Ph.D. Data Science Online

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated March 16, 2024

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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The study of data science focuses on developing computational and statistical skills, helping data scientists handle data by understanding integral knowledge to recognize relevant data sets. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[1], the number of data science jobs and jobs in related fields in 2021 reached 113,300, much faster than the average for other professions. Doing a Ph.D. in data science online would help students acquire advanced skills in extracting knowledge and picking up insights from both unstructured and structured data. Students completing an online Ph.D. in data science would be able to develop high-end models and algorithms for interpreting big data and work in senior positions in academia or the industry.


Best Ph.D. Data Science
Online Programs

When selecting online Ph.D. Programs students would have to narrow down their options judiciously, as earning a Ph.D. could take up a substantial amount of time and resources. Therefore, students must consider factors like the duration of the program, resources required to complete the curriculum, research facilities, availability of suitable guides and mentors, accreditation, availability of financial aid, etc., to find a program that suits them most. Based on these and several other factors, FBD teams have drawn up a list of some of the best Ph.D. data science online: *

Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (commonly referred to as IUPUI) is a public research university established in 1963 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The university offers more than 550 degree programs to over 29,000 students and is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity.”
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis(ONCAMPUS) 420 University Blvd, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202 $9,228 57%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from Ph.D. Data Science
Online Programs

A doctorate data science online program requires exhaustive academic work and will take 5 to 7 years to complete if pursued full-time. The online Ph.D. data science program would typically require 60 to 75 credits; the number of credits depends on the program’s curriculum and requirements. Along with the coursework, students will also be responsible for teaching and research. While some courses in the data science doctoral program are standard across programs at various institutions, most curricula are built on the foundation of statistics.

Students will learn techniques to analyze dynamic, structured, and unstructured datasets. The program will also train students to understand how to articulate the limitations and strengths of analytical methods. They must generally complete about 21 credit hours of elective courses, a preliminary exam, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation.

Some of the basic components of the online Ph.D. data science curriculum would be:


The courses students that when pursuing a data science program are varied. Students can choose different courses per their requirements from one data science concentration.


As part of the doctorate data science online requirements, students must complete certain residency hours before completing the comprehensive exams. Students who have opted for graduate assistantships may be exempted from this requirement.


Although teaching is not a compulsory requirement of the Ph.D. in data science online program, most colleges recommend the teaching experience for students who have not taken graduate assistantships.

Comprehensive Exams

After students complete their coursework, they become eligible to apply for comprehensive examinations. They are usually required to pick up topics of their choice and write a manuscript on that topic. They are also required to orally defend their manuscripts when presenting them in front of a committee. A practical and theory exam could also be included to ensure that students are at a professional level of expertise.

Field Experience

Students are usually encouraged to do independent study and research to integrate and combine their research and classroom theory with varied field activities. They can engage with professionals from their field and collect research data from various sources.


Ph.D. students must work with their advisors by choosing topics that will help them advance in their careers. They often start working on the dissertation after passing the comprehensive exam after completing the curriculum.

Examples of research topics in the data science field are:

  • Mathematical Analysis
  • Data Analytics and Mining
  • Data Access and Management
  • Integrative Data Science
  • Machine Learning Algorithms
  • Big Data Analytics in Medical Services
  • Business Intelligence and Case Studies

The Online Ph.D. Programs Student Guide explains doctoral programs in detail.

Areas of Specialization in Ph.D. Data Science
Online Programs

Specializing in data science can lead to niche jobs and better pay. Ph.D. in data science online students should consider picking a concentration that aligns with their academic or research interests and professional goals. Here are a few concentration options found in many data science colleges across the country:

