5 Best Online Doctorates in Data Science Grad Schools

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Updated: March 17, 2024, Reading time: 14 minutes

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Those who want to enter the field of data science with its cutting-edge research may want to consider earning an online doctorate in data science. This advanced degree prepares students to take on leadership roles in the data science field and advance their careers in the process.

As a terminal degree in data science, this Ph.D. program equips students with the mastery and knowledge of the discipline that is highly valuable to potential employers and fellow professionals.

Students in this PhD degree will take on more advanced courses, often ranging from analysis techniques, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, information science, and machine learning, among others. They will also learn quantitative research methods.

Students are also expected to conduct a PhD dissertation research. They will then need to complete this dissertation, contributing significantly to the data science field. There might be cases where program requirements include passing a comprehensive exam and the Depth Qualifying Exam.

So, is a PhD in data science worth it? Students who want to advance their career goals and successfully attain leadership roles will find the Ph.D. in data science valuable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 35% growth for the data science job outlook between 2022 and 2032.  


An online Doctorate in Data Science is a step in the right direction for those who want to advance their careers as data scientists. The flexible program means students will be able to complete their coursework at their own pace, allowing them to juggle their career responsibilities and personal demands.

If you are ready to take on the challenge of completing dissertations involving rigorous research, then this advanced degree program is right for you, letting you become a true expert on data science.


Data Science is a necessarily interdisciplinary field that draws on a number of disciplines, and given the increasing importance of data in decision-making processes across many industries, also sees a wide range of applicability as well as ample career opportunities.

Students seeking a terminal degree in this field are thus well-served to choose the best education they can get, designed to prepare them to become highly skilled and versatile, whether they plan to commit to a career in scholarly research or professional practice.

If you’re on the search, then we’ve got the best starting place for you! We’ve put together a list of 3 graduate schools that offer the best online doctorate in data science programs. Online doctorates in data science are an admittedly rare degree, so we’ve added two top-tier traditional doctorate programs to widen your options.

We selected each PhD in Data Science program based on the following characteristics:

Visit our Methodology section for details.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Best Online Doctorate in Data Science Programs

National University

National University

San Diego, California

PhD in Data Science

Harnessing an innovative approach to student success, National University has remained strongly committed to reshaping higher education for working professionals. It offers more than 190 career-relevant programs, often with flexible online options.

The academic programs at National University are student-centric. Students can also enjoy holistic support services integral to academic success. It is currently serving 40,000 students.

Standout Features:

In this doctorate program, students are assisted by the faculty to reach their goals through a systematic process. They are guided through every step of the process, from choosing a topic and documenting its importance to planning the methodology and conducting the research.

Did You Know?

Taking pride in its 360-degree support, National University goes beyond traditional support. Instead, it is a pioneer in devising new ways to achieve personal and professional goals, encompassing five aspects of students’ wellbeing. This includes financial, academic, career, social and emotional, and family life and community.

For students in select programs, a virtual campus is available. This feature, created with the use of VR and 3D modeling technologies, allows online students to explore a lifelike simulation of the campus student center and academic building.  

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University

South Laurel, Maryland

PhD in Business Analytics and Data Science

Capitol Technology University is a private university in South Laurel, an unincorporated area in Maryland. It was founded in 1927 as the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute, undergoing several name changes over the succeeding decades and gaining its current name and university status in 2014.

Capitol Technology University is classified among “Special Focus Institutions – Schools of Engineering”, and specializes in offering undergraduate & graduate programs related to computer science, Information technology, engineering, and business. It currently has a population of over 800 students.

Standout Features:

Aside from the convenient online delivery format, which for a Ph.D. can be rare in many fields, this program is designed with a wide range of applicability in mind, not only in terms of scholarly research but also with regard to professional skills crucial in data-driven decision-making processes across all businesses and industries.

Did You Know?

Capitol Technology University’s first doctorate program was launched back in 2010. This was the Doctor of Science (DSc) in Cybersecurity.

University of North Texas (HYBRID)

University of North Texas (HYBRID)

Denton, Texas

PhD in Information Science, Concentration in Data Science

The University of North Texas (UNT) is a public research university located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, with its main campus specifically in the city of Denton, and was established in 1890.

