BY Meghan MalasJuly 27, 2022, 6:13 p.m.
Members of the Student Section hold up Fighting Illini orange foam noodles during a Big 10 Conference game between the Northwestern University Wildcats and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini, as seen in February 2022, at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by David Allio—Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)
Data science is a growing field, and over the past decade universities have developed academic programs to help meet the demand for data-savvy graduates. Online master’s programs in data science give even more potential students access to skills that can land them a well-paying and rewarding job.
As Fortune reported in May, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s undergraduate data science major is the fourth-fastest growing major and fourth on campus – a key reason the university decided to launch a masters program in the field later this year.
Many online data science master’s programs do not require applicants to submit GRE scores, a trend that has also been seen in online MBA programs. The Nixing GRE requirements remove a potential barrier to entry for applicants, but they also require schools to rely on other metrics and qualifications to determine a student’s readiness for the program.
But it’s not just a COVID-19 phenomenon that’s driving testing policy changes. In February 2020, the University of California – Berkeley has announced that it is making standardized test scores optional. for its data science degree programs, following a recommendation from the School of Information’s Diversity Task Force.
“A detailed review of relevant research indicates that standardized graduate entrance exams are poor predictors of academic achievement in graduate school and that over-emphasis on GRE and GMAT scores reproduces and amplifies the structural disadvantages of certain demographic groups, in particular particularly students from underrepresented minorities and lower socio-economic backgrounds,” according to the announcement.
Fortune contacted the best online masters schools in data science that do not need the GRE to learn more about their application processes and programs.
1. University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign launched its master’s program in data science in the fall of 2016 and never required applicants to submit GRE scores.
“Around 2015 and 2016, the impact of data science, machine learning, and data-driven computing more generally, was becoming evident,” says Mahesh Viswanathan, professor of computer science and associate lead academics at the University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign. .
The degree program was created for busy professionals who want to earn an advanced degree in data science, while maintaining their current life and career obligations.
“The majority of our students are already working in industry but are looking to gain knowledge to facilitate a promotion, lateral move or job change,” says Viswanathan.
The data science courses at the university aim to give students a solid foundation in the fundamentals of data science, while being exposed to its applications in various industries. “We have unique courses in our program, like deep learning for healthcare and computational photography, that are unlike any other university program,” Viswanathan says.
2. University of California—Berkeley
The School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley began offering an online master’s program in information and data science in 2014.
“The program was designed to equip working professionals with the tools and knowledge to analyze, store, process, visualize and utilize the growing amount of data and datasets available across a wide variety of industries,” explains Catherine Cronquist-Browning, the school assistant. Dean of Academic Programs and Equity and Inclusion. “We saw a significant need to groom a new cadre of skilled leaders who could meet the needs of this exciting time in technology development.”
From the start, the program required applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores. But test scores became optional after the Spring 2020 term.
“We have found over time that a holistic admissions process, in which we minimize standardized test scores and comprehensively assess applicants across various dimensions, is most beneficial to both our program and the students. candidates,” says Cronquist-Browning.
Online courses are offered live and are intended for students with a high level of quantitative ability, a problem-solving mindset, and the ability to communicate effectively. On average, students have about five to eight years of work experience before enrolling.
“However, we’ve also had students who successfully completed the program with no prior work experience,” says Cronquist-Browning. “The program is well-suited for professionals already working in data science, data analytics, and related fields who want to deepen their knowledge and skills, as well as people making a career transition to data science.”
While UC Berkeley intentionally tries to limit section sizes—to around 15 students—the length of the program allows them access to an extensive alumni network of more than 1,400 graduates. “We are proud to have a strong program that considers the broader societal impact of data science and legal, policy and ethical issues across the full lifecycle of data science,” said Cronquist-Browning. Fortune.
3. Texas University of Technology
Texas Tech University has suspended the requirement for GMAT and GRE scores in the 2020-2021 academic year for the master’s program in data science due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the program webpage.
Additionally, test score requirements are waived for applicants who have five or more years of relevant work experience. Students who entered the program in the summer of 2020 had an average of nine years of work experience.
Although no prior work experience is required, the program website states that most applicants have a background or work experience in computer science, management information systems, science, engineering, or similar fields. , and a basic knowledge of computer programming software.
4. Bay Path University
Bay Path University created its online master’s program in data science in 2016 and never required applicants to submit their GRE scores. The 10-course, 30-credit program also does not require students to have an undergraduate degree in a scientific or technical field. .
“This fully online program was created for professionals who want to become data scientists, data analysts or business analysts, or simply for people who want to integrate data analysis into their current role,” says Xiaoxia Liu, director of the applied data science program.
The program offers two tracks. This first is a generalist track that focuses on the skills needed to be a successful data analyst or data scientist, regardless of the student’s background or previous expertise. The second track prepares students for more technical roles within data science teams; positions as a data mining engineer or data warehouse architect.
“Our data science courses are small and taught by professors from academia and industry,” Liu says. “And our placement rates are excellent – a combination of the motivation of our students, the courses and learning they are exposed to, and the high demand for these skills.”
5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s online master’s in data science program was launched in 2018 and never required applicants to submit their GRE scores.
“From the outset, we found that GRE scores are not a reliable indicator of a person’s potential to excel in our graduate program,” says Elke A. Rundensteiner, professor and founding chair of the Department of Science of data. “Instead, courses taken and grades from their undergraduate degree, along with relevant work experience, are much better predictors of someone’s readiness to succeed in the data science degree program at WPI.”
The data science curriculum emphasizes skills in computer programming, artificial intelligence, data cleansing, machine learning and deep learning, big data management, statistics, cloud computing, and visualization, both through course work and practical projects. Graduates of the program typically work in positions such as data scientist, data engineer, data analyst, business analyst, database administrator, or data architect.
“Our program prepares the student to derive new insights from data and articulate those discoveries into innovative solutions for how we live, work, and interact with the world around us,” says Rundensteiner.