Data Architecture Degree Programs

Working with ever-evolving big data and the latest technology in the industry requires advanced education in database management and administration. Professionals that design and manage the collection of data for organizations are part of data architecture. They provide solutions for an organization that is looking to gather data and how to maintain the ever evolving amount of information that is collected from clients and communities. Having more information improves an organization's capability of the goods and services they offer.

What is Data Architecture?

Frequent tasks for data architects include working with others to determine the best solutions for data storage within the information systems. They will use this input to design an optimal structure that moves the flow of data and makes it easily accessible to other workers and clients. All systems will need to meet compliance and follow regulations for privacy and ethical reasons.

While a Bachelor's degree is required for many positions in data architecture, a Master's degree is beneficial to gain advanced technical skills or gain the ability to communicate better with other professionals and enhance overall knowledge and theory in database management. Technical skills may include utilizing enterprise application integration software, predictive modeling, and machine learning. A goal in many organizations is to quickly process big data on a large scale.

Data Architecture Degrees

Online Master's Degrees in Data Architecture

Individuals looking for an online opportunity to study data architecture will need to review related information technology and business disciplines offered by the institution. Not many programs focus on data architecture alone and are instead found under Database Management, Management Information Systems, Computer Science, or other altered versions of these topics.

Courses could be offered within the elective requirement or conveniently packaged into a specialization that students can pursue. For example, the New Jersey Institute of Technology offers the Master of Science in Information Systems, and there is a concentration of Data Management available. When reviewing programs, students should consider if it has regional accreditation for curriculum validity.

Online programs will require certain technical qualifications for students to have a quality experience when getting their degree. This includes having a modern desktop or laptop computer with a Windows or Mac-based operating system. Prospective students should review if there are any additional applications needed or mobile device capability for further flexibility in their studies.

Featured Online Data Science Programs

University of Denver

Students can pursue a Database Design and Administration concentration under the Master of Science in Information and Communications Technology program. Skills can be gained in data modeling and creating a structure that thoroughly helps organizations manage their information. This is a 48 credit-hour program that is fully available online and can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Class structure is in 10-week terms, and there are four terms throughout the year. Students can take two courses each term and complete the program in six terms, or flex between one and two courses each term. For those that have an opportunity to extend their studies, they could take one course each term for three years to satisfy work or other life obligations.

The curriculum is separated into four core courses that all students take, four concentration courses, and an additional four electives to further customize the experience. Core courses include foundational business and technical topics and skills, the integration of enterprise architecture, and a capstone project that culminates the program.

This program can be completed fully online through the Canvas learning management system, and there are no requirements to meet at the Denver campus. Those within the location can choose to complete a hybrid format where there are both online and on-campus courses blended together. Online format is asynchronous with no mandatory times for class lecture.

Northeastern University

The College of Engineering offers a Master of Science in Data Architecture and Management for business intelligence and data warehousing needs in an organization. Students will learn how to effectively prepare systems for data input and the integration of applications that will use this information. 32 total credit hours are needed to complete the degree, and a 3.0 cumulative GPA is required.

Four courses are required for all students that are taking the program: Data Science Engineering Methods and Tools, Data Management and Database Design, Designing Advanced Data Architectures for Business Intelligence, and Engineering of Big Data Systems. They can also specialize in software quality control, cyber security engineering, and business ethics through elective opportunities.

Documents needed for the application process include unofficial transcripts, two letters of recommendation, updated resume, and statement of purpose. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are also needed in the process. Students do not have the ability to take this program in an online format.

An alternative to the Master's degree program is obtaining a more focused graduate certification in a related field. For example, students have the option to pursue a certificate in Computer Systems Engineering, Data Analytics Engineering, and Gordon Engineering Leadership. Online opportunities exist with the Energy Systems and Engineering Management master's degrees and graduate certifications.

Florida State University

The College of Business offers a Master of Science in Management Information Systems that is fully available online. There are 11 different courses that must be completed, and students will explore topics in project management, technology concepts, and business intelligence. Designed for those continuing as working professionals, the program is generally completed in a two-year span.

Admission takes place in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. In order to get into the program, applicants should demonstrate the completion of two years worth of work experience in a technology field, or the completion of a Bachelor's degree in this field with two years of professional experience. Students are recommended to have proficiency in database concepts and various programming languages.

4 of the 11 courses that are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements are elective opporunities to customize the program. Students can pick from the following electives to pursue within the program:

  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Fundamentals of Risk and Insurance
  • Global Business Seminar (only available in spring and summer semesters)
  • Production and Operations Management
  • Real Estate Valuation

Prospective students out of high school can consider the combination of Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the field of Management Information Systems. This eliminates one year of work and allows students to complete both programs in the span of five years. There is no obligation to start the program immediately after the undergraduate program is completed.

Northwestern University

The School of Professional Studies offers a Master of Science in Information Systems with eight different concentrations to choose from. Along with categories in general data science and health informatics, the architecture-related specialization is Database and Internet Technologies. Students will gain skills for data modeling, design, and project management, and all courses are available online.

