What is data and why is it important? While this question seems like an easy one to answer, our relationship with the enormous amounts of data created on the daily has become and increasingly mired one. For those looking to study machine learning, data visualization, programming languages and more, answering this question is vital.

The job of the data scientist isn’t one that can be boiled down to a single job description. Data driven fields are vast and diverse, spanning from biochemistry and health medicine to law and governance. If you’re interested in turning unstructured information into predictive and valuable insights, choosing the right program can be overwhelming.

While deep learning algorithms, data wrangling with Hadoop, or transforming data sets into interactive visualizations can sound like tasks performed only in the private sector, governments have also become important stakeholders in the world of data within the last decades. Even the seemingly innocuous video sharing app, TikTok, has become a source of contention between the US and China with regards to user privacy - resulting in a lawsuit claiming user data theft.

Data mining, processing and advanced analytics all play an integral role in business, government and the personal lives of the majority of the population. If you’re interested in studying data analysis in university, this guide will walk you through the different pathways you can take in predictive analytics as well as the best data science programs offered around the world.

data science applications
Data analysis can have applications in every field from thermodynamics to epidemiology

Where to Take Data Analytics Courses for Free

If you're interested in improving your NoSQL skills, attaining an online master, or learning from a programming bootcamp - there are plenty of resources out there for data-driven people. Start by determining your goal for taking online courses. Decide whether you'd like to improve your data management skills, handling of raw data, or simply want to go over the basics of statistical models again.

While not a complete guide to the online courses on statistics you can take, here are a couple websites you should check out:

  • EdX
  • W3Schools
  • Udemy

Best Universities for Data Analysts

Statisticians will tell you that a composite indicator can never tell you the whole truth about a certain subject. Composite indicators are used in everything from judging the tastiness of wine to the best players in sports teams. Made by gathering various variables, standardizing them and giving each variable a specific weight - this score is most famously used in creating various university rankings.

While using university rankings is obviously flawed, especially when you look into the wide variation in the variables used within each organization creating the ranking, it can be a great starting point for comparing universities. Whether you’re looking for a program for learning algorithms, to gain technical skills or to simply get a degree in order to qualify for a data science job, there are plenty of great universities for data science skills both in the UK and around the world. Below, we provide the best universities in the UK for analytic degrees according to the most popular rankings.


The Academic Ranking of World Universities, known as the Shanghai university rankings, ranks statistics programs based off of:

 Number of Papers Authorized by and Institution in an Academic SubjectCategory Normalized Citation Impact (the ratio of papers published to citations of papers)International Collaboration (number of publications that have been found with authors from at least two different countries)Number of Papers Published in Top JournalsNumber of Staff of an Institution Winning a Significant Award
Weights Assigned Based off the Maximum Value of:1505010100100

If you’re searching for a Master of Science, or MS, in data science or a BA in the field, may programs in the top universities tend to offer two main pathways for a statistics or data science career. The first involves mathematical statistics and the second, computer science. These are the top two unis in the UK for statistics according to the Shanghai index.

University of Cambridge

While there are no bachelors at Cambridge for statistics, there are masters, PhD, and MPhil programs where you will be able to experience wrangling large amounts of data and perform exploratory and in-depth analysis using many different data products and software. Here are some of the programs they offer:

  • Advance Computer Science MPhil
  • Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence MPhil
  • Doctoral Training in Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical Methods

University of Warwick

One of the best universities for statistics in the UK according to the Shanghai ranking, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide variety of courses in which you’ll be able to analyse data, use all data given to solve business problems, and benefit from either unsupervised or supervised learning techniques. The Department of Statistics at the University of Warwick offers Bachelor’s degrees in:

  • MORSE/MMORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)
  • Math Stat/MMathStat (Mathematics and Statistics)
  • Data Science (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science)

They also offer an MSc and a PhD in Statistics.

university statistics search
When doing your research into statistics universities, make sure to keep track of the pros and cons of each potential program

