The future looks bright for the data science sector, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stating that there were 113,300 jobs in the industry in 2021. Growth is also a major plus. The same resource estimates a 36% increase in data scientist roles between 2021 and 2031, which outpaces the national average considerably. Combine that with attractive salaries (Indeed says the average salary for a data scientist is $130,556) and you have an industry that’s ready and waiting for new talent.

That’s where you come in, as you’re exploring the possibilities in data science and need to find the appropriate educational tools to help you enter the field. A Master’s degree may be a good choice, leading to the obvious question – do you need a Master’s for data science?

The Value of a Masters in Data Science

There’s plenty of value to committing the time (and money) to earning your data science Master’s degree:

  • In-depth knowledge and skills – A Master’s degree is a structured course that puts you in front of some of the leading minds in the field. You’ll develop very specific skills (most applying to the working world) and can access huge wellsprings of knowledge in the forms of your professors and their resources.
  • Networking opportunities – Access to professors (and similar professionals) enables you to build connections with people who can give you a leg up when you enter the working world. You’ll also work with other students, with your peers offering as much potential for startup ideas and new roles as your professors.
  • Increased job opportunities – With salaries in the $130,000 range, there’s clearly plenty of potential for a comfortable career pursuing a subject that you love. Having a Master’s degree in data science on your resume demonstrates that you’ve reached a certain skill threshold for employers, making them more likely to hire you.

Having said all of that, the answer to “do I need a Master’s for data science?” is “not necessarily.” There are actually some downsides to going down the formal studying route:

  • The time commitment – Data science programs vary in length, though you can expect to commit at least 12 months of your life to your studies. Most courses require about two years of full-time study, which is a substantial time commitment given that you’ve already earned a degree and have job opportunities waiting.
  • Your financial investment – A Master’s in data science can cost anywhere between about $10,000 for an online course to over $50,000 for courses from more prestigious institutions. For instance, Tufts University’s course requires a total investment of $54,304 if you wish to complete all of your credit hours.
  • Opportunity cost – When opportunity beckons, committing two more years to your studies may lead to you missing out. Say a friend has a great idea for a startup, or you’re offered a role at a prestigious company after completing your undergraduate studies. Saying “no” to those opportunities may come back to bite you if they’re not waiting for you when you complete your Master’s degree.

Alternatives to a Masters in Data Science

If spending time and money on earning a Master’s degree isn’t to your liking, there are some alternative ways to develop data science skills.

Self-Learning and Online Resources

With the web offering a world of information at your fingertips, self-learning is a viable option (assuming you get something to show for it). Options include the following:

  • Online courses and tutorials – The ability to learn at your own pace, rather than being tied into a multi-year degree, is the key benefit of online courses and tutorials. Some prestigious universities (including MIT and Harvard) even offer more bite-sized ways to get into data science. Reputation (both for the course and its providers) can be a problem, though, as some employers prefer candidates with more formal educations.
  • Books and articles – The seemingly old-school method of book learning can take you far when it comes to learning about the ins and outs of data science. While published books help with theory, articles can keep you abreast of the latest developments in the field. Unfortunately, listing a bunch of books and articles that you’ve read on a resume isn’t the same as having a formal qualification.
  • Data science competitions – Several organizations (such as Kaggle) offer data science competitions designed to test your skills. In addition to giving you the opportunity to wield your growing skillset, these competitions come with the dual benefits of prestige and prizes.

Bootcamps and Certificate Programs

Like the previously mentioned competitions, bootcamps offer intensive tests of your data science skills, with the added bonus of a job waiting for you at the end (in some cases). Think of them like cramming for an exam – you do a lot in a short time (often a few months) to get a reward at the end.

The prospect of landing a job after completing a bootcamp is great, but the study methods aren’t for everybody. If you thrive in a slower-paced environment, particularly one that allows you to expand your skillset gradually, an intensive bootcamp may be intimidating and counter to your educational needs.

Gaining Experience Through Internships and Entry-Level Positions

Any recent graduate who’s seen a job listing that asks for a degree and several years of experience can tell you how much employers value hands-on experience. That’s as true in data science as it is in any other field, which is where internships come in. An internship is an unpaid position (often with a prestigious company) that’s ideal for learning the workplace ropes and forming connections with people who can help you advance your career.

