Top 10 Best Data Science PhD Online Programs

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Data Science Degree Programs Guide - Top Online Degrees - New-01

According to IBM, poor data quality costs the US economy around $3 trillion each year. Globally, that figure could be as high as $14 trillion. The demand for data scientists has soared in recent years. Data scientists are highly skilled professionals who use cutting-edge technology to make sense of large, often unstructured, datasets.  They are necessary for almost every industry to help provide analysis for a data-driven business environment. They use proven strategies such as:

  • clustering
  • artificial intelligence
  • behavioral analytics
  • data mining

Earning an online data science PhD can give data scientists the professional skills needed to advance their careers.


A PhD in data science online is a great choice for data scientists who may not want to relocate or take time away from work. We looked at over 20 different doctoral programs in data science.  We based our search on College Navigator and DataScience Community. This determined our top 10 for our data science PhD program ranking. We included data analytics doctoral programs in our search.  The best programs had:

  • limited residency requirements
  • a highly interactive curriculum
  • a variety of courses in data science
  • support from expert-level faculty

We then based our data science PhD programs ranking on the following considerations and assigned points accordingly:

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • 15:1 or less= 5 Points
  • 16:1 to 20:1= 3 Points
  • Greater than 20:1= 1 Point

Average Graduate Tuition

  • Less than $10,000 per year= 5 Points
  • $10,000 to $15,000 per year= 4 Points
  • $15,001 to $20,000 per year= 3 Points
  • $20,001 to $25,000 per year= 2 Points
  • Greater than $25,000 per year= 1 Point

Cost is a factor we considered in developing our list. Though many PhD level data science programs provide students with an assistance to cover the cost of their tuition. We reviewed each school’s average graduate tuition rates from College Navigator. This is a website run by the National Center for Education Statistics. It provides information on institutions of higher education around the country.

Tuition rates can vary from program to program. We looked specifically at tuition rates for graduate school, Always consult the university to find out specifics related to their online PhD data science program. Check if they offer any financial aid or scholarships to reduce your overall cost.

Below are the best online doctorate degrees in data science-based on our criteria. We believe our list highlights the best of the best in quality online doctorate in data science programs.

See Also: Top 20 Online Masters Degree Database Administration 

Data Science Doctorate Online Degree Programs Ranking

#10. University of the Southwest – Hobbs, New Mexico

DBA – Data Analytics

Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Tuition: $22,500/year
Total Points: 5
The University of the Southwest is a private, non-profit Christian university offering accredited degrees to online students. USW features an online doctorate in data analytics. It prepares students to solve business challenges using a quantitative research approach. This data science program follows a mentorship approach.  Students work closely with faculty to achieve their professional goals. Data sciences graduate program coursework is delivered 100% online and there are no required residencies.

#9. Capella University – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Online Doctor of Health Administration-Health Care Quality and Analytics Specialization

Capella University Online Doctor of Health Administration-Health Care Quality and Analytics Specialization

School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 27:1
Tuition: $14,767/year
Total Points: 5
The health care quality and analytics online doctorate program from Capella University includes principles and topics from the National Center for Health Care Leadership Competency Model. Students follow a structured schedule with weekly assignments and classroom discussions that followed the GuidedPath learning format. Courses include:

  • Health Data Analytics in Quality
  • Performance Management and Process Improvement in Health Care
  • Patient Safety, Accreditation, and Regulation in Health Care

Data science program graduates are ready to use their skills in a variety of settings including:

  • hospitals
  • health insurance carriers
  • social advocacy organizations.

#8. Colorado Technical University – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Doctor of Computer Science – Big Data Analytics

Doctor of Computer Science-Concentration in Big Data Analytics Colorado Technical University

School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 31:1
Tuition: $13,785/year
Total Points: 5
The high-quality online doctorate in big data analytics from Colorado Technical University uses the latest industry tools to produce meaningful insights from unstructured data. The data science curriculum is primarily delivered online so students can build their course schedule around their other obligations. There are multiple start dates offered throughout the year. PhD data science online students can begin the program at their convenience. Data science students can complete their degree in about three years.

#7. Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, Arizona

DBA Degree in Data Analytics – Quantitative

grand-canyon-university Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Data Analytics Online

School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Tuition: $10,528/year
Total Points: 5
Grand Canyon University features an online cost-effective DBA in data analytics. Students will learn to use statistical tools to:

  • clean numerical data
  • determine its reliability
  • conduct analysis.

Courses include:

  • Analytics Foundations for Business Leaders
  • Approaches to Research Design and Data Analysis
  • Emerging Issues in Financial Management

Data science PhD program online courses allow students to study where and when it’s convenient.  Students come to campus for two or three five-day residencies in Phoenix. These on-campus experiences allow students to network. They also benefit from mentorship opportunities and professional development with faculty members.

