Statistics and Data Science Option

Admission, Tuition, and Funding Information

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Applying for Admission to the MS Statistics: Statistics and Data Science Program

Before applying to the MSDS Program, read the Graduate School’s Frequently Asked Questions.

If you are a current or former Statistics VISP student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, please contact the MSDS program coordinator for more information about how to apply.


To complete the application, you will need to submit the following materials:

  • Application Fee: Begin the electronic application and pay the application fee.
  • Statement of Purpose: statements should be less than 2 pages in length and tell us more about how you came to be interested in Data Science and what you hope to do after graduation
  • Transcripts: 
    • All applicants must upload an unofficial PDF transcript (that is not a protected or encrypted document) for each previous institution attended.
    • Only applicants that are recommended for admission will be required to submit an official transcript (either electronic or paper).  Admitted applicants will not be able to matriculate without submitting an official transcript.
    • International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.
    • The Statistics Department requires all applicants to have a BA/BS degree from an accredited institution.
    • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours from the most recent bachelor’s degree institution is required for regular admission. If an applicant has received a post-baccalaureate degree and the GPA for that degree is above a 3.0, then they may be admitted with full standing even if their undergraduate GPA does not meet the standards above. Under some circumstances, applicants with lower averages are admitted on probation but this is not common.
  • Resume or CV
  • Supplemental Application is required (part of the online application):
    • We ask all applicants to provide information (institution, subject, course number, term, grade or if in-progress) regarding their completion of the prerequisite course, applicants missing courses should list none for the specific prerequisite
    • Courses include (UW-Madison equivalent listed, see the Guide for more information):
      • 4 semester of calculus including MATH 221 Calculus & Analytic Geometry I, MATH 222 Calculus & Analytic Geometry II, MATH 234 Calculus-Functions of Several Variables, and MATH 421 the Theory of Single Variable Calculus (or other proof-based mathematics and calculus coursework)
      • MATH 340 Elementary Matrix & Linear Algebra
      • Recommended courses include:
        • STAT 303 R for Statistics I and STAT 304 R for Statistics II
        • STAT/MATH 309 and 310  Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I and II
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation. These must be submitted electronically through the online application system:
    • List your references in the online application for admission. A recommendation request will be sent, by email, to each of your references. The email will include your name with a link to each department’s electronic recommendation form. The request can be sent at any time providing you meet department deadlines. You can change references or send a reminder through your application.
    • It is common practice to contact your references ahead of time so that they expect your request.
    • After you have submitted your application, you can view receipt of your recommendations through the online status system.
  • English Proficiency Scores (if required)

GRE SCORES: please note that as of October 15, 2020 the MS Statistics: Statistics and Data Science program no longer requires GRE scores.

More information regarding the English proficiency requirement, the online application, fees, and Graduate School frequently asked questions (FAQs) is available at the Graduate School Admissions page. 

Tuition and Funding


Students enrolled in the MSDS option have some specific restrictions regarding tuition and enrollment, in particular:

  • Tuition for students in the program follows a special tuition schedule that is the same for all students (residents and non-residents pay the same amount) and is per credit, regardless of the total credits enrolled. To find the most current information on tuition rates please visit the Madison Budget Office’s website for basic background information and then click on the link that references published rates. Students in the MSDS option will follow the graduate student tier 1600 with segregated fees included rate.
  • Students are welcome to apply for hourly positions and assistantships on campus to help offset their costs.  While students in the program are allowed to accept teaching, project, and/or research assistantships they will only receive the stipend pay and not the tuition remission.  This is a policy at UW-Madison for programs designated as “professional programs.” If there are teaching assistantship positions available in the Statistics department, information will be sent to students admitted to the MSDS program.  Other hourly and assistantship positions can be found on the Student Jobs board.
    • Students admission to the MSDS option will be notified via email if there are teaching assistantships available in the Statistics department that they can apply for.
  • Students in the program are not allowed to be concurrently enrolled in another UW-Madison program and may not enroll in any additional courses outside of the MSDS curriculum. Doing so may result in a student being removed from the MSDS program.


The Statistics department offers a limited number of selective scholarships to highly qualified applicants as a part of their recommendation of admission.  Students may receive a scholarship of up to 25% of tuition fees (excluding additional fees) over the duration of their time in the program in the form of fee deferrals.  Potential scholarships for students entering the program with pre-approved credits would be prorated based on the number of credits needed to complete the program.

All students will be considered for the scholarship. However, students that feel that providing additional information about how the scholarship might impact their ability to attend UW-Madison are encouraged to provide that information in their Statement of Purpose on the application.

Curriculum and Career Information

A full listing of MSDS program requirements and policies can be found on the MSDS Graduate Guide page.

