With the unprecedented need for skilled data scientists in every industry, there’s no shortage of online courses, bootcamps and YouTube videos available.

However, as industry seeks more and more leaders in data science, a higher level of thinking is required.

Is a Data Science Master’s Degree Necessary?

As it turns out:

88% of data scientists have a Master’s degree, according to Burtch Works’ Must-Have Skills You Need to Become a Data Scientist.


Industry is looking for data scientists with leadership competencies.

Companies and organizations are seeking data scientists who can:

  • Apply critical thinking — not just techniques
  • Understand the ethical implications of data usage
  • Communicate actionable insights that can be understood by a non-technical team
  • Remain agile as the data science field evolves

Data scientists in the making can take a MOOC or rely on YouTube videos and perhaps learn enough to get a data science job because of the high demand.

However, if you’re looking for long-term career growth in data science, that’s where a master’s program comes in.

This aligns with the numbers we saw during our information session poll:

69% of respondents said they would like to pursue a data science master’s degree to get the skills and training they need for long-term, future growth.

With Notre Dame’s online data science master’s program, you don’t just learn techniques.

You learn thought processes.

If you’ve just learned how to perform a set of tasks [for example] in a software package, when things change you have to go back and redo that and you don’t really understand why things do what they do,” said Roger Woodard, Program Director for Notre Dame’s online master’s in data science program. 

Woodard further explained:

Data science leaders have to be able to synthesize and go beyond just the repetition of things. It’s higher level learning where you can think about things more deeply. That’s one of those things a master’s degree gives you. You’re not just thinking about topics for a couple of weeks, you’re thinking about them continually and in a synchronized way.”

Notre Dame Builds Courses that Prepare Data Science Leaders

In our recent Facebook Live event, Woodard spoke with the Director of Notre Dame’s Office of Digital Learning Director and Senior Learning Designer, Laurie Kirkner, about how we developed our data science online platform and courses with these leadership competencies in mind.

“We assembled a team of experts in content, learning design, and video presentation and brought their individual expertise together to develop an extremely effective instructional design that lays the groundwork for students to put forth their best effort and to learn well and to learn deeply,” said Kirkner. “It also delivers engaging, beautiful, thought-provoking, interesting content that makes them want to do more.”

Notre Dame’s online data science master’s program gives students a strong grounding in the quantitative and technical skills essential for career success in data science. Through a multi-disciplinary curriculum, our students develop broad analytical and quantitative thinking skills, expertise in storytelling with data, and a deep understanding of the ethical complexities of the field.

“Our data science master’s curriculum is a lock-step program designed to promote the best student experience for online learning and to create opportunities for interaction with faculty and students,” said Woodard. “Students can build the thought processes to think about data from a conceptual point of view and adapt and be agile in an environment where new tools and methods arrive almost daily.”

Watch our Facebook Live video to discover how our distinctive data science master’s curriculum prepares students with the high-demand skills employers are urgently seeking in data scientists.

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