#6. Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland

DrPH in Health Policy and Management-Public Health Informatics

Johns Hopkins DrPh in Health Policy and Management-Public Health Informatics

School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Tuition: $57,010/year
Total Points: 6
The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University features a Doctor of Public Health with a concentration in health policy and management. Within the concentration is a track in public health informatics. It is delivered in a flexible part-time format. This top data science doctorate degree requires:

  • coursework
  • a practicum
  • a dissertation

Students are expected to stay employed in a relevant public health setting throughout their time in the program. Graduates are employed in mid to senior level positions in:

  • non-profit
  • government
  • international public health organizations

#5. University of North Texas – Denton, Texas

PhD in Information Science-Data Science

UNT Ph.D. in Information Science-Data Science

School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 26:1
Tuition: $6,350/year in-state and $13,712/year out-of-state
Total Points: 6
UNT features a top online PhD program in data science through a partnership between the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. PhD in data science students will benefit from interdisciplinary training.  They will gain experience in doctoral research in data science. Concentration courses include:

  • Big Data Analytics
  • Data Visualization for Analytics
  • Analytic Tools, Techniques and Methods

Data science students come to campus for a residential experience that gives them a high level of interaction with their professors. UNT is committed to keeping costs affordable. They offer a variety of financial aid opportunities that include:

  • competitive scholarships
  • grants
  • assistantship opportunities.

#4. The University of Rhode Island – Kingston, Rhode Island

Online PhD in Computer Science

University of Rhode Island Online Ph.D. in Computer Science

School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Tuition: $14,096/year in-state and $27,214/year out-of-state
Total Points: 7
The high-quality computer science PhD at the University of Rhode Island is a flexible program available to full and part-time students. Most, but not all, computer science courses are available online. It makes this is a great choice for professionals in the Kingston area who are looking for a low-residency program. Course offerings are robust and include:

  • Programming for Data Science
  • Data Structures and Abstractions
  • Database Management Systems

New computer science doctoral students are admitted for the fall semester. Full-time students can earn their degree in four years.

#3. Northcentral University – La Jolla, Ca/ Scottsdale, AZ

Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science Online

NCU Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science Online

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Tuition: $9,900/year
Total Points: 8
Northcentral University features a research-oriented online PhD in data science that is aligned with industry needs. The unique one-on-one learning model provides doctoral degree students with unmatched personal attention. New PhD data science courses begin weekly. This allows students to fit their education into their busy personal and professional schedule. Data science graduate program courses cover areas like:

  • machine learning
  • data visualization
  • critical analysis and reporting

Data science program graduates are successful in careers in:

  • database architecture
  • database administration
  • data warehousing.

#2. Dakota State University – Madison, South Dakota

Doctor of Science in Information Systems


School Profile
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Tuition: $5,939/year in-state and $11,088/year out-of-state
Total Points: 8
DSU features one of the most flexible data science Doctor of Philosophy programs to make our ranking. Students can take courses online or on-campus and attend full or part-time. Students can choose from three different areas of specialization including:

  • analytics
  • security
  • health care

Core courses cover relevant areas like:

  • data warehousing and data mining
  • information retrieval
  • advanced database

Full-time students with their master’s degree should be able to complete their PhD in just three years. New students are admitted for the fall semester. Graduates have the tools they need to solve complex data science problems in a variety of settings including:

  • academic
  • government
  • business
  • finance.

#1. Capitol Technology University – Laurel Maryland

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Analytics and Data Science

Capitol Technology University Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Analytics and Decision Sciences

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Tuition: $11,390/year
Total Points: 9
Our top data science online PhD is offered by Capitol Technology University. Students will learn strategies and skills that will prepare them for senior positions in the public or private sector. The low residency format allows working professionals to balance their education with their established careers. Most courses are offered online and cover areas like:

  • analytics and decision analysis
  • business intelligence
  • machine learning
  • data mining
  • applied statistics and visualization for analytics
  • Big Data warehousing and analytics systems

Students come to campus to complete their qualifying exam and work one-on-one and in groups to prepare for their dissertation. Core PhD in data analytics online courses are taught by working professionals who stay current on emerging developments in the field. Online PhD analytics students can feel confident they’re gaining professional skills that are in demand by top employers.

Is a PhD in data science worth it?

A PhD in data science is the most advanced level of data science education available. A PhD can take years to complete. By the end, you’ll have a wide span of knowledge and understanding of the data science field. You will also have the education you’ll need to get top positions in research and academia. A PhD is typically a research oriented program. It can take some time before you hit a financial payoff after earning your PhD. High paying jobs data scientist jobs requiring a PhD also usually require significant experience. You’ll need to be patient!

The decision to earn a PhD is not to be taken lightly.  There are many benefits (as well as some downsides).  Here we explore some of them.

