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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • East­ern Flori­da State Col­lege and Mia­mi Dade Col­lege are top schools for an afford­able bach­e­lor’s in data sci­ence.
  • These pro­grams cov­er a range of spe­cial­iza­tions with­in data sci­ence, includ­ing machine learn­ing, big data ana­lyt­ics, and sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el­ing.
  • Grad­u­ates from these pro­grams are well-pre­pared for var­i­ous roles in the tech indus­try, such as data ana­lysts, data engi­neers, and data sci­en­tists.
  • These pro­grams pro­vide a high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion at a low­er cost com­pared to tra­di­tion­al on-cam­pus programs.

Data sci­ence is the cen­ter of mod­ern busi­ness, and an afford­able data sci­ence degree is the begin­ning of a reward­ing, even lucra­tive career. With a data sci­ence degree, you will have job secu­ri­ty in a mas­sive and grow­ing indus­try. Of course, while any data sci­ence degree salary will be enough to sat­is­fy any entry-lev­el stu­dent, your data sci­ence bach­e­lor degree salary will depend on your expe­ri­ence, your job title, the indus­try you work in, the size of the com­pa­ny that hires you, the region where you work, and your lev­el of education.

Accord­ing to a 2016 sur­vey, for every year of edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence, you have in data sci­ence, you can expect to earn an addi­tion­al $2,000 to $2,500 more per year. That means a four year data sci­ence degree salary will add between $8,000 and $9,000 per year. In addi­tion to that, each year you work in the field of data sci­ence, your earn­ings will be pro­ject­ed to grow by at least $2,000. That far out­paces the growth rate of prac­ti­cal­ly any oth­er pro­fes­sion. Of course, with seats being filled rapid­ly, the com­pe­ti­tion is get­ting stiffer by the moment. That means, putting off your edu­ca­tion in data sci­ence is cost­ing you mon­ey right now!

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Data Science Programs

To rank the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams, Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors researched respect­ed, accred­it­ed bachelor’s pro­grams across the US. Edi­tors ranked pro­grams accord­ing to their tuition rate, stu­dent sat­is­fac­tion, and salary potential.

1. Eastern Florida State College

East­ern Flori­da State Col­lege has one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams. Stu­dents learn skills need­ed to suc­ceed in this high-growth career. With an increas­ing need for experts who can man­age big data, this is cur­rent­ly a lucra­tive field. Grad­u­ates go on to jobs based in indus­try, gov­ern­ment and busi­ness. The uni­ver­si­ty pre­pare stu­dents for entry- and man­age­ment-lev­el posi­tions with­in the com­put­er infor­ma­tion sys­tems field.

East­ern Flori­da State Col­lege is a pub­lic school locat­ed in Bre­vard Coun­ty, Flori­da. There are sev­er­al cam­pus­es locat­ed in Mel­bourne, Coco, Titusville, and Palm Beach. This makes it easy for stu­dents to con­tin­ue their stud­ies even if they move out of the area. There are also vir­tu­al learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for some majors.

What We Like: Locat­ed in sun­ny Flori­da, this pro­gram gives stu­dents an oppor­tu­ni­ty to study in one of the most sought-after loca­tions in the world.

Degree: BAS in Data Science

East­ern Flori­da State Col­lege BAS in Data Science

2. Miami Dade College

For those look­ing for one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in Flori­da, Mia­mi Dade Col­lege pro­vides a data ana­lyt­ics degree for stu­dents seek­ing the skills to manip­u­late and ana­lyze big data. Over the past decade, orga­ni­za­tions have com­plete­ly changed the way they struc­ture and use the data they col­lect. With this degree, grad­u­ates help fill the gap in demand ver­sus sup­ply for data ana­lysts with the appro­pri­ate skills. With this bach­e­lor’s of sci­ence and data ana­lyt­ics, stu­dents learn to iden­ti­fy, inter­pret and describe trends and infor­ma­tion with­in an orga­ni­za­tion’s databases.

This pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty is locat­ed in Mia­mi, Flori­da. It has over 22,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and accepts every­one who applies. Oth­er majors include lib­er­al arts, busi­ness and nursing.

What We Likes: This afford­able col­lege accepts every­one who applies, giv­ing access to high­er edu­ca­tion to stu­dents who don’t test well on stan­dard­ized tests or who are return­ing to pur­sue a career change.

