Top Data Science Programs in North Carolina: A Comprehensive Guide

Data Science is transforming the world, and North Carolina is no exception. The Tar Heel State has emerged as a hub for data science education and careers, with renowned universities offering top-notch data science programs in North Carolina at all levels. Are you ready to embark on your data science journey in North Carolina but not sure where to start? Fear not, this comprehensive guide will provide insights into top data science programs, career opportunities, networking events, and financial aid options, helping you make an informed decision about your future in data science.

Key Takeaways

  • North Carolina offers a wide range of data science degree options and specializations at various levels.

  • Three renowned universities in the state offer strong data science departments, providing abundant career opportunities with competitive salaries.

  • Students have access to financial aid, research facilities and alumni networks for professional development and growth.

Exploring Data Science Degree Options in North Carolina

A wide array of data science degree options is available in North Carolina, catering to every aspiring data scientist. Whether you are seeking an undergraduate program to build a strong foundation, a graduate program to deepen your expertise, or an online program for flexibility, North Carolina has got you covered. With numerous universities offering data science programs, students can choose from a variety of degree levels and specializations.

The most sought-after data science degree in North Carolina is the Masters in Data Science, opening doors to attend data science events and conferences. For these computer science programs, several financial aid options are accessible, allowing students to pursue their data science education without financial constraints.

Undergraduate Data Science Programs

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill stands out in undergraduate education by offering a Bachelor’s of Science in Statistics and Analytics, where students learn data models, probability, and optimization. This program serves as a stepping stone to pursue further studies at institutions like Forest University.

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Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also offer Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in Computer Science, providing a comprehensive education for future data scientists and computer science graduates.

Graduate Data Science Programs

Graduate data science programs in North Carolina are abundant, with eight universities offering Master’s programs in various specializations, such as Geospatial Information Science and Technology, Business Analytics, and even Health Analytics. In addition, graduate certificate programs in Data Science and Business Analytics are available for students who want to enhance their skillset without committing to a full degree program.

The goal of these programs is to arm students with the skills required to thrive in the data-driven world.

Online Data Science Programs

Online data science programs in North Carolina provide unparalleled flexibility for working professionals and students who prefer learning at their own pace. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers an online Master of Applied Data Science (MADS) program, which teaches students about the data life cycle and how to collect, process, manage, and analyze data.

In addition, Duke University has an online Certificate in Big Data and Data Science that focuses on data science tools rather than mathematical and statistical concepts.

North Carolina Universities with Strong Data Science Departments

With numerous universities offering top data science programs, North Carolina has become a hub for data science education. Three universities that stand out with strong data science departments are Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. These institutions offer a variety of data science programs, ranging from undergraduate to graduate degrees and certificates. They also provide students with access to cutting-edge resources, experienced faculty, and valuable networking opportunities, ensuring a well-rounded education and bright career prospects for data science graduates.

Duke University

Duke University excels in data science education with programs like the Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) and a Concentration in Data Science for Computer Science majors. The comprehensive data science curriculum at Duke combines rigorous computational and technical training with field knowledge and practice in critical thinking, teamwork, and communication.

Students are exposed to both R and Python languages while being encouraged to learn at least one compiled language. The program includes courses such as Unifying Data Science, Modeling and Representation of Data, Introduction to Natural Language Processing, and Data Science Ethics, ensuring a well-rounded education.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a data science minor through the College of Arts & Sciences and a major in Statistics and Analytics for students interested in statistical data science, operations research, and actuarial science.

In addition, the online Master of Applied Data Science program teaches students about the data life cycle and equips them with the skills to collect, process, manage, and analyze data, covering essential aspects of data management.

Numerous data science research opportunities are available at this institution, as the School of Data Science and Society is dedicated to scholarship and research in data science.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers a range of data science programs, including the Data Science Academy, the Masters Track in Data Science, and the Foundations of Data Science program. The university also boasts distinguished data science faculty members such as Dr. B. Jasmine Adams, Dr. Bita Akram, Dr. Aimee Allard, and Dr. Kemafor Anyanwu Ogan, ensuring a high-quality education for students.

With access to cutting-edge resources and facilities, students can expect a comprehensive education in data science at this institution.

Data Science Career Opportunities in North Carolina

A thriving job market awaits data scientists in North Carolina, where there is a substantial presence of computer and mathematical occupations. The technology sector accounts for 11% of the state’s labor force, and software and web developers represent the largest portion of tech employees. There are 5,050 data scientists employed in North Carolina, earning an average salary of $113,980.

Thanks to a burgeoning tech industry and an abundance of data science programs, North Carolina has become an ideal destination for data science students and professionals.

Top Industries for Data Scientists in North Carolina

A variety of industries in North Carolina, including:

  • BFSI

  • Media & Entertainment

  • Healthcare

  • Retail

  • Telecommunications

  • Automotive

The healthcare industry, in particular, has a high demand for data scientists, with numerous data science jobs available, offering ample opportunities in the field.

Data scientists in the banking and finance industry play a crucial role in risk assessment, fraud detection, customer segmentation, credit scoring, and investment analysis. In the technology sector, data scientists are integral to making sense of complex datasets and providing data-driven insights, leading to innovation and decision-making.

Prominent Employers of Data Scientists

Some of the most notable employers of data scientists in North Carolina include:

  • Lowe’s Home Improvement

  • Bank of America

  • Duke Energy

  • Atrium Health

  • IBM

  • Red Hat

  • Cisco Systems

  • SAS

  • MetLife

  • Fidelity Investments

The technology sector, led by companies such as IBM, Red Hat, Cisco Systems, and SAS, is in the highest demand for data scientists in the state.

Financial institutions like Coastal Credit Union and Bank of America also employ data scientists, providing diverse job opportunities across various industries.

