5 Hallmarks of a Quality Data Science Degree Program

great data science program characteristics

Important Characteristics of Great Data Science Programs

  • Big Data Course
  • Focus on Professional Communication
  • A plethora of In-Major Electives
  • A Proven Track Record
  • Professors’ Credentials and Industry Experience

In order to gauge how good some data science program truly is, one has to know what to look for. After all, with the popularity of this major constantly rising, the number of schools that now feature data science as a degree plan in incredibly high.


Focus on Professional Communication

Although the primary focus of every data science major is to learn the ins and outs of the modern use of technology when it comes to information analysis, having intangible skills is also necessary. One of them would be the student’s ability to convey and simplify elaborate ideas to someone who may not have any background within the field. Hence why nearly all good data science degrees will require one to take a class on professional communication. They may also mandate that the student completes a report-writing course in order to develop written communication abilities.

A Plethora of In-Major Electives

The vast majority of bachelor degrees have approximately 10 to 15 courses tied directly to someone’s major. For instance, a student who is pursuing data science will usually have to take about 30 to 40 credit hours that are completely focused on data and analysis. In order to get to the most common minimum requirement of 120 hours, however, there must be some fill-in electives. Students could look at the types of offered electives to get an idea of the degree plan’s quality. It is important to have at least two to three mandatory electives that are still related to the major, just not directly.

Big Data Course

One of the most essential pieces of material for any data science plan boils down to the so-called “Big Data.” According to Forbes Magazine, Big Data is responsible for everything from helping cure cancer to preventing crime around the globe. Knowing how to analyze and interpret it is easily the most vital skill that every student must possess upon graduation. So, if the program in question has no course that touches solely on this subject, one could interpret it as a red flag. Of course, lacking one course does not immediately rule out an entire degree plan, it simply raises concern.

A Proven Track Record

If the research shows that all courses and the overall curriculum are satisfactory, it is time to look at the program’s track record. In translation, the student needs to confirm that those who already graduated from that same school have been able to find a job within the data science field. If a lot of the alumni have struggled to get employed, there might be a need to take a closer look and figure out if that is caused by the lack of school’s credibility. The easiest way to do so is to communicate with the alumni or reach out to the school’s advisors.

Professors’ Credentials and Industry Experience

Finally, a dead giveaway of the quality of a data science program would be professors’ credentials. If most of the lecturers have graduate degrees and industry-related experience, the degree will be much more valuable. In case those who lecture have absolutely no direct ties to data science, however, it is time to immediately move on and look elsewhere. The reason why is that something as sophisticated and forward-thinking as data analysis can not be taught by individuals who have not gone through the same process and worked in the field before.


Obviously, not every degree plan is going to satisfy all of these five characteristics. The data science programs that are able to meet most of these requirements, however, are much more likely to help their students lead a fruitful career.

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