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How to Choose the Data Science Program That’s Right for You

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The numbers paint a pretty compelling picture, and all the press articles certainly add to the sense of excitement. Everywhere you look, there’s another story about the incredible demand for skilled data scientists. Just two weeks ago, a story from Bloomberg noted that job listings for data scientists on have increased 75% in just three years. Glassdoor has named Data Scientist the best job in the U.S. three years in a row. IBM is predicting a demand increase of nearly 30% in the next two years.

In short, it is an incredible time to become a Data Scientist.

That’s easier said than done, of course. But that’s where Udacity comes in. No matter where your skills and experience are today, we offer a point-of-entry into the world of data, and at Udacity, every data learning path ends with you being ready for success in the field. 

Whether you want to master data science programming with Python and SQL, launch a Data Analyst career, or explore business and predictive analytics, Udacity offers world-class programs, expert instructors, and the opportunity to start building relevant skills right away. We’ve partnered with industry leaders like Tableau, Kaggle, and IBM Watson, to ensure you’re learning the in-demand skills recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.

In this post, I’ll walk you through all the Nanodegree programs in our School of Data Science. I’ll show you what each covers, make clear how they connect, and help you choose the program that’s right for you. In the process, I’ll describe the projects you’ll build, and the skills you’ll learn.

Let’s get started!

The first thing to know is that Udacity offers a number of Nanodegree programs focused on data and that these programs are all part of our School of Data Science: Business AnalyticsPredictive Analytics for Business, Programming for Data ScienceData Analyst, Data Scientist, and Data Engineer.

The School of Data Science is organized around three main roles: Business Analyst, Data Analyst, and Data Scientist. Our programs are designed to prepare you for these roles based on your career goals, and your current skills and experience levels.

The School of Data Science offers two different career paths. These paths are differentiated by whether they focus on developing programming skills or not. Each path features a certain number of “steps” to reach the point where you are qualified for your intended role. Where you begin depends on your current experience level, and each program lists whether there are pre-requisites, and if so, what those are.

Non-programming path:
Business Analytics → Predictive Analytics for Business
This path is for anyone who wishes to pursue career roles in data, without adding and/or relying on programming skills to do so. This path targets one specific role: Business Analyst.

Programming path:
Programming for Data Science → Data Analyst → Data Scientist → Data Engineer
These paths for anyone who wishes to pursue career roles in data, and who wants to incorporate relevant programming skills into their skill set. There are three career roles you target here: Data Analyst, which is a two-step path, Data Scientist, which is a three-step path, and Data Engineer, which is a two-step path.

In addition to being part of a career path, each of our programs stands on its own as an opportunity to learn a specific set of data skills. To better understand these paths and programs, let’s now look at each program separately.

Udacity School of Data Science program paths

Business Analytics

This program is for anyone who wishes to gain foundational data skills that are applicable to virtually all fields. You’ll learn to collect, organize, and analyze data using Excel, SQL, and Tableau, and you’ll explore how to make data-driven decisions. This program is an ideal choice whether you’re just getting started with data, are interested in applying data skills to a current role, or plan to pursue advanced studies and career roles.

Predictive Analytics for Business

Business Analysts are in high demand. In this program, you’ll learn to apply predictive analytics and business intelligence to solve real-world business problems. You’ll do so by building fluency in two leading software packages: Alteryx, a tool that enables you to prepare and analyze data quickly; and Tableau, a powerful data visualization tool. Upon graduating from the program, you’ll be ready to apply for a wide array of Business Analyst roles.

Programming for Data Science

In this program, you’ll learn the most valuable programming tools and languages used by data professionals today. You’ll learn how to manipulate large datasets, perform version control, and access modern databases. This program is an ideal way to launch a career in data, and for experienced analysts, it’s an excellent opportunity to augment your existing skill set with in-demand programming skills.

Data Analyst

Successful Data Analysts have a unique set of skills, and represent important value to organizations eager to make data-powered business decisions. In this program, you’ll learn to use Python, SQL, and statistics to uncover insights, communicate critical findings, and create data-driven solutions. Demand for qualified Data Analysts continues to rise, and as a graduate of this program, you will be prepared to fill these important roles.

Data Scientist

Data Scientists possess advanced skills and use cutting-edge techniques like machine learning to do their work. There is a shortage of qualified Data Scientists in the workforce, and individuals with these skills are in high demand. In this program, you’ll work on real-world data science projects designed by industry leaders. You’ll build effective machine learning models, and learn to run data pipelines, design experiments, build recommendation systems, and deploy solutions to the cloud. Upon graduation from the program, you’ll be ready to apply for important Data Scientist roles.

Data Engineer

Data engineers are crucial to a company’s data analytics strategy. They build data infrastructure, including data warehouses, data lakes, and data pipelines, and make data accessible for other members of the organization. The pipelines they build and databases they design are the foundation that all other analytics, data science, and artificial intelligence efforts are built on. Without this important work, data sits in a data center and simply takes up space. In this program, students will design data models, build data warehouses and data lakes, automate data pipelines, and work with Big Data. Graduates of this program will be prepared for data engineering jobs or to bring these crucial skills to their current role.


No matter which program you choose, you’ll benefit from personalized mentorship, expert project review, and robust support from all our teams. You’ll build hands-on projects, and create an outstanding portfolio of work. You’ll become part of a dynamic community of data enthusiasts, and you’ll establish a valuable professional network.

 It’s an incredible time to join the world of data!

Enroll Now

This article was originally published in June 2018 and was updated on March 13, 2019.

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