If a theoretical data scientist is somebody who’s mastered the art of extracting and analyzing large datasets, an applied data scientist is someone who can put that mastery into real-world practice. They’re insight specialists. And those insights come using techniques like machine learning and data mining to parse through extensive datasets to find patterns and outcomes.
As a prospective Master of applied data science, you may wonder if this career path is the right choice for you. It is, as long as you want to be part of a growing industry. According to Precedence Research, the data science industry is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.43% between 2022 and 2030. That CAGR translates into growth from $112.2 billion in value (approx. €103 billion) to $378.7 billion (approx. €349 billion).
That growth alone demonstrates why getting an applied data science MSc could be valuable to your career prospect. Let’s look at three of the top courses on offer to European and international students.
Top MSc Programs in Applied Data Science – Our Criteria
Before digging into the best Master applied data science programs, it’s important to establish the criteria we’ve used to make our selections. The following five factors play a role:
- Reputation and ranking – While overall university rankings denote the quality of an establishment, we’re more interested in the reputation the specific course has in the industry.
- Curriculum and Sspecialization – What will you study and how will the topics you delve into lead to further specialization? We aim to answer both questions for our selections.
- Faculty expertise – When analyzing faculty expertise, we’re looking for a combination of experienced educators and mentors with real-world experience in data science work.
- Industry connections and partnerships – You want to use your MSc in applied data science to find work. A university that has strong connections to industry leaders (either through faculty or partnerships) can propel you forward in your career.
- Career support and alumni network – Speaking of connections, a good alumni network exposes you to peers who can help your career. Combine that with in-house career support from the university, and you get a course that offers more than a basic education.
Top MSc Programs Explored
After applying the above criteria, we’ve come up with a list of three Master of applied data science programs to pique your interest.
Program 1 – Master in Applied Data Science & AI (Open Institute of Technology)
Available as a fully online course for those who value self-learning, the Open Institute of Technology’s (OPIT’s) program lasts for 18 months with costs starting from €4,950. There’s also a fast-track option available for those who can commit to more extensive studies, with that program offering the same degree in just 12 months.
The educational aspect of the course is divided across two terms. In the first term, you’ll focus primarily on principles and techniques in areas such as Python programming, machine learning, and how to use data science to solve business problems. The second term gets more practical as you start to focus on applications of data science (and AI) in the real world before digging into the ethics behind your work.
As for credentials, OPIT is an accredited institution under the European Qualification Framework and its MSc was created by Professor Lorenzo Livi. Serving as program head, Livi brings the expertise he’s developed through teaching and research at both the University of Exeter and the University of Manitoba to the program.
It’s this focus on attracting international faculty that’s the most attractive part of the course. Beyond Livi, the faculty includes professors from institutions as diverse as the University of California, University of Copenhagen, Microsoft, and the Naval Research Laboratory. This mix of academic excellence and professors with real-world experience can lead you to exciting career opportunities and connections.
Program 2 – Master of Science in Data Science (ETH Zurich)
Ranked as the ninth-best computer science university in the world by Research.com, ETH Zurich has a program that stands out thanks to its Data Science Laboratory. This dedicated facility allows students to utilize their theoretical knowledge on simulated practical problems. Process modeling and data validation get put into practice in this lab, all under the oversight of an experienced mentor.
Speaking of faculty, several members of ETH Zurich specialize in teaching data science in relation to the medical field. Both Gunnar Rätsch, a full professor at the university, and Julia Vogt, an assistant professor can directly aid students who wish to apply their data science expertise to medicine.
Career support comes in the form of a dedicated Career Center, which serves as a central hub for students and the companies with which the university partners. ETH encourages partnership through industry events, such as its Industry Day, which encourage local and national businesses to meet with and discuss the work of its students. These events may prove vital to starting your data science career before you’ve even completed your Master of applied data science.
Coming back to the program, it’s a two-year full-time course through which you’ll earn 120 credits per the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Prospective students need to have at least 180 ECTS credits from a relevant Bachelor’s degree, such as a BSc in computer science or mathematics. The program costs CHF 730 (approx. €749) per semester, with the option to make voluntary contributions to things like the university’s student union and its Solidarity Fund for Foreign Students.
Program 3 – MSc Data Science (IU International University of Applied Science)
Our final program takes us to Germany and one of the most flexible applied data science MSc programs in Europe. Offered in conjunction with London South Bank University, this program results in graduation with a dual degree with both German and British accreditation. You have a choice between taking the two-year program for €556 per month or a pair of part-time programs. The first of the part-time options lasts for 36 months, costing €417 per month, with the second being a 48-month course costing €329 per month.
The course itself focuses primarily on current developments in the data sector, with modules on Big Data, infrastructure engineering, and software development included. The first semester introduces you to machine learning and deep learning concepts, in addition to offering a model engineering case study so you can get your feet wet with applied data science. The second semester makes room for specialization, as you choose an elective that may focus on Big Data, autonomous driving, or smart manufacturing methods.
Faculty members include Professor Thomas Zoller, who oversees the university’s BSc in data science program in addition to contributing to its Master’s program. His expertise lies in machine learning in the context of image processing, in addition to the use of AI and advanced analytics in digital transformation.
As you move closer to wanting to start your career, IU International’s Career Office comes into play. It holds weekly group career talks, both online and on-campus, in addition to daily slots for one-to-one chats with advisors over Zoom or email. You also get access to the university’s Jobteaser platform, which puts you in direct contact with potential recruiters.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Applied Data Science MSc
The three programs highlighted above each offer a combination of a stellar education and industry connections that help you to get your data science career started. But if you want to do further research into applied data science MSc programs, these are the factors to consider.
Your Personal Goals
Though it may seem obvious to state, your personal goals play a huge role in your decision. For example, somebody who wishes to work in the medical field may favor ETH Zurich’s offering due to the expertise of its faculty, whereas that course may not be the best choice for those interested in finance. Think about what you want to achieve and which program aligns with those goals.
A Master of applied data science doesn’t come cheap. Most courses cost several thousand euros, though you’ll often find that online courses are more manageable from a cost perspective. Consider the program cost and research financial aid options, such as those highlighted on the EURAXESS portal, when making your choice.
A full-time MSc in applied data science may be great for a young student with no other commitments. But it won’t work so well when you’re trying to fit your education around work, life, and your family. Think about the time commitment the program asks of you. Many find that a part-time or self-learning-driven online course is easier to fit around their schedules than a full-time on-campus program.
Location and Campus Facilities
If you opt for an online course then location isn’t an issue – you can study from home. But those studying on-campus have to consider the location (is the university situated in a business hub, for example) and the facilities offered on-site to help them further their data science careers.
Networking opportunities can come in many forms in a Master of applied data science program. Faculty is the obvious source of connections, with many educators having worked (or still working) directly in the industry, but don’t underestimate the connective powers of your peers. Furthermore, take advantage of any career support facilities your university offers to get yourself in front of prospective employers.
Get Your MSc in Applied Data Science
Think of choosing an applied data science MSc in the same way you’d think about making an investment. You want that investment (both in time and money) to offer a suitable return. The three programs listed here offer superb qualifications and give you the real-world experience needed to forge a career in the applied data science sector. Choose the program that suits your needs, or, use the advice provided to research other programs that are closer to home or more in line with your career goals.
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:
- 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!
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.