Data Science Salaries and Job Growth

Data scientists in North Carolina earn competitive salaries, with the average standing at $109,134 per year, just a bit below the national average of $117,212 per year. The job growth rate for statisticians and operations analysts in the state is over 140%, showcasing a promising future for data science professionals in North Carolina.

The technology sector in North Carolina has generated $46 billion, accounting for 9.3% of the state’s economy, further emphasizing the importance of data science careers in the region.

Networking and Professional Development in Data Science

For data scientists in North Carolina, networking and professional development are vital. They open doors for:

  • Knowledge sharing

  • Career progression

  • Mentorship

  • Collaboration

  • Overall professional growth

Engaging in data science meetups, communities, conferences, and workshops can help data scientists stay informed about the latest trends and advancements in the industry, connect with experienced professionals, and enhance their skillsets.

Data Science Meetups and Communities

Popular data science meetups and communities in North Carolina include Data Science NC, Data Science Charlotte, Data Scientista Society Triangle, NC Women in Machine Learning and Data Science, and Research Triangle Analysts. These meetups provide a platform for data scientists to network with peers, share insights and best practices, and collaborate on projects.

By participating in these meetups and communities, data scientists can enhance their professional network and stay updated on the latest trends in the field.

Data Science Conferences and Workshops

Data science conferences and workshops in North Carolina offer excellent opportunities for learning and networking. Some of these events include:

  • University Research Week

  • The LAS Summer Conference on Applied Data Science (SCADS)

  • Data Science Day in Chapel Hill

  • The Lifetime Data Science (LiDS) Conference

These events provide workshops, expert panels, and networking opportunities for data science professionals and students. Attending these events can help data scientists stay informed about the latest trends and advancements in the industry, connect with experienced professionals, and enhance their skillsets.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Data Science Students in North Carolina

The accessibility of data science education for students in North Carolina is greatly facilitated by financial aid and scholarships. Several university-based scholarships and external grants are available for data science students, including the GeneTex Scholarship Program and GMiS STEM Scholarships.

Exploring these financial aid options can help data science students pursue their education without facing financial constraints.

University-Based Scholarships

North Carolina universities offer various scholarships for data science programs. The Belk Scholars Program at UNC Charlotte offers full in-state tuition for four years to undergraduate data science students, while the Data Analytics Scholars Program at Elon University awards fifteen scholarships of $5,000 annually to students interested in studying data analytics, regardless of major or minor. Researching and applying for multiple scholarships can boost the chances of securing financial aid.

External Scholarships and Grants

External scholarships and grants are available for data science students in North Carolina through organizations like the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) U-STAR grant and the GEAR UP program. By exploring these financial aid options and meeting the eligibility criteria, data science students can secure their education without financial burden.

Tips for Choosing the Right Data Science Program in North Carolina

Choosing the right data science program in North Carolina requires careful consideration of factors such as:

  • Program reputation

  • Curriculum

  • Specializations

  • Faculty expertise

  • Industry connections

  • Resources

  • Facilities

  • Alumni network

  • Flexibility

  • Cost

  • Location

By keeping these factors in mind, aspiring data scientists can make an informed decision about the program that best suits their needs and career aspirations.

Evaluating Curriculum and Faculty

When evaluating a data science program’s curriculum and faculty, it is important to ensure that the curriculum covers a broad range of topics, such as statistics, machine learning, data visualization, and programming languages like Python or R. Additionally, the faculty should be experienced professionals in the field of data science and knowledgeable educators.

Taking these factors into account, students can choose a program that offers a comprehensive and applicable education, accredited by the colleges and schools commission.

Research Opportunities and Facilities

Data science students in North Carolina should seek out research opportunities and facilities that align with their interests and career goals. Potential research opportunities may include:

  • Data Science Summer Fellowships

  • Research Challenges

  • Research Grants

  • Collaborative Research

  • Industry Partnerships

Access to cutting-edge resources, such as high-performance computing clusters, expansive datasets, and sophisticated software tools, is essential for a successful data science education.

Career Services and Alumni Network

Career services and alumni networks significantly assist data science students in discovering pertinent job opportunities and propelling their careers. By offering career counseling, job search assistance, and access to a network of alumni who can provide mentorship and advice, universities can significantly impact the success of their data science graduates.


In conclusion, North Carolina is a thriving hub for data science education and careers. With renowned universities offering top-notch programs, ample job opportunities across various industries, and a strong community of data scientists, the Tar Heel State is an ideal location for aspiring data scientists. By carefully considering factors such as curriculum, faculty, research opportunities, and financial aid, students can make an informed decision about the data science program that best suits their needs and aspirations. With the right education and network, data scientists in North Carolina can embark on a rewarding and impactful career in this rapidly evolving field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does NC State have a data science major?

Yes, NC State does offer a Master’s degree in Foundations of Data Science (MSFDS). The program is a terminal professional degree program that provides students with depth and breadth across three core disciplines.

Which is best program for data science?

For data science, some of the best programs available are Dataquest, MIT’s Statistics and Data Science MicroMasters, Harvard’s CS109 Data Science course, Python for Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp from Udemy, as well as R, SAS, Apache Spark, BigML, D3, MATLAB, Excel, ggplot2 and Tableau.

Is UNC Chapel Hill good for data science?

UNC Chapel Hill offers a comprehensive data science program that includes practical workplace applications and provides excellent opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience. As such, it is an excellent school for those interested in pursuing a degree in data science.

What types of data science programs are available in North Carolina?

North Carolina provides various data science programs for both current computer science graduates and those interested in entering the field, including undergraduate, graduate, and online options.

Which universities in North Carolina have strong data science departments?

Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University are three universities in North Carolina that have strong data science departments.

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