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8 June 2023

9 minutes read

Big Data Masters in the USA

Key Takeaways

  • Educational Variety: The USA’s diverse data science programs cater to varied interests and goals.
  • Industry Connections: Proximity to tech hubs enhances networking and exposure to cutting-edge practices.
  • Curriculum Innovation: Programs are updated with the latest tech trends, offering specialized tracks.
  • Career Opportunities: Data science roles in the USA are in high demand, offering competitive salaries.
  • International Support: Universities provide extensive resources and financial aid for international students.

In an era where data is king, understanding and leveraging big data and analytics is crucial. The USA, a hub of innovation and education, offers world-class opportunities for aspiring data scientists.

This guide provides an insider’s look into pursuing a Master of Science in Data Science or Big Data, detailing top universities, career prospects, and key strategies for success.

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Highlights of Mastering Data Science & Big Data in the USA

ms in data science in usa fees

Key Features and Benefits of Studying in the USA

  • Diverse Educational Ecosystem: Home to Ivy Leagues and tech-forward institutions, the USA offers a variety of programs catering to different interests within data science.
  • Industry Connections: Proximity to Silicon Valley and other tech hubs provides networking opportunities and exposure to cutting-edge practices.
  • Innovative Curriculum: Courses are designed to keep pace with the latest technologies and industry demands.

Future Trends and Industry Demand

  • Rising Demand for Experts: The job market for data professionals is expanding, with a growing need for expertise in areas like AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics.
  • Salary Prospects: Data scientists in the USA command high salaries, reflecting the value of their skills in the marketplace.
  • Innovative Roles: Emerging roles include Data Strategist and AI Ethics Officer, highlighting the field’s evolution.

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Top Universities for MS in Big Data and Data Analytics

Ranking and Reputation

  • MIT: Known for its cutting-edge research and industry partnerships.
  • Stanford University: Offers a robust program with access to Silicon Valley.
  • UC Berkeley: Pioneers in data science education with a strong focus on real-world applications.

In addition to MIT, Stanford, and UC Berkeley, several other universities stand out for their exceptional programs in Big Data and Data Analytics.

List of Universities in the USA for MS in Data Science

UniversityProgram HighlightsIndustry Links
MITInterdisciplinary research, with a strong STEM focusPartnerships with leading tech firms
StanfordProximity to Silicon Valley, innovative curriculumInternships and projects with tech giants
UC BerkeleyPractical approach, diverse specializationsAccess to startups and tech companies
Carnegie Mellon UniversityRenowned for AI and analytics research, hands-on learningCollaborations with industry leaders
Harvard UniversityCutting-edge research, comprehensive curriculumStrong network in academia and industry
Columbia UniversityDiverse electives, focus on emerging data technologiesOpportunities in New York City’s tech scene
University of WashingtonStrong computational and statistical foundation, industry practicumConnections with Seattle’s tech industry
Georgia TechEmphasis on computational data analysis skills, interdisciplinary approachTies with Atlanta’s growing tech sector
University of ChicagoRigorous quantitative training, application-driven methodologyPartnerships with private and public sectors
New York UniversityInnovative research in urban science and informatics, diverse student bodyAccess to NYC’s vast industry network

Specialized Programs and Faculty

Specialized Programs and Faculty In addition to the previously mentioned specializations, these universities offer a range of focus areas to cater to the diverse interests and career goals of students:

