Best Degrees for Data Science Career Path

Today’s economy is so driven by data that businesses are hunting talented data scientists who can turn these overwhelming amounts of data gathered by the companies into some actual and actionable insights.

When the push came to shove for data scientists in the market, it wasn’t a surprise to see all the college graduates gear their academic careers towards data science. Unfortunately, it was soon discovered that majoring in data science was not offered by a lot of universities out there. Not even degrees that are explicitly only for data science.

Since there is no standard road path to follow to become a data scientist, we have compiled a list of best degrees for data science career.


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There are many different paths to be a data scientist and any two of them could come from a very different academic background and even use different coding languages to solve completely different problems.

Data science is a very wide field which has various subdivision to itself which includes data preparation, exploration, representation, transformation, visualization, and presentation. It also includes predictive analysis, machine learning, etc. For beginners or students who are new to this field, it can be a difficult task to learn all these basics of data science without proper guidance or the necessary training which is required for everyone to get a hold over the subject.

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Required Skills to Become a Data Scientist

Before we discuss all the degrees that can help you towards your goal of becoming a data scientist, it’s important that we discuss the skills one requires that are rather considered prerequisites and are essential to becoming a data scientist despite the huge spectrum in which it can divide. The skills include Technological skills, programming skills, and the most important, problem-solving skills.

Technological skills required to be a data scientist includes mathematics, statistics, coding, data wrangling, data preprocessing, data visualization and machine learning. One cannot survive in the industry without possessing these technological skills.

So, let’s discuss the best undergraduate degrees to get which can provide you with a strong base to become a data scientist.


Best Degrees for Data Science Career

Co-authored by Parinita Gupta

1. Mathematics

A degree in mathematics is one of the most versatile degrees which can be employed in several different fields in the industry. It provides the students with a solid foundation in problem-solving, analytical skills, programming skills, and of course, mathematical skills.  With a background in mathematics and the skillsets it trains its students with, they can easily enter several industries such as banking, finance, engineering, health, R&D, etc.

A strong base and foundation in mathematics and statistics is the most important skill one can have in data science, however, degree holders in Mathematics must consider taking some programming classes to help them excel in the field of data science if that’s their career path.

2. Statistics

A degree in statistics can surely help one get into the field of data science but it takes added efforts and other courses as well for a statistics student to be employable in the field. Statistics beforehand however already equips the students with a sense of data and how they work, and helps them learn problem-solving skills.

It’s important however that statistics students learn programming and coding as that’s the core of being a data scientist. Machine learning and IT knowledge are also very necessary.

Related Article: MPS Data Science after Double Major (UG) in Statistics and Economics at Cornell: Student Blog on Data Science Career Path and Program Experience

3. Physics

Just like mathematics, a degree in physics is also one of the most versatile degrees, which provides the students with a solid foundation in problem-solving, analytical skills, programming skills, and mathematical skills. These skills are extremely versatile and flexible and can be applied for use in many different fields. This is the reason why degree holders with majors in physics are working in such diverse fields as technology, banking, finance, software and hardware engineering, law, military, academia, data analyst, research and development, etc.

Since a degree in physics prepares only the foundational portion, it’s also important that students additionally take some programming classes with it. Having a little background knowledge in programming and advanced mathematics and statistics is all a physics degree holder might need to get into the field of data science.

Read the Career Journey of Vineet Vashishta: from Physics Grad to Data Science & Machine Learning Influencer.

4. Economics

An undergraduate degree in economics can be extremely helpful for students looking to get into the field of data science. Since data science requires students to have the knowledge and skills on how to solve highly complicated problems with data, economic students are already equipped with it. A person with an undergraduate degree in economics can quite easily become a data analyst and is only a few steps away from being a data scientist. Read Data Analytics and Economics – The Most Potent Skill Combination For Future Job Market.

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5. Bioinformatics

A degree holder in bioinformatics can easily shift to data science. Bioinformatics involves solving biological problems which can range from genetics to biochemistry. This requires students to have programming and systems knowledge, which is quite similar to data science which is completely data-driven and involves scientific processes and methods to extract knowledge or insights from various data in several forms, either structured or unstructured.

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6. Computer science

Just like math and physics, a degree in computer science is just as versatile and flexible. Computer science training equips students with an excellent foundation in mathematics, problem-solving skills, and of course programming and coding skills. As discussed earlier, one cannot survive in data science without programming and coding skills. However, some advanced courses in statistics and probability would definitely come in handy for computer science degree holders who want to get into data science. Read Best Online Courses on R Programming and Statistics.


Related Article: Computer Science vs Computer Engineering


7. Engineering

A degree program in engineering, be it any, mechanical, electrical, or industrial, will provide the students with the important analytical skills that are essential to become a data scientist. An engineering student only needs a few programming lessons, courses on data structures & algorithms, and probability & statistics lessons to get started on their career in data science.

Related Article: Masters in AI-Machine Learning as Reapplicant for Chemical Engineering Graduate in Mid-30s

8. Finance or a Business Degree

A degree in any of these fields could also be your way into the data science field as all of them equips the students with analytical skills. Even though they lack the mathematical rigor as compared to other programs, but a degree in any one of these will provide you with business and analytical skills that are essential for the application of data science in the real world.

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Anyone with the right set of mind, passion, and motivation can learn the foundations of data science, however, a background in an analytical subject is just as important when it comes to choosing data science as a career path.

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About Parinita Gupta

Parinita is a full-time banking professional. Additionally, she is also a passionate blogger and digital marketer.

She mostly writes about the Banking & Finance, Technology, and FinTech sector. But, she also enjoys writing on other topics as well.  You can follow her on Twitter.


Original Featured Image Source: Digital Vidya

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