If an internship sounds right for you, consider these tips that may make them easier to find:

  • Check the job posting platforms – The likes of Indeed and LinkedIn are great places to find companies (and the people within them) who may offer internships. There are also intern-dedicated websites, such as, which focus specifically on this type of employment.
  • Meet the basic requirements – Most internships don’t require you to have formal qualifications, such as a Master’s degree, to apply. But by the same token, companies won’t accept you for a data science internship if you have no experience with computers. A solid understanding of major programming and scripting languages, such as Java, SQL, and C++, gives you a major head start. You’ve also got a better chance of landing a role if you enrolled in an undergraduate program (or have completed one) in computer science, math, or a similar field.
  • Check individual business websites – Not all companies run to LinkedIn or job posting sites when they advertise vacant positions. Some put those roles on their own websites, meaning a little more in-depth searching can pay off. Create a list of companies that you believe you’d enjoy working for and check their business websites to see if they’re offering internships via their sites.

Factors to Consider When Deciding if a Masters Is Necessary

You know that the answer to “Do you need a Master’s for data science?” is “no,” but there are downsides to the alternatives. Being able to prove your skills on a resume is a must, which the self-learning route doesn’t always provide, and some alternatives may be too fast-paced for those who want to take their time getting to grips with the subject. When making your choice, the following four factors should play into your decision-making

Personal Goals and Career Aspirations

The opportunity cost factor often comes into play here, as you may find that some entry-level roles for computer science graduates can “teach you as you go” when it comes to data science. Still, you may not want to feel like you’re stuck in a lower role for several years when you could advance faster with a Master’s under your belt. So, consider charting your ideal career course, with the positions that best align with your goals, to figure out if you’ll need a Master’s to get you to where you want to go.

Current Level of Education and Experience

Some of the options for getting into data science aren’t available to those with limited experience. For example, anybody can make their start with books and articles, which have no barrier to entry. But many internships require demonstrable proof that you understand various programming and scripting languages, with some also asking to see evidence of formal education. As for a Master’s degree, you’ll need a BSc in computer science (or an equivalent degree) to walk down that path.

Financial Considerations

Money makes the educational wheel turn, at least when it comes to formal education. As mentioned, a Master’s in data science can set you back up to $50,000, which may sting (and even be unfeasible) if you already have student loans to pay off for an undergraduate degree. Online courses are more cost-effective (and offer certification), while bootcamps and competitions can either pay you for learning or set you up in a career if you succeed.

Time Commitment and Flexibility

The simple question here is how long do you want to wait to start your career in data science? The patient person can afford to spend a couple of years earning their Master’s degree, and will benefit from having formal and respectable proof of their skills when they’re done. But if you want to get started right now, internships combined with more flexible online courses may provide a faster route to your goal.

A Master’s Degree – Do You Need It to Master Data Science?

Everybody’s answer is different when they ask themselves “do I need a Master’s in data science?” Some prefer the formalized approach that a Master’s offers, along with the exposure to industry professionals that may set them up for strong careers in the future. Others are less patient, preferring to quickly develop skills in a bootcamp, while yet others want a more free-form educational experience that is malleable to their needs and time constraints.

In the end, your circumstances, career goals, and educational preferences are the main factors when deciding which route to take. A Master’s degree is never a bad thing to have on your resume, but it’s not essential for a career in data science. Explore your options and choose whatever works best for you.

Related posts

New OPIT Degrees launching (soon)!
Riccardo Ocleppo
Riccardo Ocleppo
Nov 29, 2023 2 min read


Soon, we will be launching four new Degrees for AY24-25 at OPIT – Open Institute of Technology
I want to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the Product Definition process that has shaped these upcoming programs.

🚀 Phase 1: Discovery (Late May – End of July)

Our journey began with intensive brainstorming sessions with OPIT’s Academic Board (Francesco Profumo, Lorenzo Livi, Alexiei Dingli, Andrea Pescino, Rosario Maccarrone) . We also conducted 50+ interviews with tech and digital entrepreneurs (both from startups and established firms), academics and students. Finally, we deep-dived into the “Future of Jobs 2023” report by the World Economic Forum and other valuable research.

