Discover the Best Data Science Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

In the age of big data, pursuing a degree in data science has never been more relevant and rewarding. With a plethora of educational programs and career opportunities, Pennsylvania stands out as a hub for aspiring data scientists. Ready to embark on a journey to a future-proof career in the Keystone State? Let’s dive into the best data science degree programs in Pennsylvania, career prospects, and networking opportunities the state has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s top universities offering comprehensive data science degree programs, such as Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University.

  • When selecting a data science program in Pennsylvania, consider factors such as reputation, curriculum, faculty expertise and job placement rates for quality education and career opportunities.

  • Financial aid options are available to help cover tuition costs with scholarships offered by universities or organizations for eligible students.

Top Data Science Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s top-notch universities offering on-campus data science programs, including Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, and the University of Pennsylvania. These prestigious institutions provide comprehensive curricula, spanning from core courses in machine learning and big data to specialized tracks in computational data science and more.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is renowned for its data science program, offering a Master’s Degree in Computational Data Science and a Ph.D. in Machine Learning, both of which are rooted in computer science. These programs are tailored to provide a solid foundation in the latest techniques and tools essential for data science professionals.

Admittance into CMU’s Master’s program necessitates a 3.0 GPA, submission of GRE scores, as well as other criteria that include letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. The Ph.D. program typically takes four to five years to complete, with core courses including Machine Learning, Probability and Mathematical Statistics, and Advanced Machine Learning: Theory and Methods.

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Penn State University

Penn State University offers a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Data Science, with the option to specialize in Applied Data Sciences, Computational Data Sciences, or Statistical Modeling Data Sciences. Alongside this, the university provides an on-campus Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics, covering topics such as Data Mining, Data Visualization for Analytics, and Enterprise Analytics Strategies. Eligibility for these programs requires completion of prerequisite coursework and an undergraduate degree in a related field such as business or STEM.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania offers the Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in Data Science, a cross-disciplinary program that delves into advanced topics such as analytics, statistical methods, and machine learning capabilities. The MSE program encompasses ten course units divided into three categories, covering core topics such as machine learning, big data, programming, discrete math, data structures and algorithms, computer architecture, and software engineering.

Motivated students have the option to pursue a dual degree in Data Science, by integrating it with another discipline, given they satisfy the required prerequisites.

Online Data Science Programs in Pennsylvania

For those looking to pursue data science education from the comfort of their homes, Pennsylvania offers online data science programs through Penn State World Campus and Drexel University. These flexible options provide the opportunity to develop essential data science skills without compromising on quality.

Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus offers an online Bachelor’s of Science in Software Engineering, a Master of Professional Studies in Data Analytics, and various graduate certificates. The Bachelor’s program covers several core competencies. These include Data Structures and Algorithms, Intermediate Programming, and Calculus I and II. It also offers technical electives such as Applied Machine Learning in Data Science..

The Master of Applied Statistics (MAS) program at Penn State World Campus consists of an equal number of core and elective courses, with topics like Probability Theory, Mathematical Statistics, and Regression Methods. Prospective students aiming to apply for these programs need to go through the online application process accessible on the Penn State World Campus’s website.

Drexel University

Drexel University provides an online Master of Science in Data Science program with three concentration options, as well as two online graduate certificates. Consideration for the Master’s program requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree and potentially complete prerequisite courses, depending on their academic background.

The core courses for both the Applied Data Science and Computational Data Science graduate certificates at Drexel University include Data Acquisition and Pre-processing, and Data Analysis and Interpretation.

Data Science Career Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers a thriving job market for data scientists, with a mean annual salary of $92,760 and a growing number of professionals in the field. The professional and technical services industry, in particular, is projected to expand, making it an attractive sector for data scientists in the Keystone State.

Job Market and Salaries

Data scientists in Pennsylvania enjoy a promising job market, with a mean annual salary of $92,760. Salaries may vary depending on the role and geographic area, with some data science positions in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area offering a mean annual salary of $106,040. The job growth rate for data scientists in Pennsylvania is projected to be 35% from 2022 to 2032, significantly higher than the average for all occupations.

High-paying industries for data scientists in the state include technology companies, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, and financial services companies, with notable employers such as Cisco Systems, Kane Partners LLC, ZS Associates, and GSK.

Prominent Industries

The professional and technical services industry in Pennsylvania is a key sector for data scientists, offering services such as:

  • Engineering

  • Accounting

  • Legal

  • Consulting

With an estimated 7,000 employees to be added to this industry by 2023, data scientists can expect ample opportunities for growth and advancement in the field of big data analytics.

Roles available for data scientists in this industry include Data Scientist, Senior Data Scientist, Senior Data Analyst, Healthcare Data Scientist, and Research Statistics Data Scientist. These data science jobs involve activities like data mining, data modeling, natural language processing, machine learning, and analyzing large structured and unstructured data.

Data Science Events and Networking Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Attending data science events and networking opportunities in Pennsylvania is a great way to stay informed about the latest trends, learn new skills, and connect with fellow professionals in the field. The state offers an array of:

  • Conferences

  • Workshops

  • Meetups

  • Communities

Specifically for data science professionals, artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in their field.

Conferences and Workshops

Some of the most popular data science conferences in Pennsylvania include:

  • Women in Data Science (WiDS) @ Penn Conference

  • WiDS Philadelphia

  • Data Science Conference by the Penn Data Science Group

  • MSI Analytics Conference

  • ODSC Data Science Conferences

  • Data Science Research Talks at Penn State

  • Philly Builds Bio+ Annual Symposium

These events provide excellent learning and networking opportunities for data science professionals.

Pennsylvania also hosts workshops specifically catered to data science professionals, such as the Penn Data Analysis and Visualization Boot Camp, Data Science Certification Training in Philadelphia, and the Data Science and Analytics Boot Camp.