Degree: Data Analytics

Mia­mi Dade Col­lege Data Analytics

3. University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin at Riv­er Falls has one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in the region. This degree is locat­ed with­in the Com­put­er Sci­ence and Infor­ma­tion sys­tems Depart­ment. It is the only loca­tion that offers in-per­son class­es for this degree. An empha­sis is placed on how big data relates to eco­nom­ics and business.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin at Riv­er Falls has over 5,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and is a pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty locat­ed in Riv­er Falls, WI. Com­pet­i­tive admis­sion means that three out of four stu­dents get an accep­tance let­ter but one out of four do not. Pop­u­lar majors include ani­mal hus­bandry, ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion and business.

What We Like: The school’s high accep­tance rate gives many stu­dents an oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend high­er edu­ca­tion but also fil­ters out 25% of applicants.

Degree: BS in Data Science

Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin at Riv­er Falls BS in Data Science

4. University of Michigan-Dearborn

One of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in Michi­gan, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Dear­born offers a BS in data sci­ence. This pro­gram shows stu­dents how to extract knowl­edge from huge data­bas­es. This knowl­edge helps dri­ve deci­sion mak­ing with­in an orga­ni­za­tion and makes the most of data col­lect­ed from cus­tomers and busi­ness part­ners. The pro­gram has an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach that includes a foun­da­tion in math­e­mat­ics, sta­tis­tics, machine learn­ing, domain knowl­edge and mod­el­ing skills. Grad­u­ates emerge ready to take on jobs as data min­ing engi­neers, data archi­tects, and busi­ness intel­li­gence analysts.

UM Dear­born Has over 5000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and is locat­ed in the Detroit area. Near­ly eight out of 10 appli­cants received an accep­tance let­ter from the uni­ver­si­ty. These stu­dents go on to major in mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, psy­chol­o­gy and accounting.

What We Like: This afford­able uni­ver­si­ty also has a finan­cial aid rate of 96%, which means that the vast major­i­ty of stu­dents are able to get finan­cial aid.

Degree: BS in Data Science

Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Dear­born BS in data science

5. University of Utah

For one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in Utah, many stu­dents go to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah. This degree pre­pares stu­dents to use com­put­er sci­ence and engi­neer­ing skills to mod­i­fy, build and ana­lyze soft­ware appli­ca­tions. Stu­dents emerge ready to take on posi­tions as data sci­en­tist at orga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies. Grad­u­ates fill a need for qual­i­fied data sci­ence and finance, health­care in oth­er indus­tries. There is a great need for qual­i­fied data ana­lysts, so stu­dents can look for­ward to lucra­tive careers after grad­u­a­tion. Some stu­dents go onto pur­sue master’s degrees in busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion and relat­ed fields.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah enjoys a high rat­ing among those who have attend­ed and with­in the edu­ca­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty at large. This large uni­ver­si­ty has near­ly 19,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and offers a com­pet­i­tive admis­sion rate of 67%. Pop­u­lar majors include eco­nom­ics, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and psychology.

What We Like: Grad­u­at­ing 70% of stu­dents, Utah ranks well for stu­dent retention.

Degree: BS in Data Science

Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah BS in Data Science

6. Middle Tennessee State University

You can attend one of the best data sci­ence pro­grams in Ten­nessee at Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty. Data sci­ence is a very lucra­tive field in which grad­u­ates emerge with jobs wait­ing for them. With this afford­able data sci­ence degree, data prac­ti­tion­ers learn inter­dis­ci­pli­nary skills that include math­e­mat­ics, infor­ma­tion sys­tems, com­put­er sci­ence, ana­lyt­ics and finance. Lever­age the strength of MTSU to cre­ate a career based on a well-round­ed edu­ca­tion. Orga­ni­za­tions look­ing to ramp up and recruit data sci­en­tists are stressed out by the pre­dict­ed short­fall in reli­able can­di­dates for these posi­tions. That’s why data sci­ence is one of the fastest-grow­ing fields in the world.

Mid­dle Ten­nessee State has over 15,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents enrolled at this cam­pus in the Nashville area. Almost every­one who applies is accept­ed and the Uni­ver­si­ty has a 94% accep­tance rate. Pop­u­lar majors include the human­i­ties, music man­age­ment and communications.

What We Like: With this extreme­ly high accep­tance rate, this uni­ver­si­ty is acces­si­ble to near­ly all stu­dents who want a high­er education.

