Today is the age of Big Data, where information is truly the greatest commodity. Whether it's called data analytics, business analytics, information engineering, or just data science, Big Data and all of its subcategories constitute one of the fastest-growing job markets in the world. There's a simple reason for that – data collection, organization, processing, and analysis has become central to almost every imaginable field, from business and marketing (obviously) to defense and security to education and culture. Society is creating more pure information than has ever been created, and the only way to keep track and make that information useful is massive computing power – and the experts who make it happen.
Finding an Online Big Data PhD
For students who want to earn the highest degree in the field – either to work in academia, research, or the executive management level of private or nonprofit organizations – higher education is beginning to catch up. With an unprecedented job market demand for data professionals, more universities are developing doctorate programs with specializations in Big Data, including Doctor of Science, Doctor of Computer Science, and Doctor of Business Administration degrees. For working professionals who are already in the field, looking for a credential that will help put their career over the top, a fully online doctorate provides flexibility, convenience, and affordability.
Online PhD Programs has put together a listing of the top fully online Big Data PhD programs. Online PhD features only regionally-accredited universities that have proven their reputability, and at this time, these 5 institutions are the best bet for a fully online Big Data doctorate. We have consulted IPEDS for annual tuition rates; actual rates will vary depending on factors like number of credit hours. Programs are presented in order from lowest to highest tuition rates.
1. Dakota State University – Madison, SD
For excellence in technology education, think Dakota State University. No, it's not in Silicon Valley or the Research Triangle, but Dakota State University have been an enormously enthusiastic proponent of educational technology, right down to its motto: "Technically, We're Better." While Dakota State goes back to 1881 – even before South Dakota was a state – DSU has made the most of the 21st century with nationally recognized programs in areas like cybersecurity, information technology, and data analysis. In fact, Dakota State is one of the few NSU/Homeland Security designated National Centers of Academic Excellence.
Dakota State's Doctor of Science in Information Systems offers three specializations, but for students who are interested in Big Data careers, the Analytics and Decision Support concentration is the right track. The DSU program brings together technical skills and real-world practice, with a focus on developing intensive research abilities. Graduates of the DSU program are set for careers in research, teaching, and upper management of Big Data organizations. The combination of expertise and adaptable, professional applicability makes the Dakota State DSci program a great opportunity.
Degree: Doctor of Science in Information Systems
2. Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon is on its second lease on life, and the nation's first for-profit Christian university is, as they say, living its best life. While Grand Canyon began in 1949 as as a small Christian college, near the end of the 20th century Grand Canyon faced collapse, but its solution – to become a for-profit institution – made it one of the most unique and innovative Christian schools in the US. A regionally-accredited, nationally-ranked university, GCU is growing by leaps and bounds because of its acclaimed online programs. With more than 60,000 students, Grand Canyon is a new model of Christian and online higher education.
Grand Canyon's Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a Data Analytics concentration is an online program for the busy but ambitious working professional. As the highest level of education in the field, the DBA doesn't just add knowledge to the students toolbox – it gives them the technical, theoretical and leadership skills they need to make disruptive, impactful innovations in the Big Data and Data Science field. Grand Canyon uses real-world, evidence-based learning, and the dissertation process begins at the very beginning, building steadily into a useful and meaningful project.
Degree: DBA – Data Analytics Concentration
3. Capitol Technology University – Laurel, MD
Technological innovation is built into Capitol Technology University's identity. In 1927, CTU began as a technical school devoted to the most cutting-edge technology of the day – radio and electronics. From those early days of engineering and technical education, CTU has grown into one of the top STEM colleges in metropolitan Washington, DC, building critical partnerships with some of the most significant government agencies for technology. An NSU/Homeland Security National Center of Academic Excellence, CTU has the tech cred to stand alongside any college or university that calls itself innovative.
The CTU PhD in Business Analytics and Decision Science is a prime example of an online Big Data doctorate. This fully online doctorate is focused entirely on preparing graduates for leadership in the technology industry, either in the private or public sector, using the combination of data analysis and decision-making theory. The combination of skills, including technical, managerial, theoretical, and analytical/critical, helps working professionals build on their expertise and experience to lead organizations into intensive and profitable data-driven programs.
Degree: PhD in Business Analytics and Decision Science
4. Colorado Technical University – Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Technical University has earned recognition nationwide for the quality of its online degree programs, and its trailblazing outreach to military students. When it was founded in 1965, CTU's original purpose was to offer educational opportunities for veterans, who needed help returning to civilian life. In its five-decade history, though, CTU developed into one of the leading distance educators in its class, and one of the few for-profit universities to be regionally accredited and accredited in numerous fields.
WIth its high level of renown for information systems and analytics, Colorado Technical University's Big Data Doctor of Computer Science is a natural choice for working professionals. CTU's Big Data doctorate is designed for working professionals in computer science and analytics to increase their skills in research and leadership. In addition, CTU is a National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, recognized by the NSA and Homeland Security. For Big Data experts who want to work as researchers, executives, and professors, the CTU Doctor of Computer Science is the start.
Degree: Doctor of Computer Science – Big Data Concentration
5. Northcentral University – San Diego, CA
Northcentral University has the distinction of being one of the first entirely online universities ever, founded in 1996. In just two decades, Northcentral has become known for its practical, market-ready degree programs, focused largely on career-centered programs like technology, business, and education. They've had the time to get it right, and they've not only earned regional accreditation, as well as discipline-specific accreditations like the ACBSP. With an emphasis on always pushing the leading edge of education, it's no surprise that Northcentral's Technology and Innovation Management degrees should be a model of their kind.
Northcentral's Technology and Innovation Management PhD Data Science specialization is designed to turn data professionals and experts into leaders who can push the technology, and the field, to new heights. In addition to advanced skills in statistics and modeling, analysis, and processing, the Data Science PhD also emphasizes leadership and managerial skills. Students in the online Technology and Innovation Management PhD program are guaranteed one-on-one mentorship from faculty, and valuable online interaction with classmates.
Degree: PhD in Technology and Innovation Management