Area of Specialization Description Career Options
Data EngineeringIt allows professionals to optimize their data to reach better usefulness from the given data. This field also helps professionals in making the process of decision-making faster and more accurate as opposed to traditional methods.Database professionals, data analysts, data engineers
Strategy-Making and Business IntelligenceBased on market findings, individuals can learn how to create strategies and make informed decisions facilitated by scientific data. Students are also taught to use various tools present in the market to aid them in their professional capacities.Data strategists, BI engineers, Bi analysts, BI developers
Data Architecture and Database ManagementLearning about database management systems also helps students work with volume data of larger sizes stored in a particular setup like Oracle RDBMS, Salesforce, and more.Database administrators, database professionals, data specialists
Data VisualizationPresenting data in a visually appealing form is one of the many things students learn in this concentration. They learn about data visualization and how to modify visuals to make the visualization process and presentation more efficient.Data visualization engineers, software developers, data scientists
Market Data AnalyticsThis specialization focuses on understanding the traits of the market and the needs of customers and provides insights into customer trends and preferences.Product analysts, market analysts, web analysts
Operations-Related Data AnalyticsThis specialization teaches students how to allow businesses to update their tasks for efficiency and quality and deliver improved operability over their tasks.Decisions analysts, planning analysts, operations analysts
Cognitive Specialists and Machine LearningThis specialization focuses on predictability and efficiency through building data pipelines, algorithms to train models, benchmarking base systems, and convenient data sources.Data scientists, AI specialists, researchers, ML engineers
Data Mining and Statistical AnalysisThe specialization teaches students about processing findings from unsupervised or supervised learning from data related to activities like estimation, prediction, clustering, classification, visualization, and description.Data analysts, statisticians, business analysts

Why should I do a Ph.D. Data
Science Online?

Students who complete a Ph.D. in data science online program learn how to build and design a data science environment where innovations are made in both scientific and social domains. By combining fundamental research on the methodologies and principles of data science, professionals in this field create advanced data science methodologies and transform the process through which many discoveries are made.

Since there is a lot of demand for real-world projects using new kinds of data science methodologies, organizations try to find individuals with advanced degrees in data science. Therefore, students who have completed online Ph.D. data science will readily find employment and be able to develop such models and become leaders in the research field of data science. Alternatively, those interested in education and academia will find that this doctoral degree prepares them for outstanding careers in both.

Upon completing the online Ph.D. data science, individuals will display industry-leading and in-demand skills, such as the ability to:

  • show leadership skills in data science research and exhibit utmost professionalism in careers in industry or academia;
  • show in-depth knowledge of advances in data availability and computational speed, and develop methods of novel data analysis;
  • demonstrate ethical and responsible skills as trained data science professionals to develop methods and statistical tools to find answers to questions in varied disciplines of data science;
  • communicate how to extract, analyze, and interpret critical questions from heterogeneous, big, and uncertain data;
  • effectively translate insights of fundamental research into practice in the data science field and integrate the results in fields like medicine, industry, science, and governmental programs;
  • actively participate in organizations of data science, and assist other individuals working in different domains by providing insights from data science,
  • carry out research that is novel and original to be able to publish them in esteemed scientific and technical journals.

Free Courses for Ph.D. Data Science
Online Students

Prospective or current Ph.D. students can benefit from some of the many free online courses on data science. These courses could help them understand which areas of data science interest them and which areas require more research and exploration. Here are some examples of free Ph.D. data science online courses:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Data Science: Linear RegressionIn this course, students learn how to implement linear regression, one of the most common statistical models applied to the data science field. Students could learn how to examine the relationship between different variables. Students could also use these approaches in their thesis research or other capstone projects.Harvard University
IBM Data Science Professional CertificateIn this course for the IBM Data science professional certificate, students will learn how to build varied skills in the field of data science. Students can learn many tools and practical experience skills from this field.Coursera
High-Dimensional Data AnalysisIn this course, students learn about mathematical distance, dimension reduction, multiple-dimensional scaling plots, factor analysis, and how to deal with batch effects. This course is beneficial for students who have a base in data science. Students understand advanced concepts like principal component analysis.Harvard University

How to get into the Ph.D. Data Science
Online Program?

Each institution has different requirements for students to get into the data science doctoral program. Across most universities, students who have completed their master’s degree in data science are preferred for candidature to Ph.D. programs, although some do not have this requirement. Since data science is a very versatile subject, students with diverse profiles are encouraged to apply to the program. Some of the standard online Ph.D. data science admission requirements at most schools are:

  • Online application form and fee
  • Academic transcripts from universities attended before
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of Recommendation (usually 3 are required)
  • Scores of standardized tests, like GRE scores
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for non-native English speakers
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume (highlighting relevant experience in data science)
  • Writing sample (required for some programs)

Ph.D. Data Science Online
No GRE Programs

The Graduate Record Examination or GRE scores assess whether students can independently complete their coursework while pursuing their Ph.D. program. Although the GRE is a common requirement at many colleges, some offer online Ph.D. data science no GRE programs. A few universities, like the NYU Center for Data Science and Yale University, may waive the requirement of the GRE under specific conditions or make it optional, where the student can submit their scores by choice.

How Long does it take to complete a Ph.D. in
Data Science Online?