Degree: Data Science

Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty Data Science

7. Metropolitan State University

Attend one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams at Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Uni­ver­si­ty. With a degree in data sci­ence, stu­dents learn the knowl­edge and skills need­ed to per­form data min­ing, sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis and busi­ness ana­lyt­ics at an orga­ni­za­tion or com­pa­ny. This afford­able data sci­ence degree is ide­al for those with a pen­chant for math and sci­ence who love work­ing with com­put­ers. Grad­u­ates inter­act with data used to inves­ti­gate busi­ness trends. They also learn how to effec­tive­ly doc­u­ment their knowl­edge in writ­ten and oral communication.

Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Den­ver has near­ly 13,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and accepts just 59% of appli­cants. This com­pet­i­tive school offers a diverse stu­dent body and well-ranked cam­pus life.

What We Like: This is a great pick for stu­dents in Den­ver look­ing for the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams near home.

Degree: BS in Data Science

Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Uni­ver­si­ty BS in Data Science

8. University of California, Irvine

At the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, stu­dents can find one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in Cal­i­for­nia. UC Irvine’s under­grad­u­ate data sci­ence major empha­sizes com­put­er sci­ence and sta­tis­tics. The afford­able data sci­ence degree pro­vides a foun­da­tion in math­e­mat­ics in prepa­ra­tion for a career in data analy­sis. Cours­es cov­er data struc­tures, data man­age­ment, algo­rithms and machine learn­ing as well as oth­er top­ics relat­ed to the analy­sis and man­age­ment of big data. Grad­u­ates from this pro­gram use their knowl­edge to solve real-world prob­lems in gov­ern­ment, edu­ca­tion­al, and cor­po­rate envi­ron­ments. This pro­gram may appeal to stu­dents who want to work in data sci­ence or go on to grad­u­ate studies.

UC Irvine ranks high­ly on niche.com and has over 29,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents enrolled in pro­grams such as biol­o­gy, social psy­chol­o­gy, and com­put­er sci­ence. Near­ly 83% of stu­dents grad­u­ate from the uni­ver­si­ty, mak­ing it com­pet­i­tive for stu­dent reten­tion. This is a great choice for stu­dents who want to remain in the Irvine area while com­plet­ing a degree from the well-known Uni­ver­si­ty of California.

What We Like: UC Irvine ranks #26 among the top pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties in the country.

Degree: BS in Data Science

UC Irvine’s BS in Data Science

9. Eastern Michigan University

East­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­si­ty is one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in the Mid­west. Stu­dents learn to ana­lyze large datasets and pre­pare for posi­tions in busi­ness and sci­ence. To remain com­pet­i­tive, busi­ness­es need data sci­en­tists who under­stand the con­nec­tion between inno­va­tion, con­sumer behav­ior and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Grad­u­ates who invest in this afford­able data sci­ence degree become valu­able assets to com­pa­nies look­ing for qual­i­fied data ana­lysts who can help them wade through their big data for gold­en nuggets that can dri­ve evi­dence-based decisions.

East­ern Michi­gan has over 11,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and is locat­ed in the Detroit area. Most stu­dents who apply are accept­ed. How­ev­er, the actu­al accep­tance rate is 76%, so stu­dents should fill out the appli­ca­tions care­ful­ly. Pop­u­lar majors include social work, nurs­ing and psychology.

What We Like: 98% of stu­dents receive finan­cial aid, which is great news for stu­dents who need help pay­ing for school.

Degree: Data Sci­ence and Analytics

East­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­si­ty Data Sci­ence and Analytics

10. University of Houston Downtown

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Hous­ton Down­town has one of the best afford­able data sci­ence pro­grams in Texas. Grad­u­ates learn the skills they need to work in edu­ca­tion, defense, ener­gy, med­ical, finance, robot­ics and oth­er fields. This afford­able data sci­ence degree involves a lot of qual­i­ta­tive analy­sis and some stu­dents go on to pur­sue their MBA. Stu­dents learn to clean, com­bine and inves­ti­gate large datasets. A strong math­e­mat­ics back­ground helps to pre­pare algo­rithms need­ed to mine data and uti­lize the machine learn­ing capa­bil­i­ties of mod­ern IT. Data sci­en­tists inter­pret raw data for action­able insights. They math­e­mat­i­cal­ly val­i­date their find­ings before pre­sent­ing them to deci­sion-mak­ers. Those who work in this field need a strong abil­i­ty to visu­al­ize and com­mu­ni­cate the results of their findings.