Times Higher Education

Known as the THE university rankings, below you'll be able to view how each university is scored:

 Teaching: 30%Research: 30%Citations: 30%International Outlook: 7.5%Industry Income: 2.5%
Makeup of each indicatorReputation Survey: 15%Reputation Survey: 18%Proportion of international students: 2.5%
Staff to student ratio: 4.5%Research income: 6%Proportion of international staff: 2.5%
Doctorate to bachelor's ratio: 2.25%Research productivity: 6%International collaboration: 2.5%
Institutional income: 2.25%

The THE university ranking system also offers a ranking system by subject. Although no clear statistics field, they do offer a ranking in econometrics. While a closer look into their ranking reveals that neither of their top ranked universities actually have an econometrics specialization, they do offer great statistics and data science programs. Here are the top three universities around the world according to the THE rankings.

Learn more about the data science profession with our guide!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Located in Massachusetts in the United States, MIT offers a couple of different pathways into the statistics field. You’ll be able to learn the basics of programming languages, data cleaning and more. Here are their programs:

  • Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Statistics
  • Undergraduate Minor in Statistics & Data Science
  • MicroMasters program in Statistics and Data Science

University of Stanford

Located in California in the US, this is one of the best schools for statistics according to the THE rankings. Here, you won’t be able to attain a bachelor’s degree in statistics or data science. However, you will be able to put your programming skills into practice with learning models, a capstone project or more. Here is what they offer:

  • M.S. in Statistics
  • M.S. in Data Science
  • Biostatistics Training Program

University of Oxford

While you won’t be able to sharpen your skills in R programming or in utilizing statistical software, you will get an in depth background into the mathematics involved in everything those programs do. One of the best universities for statistics according to the THE rankings, here are some of the programs offered up at Oxford:

  • BA and MMath Mathematics and Statistics
  • MSc in Statistical Science
  • MSc in Mathematical Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Statistics


The QS World University Rankings is published by Quacquarelli Symonds and scores its universities based off of the following:

 Academic ReputationEmployer ReptutationFaculty to Student RatioCitations per FacultyInternational Faculty RatioInternational Student Ratio

Whether you’re looking for non-technical training, a capstone course, courses in business analytics or business intelligence, there are many different statistics programs to search from. Here are the best universities in Europe, not including the ones already mentioned, based on the QS rankings.

ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

One of the best places to study statistics and data science, these programs will give you the foundation you’ll need to become a data analyst. While they only offer a bachelor’s degree in Computational Science and Engineering, they do offer Masters degree in statistics. They are offered in:

  • Data Science
  • Statistics

Imperial College London

While they also don’t offer a BA in statistics, they do offer higher level programs for statistics. You’ll be able to put your data engineering, big data analytics and data processing background into practice with these programs:

  • MSc in Statistics
  • PhD in Statistics
statistics resources
When practicing your statistical methods, take advantage of the libraries and archives in your area

Other programs in the UK for Data Science and Analysis

If you're a statistician or want to be one and are looking for programs that allow you to manipulate new data, teach you how to properly access data courses and more, here are some more programs in the UK for data analysts and scientists that have specializations in more fields.

Artificial Intelligence Programs

  • University College London
  • University of Kent
  • University of Sheffield
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Leeds


  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Glasgow
  • King's College London

Machine Learning

  • University of St Andrews
  • Durham University
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Manchester

Get to know more about your favourite programs and apply now!

Online Resources for Analytics

From Apache Spark bootcamps to certification training, you can find anything online. If you're not exactly interested in a full on course but, rather, need help on a particularly difficult concept, there are also plenty of resources for statistics help.

Get advice with analysing complex data with Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange's Cross Validated. These are awesome forums that are answered by professionals, students and data lovers from around the world. Check out our guide on the best online resources for data analysts for more!

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Dan is a fun, dynamic, and exciting writer and data analyst. She is leading the way when it comes to making data and numbers accessible and easy for everyone.