Students may also refer to the program handbook to view requirements and policies. Please make sure to select the correct document version depending on the year that you entered the MSDS program (not the year you started VISP if you are a previous VISP student).

For the MS Statistics: Statistics and Data Science One Year Option, see MSDS 1 Year Option for more information on the program requirements and prerequisites. Any current students with questions should email the MSDS program coordinator.

Students may use the following worksheets for help with enrollment planning:

Check out the Department of Statistics Student Career Resources page. Information includes alumni career paths, Graduate School career services, Handshake, and more!

For international students there is additional international student specific career and internship information on our International Student FAQ page.

MSDS Frequently Asked Questions

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I am currently taking a prerequisite course. Do prerequisite courses need to be completed prior to submitting my application?

Prerequisite courses can be in progress at the time of application. Please note this in the supplemental application portion. All prerequisite courses need to be completed, graded, and posted on a transcript prior to beginning the program, if admitted.

I am interested in applying but want to know if I am a competitive applicant. Can a program coordinator review my materials for me?

Due to the high volume of inquiries MSDS program coordinators receive, we are unable to pre-review applications. Please view our admissions requirements either above on the Admissions drop-down menu, or in the Graduate Guide page.

If you feel you meet all requisites, then you are welcome and encouraged to submit an application.

I am taking/have taken a prerequisite in an online, free online course format (ie Coursera, Google, edX). Will this satisfy the admission requirement?

While free, online courses can be very valuable in learning new skills, unfortunately, no. Our admissions committee requires that prerequisite courses are taken for credit at an accredited institution.

I have taken the GRE and am interested in sending in my scores. How can I do this?

MSDS does not require the GRE for application. Therefore, submitted scores will not be evaluated to keep the admissions process equitable to all students.

Do I need to submit official transcripts on my application?

No official transcripts are needed at the time of application—applicants must submit unofficial transcripts that show their institution’s name. If admitted, official transcripts with a posted degree will be necessary for the Graduate School to finalize admission to UW-Madison. If you have attended multiple institutions, transcripts from all must be submitted.

I sent my official TOEFL/IELTS score through the ETS system. When will it appear in my application portal?

It can take up to 2 weeks for your score to be received by the Graduate School Admissions office. Additional processing time may be required to link your score to your application. If it has been longer than 3 weeks since you sent your official score report and you still do not see it linked in your application, please contact with your Applicant ID number.

Is MSDS a STEM-designated program for OPT extension?

According to the most current list of STEM-designated programs by the Department of Homeland Security, all Statistics programs are included. MS Statistics: Statistics and Data Science is included in this category as a statistics program.

I am a UW-Madison alumni, planning to complete the 1-year option. Do I need to indicate this on my application?

This is not required, but if you would like to make note of it you are welcome to do so.

Can I have an application fee waiver?

At this time, the Statistics department does not offer application fee waivers for prospective MSDS students. Certain students may be eligible to receive an application fee grant from the UW-Madison Graduate School. Please view their website for more details:

Can I submit application materials after the deadline?

All application materials are reviewed as received upon the application deadline. We cannot guarantee that additional materials will be included in review if your application is updated after the deadline. Please try your best to have all materials submitted by the deadline to ensure complete application review.

How can I update my application after submitting?

There are only a few changes you are allowed to make. You can manage your recommenders, and update documents that you have already uploaded. You cannot add any new documents. This can be done through the applicant status check page.

I can no longer begin the program in the term I was admitted to. Can I defer and start in a different future term?

Unfortunately, Graduate School policy does not permit deferrals or term changes. If you cannot begin the MSDS program in the term you were admitted to, you will need to submit another application. Previously admitted applicants have a high likelihood of readmission, but we cannot guarantee all applicants will be readmitted due to the changing nature of the applicant pool.

Is MSDS course or research based?

As a professional master’s program, MSDS is coursework based. MSDS students will typically not conduct research unless special permission is granted.

Will I be required to complete a thesis in MSDS?

No. Because MSDS is a coursework-based program, no thesis is required.

What is the funding package like for admitted students?

Due to the nature of the program, MSDS students do not receive funding packages.

Students are welcome to apply for hourly positions and assistantships on campus to help offset their costs.  While students in the program are allowed to accept teaching, project, and/or research assistantships they will only receive the stipend pay and not the tuition remission.  This is a policy at UW-Madison for programs designated as “professional programs.” If there are teaching assistantship positions available in the Statistics department, information will be sent to students admitted to the MSDS program.  Other hourly and assistantship positions can be found on the Student Jobs board.

In order to pay for the program, MSDS students will often hold on-campus hourly positions, work off-campus (if eligible), or take out loans. Please see the Tuition/Funding drop-down menu above for information on the Statistics departmental scholarship.