MS Data Science

In today’s data-driven world, organizations of all types are using data to drive strategy, make critical decisions, and solve problems. Data scientists are in great demand—Glassdoor ranks data scientist as one of the top three Best Jobs, and the field is expected to grow more than 35 percent over the next decade.

American University’s MS in Data Science is designed to produce the next generation of leaders in this hot field. In as little as 18 months, in person or online, you’ll gain the analytical expertise and creative problem-solving skills necessary to succeed across multiple industries, academia, and government.  
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At a Glance

  • Mode of Study
    On campus or Online.
  • Requirements
    10 courses / 30 credits.
  • Time to Complete
    18 mos. or your own pace.
  • Course Scheduling
    Afternoons and evenings.
  • Tuition and Funding
    $2000 per credit. All applicants automatically considered for merit scholarships; visit Tuition and Funding.
  • Admissions
    Start in Fall, Spring or Summer. No GRE scores or tech degree required: visit Admission and Reqs.

Research Depth

Our students work with faculty pursuing interdisciplinary research across the sciences, social sciences, and public administration — see our recent Research.

$126K Median Salary

Data scientists in the DC area enjoy high salaries and high concentration of available jobs — with 35% projected job growth nationally through 2032.

National Ranking

Fortune Magazine ranks our MS Data Science program #27 in the nation for 2024; TechGuide ranks the program #22 and the Online MS #11 (the highest-ranked program in the DC-Metro area).

Specialize Your Studies

Woman with laptop near server racks

For our on-campus MS Program, choose one of 10 tracks best suited for your research and career goals:

  • Applied Public Affairs
  • Business Analytics
  • Computer Science
  • Cybersecurity
  • Environmental Science
  • Finance
  • International Economic Relations
  • Investigative Journalism
  • Microeconomic Analysis
  • Specialized Methods

Coursework culminates in the Data Science Practicum: Students take on real-world research and application projects proposed by AU campus partners or by external businesses and organizations.

Our Online MS Program offers tracks in Business Analytics and Specialized Methods. All students, whether in-person or online, will master the theoretical knowledge and practical skills used by data scientists in academia, industry, and government.

MS in Data Science


Explore the MS in Data Science.

Center for Data Science director Jeff Gill and MS Program co-director Betty Malloy discuss the program and explosive career opportunities. 


Shoes with arrows. Credit: Jon Tyson, Unsplash.Anchoring the MS program specializations, core courses train students to clean, process, visualize, and archive modern datasets, including text, imagery, and biometric data, apply machine learning algorithms to real data, and use the mathematical and statistical language used by data scientists. All classes prepare students to succeed in their individual tracks and the capstone: DATA-793 Data Science Practicum, where they will get hands-on experience working directly with faculty and other researchers on projects.

The core curriculum includes the following required classes
(* asterisk denotes courses available both online and on campus):

  • DATA-612 Statistical Programming in R (3)*
  • DATA-613 Data Science (3)* 
  • STAT-615 Regression (3)*
  • STAT-627 Statistical Machine Learning (3)*
  • Choose one:
    GOVT-618 Bayesian Statistics (3)
    STAT-618 Bayesian Statistics (3)
    GOVT-650 Political Analysis (3)*
  • Choose one: 
    GOVT-653 Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Political Science (3) 
    STAT-614 Statistical Methods (3)*

See complete Admission & Course Requirements.

Spotlight: Elizabeth Marge

Elizabeth Marge.In AU’s MS in Data Science Program, I had amazing opportunities that included the Data Science Summer Professional Development Program for District of Columbia Public Schools, and my Data Science practicum project, in which I worked with NASA and the GLOBE Observer Program. Working in these organizations with other young professionals was beneficial for my growth as a data scientist and building my personal network.
Elizabeth Marge,
Data Analysis at CTR Management Group, contracted to US State Department

Career Outlook

With its median base salary of $103,500 nationally and $126,000 in the DC metro area, Data Scientist is consistently ranked near the top for job satisfaction by US News and other sources. There were 30 million job ads for data scientists in the US alone in 2020 — and these numbers continue rising. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 35 percent increase in data science jobs from 2022-2032.

DC offers the nation's highest concentration of data science positions, more than double any state, and unparalleled access to private and public sector opportunities. AU's campus is minutes from industry giants such as Deloitte Consulting, Amazon, and Lockheed Martin. Whether through the Data Science Practicum or less formal connections, our graduates start with a foot in the door, thanks to AU’s relationships with DC-area institutions and our ever-expanding alumni data science network.

  • Accenture
  • Amazon
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Deloitte
  • Federation of American Scientists
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • US Census Bureau, US Department of Labor, US General Services Administration, US Senate, and US House of Representatives

Spotlight: Alexis Threatt

Alexis Threatt.At AU, I met great, enthusiastic, and encouraging professors who genuinely cared about my well-being — and students who became some of my closest friends. AU fosters an environment in which I felt comfortable being myself. It challenged me and prepared me for the world.
Alexis Threatt
Global Climate Change Team, US Forest Service

Alexis Threatt grew up in an urban area surrounded by a series of parks filled with trees. It was her first inspiration for the work she now does on the Global Climate Change Team at the US Forest Service International Programs. 

Alexis first got her foot in the door at the Forest Service while earning her MS in data science at AU. For her capstone, she landed a position as a program manager on the US Forest Service’s Africa and Middle East Team, managing its Mozambique and Angola Programs. “Both countries endure massive fires across the country, and I decided to pursue a comparison analysis of wildfires in two high-priority conserva tion areas called the Niassa Special Reserve in Mozambique and Mavinga National Park in Angola,” she explains.  

Alexis is thrilled with her current job. And with her environmental science background and MS in data science, she has lots of choices for her future. She is looking ahead at the possibility of earning a PhD, continuing with her forestry and climate change work, and implementing her data science degree—and perhaps even pursuing a career as a foreign service officer or working at the United Nations in an environmental position. 

What You'll Walk Away With

  • A deep understanding of complex data
  • Cutting edge technical skills, including Advanced Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Neural Networks, Deep Learning, and Business Intelligence
  • Analytical problem-solving
  • DC connections and opportunities
  • The power of American University’s network
  • Real-world experience in the Data Science Practicum, where students provide data science expertise and project assistance to faculty, local companies, non-profits, and government organizations
  • Communication, ethical leadership, and teamwork skills

Ready to dive in?
Start Application


The program is open to all students with a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. You must have a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale). Students without sufficient mathematical background as determined by the program directors may be required to complete a mathematical boot camp prior to starting the program.

CAS offers rolling admissions deadlines, but there deadlines for priority admission (affecting funding and admission for the next available semester):

  • Fall Priority Admission Deadline: February 15
  • Spring Priority Admission Deadline: November 1

Please see more application detailas at the CAS Application Requirements page.

Yes! In addition to what your agency or employer may offer, US Military personnel and families can receive benefits through the GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program, and more.

Visit our How to Apply and Admissions Requirements pages to start your application. If you have any questions please email

3D Data Points

Center for Data Science

Supporting research in the production, analysis, and storage of 21st-century data types.

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