The cost of obtaining a master’s degree in Data Science in Europe

Program cost is not the only indicator: how to calculate a real study budget for a master’s degree program in Data Science offered by European universities

Today, the demand for data analysts, machine-learning engineers and artificial intelligence specialists is increasing. Six months ago, KDNuggets published the list of the best European Master’s Degree Programs in Data Science and Analytics.

Faculty of Applied Sciences of UCU has attempted a deeper exploration of one crucial aspect of obtaining a specialty: how much will a student of a master’s program from the mentioned list need to spend during their study (considering the program cost and the cost of living in the respective country) and what financial reward in the industry can they expect upon graduation?

The cost of obtaining a master’s degree in Data Science

While choosing a university and a specific study program it is important to consider the financial component. Many European universities offer similar study programs at different costs, and sometimes (in the case of Germany) the programs are offered free of charge. But does the cheaper program truly end up costing less money? In other words, is the cheaper version of the program financially justified?

While choosing a university abroad, the cost of the program is not the only thing to consider. After all, the cost of living can vary significantly from city to city, and even more so from country to country. There are many websites providing information on the costs of Data Science programs in Europe that might help you decide on the university. With the quality issue resolved and the choice of a particular program being financially relevant, we ought to consider future expenses more globally.

To understand the issue of a price-based program choice better, we decided to conduct a study and collate the following indicators:

1) Study programs costs

2) The cost of a month’s stay in the cities/countries offering the program

3) The total cost of one year of study (cost per year of study + cost of living)

4) Salaries for program graduates in respective countries

Since the programs vary in duration, we calculated the costs of two-year and one-and-a-half-year programs as for one year (tuition plus required 12 months’ accommodation fees) to simplify the comparison procedure. Costs of the programs lasting less than one year (9-10 months) were calculated per their duration.

What information did we use?

1) List of Master’s Degree Programs in Data Science – KDNuggets

2) Tuition fees – available on the websites of the respective study programs (data are given in Euro). Most programs offer different tuition fees for citizens and non-citizens (in the case of the EU Member States, different costs for EU citizens and non-citizens), so further on the graphs will be duplicated for these two categories.

3) Cost of living – most of the required information has been found directly on the university websites (data are given in Euro).

Fig. 1. Cost of living per year (in Euros)

Salaries: Finding up-to-date vacancies with a specified salary turned out to be an unrealistic idea. Apart from Austria, we could not find such information in open-access. Therefore, almost all of the collected data was taken from payscale.com and teleport.org. The data reflects the average wages for Data Science graduates (in Euro, before tax). Since we could not find information for each city individually, we use generalized data of the countries.

Fig. 2 Average annual salary before tax (in Euro)

Research results

For a better understanding of the data, the countries offering master’s programs in Data Science are divided into four geographical regions according to UN’s M49 standard:

  • Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland;
  • Southern Europe: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain;
  • Northern Europe: Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom
  • Eastern Europe: Hungary, Poland, Russia, Ukraine

At the charts below, the dots correspond to the master’s programs of different universities. The colors mark the programs from the same European region.

Comparing the cost of programs with the cost of living

Western Europe

Fig. 3. The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for citizens) in Western Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year.

Fig. 4 The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for non-citizens) in Western Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for non-citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for non-EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year. The graph demonstrates that the cost of living often exceeds low tuition fees

 

Fig. 5. Detailed information on study programs in Data Science in Western Europe (cost of living, total cost (tuition plus living expenses) for citizens and non-citizens of the respective countries).

Southern Europe

Fig. 6. The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for citizens) in Southern Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year.

Fig. 7 The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for non-citizens) in Southern Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for non-citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for non-EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year.

Fig. 8. Detailed information on study programs in Data Science in Southern Europe (cost of living, total cost (tuition plus living expenses) for citizens and non-citizens of the respective countries).

Northern Europe

 

Fig. 9 The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for citizens) in Northern Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year.

Fig. 10. The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for non-citizens) in Northern Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for non-citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for non-EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year.

Fig. 11. Detailed information on study programs in Data Science in Northern Europe (cost of living, total cost (tuition plus living expenses) for citizens and non- citizens of the respective countries).

Eastern Europe

Fig. 12. The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for citizens) in Eastern Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country for one year.

Fig. 13. The ratio of the program cost to the cost of living (for non-citizens) in Eastern Europe

Horizontal axis – the cost of a one-year study program for non-citizens (in the case of an EU Member State – for non-EU citizens). Vertical axis – the cost of living in the country per year.

Fig. 14. Detailed information on study programs in Data Science in Eastern Europe (cost of living, total cost (tuition plus and living expenses) for citizens and non-citizens of the respective countries).

 

Fig. 15. Comparing total study costs (tuition + living expenses) with the average wages of Data Science graduates in the respective countries (for citizens)

Fig. 16. Comparing total study costs (tuition + living expenses) with the average wages of Data Science graduates in the respective countries (for non-citizens)

 

As demonstrated in Figures 15 and 16, expected revenues often compensate overall study costs, though exceptions are possible. For instance, Switzerland offers the prospect of income twice as high as Northern Europe (which is far more expensive to live in).

Thus, the previous visualizations make it evident that the low cost of a master’s program does not guarantee a lower total cost of obtaining a master’s degree. For instance, getting a master’s degree at universities of Norway, Sweden, and Germany (where education is free) is more expensive than at universities of Eastern Europe (where education is paid) due to the cost of living. This is explained by the fact that accommodation fees in a particular country often vary, even within the EU.

So from a financial perspective, choice of higher education institution, you must consider more than the direct cost of a particular program while choosing a university. One should analyze both the cost of living in a particular country and future employment prospects.