🔍 Phase 2: Selection – Crafting Our Roadmap (July – August)

Our focus? Introducing new degrees addressing critical workforce shortages and upskilling/reskilling needs for the next 5-10 years, promising significant societal impact and a broad market reach.
Our decision? To channel our energies on full BScs and MScs, and steer away from shorter courses or corporate-focused offerings. This aligns perfectly with our core mission.

💡 Focus Areas Unveiled!

We’re thrilled to concentrate on pivotal fields like:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Advanced AI
  • Digital Business
  • Metaverse & Gaming
  • Cloud Computing (less “glamorous”, but market demand is undeniable).

🎓 Phase 3: Definition – Shaping the Degrees (August – November)

With an expert in each of the above fields, and with the strong collaboration of our Academic Director, Prof. Lorenzo Livi , we embarked on a rigorous “drill-down process”. Our goal? To meld modern theoretical knowledge with cutting-edge competencies and skills. This phase included interviewing over 60+ top academics, industry professionals, and students and get valuable, program-specific, insights from our Marketing department.

🌟 Phase 4: Accreditation and Launch – The Final Stretch

We’re currently in the accreditation process, gearing up for the launch. The focus is now shifting towards marketing, working closely with Greta Maiocchi and her Marketing and Admissions team. Together, we’re translating our new academic offering into a compelling value proposition for the market.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Read the article
Five Reasons to Study Online at OPIT
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
Nov 29, 2023 9 min read

Far from being a temporary educational measure that came into its own during the pandemic, online education is providing students from all over the world with new ways to learn. That’s proven by statistics from Oxford Learning College, which point out that over 100 million students are now enrolled in some form of online course.

The demand for these types of courses clearly exists.

In fact, the same organization indicates that educational facilities that introduce online learning see a 42% increase in income – on average – suggesting that the demand is there.

Enter the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT).

Delivering three online courses – a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and two Master’s degrees – with more to come, OPIT is positioning itself as a leader in the online education space. But why is that? After all, many institutions are making the jump to e-learning, so what separates OPIT from the pack?

Here, you’ll discover the answers as you delve into the five reasons why you should trust OPIT for your online education.

Reason 1 – A Practical Approach

OPIT focuses on computer science education – a field in which theory often dominates the educational landscape. The organization’s Rector, Professor Francesco Profumo, makes this clear in a press release from June 2023. He points to a misalignment between what educators are teaching computer science students and what the labor market actually needs from those students as a key problem.

“The starting point is the awareness of the misalignment,” he says when talking about how OPIT structures its online courses. “That so-called mismatch is generated by too much theory and too little practical approach.” In other words, students in many classes spend far too much time learning the “hows” and “whys” behind computerized systems without actually getting their hands dirty with real work that gives them practical experience in using those systems.

OPIT takes a different approach.

It has developed a didactic approach that focuses far more on the practical element than other courses. That approach is delivered through a combination of classroom sessions – such as live lessons and masterclasses – and practical work offered through quizzes and exercises that mimic real-world situations.

An OPIT student doesn’t simply learn how computers work. They put their skills into practice through direct programming and application, equipping them with skills that are extremely attractive to major employers in the tech field and beyond.

Reason 2 – Flexibility Combined With Support

Flexibility in how you study is one of the main benefits of any online course.

You control when you learn and how you do it, creating an environment that’s beneficial to your education rather than being forced into a classroom setting with which you may not feel comfortable. This is hardly new ground. Any online educational platform can claim that it offers “flexibility” simply because it provides courses via the web.

Where OPIT differs is that it combines that flexibility with unparalleled support bolstered by the experiences of teachers employed from all over the world. The founder and director of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo, sheds more light on this difference in approach when he says, “We believe that education, even if it takes place physically at a distance, must guarantee closeness on all other aspects.” That closeness starts with the support offered to students throughout their entire study period.

Tutors are accessible to students at all times. Plus, every participant benefits from weekly professor interactions, ensuring they aren’t left feeling stuck on an educational “island” and have to rely solely on themselves for their education. OPIT further counters the potential isolation that comes with online learning with a Student Support team to guide students through any difficulties they may have with their courses.

In this focus on support, OPIT showcases one of its main differences from other online platforms.