UniversitySpecialized Program FocusProgram Description
Carnegie Mellon UniversityArtificial Intelligence and Machine LearningOffers a data science track deeply integrated with computer science and statistics departments, emphasizing AI and machine learning for robust analytical training.
Harvard UniversityMultidisciplinary Data ScienceCombines resources from various departments to provide a broad, interdisciplinary approach, preparing students for diverse data science applications.
Columbia UniversityIndustry-Centric Data AnalysisLocated in New York City, the program focuses on advanced data analysis techniques with opportunities to engage in various industries like finance and healthcare.
University of WashingtonPractical Data ScienceDesigned for working professionals, this program includes a practical capstone project addressing real-world data challenges, emphasizing applied learning and problem-solving skills.
Georgia TechInterdisciplinary AnalyticsProvides a comprehensive MS in Analytics, blending engineering, computing, and business perspectives to offer a well-rounded, interdisciplinary skill set.
University of ChicagoStatistical Methodology and Machine LearningKnown for its rigorous quantitative training, the program focuses on providing a strong foundation in statistical methodology complemented by machine learning techniques.
New York UniversityUrban Science and InformaticsFocuses on applying data science to urban and social issues, ideal for students interested in leveraging big data to impact city planning, policy, and community development.

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Admission Process & Eligibility for MS in Big Data and Data Analytics

Essential Qualifications and Documents

  • Academic Prerequisites: Typically a bachelor’s in a related field with a strong foundation in math and statistics.
  • Standardized Tests: GRE scores may be required, though some programs offer waivers.
  • Documents: Transcripts, SOP, LORs, and a resume/CV are usually necessary.

Checklist: Application Essentials

Tips for a Successful Application

  • Highlight Relevant Experience: Whether through internships, projects, or research, show your hands-on engagement with data.
  • Articulate Your Passion: Use your SOP to convey your enthusiasm and how the program aligns with your career goals.
  • Seek Recommendations from Professionals: Letters from industry professionals or academics who know your work can provide a significant boost.

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MS in Data Science in the USA Fees

Detailed Cost Table: Public vs. Private Universities

Institution TypeTuition Range per YearAdditional FeesDescription
Public University$20,000 – $30,000Varies (typically $500 – $2,000)Public institutions generally offer lower tuition rates. Additional fees may include lab fees, technology fees, and library services.
Private University$50,000+Varies (typically $1,000 – $3,000)Private institutions are usually more expensive. Additional fees can cover student services, facility use, and other institutional benefits.

Note: Tuition and fees can vary significantly based on the specific program and university. Always check the university’s official site for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Ms in Data Science in the USA Cost

Living expenses in the USA can vary greatly based on location, lifestyle, and personal choices. The table below provides a detailed monthly guide for estimated costs for students.

Expense TypeEstimated Monthly CostDetails
Housing$800 – $1,500On-campus dormitories might be at the lower end, while renting an apartment off-campus, especially in cities like New York or San Francisco, can be more expensive.
Food$300 – $600This can vary based on whether you cook at home or prefer eating out. Campus meal plans can also be an option to consider.
Transportation$100 – $300Costs depend on the city’s public transport fees and how frequently you travel. Owning and maintaining a car would significantly increase this expense.
Miscellaneous$200 – $400Includes expenses like cell phone bills, leisure activities, personal supplies, and unforeseen costs.
Health Insurance$200 – $500Often mandatory for international students. The cost can vary based on coverage.
Books & Supplies$500 – $1,000 per semesterIncludes textbooks, software subscriptions, and other academic materials. These costs can vary greatly depending on the course requirements.

Note: These are estimated costs and can vary based on personal choices, lifestyle, and the city you live in. Some universities offer comprehensive cost calculators on their websites, which can provide more tailored estimates.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid for Aspiring Students

University-Specific Scholarships

  • Merit-Based: Many institutions offer scholarships based on academic or extracurricular excellence.
  • Need-Based: Financial aid packages can help cover tuition and living expenses for qualifying students.

Pursuing higher education, especially in a field as specialized as Big Data and Data Analytics, can be financially demanding. However, numerous scholarships are available to help ease the burden. Here’s a table detailing various scholarship options, including university-specific, government, and private funding opportunities.

