percentile50th percentile75th percentile95th percentile
Big Data Engineer132,500166,500197,750226,500
AI Architect123,750148,000166,000194,750
Data Architect123,250145,500168,500199,250
Data Scientist109,000129,000156,000185,750
Data Modeler83,250104,750129,500175,000

Earning a master’s degree in data science can open the door for each of these rewarding careers.

4) Gain credibility through real business experience

Osborne’s writing in TowardDataScience.com includes the practical advantages of projects in his master’s curriculum. That is an important component of a data science master’s program. While it is certainly vital to acquire programming languages and other essential skills, projects allow you to apply your education to a real-world business problem.

At Meharry, examples of projects in a master’s in data science program include working with faculty on research or a capstone course. You will have the opportunity to use the skills and methodologies you have learned to discover solutions from massive data. A capstone project can also allow you to explore a specific area of interest that can help you identify your next career path. You will earn marketable career experiences that you can share when pursuing new job opportunities.  

5) Gain hands-on experience with research that can improve lives

But there is more to working on a research project than professional experience. In Meharry’s master’s programs, you will be partnering with efforts that can make a meaningful impact on society. Through data science you can help predict the outcomes of public health policy, contribute to smart cities and planning, make advances in personalized medicine, and improve understanding of the clinical factors that contribute to health inequities and socioenvironmental effects on public health.

A master’s program in data science can provide much more than a core group of skills. You should also gain meaningful experiences that will truly demonstrate the impact you can make through data science.

Next steps

Learn more

The School of Applied Computational Sciences offers two master’s degrees—M.S. Data Science and M.S. Biomedical Data Science. Explore these programs and see how they can launch your career.

Explore

You can also read about the skills and methodologies you will learn through our M.S. Data Science and M.S. Biomedical Data Science courses.

Contact us

Do you have questions about our programs? Contact an enrollment advisor at sacsenrollment@mmc.edu.

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