You don’t simply receive course material before being told to “get on with it.” You have the flexibility to learn at your own pace while also having a support structure that serves as a foundation for that learning.

Reason 3 – OPIT Can Adapt to Change Quickly

The field of computer science is constantly evolving.

In the 2020s alone, we’ve seen the rise of generative AI – spurred on by the explosive success of services like ChatGPT – and how those new technologies have changed the way that people use computers.

Riccardo Ocleppo has seen the impact that these constant evolutions have had on students. Before founding OPIT, he was an entrepreneur who received first-hand experience of the fact that many traditional educational institutions struggle to adapt to change.

“Traditional educational institutions are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and trends within the educational sector,” he says. He points to computer science as a particular issue, highlighting the example of a board in Italy of which he is a member. That board – packed with some of the country’s most prestigious tech universities – spent three years eventually deciding to add just two modules on new and emerging technologies to their study programs.

That left Ocleppo feeling frustrated.

When he founded OPIT, he did so intending to make it an adaptable institution in which courses were informed by what the industry needs. Every member of its faculty is not only a superb teacher but also somebody with experience working in industry. Speaking of industry, OPIT collaborates with major companies in the tech field to ensure its courses deliver the skills that those organizations expect from new candidates.

This confronts frustration on both sides. For companies, an OPIT graduate is one for which they don’t need to bridge a “skill gap” between what they’ve learned and what the company needs. For you, as a student, it means that you’re developing skills that make you a more desirable prospect once you have your degree.

Reason 4 – OPIT Delivers Tier One Education

Despite their popularity, online courses can still carry a stigma of not being “legitimate” in the face of more traditional degrees. Ocleppo is acutely aware of this fact, which is why he’s quick to point out that OPIT always aims to deliver a Tier One education in the computer science field.

“That means putting together the best professors who create superb learning material, all brought together with a teaching methodology that leverages the advancements made in online teaching,” he says.

OPIT’s degrees are all accredited by the European Union to support this approach, ensuring they carry as much weight as any other European degree. It’s accredited by both the European Qualification Framework (EQF) and the Malta Qualification Framework (MQF), with all of its courses having full legal value throughout Europe.

It’s also here where we see OPIT’s approach to practicality come into play via its course structuring.

Take its Bachelor’s degree in computer science as an example.

Yes, that course starts with a focus on theoretical and foundational knowledge. Building a computer and understanding how the device processes instructions is vital information from a programming perspective. But once those foundations are in place, OPIT delivers on its promises of covering the most current topics in the field.

Machine learning, cloud computing, data science, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity – all valuable to employers – are taught at the undergraduate level. Students benefit from a broader approach to computer science than most institutions are capable of, rather than bogging them down in theory that serves little practical purpose.

Reason 5 – The Learning Experience

Let’s wrap up by honing in on what it’s actually like for students to learn with OPIT.

After all, as Ocleppo points out, one of the main challenges with online education is that students rarely have defined checkpoints to follow. They can start feeling lost in the process, confronted with a metaphorical ocean of information they need to learn, all in service of one big exam at the end.

Alternatively, some students may feel the temptation to not work through the materials thoroughly, focusing instead on passing a final exam. The result is that those students may pass, but they do so without a full grasp of what they’ve learned – a nightmare for employers who already have skill gaps to handle.

OPIT confronts both challenges by focusing on a continuous learning methodology. Assessments – primarily practical – take place throughout the course, serving as much-needed checkpoints for evaluating progress. When combined with the previously mentioned support that OPIT offers, this approach has led to courses that are created from scratch in service of the student’s actual needs.

Choose OPIT for Your Computer Science Education

At OPIT, the focus lies as much on helping students to achieve their dream careers as it does on teaching them. All courses are built collaboratively. With a dedicated faculty combined with major industry players, such as Google and Microsoft, it delivers materials that bridge the skill gap seen in the computer science field today.

There’s also more to come.

Beyond the three degrees OPIT offers, the institution plans to add more. Game development, data science, and cloud computing, to name a few, will receive dedicated degrees in the coming months, accentuating OPIT’s dedication to adapting to the continuous evolution of the computer science industry. Discover OPIT today – your journey into computing starts with the best online education institution available.

Read the article