Big data, data analytics, data science—whichever direction you want to take it, there's no denying that the technology fields around data and data services are hot. Data is the currency of the enterprise, and more organizations than ever are trying to get some value out of it.
Many folks in tech careers who want to pursue a job in big data often head back to school to get the proper credentials. Value Colleges, an online publication that compares universities, recently released its list of the Top 50 Best Value Big Data Graduate Programs of 2016, where it details the best schools to learn about data.
Here are the top 20.
SEE: Job description: Data scientist (Tech Pro Research)
1. Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College houses the School of Information Systems and Management, where students can earn a master's degree in information systems management with a focus in data analytics. The school also offers a program for aspiring CISOs.
2. Stanford UniversityOne of the building blocks of Silicon Valley, it's no surprise that Stanford is on this list. Stanford's master of science degree in statistics with a concentration in big data, combined with their ties to the entrepreneurial community, make it a great fit for someone who wants to work in startups.
3. Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is one of the oldest schools in the state of California. Its Leavey School of Business offers students a master of science degree in business analytics, which is one of the best in the country.
4. University of Michigan - Dearborn
Michigan isn't just the home of the biggest automakers, it's also a good place to learn about big data. The university's Dearborn campus offers a master of science in business analytics, and is fairly well priced compared to the private universities on the list.
5. University of Texas at Dallas
They say everything's bigger in Texas, and that includes the data. The University of Texas at Dallas Jindal School of Management is a great option to pursue a graduate degree in analytics, as the surrounding Dallas economy is home to many major businesses.
6. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is known, all-round, as a quality school, and its Data Science Institute is a great place to study in the field. Its Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) is only 10 months long, offering a quick turnaround for professionals.
7. University of Florida
Coming in at no. 7 is the University of Florida, where students can pursue a master of science in information systems and operations management. The university is also routinely ranked as a top business school, making it a great option for those who wish to also pursue management down the line.
8. Purdue University
Considered by some to be the Ivy League school of the Midwest, Purdue is a great place to study data analytics.
9. University of Maryland
One the whole, the University of Maryland is known as a great public university, but it also has a great graduate program for aspiring data scientists. Also, being close to Washington, DC means that government jobs are a great place to start your career.
10. Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology Master of Science in Analytics is a great interdisciplinary degree, and nearby Atlanta is home to a booming tech job market.
SEE: Photos: 10 of the best places to study cybersecurity (TechRepublic)
11. University of California - San Diego
Most of the schools in the University of California fold are known or being tech-centric, but UCSD's Rady School of Management where students can get an in-depth graduate degree business analytics.
12. Bentley University
Bentley University is known for its history in accounting, but it also is a data powerhouse. The school was also ranked by Value Colleges as a top school for UX design, for students looking to broaden their skills.
13. Oklahoma State University
At Oklahoma State University, students can take two paths to data dominance: a master's degree in management information systems or in business analytics. The low cost of tuition is an added perk.
14. Northwestern University
Northwestern University's McCormick School is a great option for an advanced degree in analytics. The school is also known for business and journalism, which could provide additional skills in management or data reporting.
15. North Carolina State University
The birthplace of SAS, North Carolina State University has been working with data for a long time. Also, the state's Research Triangle is home to many tech companies that are likely looking for data analysts.
16. Indiana University - Bloomington
Indiana University's main campus in Bloomington hosts the School of Informatics and Computing, where students can get a master's degree in data science in only 30 credit hours. The school is also known for its focus on business, making it a great option for students who are also looking to go into management.
17. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Though a smaller school, Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts offers one of the best master's degree in data science and analytics.
18. Univerity of Massachusetts - Amherst
Regarded as one of the best research universities in the nation, Univerity of Massachusetts Amherst is a great place to study data science as well.
19. Seattle University
Like many schools on this list, Seattle University offers a master's degree in business analytics. However, the close proximity to tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon make it a strategic geographic location to start your big data journey.
20. George Mason University
Rounding out the top 20 is George Mason University. Known for its work in computing, business, and economics, George Mason is a great option for students who want to use data analytics in business environment.
- 16 tech jobs that will be needed for the future of smart cities (TechRepublic)
- Hadoop turns 10, Big Data industry rolls along (ZDNet)
- Photos: 10 major US cities that are embracing the cloud (TechRepublic)
- New Hadoop survey makes big data predictions for 2016 (ZDNet)
- Free audio story: The world's smartest cities: What IoT and smart governments will mean for you (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers startups and enterprise technology and is passionate about the convergence of tech and culture.