Skip to main content

Will Your Employer Help You Pay for Your Data Science Master’s Degree?

March 7, 2024

Data-driven decision-making dominates the modern business world, boosting demand for data science professionals to help companies collect, analyze, and make sense of information. How great is the demand? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 35 percent growth in the data science job market over the next decade, placing it among the economy’s fastest-growing sectors. 

Data science should offer many job opportunities at all levels in the coming years. However, the best-paying, highest-responsibility roles will require advanced skills and expertise. You can acquire both when you earn a Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) degree, like the online MSDS from Tufts University

Earning a master’s degree entails expenditures of both time and money. Your employer may be able to help with both; many employers offer education accommodations and financial assistance among their employee benefits. This article examines how employer tuition assistance programs work and how to find out whether you are entitled to these benefits.

How Does Employer Tuition Assistance Work?

Tuition assistance benefits are widespread; according to a 2022 Society for Human Resources Management report, nearly half of employers surveyed offer them in some form. According to an EdAssist study, more than 70 percent of employees rate tuition assistance among the most important benefits provided by their employer. In that same study, 80 percent reported that the tuition assistance benefit made them more likely to stay with their employer. Current or former members of military services—the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard—may qualify for military scholarship opportunities.

Every employer sets their own tuition assistance policies; you will need to check with your manager and HR department to learn the details of yours. Most follow the general parameters summarized below.

Earn a Data Science Master’s 100 Percent Online at Tufts

Boost Your Profile in a High-Demand Profession
Find Out More

What to Expect from Your Employer 

Your employer will want to know about the degree program you hope to pursue. They will also provide guidelines on any specific requirements you have to meet. Many employers limit benefits based on the degree, the university delivering the degree, your status in the company (and years of employment), and your career plans after graduation:

  • Degree focus: Some employers only fund degrees that relate to your current role; others will also pay for programs that help you switch roles or advance your career within the company. 
  • University: Many employers will cover tuition at any accredited institution; some pay for programs at partner universities only. 
  • Your employment status: To qualify for tuition assistance, you will likely have to have worked at the company for a few years (requirements vary among businesses); some companies offer tuition assistance to senior staff only. 
  • Career plans: Your employer may require you to stay with the company for a period after graduation. 

How to Start the Funding Conversation With Your Employer

Once you understand your employer’s tuition assistance program, you can start the funding conversation. Prepare to explain what benefits your education will bring the company: highlight the skills and knowledge you will gain, demonstrating how it will make you a more skilled and productive employee.

In your funding conversation, ask the following questions to ensure you know what costs will be covered, how the money will be paid, and what you need to do to secure your funding: 

  • Which expenses will be covered? Will your employer pay the full tuition or only a portion? Will they also cover additional costs like books? 
  • Will your employer pay the university directly or refund you? 
  • If you need to file for funds paid, when can you do so (at enrollment or only once you’ve graduated)?
  • Do you need to maintain a certain GPA to retain your funding? 
  • If you don’t complete the program, will you have to refund your employer? 

If you feel ready to move forward, ask your employer about the necessary paperwork and deadlines and make sure you submit everything they require on time. 

Maximizing the Benefits of Your Online MSDS

The data science employment market is hot; 60 percent of employers in a recent survey reported difficulty filling data science roles. With a shortage of qualified candidates available, many will look to fill these positions internally. Tuition assistance programs will help them attract and train tomorrow’s data scientists.

Online programs offer an excellent fit for working professionals looking to upskill, providing an outstanding education complemented with convenience and flexibility. The Tufts online MSDS program teaches the analytic expertise to guide high-level data-driven decision-making, with a curriculum covering data analysis methods and practices, big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and security. Want to learn more? Connect with an enrollment advisor for a thorough application walkthrough, tuition assistance guidance, and more.

Gain the Skills to Lead Data-Driven Decision-Making

Master Data Mining, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and More
Apply Now