Master of Science in Applied Data Science

Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering

Training Data Scientists for Success in This High-Impact, In-Demand Field

Accelerate Your Career

Earn Your Master’s Degree online in Applied Data Science

Data science is driving innovation and change across nearly all industries. In the era of Big Data, the field of applied data science is focused on uncovering valuable insights hidden in the vast amounts of data produced every single day (2.5 quintillion bytes, by some estimates).

Motivated by the challenge of helping to train current and future data scientists for the important work ahead, the University of San Diego offers this innovative, online degree program — the Master of Science in Applied Data Science — through USD’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

The master of applied data science program has been developed by data science experts in close collaboration with key industry and government stakeholders to provide in-depth practical and technical training designed to position graduates for career success in this vitally important and fast-growing field.

Is the Applied Data Science Master’s Degree Right For You?

This program is ideally suited to those with a background in science, mathematics, engineering or technology, but is also structured to train those from other backgrounds who are motivated to transition into data science.

Potential candidates for the University of San Diego’s online master’s degree in applied data science include:

  • Bachelor-prepared science, mathematics, engineering, information technology or computer science graduates
  • Graduates from other fields who possess technical aptitude in the above fields or others, including STEM, business and more
  • Mid-career data analytics, data engineer, and computer science professionals looking to advance their knowledge and skills
  • Professionals looking to transition into data science from other fields (comprehensive introductory courses build a strong foundation for those who are less familiar with data science)

Additionally, employers who have an ongoing need for skilled data scientists should be aware that this program is designed to:

  • Serve the professional development needs of employers across a multitude of industries, specifically with regard to sharpening the knowledge and skillsets of current team members
  • Groom graduates to provide immediate impact in the workforce by applying their technical knowledge and skills to business and commercial applications

Innovative Curriculum Tailored to the Needs of Industries and Employers

The Master of Science in Applied Data Science (MS-ADS) curriculum is designed to equip graduates with the technical strategies and skills they will use to apply powerful, modern analytical tools to real-world applications. The program culminates in a Capstone experience that pairs them with fellow students, instructors, and potential industry partners on an in-depth project that hones their ability to apply their skills in the workplace.

Designed to be completed in 20 months over five semesters, the program requires students to complete 30 academic units plus 6 prerequisite units (note: the prerequisites may be waived depending on a candidate’s education and experience in mathematics, engineering, programming, computer science, and analytics). Of the 30 academic units:

  • 6 units focus on introductory topics and fundamentals
  • 20 units cover technical aspects essential to the field of data science
  • 4 units are dedicated to the comprehensive Data Science Capstone Project

The courses are updated regularly to ensure that they are closely aligned with progress and advancement in a field that is still undergoing rapid development. This includes ongoing consultation with a wide range of public and private sector stakeholders. The MS-ADS program’s Board of Advisors includes experts and managers from different industries.

For more information and detailed course descriptions visit our Curriculum page.

 Program Goals

The mission is to offer a state-of-the-art online program that will enable students to master the technical skills and soft skills necessary for solving challenging analytics problems seen every day in a wide range of data-rich domains.

 “The goal of the USD MS-ADS online program is to prepare prospective data scientists with in-depth analytical knowledge tied to real-world applications, relevant programming ability, and critical professional skills to both succeed in their career and to create meaningful social impact,” said Dr. Ebrahim K. Tarshizi, PhD, MBA, Program Director of the Applied Data Science program.

The University of San Diego’s program differentiates itself from the best online data science master’s programs in several unique and important ways.

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The USD Master of Science in Applied Data Science program:

  • Leverages the best of both worlds by combining comprehensive technical knowledge and skills with a deep understanding of how to apply findings (including hard and soft skills) in real-world applications
  • Focuses on continuous improvement, gaining insight used to enhance curriculum immediacy and relevance through ongoing consultations with its Advisory Board and with a broad range of data science experts and managers
  • Employs highly skilled faculty instructors, many of whom are applied data science practitioners in key roles at a wide range of commercial, academic, and government organizations

The university’s MS in applied data science program aspires to function as a respected data science thought leader organization as part of its mission to develop current and future generations of “essential data scientists.”

