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Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Data Science: Is It Worth It?

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Data science master’s degrees unlock a host of professional benefits, including higher salaries, a faster path to leadership positions, and deeper insights into the theoretical and practical applications of the field.

But how do you weigh these advantages against the reality of your investment?

Keep reading to unpack these benefits and answer that ultimate question—is a master’s degree in data science worth it?

Deeper Insights: From Fundamentals to Leading Edge

As an interdisciplinary field, data science uses scientific methods, algorithms, processes, and systems to draw insights from structured and unstructured data to drive informed decision-making.

Becoming a data scientist requires a strong background in statistics, mathematics, and programming languages.

Through graduate-level data science programs students can enhance their understanding of the fundamentals, developing their skill sets in data cleaning, data analysis, data management, and data visualizations. Additionally, advanced degrees offer students elective data science courses that dig deeper into particular areas of the field, including:

  • Algorithms

  • Artificial intelligence

  • Big data

  • Business analytics

  • Data analytics

  • Data mining

  • Deep learning

  • Machine learning

  • Natural language processing

Overall, these programs equip students with insights and experience needed to translate theoretical knowledge to real-world applications. Master’s students advance their experience in common tools like Excel, R and SAS, learn cutting-edge analytics tools, and strengthen their programming skills in languages like Python and Java. Additionally, students receive expert training in using software platforms crucial to working in industry, including AWS, Github and many others. 

Data Science Career Opportunities and Salaries

Data science and data scientists are instrumental in driving informed decision making across industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for computer and information technology professionals (which includes data scientists), is expected to grow by 13 percent in the next eight years .

Advanced degrees unlock even more opportunities for data scientists, in terms of both jobs and salaries. Below, we provide some of the most common job titles and starting salaries for professionals who obtain a master of science in data science.

Common Jobs and Salaries in Data Science

Data Science Jobs*

Average Salaries*

Data Analyst


Business Intelligence Analyst




Data engineer


Machine Learning Engineer


Data Architect


Data Scientist


*Data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook .

Flexibility: How To Pursue a Master’s Degree While Working

Many online master’s degree programs offer students flexibility, allowing them to pursue either part-time or full-time degrees. Students can either complete their program in as little as a year by taking a full course load or pace their degree over several semesters by taking one course at a time.

The flexibility is crucial not only for simply maintaining employment while pursuing a degree, but also for equipping students with crucial data science skills that can be applied from the classroom directly to their current jobs.

In the end, investing in an online master’s program in data science is about more than just the degree—it’s about combining rigorous coursework with the opportunity to apply learnings directly to practice and, with that, accelerate your career.

Modern Programs: How to Get a Data Science Master’s Degree

With the rise of online master’s programs, degree programs are more affordable and accessible than ever. Reputable universities offer online programs that allow students to enjoy the flexibility of online courses with the rigor of a top-ranked program instruction.

These programs are designed to provide students with the full range of skills necessary to advance in data science careers. Students typically receive instruction meant to hone their fundamental skills, as well as offer a chance at specialization through elective courses or capstone projects.

Similar to traditional degree programs, students are required to possess strong technical skills in computer science, mathematics, statistics, and programming in order to enroll in an online master’s degree.



Online master’s degree programs are designed to provide students with cutting-edge knowledge and skills to become leading experts in data science. One such program is UT Austin’s Master of Science in Data Science Online. The program hones students’ technical skills in analyzing, architecting and visualizing datasets and allows them to directly apply these skills to real-world problem solving.

Explore Next Steps: Learn About a Top Program

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level by elevating your data science skills, consider exploring top programs to find the right fit. Start by learning more about UT Austin’s Master of Science in Data Science Online, a program designed to help data science professionals from various industries, from computer service and healthcare to finance and beyond, gain the right skills and accelerate their careers.

To gain additional insight into the program, including coursework and application requirements, visit the program page and fill out the Request for Information Form.

Last updated: October 2021