Meetups and Communities

Data science meetups in Pennsylvania include:

  • DataPhilly

  • Serious Data Science

  • Pittsburgh Data Science

  • Data Lancaster

These meetups cater to both experienced professionals and those new to the field. They provide a platform for data scientists to exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and expand their professional networks.

Communities such as the Penn Data Science Group (PDSG) and DataPhilly also foster networking and collaboration among data science professionals in the state.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Data Science Programs in Pennsylvania

Pursuing a data science degree can be a significant financial investment. Fortunately, there are various financial aid and scholarship opportunities available for data science programs in Pennsylvania, helping to ease the burden of tuition costs.

Scholarship Opportunities

Several universities and organizations in Pennsylvania offer scholarships for data science programs, such as Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Lehigh University. Financial aid options for minority students pursuing data science in Pennsylvania include the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) program, the Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship by ExxonMobil, and the ACM SIGHPC/Intel Computational & Data Science Scholarship.

It is advisable to review the specific eligibility criteria for each scholarship to maximize your chances of securing financial assistance.

Alternative Financial Options

If scholarships aren’t enough, alternative financial options for data science programs in Pennsylvania include:

  • University funding

  • External scholarships

  • Federal financial aid

  • Grants

  • Loans

  • Work-study programs

Work-study programs typically involve part-time employment related to the field of study while enrolled in school, allowing students to earn money and gain valuable experience.

Additionally, some data science programs in Pennsylvania offer income-sharing agreements, and there are loan programs available for data science students. For more information about financial aid and scholarships, it’s recommended to contact the Graduate Studies Office of the respective universities.

Skills and Prerequisites for Data Science Degree Programs

Prior to embarking on your data science educational journey, it’s essential to comprehend the required programming languages, mathematical competencies, and relevant experience for data science degree programs.

Programming Languages

Python, R, and SQL are requisite programming languages for a data science degree program.

  • Python is versatile and powerful, designed for data analysis and manipulation, making it an essential tool for data scientists.

  • R programming is employed for statistical computing and graphics.

  • SQL is used for managing and manipulating data stored in relational databases.

Mathematical Knowledge

A data science degree program necessitates a thorough comprehension of mathematics, including:

  • Linear algebra

  • Statistics

  • Calculus

  • Probability theory

  • Mathematical modeling

These subjects furnish the requisite tools and techniques for analyzing and interpreting data. Statistics, in particular, enables data scientists to recognize patterns, trends, and correlations in data, while calculus and linear algebra provide the mathematical basis for numerous data analysis techniques.

Relevant Experience

Relevant experience that is advantageous for enrolling in a data science degree program includes:

  • Database knowledge

  • Statistics and mathematical analysis skills

  • Familiarity with modern data science tools

  • A bachelor’s degree in a pertinent field

  • Internships or capstone projects in data science

  • Experience with quantitative or data-related tasks

Possessing these skills can not only help you succeed in a data science program but also boost your career prospects in the field of data management.

Tips for Choosing the Right Data Science Program in Pennsylvania

In the process of selecting an apt data science program in Pennsylvania, consider key factors such as the reputation of the program, the curriculum and faculty, as well as job placement rates. These factors can help ensure you receive a high-quality education and maximize your chances of securing a fulfilling career in data science.

Program Reputation

Program reputation is an assessment of the quality of a data science program and its associated university, taking into account factors such as:

  • Program reputation

  • Faculty expertise

  • Curriculum quality

  • Research output

  • Industry partnerships

  • Resources and facilities

  • Flexibility

  • Alumni network

Pennsylvania universities are generally known for their strong data science programs, with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania being particularly renowned.

Curriculum and Faculty

When opting for a data science program, assessing the curriculum and faculty expertise is paramount, given the quality of education, support, and research opportunities heavily rely on the faculty’s expertise and knowledge, as well as the guidance of a skilled program director.

It’s essential to ensure that the program covers essential data science topics and skills, as well as provides opportunities for specialization and hands-on experience.

Job Placement Rates

Looking into job placement rates for graduates from data science programs can provide an estimate of potential career success post-program completion. Carnegie Mellon University’s data science graduates boast a nearly 100% job placement rate, demonstrating the effectiveness of their program in preparing students for data science careers.

However, it’s important to note that job placement rates may vary depending on the program and institution, so be sure to research and compare this information when selecting a data science program in Pennsylvania.


In conclusion, Pennsylvania offers a wealth of opportunities for aspiring data scientists, from top-tier on-campus and online degree programs to a thriving job market and an array of networking events. By carefully considering factors such as program reputation, curriculum and faculty, and job placement rates, you can confidently embark on your journey to becoming a successful data scientist in the Keystone State.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which degree is best for data scientist?

For those interested in pursuing a data science career, a Bachelor’s degree in data science, computer science, mathematics, data analytics, statistics, information technology, business, engineering or physics is best.

Does Penn State have a data science major?

Yes, Penn State offers a Computational Data Sciences Option and a unique Data Sciences bachelor’s degree program to equip students with the technical fundamentals and critical skills needed to manage and analyze large-scale unstructured data.

Are data science degrees worth it?

Data Scientist is one of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs in tech, with an average annual salary of $113,000. A data science degree will put you on the path to landing a six-figure job, making it a worthwhile investment in terms of time, money, and effort. Therefore, data science degrees are certainly worth it.

How good is Penn State for data science?

Penn State offers one of the best Master of Data Analytics courses, consistently ranked among the top global universities according to US News and World Report. Its undergraduate data analytics programs are also highly rated.

What are some top universities offering data science programs in Pennsylvania?

Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania are top universities offering data science programs in Pennsylvania.

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