ScholarshipEligibilityAward AmountDetails
University Merit ScholarshipsAcademic excellenceVariesOffered by universities to recognize outstanding academic achievements. May cover partial or full tuition and sometimes include a stipend.
Fulbright ProgramInternational studentsCovers tuition and living expensesSponsored by the U.S. government, this program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.
Data Science FoundationsInterest in data sciencePartial to full tuitionIt is targeted at students demonstrating a keen interest and aptitude in the field of data science.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research FellowshipU.S. citizens or permanent residents pursuing research-based mastersStipend and tuition supportRecognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines.
SMART ScholarshipU.S. citizens, willing to work in defense post-graduationFull tuition and stipendThe Science, Mathematics, And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program is designed to produce the next generation of Department of Defense (DoD) science and technology (S&T) leaders.
Women in Data Science ScholarshipFemale students in data scienceVariesOffered by various institutions and organizations to support and encourage women to pursue careers in data science.
Minority ScholarshipsUnderrepresented minoritiesVariesAimed at increasing diversity in data science. Offered by various universities and organizations.
Company-Sponsored ScholarshipsVaried eligibility criteriaVariesProvided by private companies to foster education in fields relevant to their industry, such as data science and analytics.

Note: The eligibility criteria, award amount, and application process for each scholarship can vary significantly. Students should consult the official scholarship website or contact the offering institution or organization for the most accurate and detailed information.

Scope and Career Opportunities after MS in Big Data and Data Analytics

ms in data science in usa cost

Job Market and Industry Connections

  • Diverse Opportunities: Graduates find roles in tech, finance, healthcare, and more.
  • Networking: Universities often host job fairs and networking events with leading companies.

Did You Know?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of data scientists and mathematical science occupations will grow 31% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Career Pathways

RoleIndustryTypical ResponsibilitiesSkills Required
Data ScientistTechAnalyzing complex data sets to inform decisions, developing algorithms, and predictive modeling.Machine learning, statistics, programming
Business AnalystBusinessLeveraging data to drive strategy and operations, identifying trends, and making recommendations based on data findings.Analytical thinking, problem-solving, business knowledge
Health Data AnalystHealthcareImproving patient outcomes through data analysis, managing health data, and identifying trends in patient care.Healthcare knowledge, statistical skills, attention to detail
Marketing AnalystMarketingAnalyzing market trends, consumer behavior, campaign performance, and optimizing marketing strategies.Marketing knowledge, analytical skills, creativity
Financial Data AnalystFinanceAssessing financial data, market trends, risk management, and informing investment and business decisions.Financial acumen, analytical skills, attention to detail
Data EngineerVariousDeveloping, constructing, testing, and maintaining architectures such as databases and large-scale processing systems.Programming, system architecture, database management
Machine Learning EngineerTech, VariousDesigning and creating AI algorithms, working on systems that learn and adapt based on data.Machine learning, programming, statistics
User Experience (UX) ResearcherTech, DesignUnderstanding user needs through data, improving product design and functionality.Research, psychology, design thinking
Data is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.

-Peter Sondergaard, Gartner Research

Growth Trajectory

Experience LevelPotential RolesDescription
Entry-LevelData Analyst, Junior Data ScientistEngage in data cleaning, preliminary analysis, and assisting senior data professionals.
Business Intelligence AnalystFocus on analyzing data to provide actionable insights into business processes.
Mid-LevelSenior Data Scientist, Data EngineerTake on more complex projects, lead smaller teams, responsible for significant data pipelines and analytics.
Machine Learning SpecialistSpecialize in creating predictive models and algorithms for use in various applications.
Senior-LevelChief Data Officer, Data Strategy DirectorOversee data strategies, and ensure data integrity and alignment with business goals.
VP of Analytics, Senior Machine Learning EngineerLead large-scale projects, innovate with new techniques, and drive major business decisions.

Additional Considerations

  • Interdisciplinary Opportunities: As data science is inherently interdisciplinary, there are opportunities to work in virtually any industry, from entertainment to environmental science, each offering unique challenges and applications.
  • Global Demand: With data playing a crucial role globally, opportunities aren’t limited to the U.S. Graduates can find roles in international markets, each with its own demand and specialization areas.
  • Entrepreneurial Paths: For those inclined towards entrepreneurship, data science skills are invaluable in starting their tech ventures or consultancies.