  • Research is a key piece of earning a PhD.  PhD students can conduct research during their dissertation that could advance the industry or solve a long-standing issue.  Very exciting!
  • There are several specializations in data science.  Some master’s degree programs even offer concentration areas that PhD programs can build upon.  Areas like biomedical data science, health informatics, and business analytics allow PhD students to build upon their previous education and make meaningful contributions to the field.
  • University partnerships provide students with the opportunity to work with real data sets.  Students can collaborate with others on research efforts, gaining new perspectives and insights.
  • Some programs accept students with only a bachelor’s degree.  Popular bachelor’s degree majors include analytics and computer science.  Students can earn their master’s while pursuing a PhD!
  • Graduates with a PhD may see an increase in job opportunities in areas like academia and research.
Potential Disadvantages:
  • A PhD takes a significant amount of time to complete.  Students who opt to complete a full-time program could be missing out on three to five years of financial earnings and real-world skill development.
  • You’ll need to find a way to fund your PhD.  Some students finance their degree on their own with the help of financial aid.  Others will apply to programs that fully fund students and offer stipends.
  • Technology changes rapidly.  Your time spent completing research could take away from gaining on-the-job industry data analysis knowledge and skills.
  • Make certain your desired position requires a PhD.  Many industries are perfectly happy with a bachelor’s degree or master’s in data science. It could also be a related area like computer science as long as the applicant has relevant work experience.

If you decide to pursue a PhD, eventually your hard work and commitment to your doctoral program and to the field of data science will pay off. You’ll be eligible for some of the highest paying and most prestigious jobs in the field.

What jobs are available to a data scientist with their PhD?

Whether you complete your data science PhD online or on-campus, the job prospects are the same. A PhD can open to the door to a wide variety of exciting data science careers. Data science PhD graduates are in primarily in demand by:


PhD data science programs are the primary avenue to get a data related position in academia. The data science research experience required to complete a PhD lends itself to a career in academia. These positions can be fiercely competitive.


Data science is a rapidly changing field with new technologies constantly on the horizon. Data science grads with the ability to stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies are highly sought after.  Business intelligence and machine learning are two specialized areas in-demand by industry executives.

How long does it take to get a PhD in Data Science?

A data science doctoral program is a significant investment of time and money.  Data scientists can expect to spend three to four years working on their PhD in data science. The time it takes to complete doctoral programs in data science is determined by the degree requirements and the students’ schedule.

Hybrid and online data science programs can usually provide extra flexibility adult learners and those non-traditional schedules need. Accelerated doctoral program options may be a great option for students completing their doctorate in data science online, saving time and money.

What are the requirements for a PhD in data science degree program?

Admissions requirements

Admission to a PhD program is extremely competitive.  Because of the intense nature of the program, an extremely limited number of doctoral degree applicants are accepted each year.  Prospective students must submit a strong application packet that makes them stand out from the competition.

Applicants should have a minimum of a master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, this does not need to be from a data science masters program, but of course it will help. Some online data science programs may also require applicants to submit for consideration:

  • letters of recommendation
  • a statement of purpose
  • GRE exam scores
  • a CV or resume

A doctorate degree is typically comprised of several different parts including:


A PhD in data science require coursework that helps build a strong educational foundation. Core courses may cover areas that include:

  • Big Data
  • business intelligence
  • statistical methods
  • knowledge management
  • machine learning.
Comprehensive Exam:

Before beginning doctoral dissertation process, data science doctoral students may need to complete a comprehensive examination. This exam allows faculty to assess a student’s level of knowledge and understanding of the field before beginning their dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal:

The dissertation proposal is a comprehensive statement that describes the research that a data science student wants to accomplish.  Students will:

  • state their research question
  • discuss the general scope of their project
  • discuss how they’ll do it
  • explain how it contributes value to the field.
Dissertation Research:

Dissertation research serves as the final piece of doctoral study. Students complete the dissertation research project they designed, summarize their research and findings in their dissertation paper.

Field Experience:

Some data science graduate programs require their students to complete a field experience as part of their curriculum. Students may work with an outside organization or a research center on-campus to create original research or solve a real-world data science problem.

Special projects:

Many data science doctoral programs offer students the opportunity to participate in special projects. These unique professional development opportunities allow students to develop areas of specialized knowledge that can help them build their resume.

Will I need any licenses or certificates to get a job in data science?

There’s no standard industry license of certification for data science professionals. Data professionals who want to stand out from the competition have a variety of certification options available. These specialized training programs allow students to develop technical skills that recruiters and hiring managers look for. Some popular certifications include:

Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) Generalist Certification

This certification validates proficiency with the Cloudera platform. Certification applies to multiple roles including:

  • data analyst
  • developer
  • system architect

The exam takes 90 minutes to complete and consists of 60 questions.

Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Principal Data Scientist

The Data Science Council of America is an industry leader for professional development opportunities in data science. They offer the Principal Data Science (PDS) certification which is designed for professionals with at least 10 years of experience working with big data. The primary audience is “seasoned and high-achiever data science thought and practice leaders.” The certificate is awarded after meeting eligibility criteria and passing a self-paced online exam.

Microsoft Certified Azure AI Fundamentals

If you are looking for a certification to validate your knowledge and skills in machine learning and artificial intelligence related to Azure services, this might be the certificate for you. This is a fundamental certification so it’s great for those new to AI who need to demonstrate their proficiency to their employer.

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