UHD is a mid-size insti­tu­tion with Just over 6,000 under­grad­u­ate stu­dents. They accept 83% of those who apply, and accept­ed stu­dents go for majors such as busi­ness, account­ing and lib­er­al arts.

What We Like: The gen­er­ous accep­tance rate makes high­er edu­ca­tion wide­ly acces­si­ble in the Hous­ton down­town area.

Degree: BS in Data Science

Uni­ver­si­ty of Hous­ton Down­town BS in Data Science

How Much Can I Make with a Data Science Degree?

Accord­ing to the US Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, the aver­age data sci­ence degree salary is approx­i­mate­ly $100,560 per year. Data sci­ence pro­fes­sion­als are in high­er demand than ever before. This is because big data has been rec­og­nized for at least the last 20 years as a key resource for gov­ern­ments, indus­tries, and adver­tis­ers alike. Gov­ern­ments need accu­rate data ana­lyt­ics for cen­sus, pol­i­cy, and dis­tri­b­u­tion pur­pos­es. Indus­tries need big data for its abil­i­ty to deliv­er future pro­jec­tions on invest­ments, prod­ucts, and ser­vices. And adver­tis­ers need data sci­ence experts to help mine mas­sive repos­i­to­ries of con­sumer infor­ma­tion in order to opti­mize their out­reach campaigns.

Do I Need a Degree to Get a Job in Data Science? 

As you are like­ly aware, many big com­pa­nies and high-pay­ing employ­ers will some­times hire teenagers even before grad­u­at­ing high school, if that teenag­er has shown some extra­or­di­nary vision or apti­tude in a tech­ni­cal field such as com­put­er pro­gram­ming. With the demand for data sci­ence experts grow­ing expo­nen­tial­ly, many peo­ple are ask­ing, “Can you get a data sci­ence job with­out a degree?”

The answer to this ques­tion is high­ly con­tex­tu­al. For exam­ple, many young and ambi­tious tech experts have devel­oped ideas for start­up com­pa­nies that are exceed­ing­ly valu­able to exist­ing com­pa­nies mere­ly in the con­cep­tu­al stage. Arguably, these are out­lier cas­es. How­ev­er, if you want to know how to get into data sci­ence with­out a degree, you might want to go down the fol­low­ing check­list to see what your chances are.

  • Do you have a STEM back­ground? (physics, math)
  • Do you have a “soft” STEM back­ground? (biol­o­gy, eco­nom­ics, etc.)
  • Do you have a non-STEM background?
  • Do you have 1 year or more of expe­ri­ence work­ing with a pro­gram­ming language?
  • Have you ever held a job that involves coding?
  • Are you good at inde­pen­dent learning?

If you answered “yes” to any of these ques­tions, you may con­sid­er your­self to have a 50/50 chance of being able to get into data sci­ence with­out a degree. For every ques­tion you answered “yes” to above, you can add 15% to your chances.

By our esti­ma­tion, if you answered yes to two of these ques­tions, you’ve got about a 65% chance of mak­ing your mark in data sci­ence. If you can just add one more, that rais­es your chances to 85%.

Is a Free Data Science Certificate Worth It?

Many peo­ple already in the data sci­ence field and those look­ing to get into it won­der, “Are free data sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tions worth the time it takes to earn one?” Just like soft­ware com­pa­nies look­ing for the one young genius with a vision for a great prod­uct or con­cept, com­pa­nies that work with big data are eager to hire any­one who can help them get more val­ue out of the moun­tains of big data that exist online and in pri­vate servers.

If you are cur­rent­ly work­ing in data sci­ence or look­ing to break into the indus­try, a free data sci­ence cer­tifi­cate does hold val­ue. As we saw in pre­vi­ous sec­tions, just one year of expe­ri­ence in data sci­ence will add $2,000 to $2,500 to your expect­ed annu­al salary. If you spend a year earn­ing your data sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tion free, the ben­e­fit should be no dif­fer­ent. What mat­ters is your abil­i­ty to prove that you can bring val­ue to the table.

At the end of the day, even free data sci­ence cer­tifi­cates are not free. They take time and effort to earn. Employ­ers know this, and they appre­ci­ate it. What mat­ters to them is whether or not your free online data sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has giv­en you valu­able skills that can help them grow their busi­ness and make more money.

Your job, as a stu­dent, is to obtain free data sci­ence cer­tifi­cates that are of high quality.

Relat­ed Rankings:

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Statistics

25 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Data Science

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Analytics

15 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Analytics

10 Fastest Online Bach­e­lor’s in Analytics

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Analytics