MS in Big Data and Data Analytics without a GRE

Universities Offering GRE Waivers

  • Criteria for Waivers:
    • Work Experience: Significant professional experience, particularly in a related field, can sometimes replace the GRE requirement.
    • Academic Performance: A high GPA, especially in relevant undergraduate coursework, may qualify you for a waiver.
    • Advanced Degrees: Holding an advanced degree (like another master’s or a Ph.D.) can sometimes negate the need for GRE scores.
    • University-specific Policies: Some institutions may have unique criteria such as alumni status or residency.
  • Research and Preparation:
    • Check Program Websites: Each university will have its policies and criteria for GRE waivers, so it’s vital to get information directly from the source.
    • Prepare Documentation: Be ready to provide transcripts, resumes, or other documents to prove your eligibility for a waiver.
    • Understand Deadlines: Some programs may have specific deadlines for requesting a GRE waiver.

How to Apply without GRE Scores

  • Emphasize Other Strengths:
    • Highlight Experience: Detail any relevant work projects, roles, or responsibilities that demonstrate your skills and commitment to the field.
    • Showcase Certifications: Include any additional certifications or courses you’ve completed that are relevant to Big Data and Data Analytics.
    • Academic Achievements: Emphasize any academic honors, awards, or notable projects.
  • Contact Admissions:
    • Inquire about Alternatives: Some programs might offer alternative assessments or interviews.
    • Clarify Your Situation: Be transparent about why you’re seeking a waiver and how your other qualifications make you a strong candidate.
    • Seek Advice: Admissions counselors can offer guidance and suggestions to strengthen your application without GRE scores.

Alternatives to GRE

  • Quantitative Skills:
    • Professional Certifications: Certifications from recognized industry bodies can demonstrate your skills.
    • Portfolio of Projects: Share any relevant projects where you’ve applied quantitative skills.
    • Continuing Education: Courses completed post-graduation that show advanced quantitative abilities.
  • Analytical Writing:
    • Professional Publications: If you’ve authored papers, articles, or reports, include these in your application.
    • Writing Samples: Provide samples from academic or professional work that demonstrate your writing and analytical skills.
    • Blogs or Presentations: If you maintain a professional blog or have made presentations, these can showcase your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively.
  • Letters of Recommendation:
    • Professional Endorsements: Letters from supervisors or colleagues that speak to your analytical and quantitative skills.
    • Academic References: If you’ve been involved in research or advanced coursework, academic references can be particularly persuasive.
  • Interviews:
    • Personal Interviews: Some programs may offer or require interviews as part of the application process. This is an opportunity to verbally demonstrate your knowledge and passion for the field.


Embarking on a journey to master big data and data analytics in the USA is an exciting venture that opens doors to a dynamic and rewarding career. With careful planning, the right educational pathway, and a commitment to continual learning, you can transform your passion for data into a thriving profession.

Are you ready to transform your passion for data into a dynamic and rewarding career? Dive into the world of Big Data and Data Analytics with a Master’s program in the USA.

Master the GRE and take a significant step toward graduate school admission with Ambitio as your strategic partner. Our platform provides a comprehensive suite of resources, from expertly designed lessons to personalized feedback, all aimed at helping you secure a score that reflects your true academic ability.


What educational background is required for an MS in Big Data and Data Analytics?

Typically, a bachelor’s in a related field like computer science, mathematics, or engineering is preferred, along with foundational knowledge in statistics and programming.

Are there part-time or online options for this degree?

Many universities offer flexible part-time and online programs to accommodate working professionals and other non-traditional students.

What career paths are available after completing this degree?

Graduates often pursue roles such as Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Business Analyst, and roles in sectors like technology, finance, healthcare, and consulting.

How important is the GRE for admission?

The importance of GRE scores varies by program. Some universities offer waivers based on work experience or academic performance, while others are moving away from the GRE entirely.

What type of financial aid is available for this program?

Students can access a variety of financial aid options, including federal loans, university scholarships, merit-based awards, and external fellowships.

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