UNT is the flagship university of the University of North Texas System and is currently composed of 14 colleges and schools. It is also the fourth largest university in Texas, with a population of almost 47,000 students, and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

Standout Features:

This is a joint program offered by UNT’s Departments of Information Technology and Decision Sciences, and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The program is unique in its having a specialized focus on conducting research relevant to the field of consumer behavior and a number of other related areas.   

Did You Know?

UNT’s Information Science PhD program is highly interdisciplinary. Faculty and students are also members of a number of relevant professional associations, including the Association for Information Science and Technology, the Knowledge & Information Professional Association, the American Library Association, and more.

Columbia University Data Science Institute

Columbia University Data Science Institute

New York, New York

PhD Specialization in Data Science

Columbia University is a private, Ivy League research university in New York City. It was established by royal charter in 1754 and then known as King’s College, making it the fifth-oldest higher education institution in the country. It was renamed Columbia University during its move to its current campus in 1896.

As part of the Ivy League, Columbia University enjoys a reputation for academic excellence. It is currently subdivided into 20 schools (4 undergraduate & 16 graduate schools, which together host a population of over 34,700 students.   

 Standout Features:

Unlike other programs that are offered as a standalone doctorate in data science, this is rather a specialization that is available as an option for a set of closely related Ph.D. programs offered at Columbia University.

This traditional/on-campus path may not necessarily offer the traditional convenience and flexibility that other online degree programs provide, but it’s hard to beat the quality of education that comes from an Ivy League University.

Did You Know?

Aside from being part of the Ivy League, Columbia University is also one of the Colonial Colleges, which were founded before the United States gained independence.

New York University

New York University - Center for Data Science

New York, NY

Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science

Founded in 1831, New York University is known for innovation when it comes to higher education. It has since become a respected research university that offers top-ranked academic programs with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai.

It is also a leader in global education, catering to more international students than any US university. In fact, it has 12 global academic centers across Africa, North America, Asia, Europe, and South America.

Standout Features:  

Students who successfully get admitted into the program are guaranteed financial assistance through tuition aid and a competitive stipend during the fall and spring semesters. This financial aid is available for up to five years.

Moreover, students also have the opportunity to pursue their studies and research with the Data Science faculty based at NYU Shanghai, expanding their learning experience and allowing them to immerse in a completely different culture.

Did You Know?

Home to more than 65,000 students, New York University undertakes $1 billion in research annually. Many of its faculty are recipients of the highest scholarly honors. The university is also a top producer of patents and revenue licensing among the universities in the country. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common admission requirements to data science Ph.D. programs?

The admission requirements often vary from school to school. Generally, students will need to hold an undergraduate or master’s degree program in data science or related field. Some of the relevant degrees include statistics, computer science, mathematics, and other disciplines that develop skills in making predictions or drawing inferences with the use of data.

Candidates with work or research experience in data science are also highly favored. Other requirements may include personal essay, official transcripts, updated resume, and letters of recommendation.

How long does it take to complete an online PhD program in Data Science?

Usually, doctoral programs in data science can be completed in 3-4 years. This will, however, largely depend on the program requirements. Some will have a rigorous curriculum that takes time to complete. Students will also need to comply with the dissertation requirements. The dissertation process usually takes a couple of years to finish. 

What can graduates do with a Data Science PhD program?

The primary goal of the Data Science PhD program is to prepare prospective students to conduct research in data science by exploring each stage of the data science life cycle, often from both theoretical and applied perspectives. This gives PhD students a broad knowledge of a wide range of topics, including big data integration, data mining, data visualization, business intelligence, and strategic data management, among others.

These skills can lead to a good number of employment opportunities, from data scientists, research scientists, and data science managers to data engineers, machine learning engineers, and research analysts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows data scientists and related professions can earn an annual median pay of $103,500. With a doctorate degree, this salary can double or even triple.

What are some key characteristics and skills that are greatly helpful for those looking to enroll in Doctorate in Data Science programs?

Data science is not only an interdisciplinary field; it is also highly technical and involves a number of advanced processes such as machine learning, data visualization, data mining, and more. With this being a terminal degree, students are expected to have at the very least a solid foundation in statistics as well as skills in programming. This field also lives and breathes big data, and this requires students to have a rigorous mindset.

In terms of both research and professional practice, communication skills are a basic requirement since data science also involves communicating insights drawn out from certain sets of data. With data science continuing to evolve, particularly in terms of tools and processes, successful students (and professionals) would also be well-served to have a willingness to keep up and learn the state of the art in the field.

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