 “Data Science is already a critical role across many parts of an organization. It’s continuing to grow and has really become a requirement to be competitive. It’s crucial that we find and develop talent with the capability to harness the power of today’s technology and discover new insights that were not possible before. The MS-ADS builds practical knowledge and depth that will position its students as leaders in the field while providing the community with more analytical talent to fill those gaps that are eagerly needed,” said Ion Nemteanu, Senior Director of Data Science at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

 Applied Data Science Faculty: Real-World Experts

The faculty members selected for the MS-ADS program possess a unique combination of government, academic, and industry experience spanning enterprises focused on technology, engineering, business, marketing, education and more.

 “The demand for data scientists is swiftly growing across industries as organizations work to leverage data for empowered decision-making,” said Matthew C. Vanderbilt, UC San Diego Director of Business Analytics & Fiscal Affairs and Lecturer at USD. “The USD MS-ADS program strategically positions graduates to advance in this field by providing strong foundational and advanced analytics skills introduced through real-world examples taught by active industry experts. Students graduate with the technical skills to identify opportunities from disparate data, as well as the soft skills necessary to communicate actionable information.”

 Careers in Applied Data Science

Opportunities for data scientists continue to expand rapidly across a broad spectrum of fields. ZDNet reports that data from LinkedIn shows a three-year hiring growth of 37% for data scientist jobsTechRepublic called it the “No. 1 most promising job in America” in 2019, citing a median base salary of $130,000 and a single-year increase in job openings of 56%. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median salaries of $118,370, with the top 10% earning more than $183,000.

[Webinar] Careers in Data Science — How to Position Yourself for Success >>

The need for skilled data scientists cuts across nearly all industries, public agencies, and nonprofits, with particularly strong demand and opportunity in such fields as:

  • Technology
  • Financial services
  • Retail
  • Media
  • Health care
  • Telecom
  • Manufacturing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Government and military
  • Energy
  • Automotive
  • Utilities

The many additional areas now impacted by data science include: marketing, sales and service, the life sciences, business intelligence, agriculture, mining, oil, aerospace, travel, transportation, food, field service, construction, defense, digital media, education and more.

 “Data Science skills are in-demand across a wide variety of organizations, including government, start-ups, non-profits, and large corporations. The USD MS-ADS program is designed to prepare students to be leaders in Analytics and Data Science. This program will develop a student’s foundational knowledge and real-world Data Science skills, preparing and positioning them to thrive in this highly in-demand field,” said Jules Malin, Director of Data Science and Analytics at GoPro, Inc.

 Admissions (Earn Your Degree in 20 Months)

Candidates who possess real-world experience will be best positioned for acceptance into the program. Those who are currently working in related positions in industry will be well-positioned to add value at their companies and move into or further advance into management roles.

Students are admitted throughout the year for enrollment into one of three semesters (Spring, Summer and Fall). Each semester two courses are offered, with students focusing intensively on one course at a time – a total of seven weeks for each course.

Admission applications are accepted on a rolling basis. A decision will be recommended by the Review Committee within one week of your application being submitted. For details on specific requirements needed for admission, please visit our Admissions page.  


University of San Diego tuition rates are competitive with other leading institutions. The cost for each program varies by credit hour; the Master of Science in Applied Data Science program requires a minimum of 30 total credit hours.

 Financial Aid

One of the University of San Diego’s highest priorities is to ensure that sufficient tuition and financial aid support is available to all eligible students. The first step in applying for aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to financial aid, the University of San Diego provides assistance in securing additional financial support for students to further their education, including scholarships and grants.



Accreditation is an important quality indicator for college and university degree programs, generally regarded as a stamp of approval that ensures you will be able to apply for financial aid and transfer your credits if you decide to switch schools. Most state universities and private non-profit universities will have a regional accreditation. The University of San Diego has earned both regional and national accreditations.

Accreditations include:

The WASC Senior College and University Commission – WASC is a regional accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid. Learn more about the importance of selecting a regionally accredited program.

 Enrollment and Academic Advisors

Applying to a graduate program can be complicated — that’s why our team of advisors is here to help answer all of your questions.

When you first inquire about our Master of Science in Applied Data Science program, you will be assigned a personal Enrollment Advisor who will be available to answer your questions, help you assess your eligibility for admission and guide you through the application process.

