As a data scientist, you bridge the gap between the data a company collects and the actionable insights that the company must extract from this data to succeed. That’s reflected in the salary you can command, with Glassdoor showing us that the average salary in Germany for a data scientist is €63,500, with the potential to hit the €80,000 range.

But you can’t turn up at a company and simply proclaim yourself a data scientist. You need to master the analytical and algorithmic tools data scientists use, along with a solid foundation in the AI technologies pervading the data science space now and in the future. An MSc data science program helps you develop those skills, and this article looks at four of the best (two each for on-campus and online programs) to consider.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Data Science Master’s Program

Before taking the plunge and applying for a data science Master course, you need to get your feet wet with a little research. Consider the following factors, ranging from the course’s content to its ability to help you land a job.

Program Reputation

A good reputation, both for the program and the institution that provides it, can make the difference between getting a call for an interview or having your CV end up in the trash. Look for accredited universities that deliver courses with provable results.


While everyone who studies for a Master’s in data science has the main goal of being a data scientist, the area you wish to work on impacts your decision. Check the course curriculum to ensure you’re getting what you need on the theoretical, practical, and specific industry levels to make the course worthwhile.

Faculty Expertise and Research Opportunities

Any qualification you earn is only as good as the people behind the course providing that qualification. For a Master’s degree, look for faculty that has demonstrable industry experience, a solid track record of teaching, and the ability to provide research opportunities you can use to beef up your CV.

Industry Connections

As nice as the piece of paper you get upon completing a degree may be, what’s nicer is when that piece of paper comes from a course that gets you directly into a career. Look for established industry connections with big players and an alumni network filled with students who’ve gone on to work in the types of roles that appeal to you.

Program Duration and Flexibility

Life often gets in the way of education. Having commitments to work, family, and personal endeavors can make a full-time course unfeasible. Look for a course that fits around your schedule, whatever that may be, and offers enough flexibility for you to commit time when you can.

Top On-Campus MSc Data Science Programs

Being on campus during your studies gives you a chance to participate in a university’s research projects in person. Plus, you’ll work directly with faculty and meet peers who share your passion for data science and may have a few entrepreneurial ideas for you to latch on to. These are the two best data science Master course options for those who want the on-campus experience.

Master’s in Data Science (ETH Zurich)

Developed by an institution that consistently ranks as one of the world’s top 10 providers of computer science education, this course combines theory with practice. You’ll learn about the concepts underpinning data science and how those concepts apply to industries as diverse as medicine, finances, and environmental research. But the true standout is ETH Zurich’s Data Science Laboratory, where you’ll put your theoretical knowledge into practice by experimenting with real-world data science problems.

The course is delivered in English, meaning you must provide a certificate of English language proficiency at level C1 or higher to apply. Assuming you meet the language requirements, you’ll also need a BSc (or equivalent) offering at least 180 ECTS credits in a technical subject, such as computer science, physics, or math. You’ll pay CHF 730 (approx. €749) per semester for the two-year course, with the program taking no more than eight semesters to complete. Hitting the minimum four semesters means you pay about €2,996 in total, depending on the CHF-to-euro exchange rate.

Master of Science in Data Science (University College London)

University College London (UCL) offers a choice between a one-year full-time program and a two-year part-time program, with international students usually paying more than UK-based students. You need to shell out £38,300 (approx. €44,000) for this Master’s in data science. The course may seem expensive for those on a budget, though help is offered through UCL’s Financial Assistance Fund for Postgraduate Students. You’ll only get access to this fund if you can demonstrate that you’re in financial hardship and have taken all available provisions (such as applying for a student loan) available to escape that hardship.

Moving away from the unpleasantness of such high tuition fees, UCL delivers a data science program that starts with the basic theory of machine learning and ends with a research project to demonstrate your knowledge. Admission is tough – the university received 20 applications per available place in 2022. But you get a degree with accreditation from the Royal Society of Statistics if you’re willing to invest the money and are a proven high-performer in a technical subject.

Online and Part-Time MSc Data Science Programs

An online data science Master degree usually comes with two advantages over on-campus options – lower fees and more flexibility. These two courses stand out in the online space.

Master in Applied Data Science & AI (OPIT)

It’s the word “applied” that makes OPIT’s Master’s program stand out as it tells you that you’re going to learn so much more than basic theory in this course. That’s not to say you won’t learn theory, with topics like AI, machine learning, and problem-solving practices all on the docket in the first term of this 18-month course. But the second term challenges you to put all of that knowledge to the test by confronting you with real-world problems, followed by a third term that offers either an internship or an in-depth project.

Tuition fees vary depending on when you apply for the course. You’ll spend €6,500 when paying the full price, though early birds can get on board for €4,950, saving over €1,500 in the process. There’s also an option for a fast-tracked 12-month course (the same tuition fees apply) for people who can dedicate a little more time per week to their education. As for admissions, a BSc degree in almost any field is enough for you to get through the basic entry criteria. International students must demonstrate English language proficiency up to the B2 level, and OPIT has its own English certification program to help with that.

Master of Science in Applied Data Science (University of Southern California Online)

With the online version of its Master’s in data science program, the University of Southern California (USC) makes a top-class education available to European and international students. The selling point is simple – equip you with the skills you need to work as a data scientist. To do that, the course starts with the basics of Python and how to use this popular programming language to navigate your way through complex datasets. As you progress, you’ll face more real-world problems in data management and visualization that echo those you’ll find in industry.

The online program is offered as a full-time two-year course or part-time three-year version, and you can expect to pay $2,424 (approx. €2,240) per credit unit. A successful applicant will usually have a BSc in an engineering-related course, or one in computer science, math, statistics, or a similar numbers-centric field.

Tips for a Successful Application to a Top MSc Data Science Program

Maybe you’ve found the perfect Master’s in data science among the four in this article, or you have your eye on a different course entirely. Either way, you have a hurdle to jump – the application process. Follow these tips to craft an application that increases your chances of being the student who gets chosen from applicant pools that can number in the hundreds.

  • Craft a strong personal statement to show your university of choice who you are as a person away from whatever accomplishments you list on your CV.
  • Get recommendations from appropriate people (ideally previous teachers or employers in data science-related fields) to show you have people who can vouch for you.
  • Demonstrate relevant work experience wherever you can (internships are your friend) or showcase academic projects related to data science.
  • Spend time preparing for interviews by learning as much as possible about the interviewer and their process.
  • Ensure you meet the minimum requirements regarding English language proficiency and previous degree-level experience.

Online or Off – Find the Data Science Master Degree That Works for You

By pursuing a data science Master course, you set off on a journey that prepares you for a future where Big Data (and the models that parse through that data) are king. Each of the four programs here prepares you for that future, albeit in different ways, and each puts you in line for a career that averages in the high five figures and has the potential to grow even further.

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New OPIT Degrees launching (soon)!
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!

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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.

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