In addition to the concentration courses, four core classes are taken by all students, along with a leadership course and a capstone project or thesis. Either final project will demonstrate what the student has learned throughout the curriculum. A thesis is helpful for students that are looking at pursuing further education at a higher level.

Three different courses are required within the specialization: Web Application Development, Database Administration, and Practical Data Science Using Machine Learning. Three additional electives will complete the concentration requirement. While students traditionally pick either course in their studies, they must take both Object-Oriented Programming and Python for Data Science in this concentration.

Requirements for admission include up to a 550-word statement of purpose that details professional goals, at least two letters of recommendation, updated resume, and official transcripts. Prospective students must be at least in the process of completing their Bachelor's degree before applying. GRE scores are not required, but encouraged if an applicant does not have high academic merit.

University of Maryland

The Master of Science in Cloud Computing Architecture is a specialized program within the categories of information technology and cyber security through the university's Global Campus. For this program, students will learn how to evaluate and transition older systems to a cloud-based structure. They will have the fundamental understanding of how to develop this new architecture and to keep it secure from potential intrusions and unauthorized access.

36 total credit hours are needed to complete the degree, and it is available completely online for student convenience. Up to six credit hours are allowed to be transferred into the program from other institutions and approved by the program director. For students that are within the University of Maryland campus area, there is an opportunity to pursue the degree in a hybrid format.

In addition to regional accreditation, this school is recognized by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security for their cyber defense education. Examples of core courses in the curriculum include Network Engineering, Cloud Computing Implementations and Migrations, and a capstone project in Cloud Computing Orchestration.

Graduation requirements include completing all courses with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. All transfer credits must have been earned within the last five years to count toward the current curriculum. The amount of credits taken each semester depends on the student, but the entire degree must be earned with a five-year time span.

Sample Courses in Data Architecture

Data Warehousing

Explores the concepts and theory behind big data management and the various systems that organizations can use to store raw data and parse this into usable information. Students will understand how these techniques can help companies improve on their production and performance, and they gain the skills needed to process, sort, and summarize this information within the system.

Database Design

Gives an overview of the entire lifecycle of a database system, from how it is created, its implementation into an organization, and to how the process changes over time with new technology. Specific topics in design may include what types of security is used to protect this information and what innovations can make this process faster, such as better storage solutions and artificial intelligence.

Machine Learning

Companies are continuing to implement automated technology to improve their data organization, and this requires their systems recognizing specific attributes of input coming in. Machine learning identifies this information through algorithms, eliminating the need for manual review and sorting when applied. These courses will also look into the evolution and what the future holds in machine learning capability.

Hadoop and SQL Server

These are common tools utilized in the database management procedure. Hadoop is the system that stores and process large amounts of data into various clusters over a server, and SQL is a tool used to access and manipulate the information in these locations. Students will discovers the strengths and weaknesses of these tools, along with alternative variations of them from differnt vendors.

Business Intelligence

Valuable information that can help an organization get ahead of the competition or improve the goods and services they offer is business intelligence. This is a broad concept that may include theory or specific skills in mining and analyzing data within the course. It can also be applied to various industries, such as health care, finance, and education.

Career Opportunities in Data Architecture

Being in charge of the infrastructure of big data is a lucrative position in any organization. According to PayScale, the average salary for data architects is approximately $117,861, or a $72.23 hourly rate. Within the first one to four years of this data science position, that salary is estimated at $87,000.

Network Administrator

Administrators are frequently tasked with the need to setup or organize network systems and ensure they are running in an optimal fashion. They may configure and repair the hardware running these processes and implement any new software that enhances its capability. In addition to helping other employees get comfortable with new innovations, administrators must keep an organization’s networks secure.

Machine Learning Engineer

Creates databases for data storage and maintains algorithms for machine learning capability in an organization. Engineers will require expertise in data management and software engineering to determine the best ways to implement these features for an organization. They will continue to optimize the flow of information and run diagnostic tests when or to determine if there are any problems in the system.

Applications Architect

Responsible for building the infrastructure of applications and programs that are used by the organization and its employees. They must continue to innovate and enhance this software, and analyze use in order to determine any improvements that need to be made. Architects will generally be experts in situations where problem solving is needed to fix any issues that employees run into when using these tools.

Organizations and Associations in Data Architecture

The Data Management Association (DAMA International) is a nonprofit organization that has a goal of improving database management practices and looks to endorse the best in the industry. They look to support various professionals in the field and work with organizations to help spread improved concepts. It is important for a company to establish its database foundation and the implementation of these features in daily activity.

One of the most popular certifications that can be gained by individuals looking to succeed in this field is the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) designation. There are different levels of certification that show experience in the field and signals to potential employers that an applicant has a strong general understanding of database management. Continuing education is needed to continue holding this certification.

For a more vendor-specific certification, professionals may consider an IBM program. Examples for certification include a Data Architect in Big Data, Data Warehouse Solutions, and Solution Architect for Cloud Pak Integration and Automation.

Prior to taking the exam to gain Big Data designation, students must have met prerequisites in all foundational topics of information systems, including disaster recovery, cluster management, and data monitoring. Students should review all prerequisites as there are fees in the examination process.