In addition, each of our graduate degree programs has an Academic Advisor, who is responsible for evaluating applications and admitting new students, monitoring your academic progress and providing guidance as needed. Program Advisors also serve as instructors for their respective programs.

Right from the start, you’ll receive support and guidance from experienced advisors who are invested in helping you achieve your education goals!


 Online Learning at USD

Designed for busy working professionals who want to earn their master’s degree while balancing the demands of work and family life, the University of San Diego offers convenient, yet rigorous online learning programs that enable you to achieve your educational goals on your own schedule.

As an online graduate student, you will have access to your classroom at any time and can view your assignments, syllabus and course resources from any computer with internet capability.

The degree you’ll earn as an online graduate student is the same as that earned by campus-based students. The online courses embody the same learning outcomes, educational rigor and high level of academic excellence.

Learn More About Earning Your Master’s Degree Online at University Of San Diego


The University of San Diego, established in 1949, is a highly rated private, Catholic university that regularly earns accolades and honors from academic websites and publications. USD citations include:

The Princeton Review

  • #3 Most Beautiful Campus
  • #12 Best-Run Colleges
  • #23 Top 50 Green Colleges

 U.S. News & World Report

  • #91 National Universities
  • #66 Best Value Schools
  • #90 Best Business Programs
  • #13 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs
  • #58 Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #25 International Business
  • #19 Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs

 Business Insider

  • #14 Best Colleges in the West
  • #12 Best Business Schools for Networking


  • #60 Best College Values (Private Universities)

CEO World Magazine

  • #85 Best Universities and Colleges in the World
  • #69 World’s Top Business Schools Rankings (2019)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a GRE or GMAT required for admission?

Candidates who have a GPA above 2.5 are not required to take a GRE or GMAT; however, a standardized test such as GRE or GMAT will be required for applicants with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.5.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in science or engineering?

It is expected that most applicants will have an undergraduate degree in science, mathematics, engineering, information technology, computer science or a STEM field. However, the program is also open to those with a bachelor’s degree from other fields (such as business, for example); such applicants are asked to provide a written statement on how their skills and experience are suited to the program.

I’m a skilled data analyst who would like to advance, will this degree help?

This program is uniquely tailored to meet the needs of data analysts who are looking to advance to a data science role at their current organization or elsewhere.

I'm new to data science, looking to change careers, will this degree help?

The USD MS-ADS program is extremely well-suited to professionals who hold advanced degrees in other disciplines and are looking to develop helpful expertise in data science.

How much does the online data science master’s degree cost in tuition?

The Master of Science in Applied Data Science online program is 36 total credits at $925 per credit, for a total tuition of $33,300. However, this includes two prerequisite classes that may be waived for some students based on past experience. (those who qualify will complete 30 credits; total tuition: $27,750). Thanks to available federal financial aid, most students find the program to be a valuable, affordable investment that quickly pays for itself.

What is data science?

Now driving innovation and change across nearly all industries, data science is focused on uncovering valuable insights hidden in the vast amounts of data that humans and their machines now produce every single day.

Does USD offer career development/advising support?

The University of San Diego is committed to steering you on a path toward educational and professional success. Right from the start, you’ll receive support and guidance from experienced University of San Diego advisors who are invested in helping you achieve your education goals!

WATCH: Data Science Careers Webinar [Key Info About an Extraordinary Opportunity]

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Master’s Degree in Applied Data Science

A Few Words About the Program

“I’m thrilled to see this program come to life and excited to see what our students will accomplish. These skills are extremely hard to find and are sorely needed. I’m glad to see USD moving to fill this gap and contribute valuable talent to our community.”

— Ion Nemteanu, Industry Advisory Board Member and Adjunct Professor

“An outstanding team of individuals here at USD — together with an elite group of experienced data science practitioners — have put considerable thought and work into developing this online degree program. We’re extremely excited to deliver in-demand topics and project-based courses in a cost-effective master of science program to fully prepare students to be the data scientists of tomorrow.”

— Dr. Ebrahim K. Tarshizi, PhD, MBA

Program Director, USD Applied Data Science master’s degree

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