The average time it would take students to finish a Ph.D. in data science online is between 5 to 7 years. While some programs can be completed within 4 years in an accelerated format, others could take up to 6 years to complete if the degree is not pursued full-time. Regardless of the timeframe, Ph.D. students are required to do detailed coursework and research work. Here is a quick timeline overview of data science Ph.D. programs in the USA:

  • Minimum time required for a full-time Ph.D. in data science: about 4 years
  • Maximum time required for a Ph.D. in data science: up to 7 years
  • Typical time required to complete a Ph.D. in data science: about 5 to 7 years

Accelerated Ph.D. Data Science
Online Programs

Accelerated programs at the Ph.D. level can help students earn their degrees in lesser time than the usual 5 to 7 years. By opting for an accelerated Ph.D. data science online degree, students can complete their research and doctoral coursework in four years or less. However, finishing the dissertation and fieldwork could take an additional year or more, depending on the research topic and the student’s efforts. To fast-track their doctoral studies, students can also begin their Ph.D. coursework while pursuing their master’s programs. At some colleges, a master’s thesis can be upgraded and continued during the research work of a Ph.D.

Accreditations for Ph.D. Data Science
Online Programs

Accreditation is a process that ensures that institutions and programs meet an expected setup by independent accrediting agencies. Accreditation is a seal of trust that demonstrates to students and the industry that the education offered is of excellent quality and substance. The Data Science Council of America offers programmatic accreditation for data science programs. In place of programmatic accreditation, students would do well to look for accredited Ph.D. data science online colleges, usually certified by six regional accrediting agencies in the U.S.:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools anad Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

The Accreditation Guide explains accreditation and its importance in detail.

How to Pay for a Ph.D. Data Science
Online Program?

Ph.D. programs could be very beneficial for students in advancing their careers. However, the cost of these programs could average about $34,000 per year. Due to the high cost of tuition fees and other additional expenses, students might be hesitant to pursue a doctoral degree. While some students may take up funded research projects, part-time work, or full-time work to fund their education, others can explore some of the other financial aid options available:


Scholarships are financial awards to students depending on their academic performance. They can also be given for extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and art. The best part about scholarships is that students are not required to repay the sum received.


Organizations such as educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and state and federal governments can provide grants to students. Grants can be given to students based on their financial needs rather than merit.

Graduate Assistantships

A graduate assistantship allows students to build valuable contacts in their disciplines while pursuing their studies. Graduate assistants support faculty members, departments, or other departments within the institution in teaching undergraduate students and undertaking other academic activities. In exchange for their services, their tuition fees are reduced or waived.

Private student loans

Students can obtain educational loans with interest from private institutions, national banks, and other financial entities. If it is difficult to repay the loan on time, one could look for grants or donors to help them pay off their debts.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form used to evaluate if a student is eligible for federal financial aid or can receive funds from an institution. To learn more, consult the FAFSA guide.

To understand other funding options and how to pay for college, read the financial aid guide.

Fully-Funded Ph.D. Data Science
Online Programs

Full-funded full-time students receive full tuition reimbursement and an annual stipend or pay for the 5 to 6 years they spend obtaining their doctorate. Funding is typically granted in exchange for graduate assistantships in teaching and research relating to one’s program. Here are some examples of universities that provide fully funded Ph.D. data science online:

New York UniversityThe National Science Foundation Research Traineeship or NRT grant provides students pursuing a Ph.D. at New York University with grants and scholarships covering fees, tuition, and health insurance. Fellowships include a stipend for nine months of around $38,000.
USC Marshall School of BusinessThe USC Marshall School of Business provides competitive funding packages to accepted students in Ph.D. programs. Students receive funding in terms of fellowships for two years and graduate assistantships for three years. They also receive an annual stipend of around $40,000.
University of MarylandThe graduate school of the University of Maryland offers competitive awards and fellowships, along with external grants and fellowships, to students pursuing their Ph.D. program. These fellowships support students by providing them with tuition awards or a stipend.

FAQs Related to the Ph.D. Data Science
Online Program

How many credits would you need for a Ph.D. degree in data science?

Students usually require around 71 credits to graduate from a Ph.D. in data science, of which about 24 are typically for core courses, 18 for the methodology and research courses, 18 for specialization, and 30 for the dissertation. However, these figures vary by institution and program.

What is the data science Ph.D. degree salary?

What are the employment opportunities in the data science field?

What skills will students learn from a Ph.D. degree in data science?

Is a Ph.D. in data science online worth it?

How long does a Ph.D. in data science online take?

