Big Data

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each and every day.

That spells a whole lot of opportunity for big data scientists. With one of the best ranked online big data degrees on your resume, you could be one of the data experts who take these vast amounts of data and convert it into actionable insights.

What is big data?

These days, just about everything is big data. With the rise of digitization, nearly every industry and sector can be quantified and analyzed in the form of big data. In fact, data scientist was dubbed “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by the Harvard Business Review.

In healthcare, big data is used to predict disease outbreaks and interpret the effectiveness of new treatments. In finance, data scientists anticipate fluctuations in the market to pinpoint opportunities and mitigate risk. In ecology, massive amounts of data are used to optimize natural resource usage while minimizing environmental impact.

The list goes on and on. If you have a strong professional interest in a particular field, there’s an excellent chance that it can be combined with big data.

How much money can I make with a big data degree?

Data science is a lucrative field. Based on information from PayScale, a data scientist has an average annual salary of $91,00. For a senior data scientist, the average pay is $128,000 per year.

With a background in big data, you can also become a business intelligence analyst or a data visualization engineer. As a business intelligence analyst, you can make an average of roughly $66,000 a year. A typical data visualization engineer can earn over  $101,000 per year.

Our “How much money can I make with a big data degree?” FAQ post takes a more in-depth look at the job prospects in big data.

What kinds of degrees can I earn in big data?

Associate’s degree programs and undergraduate certificates in big data or data science are relatively uncommon. However, there are some schools, such as the Community College of Allegheny County, that offer an associate’s degree in data analytics technology.

Bachelor’s degrees for data science are much more readily available. In a Bachelor of Science in Data Science program, an average semester might include classes such as:

  • Probability and Statistics
  • Computational Stochastic Modeling
  • Business Data Warehouses and Dimensional Modeling
  • Machine Learning and Data Mining
  • Data Analysis and Visualization

At the master’s degree level, programs are typically more specialized within a particular application of big data. For example, the University of Texas at Dallas offers a master’s degree in social data analytics.

Graduate certificates are also available through numerous universities. The Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) at the University of Michigan, for example, offers a Graduate Data Science Certificate Program.

A fairly limited number of universities offer a doctorate degree in data science. At this level, programs will focus heavily on research. This allows students to tailor their culminating thesis or project to align with their professional interests.

What are the specializations within big data?

Big data is a highly interdisciplinary field. Many students choose to combine a major in Data Science or Data Analytics with a minor, concentration, or double major in another area where big data can be applied.

Common choices include economics, marketing and consumer analytics, computer science, bioinformatics, and social science analytics. Any of these fields can serve as an excellent complement to a big data degree.

Interested in even more options? Read about other available specializations in big data in our FAQ post.