A man interacting with data visuals displayed on a screen.

Pursuing a master’s in data science helps you gain the practical skills needed to advance your career and meet the demand for data scientists and experts across multiple industries. The degree tackles both theoretical and hands-on practice of applied mathematics and computer science. Additionally, a data science master’s program can provide opportunities to specialize in a particular area such as ​machine learning, data visualization, game theory, large-scale data systems, and more. 

Ultimately, whether or not a master’s degree in data science is worth it varies from person to person based on their individual career goals, interests, and skills. Here is an overview of what to consider to determine whether or not pursuing a degree is the right choice for your career.

Who Should Get a Master’s in Data Science?

A data science master’s is a great fit for individuals who are looking for a profession that combines creative, critical, and analytical thinking. Data scientists also tend to be excellent communicators, which allows them to concisely communicate complex research findings to team members from other departments. Potential candidates for a master’s degree in data science can typically identify with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in a related field (such as computer science) and wish to transition into the data science industry.
  • Currently work in a related STEM field such as computer programming.
  • Possess a professional certificate or has taken several computer science or relevant courses.
  • Are looking to advance their careers by becoming a specialist and/or transitioning into a leadership role.

Why a Master’s in Data Science Is Worth it

There are numerous career paths available for someone with a master’s degree in data science to pursue. You can specialize your expertise in specific industries (such as banking, financial services, and insurance, for example) and use a combination of your new knowledge gained from your degree and current work experience to transition into one of the following careers. 

The experience and impact of a master’s in data science vary from program to program. However, we can examine Johns Hopkins’ career outcomes to get an idea of the general benefits of this program:

  • 88% of graduates have been able to apply what they learned in their program to their jobs.
  • 58% of graduates anticipate a promotion or transition into a more desirable position as a result of their studies.
  • 55% of graduates received a salary increase after completing their degree.

Earning an advanced degree is critical to positioning yourself for career opportunities and advancement in the data science field. Learn more about why these benefits make a master’s in data science worth it below.

Seamlessly Transition Into Data Science

Data science is a broad field of study, so those transitioning into the industry may not know where to begin. A master’s program provides these types of students with a starting point: a rigorous curriculum with hands-on experience that develops necessary technical skills. Though employers typically value both field experience in addition to education, companies also seek out candidates with a STEM background. By combining your related experience with an advanced degree, you can position yourself as a specialist in a specific segment of data science.

Become a More Marketable Candidate

Generally speaking, data science is an industry in which those with advanced degrees have more career opportunities. This is likely because a large percentage of data scientists hold a master’s degree which means increased competition for job opportunities. Additionally, data science is an ever-evolving industry, so it is critical that professionals have the most up-to-date knowledge. Having a master’s degree or higher will help even the playing field among candidates during the interview process.

Impressive Return on Investment 

If you are already working in the field of data science or want to make a switch to a new job, you can potentially increase your salary and enjoy a more lucrative career path with a master’s degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean wage of different salaries in data science fields ranges from $108,060 to $157,110.

For some, the increased salary generated by having an advanced degree is enough of an ROI to justify the financial investment into the program. While this is certainly a marketable attribute of what makes a master’s degree in data science worth it, it’s not the only benefit. 

Other returns gained include:

  • Access to enriching career services
  • A fruitful network of impressive alumni
  • Specialized knowledge and in-demand skills taught by industry experts
  • Hands-on research experience

Additionally, depending on your current position or advancement opportunities in your workplace, your current employer may also consider paying for a master’s degree. The more cost covered by an employer or scholarship, the higher your ROI can become. Nearly 80% of students in the Engineering for Professionals graduate program at Johns Hopkins University receive financial support from their employer.

Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Data Science

Johns Hopkins University helps prepare you with the education, hands-on experience, theoretical knowledge, and the network you need to pursue a long-lasting career in data science. We offer flexible learning options that allow students to get this experience and education while working. There is also an opportunity to participate in research. Through our part-time, online master’s in data science program offerings, you can apply what you learn as you’re learning it from our in-depth, industry-ready  curriculum. 

Our coursework is designed with our student’s professional aspirations in mind to keep pace with recent trends and developments in the field. Beyond a robust curriculum, Johns Hopkins University also offers Career Services and Training to help advance your career. If you are interested in getting a master’s in data science, graduate certificate, or post-master’s certificate at JHU, reach out to admissions today!