How much does it cost to get a data science Ph.D.?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after a Ph.D.
Data Science Online

With the advancement in technology, the demand for data science experts has been increasing rapidly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a job growth of 36% between 2021 and 2032, which is much faster than average. Professionals working in varied sub-fields of data science often see increasing opportunities in various industries, spanning education and healthcare to aviation and logistics. Below are some career opportunities available to data science Ph.D. online students, along with their median annual pay and expected job growth:

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030)
Mathematicians and StatisticiansMathematicians and statisticians analyze different kinds of data. They apply various computation techniques that help in solving complex problems.Computational skills, detail-oriented, decision-making skills$96,28031% (much faster than average)
Computer and Information Research ScientistsInformation research and computer scientists help solve computing problems of great complexity by using complex designs and technologies, both existing and upcoming. They also invent new methods, tools, and computing languages to improve the ways of working with computers.Problem-solving skills, analytical skills, decision-making skills$131,49021% (much faster than average)
Survey ResearchersSurvey researchers work to design and conduct many kinds of surveys and use this data to interpret the findings. They often communicate with other professionals and integrate their work with them.Practical skills, decision-making skills$59,7406% (as fast as the average)
Data ScientistsData scientists analyze and interpret digital data and help statisticians develop effective decision-making processes for different businesses. They use advanced tools to comprehend and extract useful information from datasets. They also use algorithms and machine learning languages in classifying data.Analytical skills, technical skills, statistical skills$100,91036% (much faster than average)
EconomistsEconomists work with different private agencies, non-governmental organizations, and federal governments. They analyze different data sets and devise solutions to tackle economic problems at various levels.Analytical skills, detailed-oriented, verbal communication skills$105,6306% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Ph.D. Data
Science Online Students

Professional certifications provide students with qualifications that indicate their ability to provide quality services while maintaining high levels of professionalism. Certifications improve one’s prospects of employment and greater compensation by demonstrating to employers and the industry that one is an expert in a specific area of data science. Students pursuing an online Ph.D. in data science should consider credentials from various professional organizations to improve their career growth and prospects. Here are some examples to explore:

Cloudera Certified Associate Data Analyst

The Cloudera Certified Associate Data Analyst certification helps students become SQL Developers to effectively use Cloudera’s CDH platform to generate reports using Hive and Impala. This certification will help students advance their careers as certified data scientists using SQL.

Data Science Council of America Senior Data Scientist

This certification covers a wide range of technical skills that help a professional understand data better and drive organizational success. It provides capabilities to individuals for developing, driving, and designing integrated data and building business intelligence ecosystems.

Principal Data Scientist

This certification equips individuals to understand data analytics and intelligence and how those principles will help them compete and grow businesses. It will help advance their careers and build up their stature as high-worth leaders in technology.

Data Scientist-Advanced Analytics

In this certification, students learn about practical aspects that enable them to participate in big data analytics projects effectively. Candidates also learn about the role data scientists play in analyzing and exploring data, building statistics, and evaluating theories and methods of advanced data analytics.

Licensing in the data science sector may be determined by employer requirements, educational qualifications, and a person’s level of expertise. Although most private employers do not require licensure, governmental and military entities do, which is obtained through training, certification, and exams provided by them.

Additional Resources for Ph.D. Data
Science Online Students

Joining professional organizations provides students with numerous options to advance their careers in data science. By utilizing the many resources provided by these organizations, students pursuing data science Ph.D. online programs will be able to gain in-depth knowledge, upskill, and interact with a variety of industry specialists. They can also get grants and scholarships, networking opportunities, career advice, etc. Here are a few organizations offering all this and more:

United States Data Science InstituteThe United States Data Science Institute offers programs that align with the upcoming trends in the data science field. The organization aims to raise the data science industry’s standards.
Association of Data ScientistsThe Association of Data Scientists propagates standardization in the field of data science. They extend their support to integrate the different branches of data science. They also encourage education and help students integrate high professionalism into their work.
American Statistical AssociationThe American Statistical Association has more than 16,000 members who serve in the United States and abroad in academic, governmental agencies and industries. They provide expertise in areas like examining social issues and environmental risks, developing therapeutic drugs, and so on.
Data Science Council of AmericaThe Data Science Council of America is a group of data science professionals who aim to develop the next generation of adaptable data talent who can develop very advanced big data technologies.
Institute for Operations Research and Management ScienceThe Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) provides numerous benefits to members. It facilitates their research and development, provides them with networking opportunities and sponsorship, and more.

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.