Interview Query

PhD in Data Science Salary for 2022

How much more money will you make with a PhD in data science?


A PhD in data science doesn’t just offer a bump in salary, it’s increasingly becoming a required credential for the industry’s most-prized jobs.

In fact, according to the Burtch Works 2021 data scientist survey, 87% of data scientists hold an advanced degree, and 48% hold a PhD. Similarly, for many experienced FAANG data science jobs, a PhD is a preferred or required qualification.

Breaking down the Phd in data science salary for 2022, we see results in a significant salary bump:

  • The average PhD in data science salary is $153000.
  • At the IC-2 level, data science PhD salaries are nearly $17,000 higher than master’s degree holders.
  • At the IC-3 level, a PhD in data science equates to a $22,000 jump in yearly salary.

If you’re contemplating if a data science PhD is worth it, you’ll likely recoup costs in yearly salary. Yet, there are additional advantages to pursuing a PhD, including advanced domain knowledge and research expertise.

See the latest Data Scientist Salary report, and compare earnings by seniority and educational level.

Data Science PhDs Salary vs Master's

A PhD in data science often results in some of the best starting wages in tech. Here’s a comparison of data science salaries for PhDs vs master’s degree holders:

Individual Contributor II

  • Master’s: $123,313
  • PhD: $139,857

In the top 75% of earners, the wage gap decreases to $140,000 (master’s) vs $150,000 (PhD).

Individual Contributor III

  • Master’s: $150,304
  • PhD: $172,262

In the top 75% of earners, the wage gap increases for more senior-level jobs, from $160,000 (master’s) to $189,000 (PhD).

Is a PhD in Data Science Worth It?

In 2021, the number of PhDs in data science jobs jumped to 48%, which was up from 43% in 2020. This is being driven by two key trends:

  • New Technology - Many PhD students are drawn to the challenge of solving new problems in machine learning, AI, computer vision and robotics.
  • Increasing Salaries - The earning potential of private industry jobs is a key driver.
  • Need for Researchers - Companies have a need for professionals with extensive research capabilities.

Does a Phd in Data Science Command a High Salary?

Data science PhD programs have become more and more common over the last five years. These programs offer highly specialized knowledge, and as a result, PhDs who specialize in data science can expect a significant earnings increase and will always be competitive for jobs, including senior-level management positions.

Yet, although career earnings might be more and the fact these programs can provide a competitive edge, there are some considerations that can make the decision less clear. They include:

  • Cost: Typically, PhD degree programs require 70 credit hours at $1,300 to $2,000 per credit hour. That equates to about $90,000 to $140,000 for the degree. Master’s on the other hand cost $35,000 to $48,000 on average.
  • Time Commitment: A PhD program typically requires 3-5 years of study, which can delay earnings. Master’s require as little as one year of study.

Ultimately, the worth of a data science PhD comes down to the type of work that you want to do. If you have an interest in research, you might consider a PhD.

Watch this video below on how much data scientists can make

Data Science Salary

Data Science PhD Salary vs Other Disciplines

Traditionally, those interested in a PhD for a data science career, choose a quantitative discipline, and in 2021, the most common were:

  • Computer science (24%)
  • Mathematics/statistics (21%)
  • Natural science (21%)
  • Engineering (19%)

Specific data science PhD programs are relatively new. For example, NYU launched its PhD program in 2017.

Therefore, there isn’t much data about salaries of data science PhDs vs economics PhD salaries, for instance. But these programs do offer some advantages, including highly specialized domain knowledge (like machine learning, causal inference or advanced analytics) and potential more established career networks.

Ultimately, no matter the field you choose, a PhD offers advanced training that results in a significant increase in salary, job competitiveness in the industry, and specialized knowledge at the forefront of data science.

Other top PhD fields for data science include statistics PhDs and decision science PhDs.