Methodology for Fortune’s ranking of in-person master’s in data science programs

BY Meghan MalasAugust 15, 2022, 5:38 PM
Illustration by Martin Laksman

Today, data-driven decisions are integral to successful business strategies, so it comes as no surprise there’s also steep demand for data scientists. Since 2016, data scientist job openings have grown by 480%, according to Glassdoor. And companies are offering six-figure salaries to vie for top data science talent; the mean salary for data scientists is $108,660, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The field of data science is fast-growing, but still relatively new. Over the past decade—in response to high demand—universities developed degree programs for those people looking to become data-savvy professionals. One promising path into a rewarding career as a data scientist is to obtain a master’s degree in the field. That’s why Fortune has compiled a list of the best in-person data science degree programs. In total, we ranked 28 programs for the 2022 ranking. 

Our final ranking is made up of two components: Selectivity Score and Demand Score.

Selectivity Score (75%)

The best data science programs have both world class professors and a top-notch curriculum. But that’s not all: They should also attract some of the brightest students. The post-college success (or lack of success) of those alumni helps to shape how the outside world will view that program. It’s also why Fortune put so much weight on the strength of a school’s incoming class.

To calculate the Selectivity Score, we started by looking at the average undergraduate GPA of incoming students.

Finally, we weighted the program’s acceptance rate. Simply put: Programs that are challenging to get accepted into, attracted a stronger cohort of students.

Demand Score (25%)

If programs aren’t successful, they won’t be able to continue to attract and graduate top students year in and year out. Not to mention, a larger student body also means a larger alumni network. That’s why we measured both the total enrollment size of the program, and the number of applicants for the most recent year.