If you are thinking of getting a master’s degree then you will probably be wondering whether or not it will be worth it.
This post will show you whether or not a data science master’s degree will be worth it for you and some other things to consider.
So, is a data science master’s degree worth it? Data science is a hot field with a positive job outlook. Most data science positions require a master’s degree so it is likely that getting the degree will help a lot in obtaining a data science job.
There are actually a number of things to consider when deciding on whether or not you should do it and there are a number of alternatives that you might want to consider as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of data science jobs is expected to rise by 19% by 2026 and the median pay is $118,370. Data science was also rated the best job in America on Glassdoor.
As mentioned above, these jobs often require a master’s degree so it is likely that getting a data science master’s degree will help a lot in obtaining one of these positions.
In addition to data science, there are many other types of jobs that you can get with a data science master’s degree which can include:
- Data analyst
- Data architect
- Machine learning engineer
- Data visualization developer
- Business intelligence analyst
- Data engineer
The exact jobs that you will qualify for will depend on the data science specialization that you choose and the types of internships and projects you do while getting the degree.
In addition, if you are able to get an internship while doing the degree then it would go a long way in improving your job prospects.
Types of classes you will be taking
You can expect to take classes related to machine learning, big data, statistics and deep learning when obtaining a data science degree.
The classes that you will take in addition to them will depend on the program and specialization that you choose. Options could include natural language processing or computer vision.
You can take a look at the curriculum of NYU’s master’s degree in data science here.
Should I do a data science master’s degree or a statistics master’s degree?
The best option for you will depend largely on what you want to do after you get the degree. If you want to get a job in data science then a degree tailored to data science will naturally be a good fit.
With that being said, something to consider is that many statistics master’s degrees offer data science specializations and differ with data science master’s in name only.
If you take a statistics degree that has a machine learning or data science specialization then you will likely find that it will be just as marketable as a data science master’s for data science jobs.
It is important to take classes specific to the job that you want. However, some other factors to consider when deciding on a master’s program will be its job placement rates, what you think of the culture of the program and its cost.
Should I do a data science master’s degree or a computer science master’s degree?
The best option for you will depend on the type of work that you are hoping to do.
If you are hoping to work as a traditional data scientist then a data science master’s degree will likely be the better option. If you are hoping to work more on the deployment and software engineering side of data science then a computer science master’s with a data science specialization might be the better option.
It would help to consider the job that you want and to talk to hiring managers to see what sort of educational background they are looking for in candidates before deciding.
Is a data science master’s degree necessary?
If you have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject and you did lots of math, stats and computer science and you have done internships and projects in data science then you could get a data science job without a master’s degree.
However, most of the time, it will be necessary to have a master’s degree in order to qualify for true data science roles. You will also often find that the data science positions for people with just a bachelor’s are really data analytics and are more focused on data preprocessing.
With that being the case, getting a degree in data science will help a lot in getting a data science role.
With that being said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in data science. Other types of master’s degrees also offer data science specializations such as computer science, statistics and applied mathematics.
Prerequisites to be competitive for the degree
To do well in a data science master’s degree and often just to qualify for one it would help to have done a class in each of the following:
- Single and multivariable calculus
- Linear algebra
- Data structures and algorithms
How hard is a data science degree?
Something to consider is that getting a master’s degree in data science will require a significant time commitment on your part and it won’t be easy to obtain. Before deciding to do the data science master’s degree it would help for you to be sure that it is the right degree for you and that it is really what you want to do.
How difficult the degree will be for you will depend a lot on how much math, stats and computer science you did or are doing as an undergrad. It will also depend on how you approach the degree. I have written more about how to study for a data science degree here.
Alternatives to consider
- Data analytics
- Applied mathematics
- Computer science