Should I Get My Data Science Degree Online or at a School?

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Earning a college degree is one of the smartest moves you can make, but only if you earn one that lands you in a position to secure a stable job. If you study data science, you can rest assured your credential will open up many career doors for you, making it an extremely profitable to earn a degree in this field of study. There is a major shortage of data science managers in the United States. In fact, as of this year, we are short 140,000 to 180,000 data scientists, which means with a data science degree, you are almost guaranteed to land a job as soon as you graduate. More so, with this type of credential, you are likely going to make upward of $100,000 a year. Even better is that a data science degree allows you to work in any industry of your choosing as well as any location.

Before jump straight into a data science program, though, it is pertinent that you take a look at your options. You will need to choose a school that offers features you are looking for. Some schools offer online programs only, while others offer programs that are strictly on-campus. And then there are some that offer hybrid courses, combining both online and on-campus classes. For now, let’s take a look at a few tips for choosing the best type of program for you.

Are you looking for a program that costs less?

Most students graduate college with an average of $37,172 in college debt. Much of this debt gets spent on housing and transportation back and forth to the campus, as well as eating out on campus in between classes. When you take online courses, however, you can keep your student debt to a minimum because you’ll only be paying for the college credits. You won’t have to pay for housing on campus, nor will you have to pay for gas to get back and forth to your classes. Instead, you can complete your courses from the comfort of your home.

Are you looking for a program that is less intense?

There’s no denying that data science is an extremely intense field of study. When you complete your courses on campus, you will notice that the intensity increases because you will be rushing from one class to the next and there will be no room for completing your courses and homework at a pace that works best for you. With online courses, though, the intensity decreases quite a bit. You’ll be able to log in to your classes at your own convenience and complete your coursework over a much longer period of time than you are granted with an on-campus program; this is especially advantageous if you have children and/or a job.

Are you looking for a program that incorporates social interaction?

One aspect that online programs lack is social interaction. You may, from time to time, interact with other students and professors via chat and email, but for the most part, you are on your own. As a data scientist, you will likely find yourself in situations that require a lot of social integration and teamwork. This is why an on-campus program can be of immense benefit. You will be a step ahead in terms of getting to know other data scientists than students who participate solely in online studies.

Do you prefer in-person contact with professors?

There is no doubt that you will have A LOT of questions throughout the completion of your data science program. Data science is an extremely complex field of study, however, the more questions you ask, the more knowledgeable you will be, which will make you a more valuable employee once you secure a job. Contacting a professor with questions and inquiries can sometimes be a hassle when your only option is via email. When you complete your courses on-campus, though, you’ll be provided many opportunities to converse with your professor.

Do you prefer a program with a well-defined structure?

Some people perform at their fullest potential and highest levels of productivity when they are living a lifestyle that is strictly structured. An on-campus program tends to provide this type of structure — you show up to classes each day, take small breaks in between, go home, complete homework, and then come back the next day to do the same thing; this usually goes on for several weeks at a time, with the shortest data degree programs lasting anywhere from nine to 15 months. Most, however, take years to complete. If you’re looking for a structured environment to earn your degree, then an on-campus program will be better suited than an online curriculum.

What’s It Going to Be?

There is no right or wrong answer when choosing whether or not to get your data science degree online or at a school. However, your preferences and needs will largely impact which choice is best for you.

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