MS Data Science

The MS Data Science is a joint professional program between the Statistics and Computer Sciences Departments at UW-Madison and is administered by the Statistics Department.

Graduates seek employment as data analysts and data scientists or pursue further education in data science, statistics, computer science, or related quantitative and computational fields.

The full curriculum and listing of policies can be found in the 2023/2024 Guide. Questions can be directed to the program coordinator via email.

Please note that we are a different program from the Data Science Master’s Degree which is administered by UW Extended Campus.

Program Information

Students in this program will take coursework that totals to 30 credits in:

  • Statistical theories and methodologies
  • Computer systems and algorithms
  • Machine learning
  • Electives from Statistics, Computer Sciences, and other partner departments

The full curriculum and listing of policies can be found in the 2023/2024 Guide.

  • Demonstrates understanding of theories, methodologies, and computation as tools to solve complex problems in data science.
  • Selects or adapts appropriate data science approaches and uses or develops best practices in data-driven applications.
  • Synthesizes information, organizes insights, and evaluates impact pertaining to questions for studies involving empirical data.
  • Communicates data science concepts and results clearly.
  • Adheres to principles of ethical and professional conduct in data science.

The MS Data Science program has a special tuition rate of $1,600 per credit plus fees.  Additional information regarding tuition and fees can be found on the Office of the Bursar’s website.

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 MS Data Science program.  Other hourly and assistantship positions can be found on the Student Jobs board.

Additional information and resources can be found in the 2023/2024 Guide.

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.

Admissions

Before applying, we recommend reading the Graduate School’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

You may begin the Graduate School Online Application when you are ready. Please note that there is an application fee.

For Fall 2024 the application deadline is March 15. We do not accept spring or summer applicants.

We do not require GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) scores for our program

Please see the Graduate School’s Requirements for Admission page for additional information regarding English proficiency tests, acceptable undergraduate degrees, transcript requirements, etc.

A listing of the prerequisite coursework expected of all applicants can be found in the 2023/2024 Guide Admissions page for MS Data Science.

Students who have already begun graduate school (i.e. have completed at least one course as a graduate student) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and wish to switch in to the MS Data Science program must follow these instructions to apply.  Please note that changing of programs in to MS Data Science is not common and candidates must demonstrate an extraordinary need, especially if they are already in a similar program such as MS Statistics: Statistics & Data Science, MS Information, etc.

Since the MS Data Science is a professional program students cannot be concurrently enrolled in the MS Data Science and another graduate program, this includes PhD programs.

Application Materials

Fill out the change or add program form online.  Candidates who would discontinue their existing program will submit a change program form.  Candidates who will complete their existing program before starting the MS Data Science will submit an add a program form.

Submit the following as PDF files via email, to msdatascience@stat.wisc.edu

  • Cover letter including
    • Name
    • Term you are applying to (e.g. Fall 2024)
    • Term you started your original graduate program (e.g. Fall 2023) and indicate if you plan to discontinue this program if admitted or complete your existing program and the planned semester of completion
    • Contact information (email and mailing address)
    • A statement that addresses your extraordinary need to change to the MS Data Science program
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV
  • UW-Madison transcript

You must also have your current graduate program send a PDF copy of your original graduate school application to msdatascience@stat.wisc.edu.

The deadline for Fall 2024 is March 15, 2024. We do not consider applications in spring or summer terms.

Questions can be addressed to the program coordinator at msdatascience@stat.wisc.edu.

MS Data Science Information Session

Hope to learn more about the UW-Madison MS Data Science program?
Register to join an upcoming virtual information session!

Wednesday, February 28, 8:00am CST: https://go.wisc.edu/spmty3

Curriculum and Career Information

A full listing of MS Data Science program requirements and policies can be found on the MS Data Science Guide page. Students may also refer to the program handbook to view requirements and policies.

Students may use the following worksheet 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.

MS Data Science Frequently Asked Questions:
Prospective Students

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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.

Can I be admitted if I do not meet all prerequisites when I apply?

Unfortunately, no. All prerequisite coursework must be completed or in progress at time of admission. Further, the admissions committee requires all prerequisite coursework to have been completed for credit at an accredited institution.

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 that MS Data Science program coordinators receive, we are unable to pre-review applications. Please view our admissions requirements in the MS Data Science Graduate Guide, under Admissions. If you feel you meet all requisites, then you are welcome and encouraged to submit an application.

Do I need to contact faculty for an advisor prior to admission?

No. Because MS Data Science is a coursework-based program rather than a research-based program, students do not work closely with a single faculty advisor. As a result, MS Data Science applicants are discouraged from contacting faculty for an advisor prior to admission.

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

Unfortunately, no. While self-study and free, online courses can be useful for acquiring new skills, the admissions committee requires all prerequisite coursework to have been completed for credit at an accredited institution

I have taken the GRE and am interested in sending my scores. Will my GRE scores be considered?

MS Data Science does not require the GRE for application, and submitted scores will not be evaluated in order to maintain an equitable admissions process for all students.

Do I need to submit official transcripts with my application?

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

Please review the Graduate School’s Requirements for Admission page for more information about document translation and WES evaluation.

I have a bachelor’s degree from a 3-year program. Am I eligible for admission?

Maybe. According to UW-Madison Graduate School policy, all admitted students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a comparable degree from an international institution prior to starting graduate school. Please review the Graduate School’s Requirements for Admission for more information.

If you are unsure whether you meet a Graduate School requirement for admission (linked above), such as degree requirements, please contact the Graduate School directly with any questions: admissions@grad.wisc.edu.

How do I know if I need to provide English language proficiency (TOEFL/IELTS) scores?

Please visit the Graduate School’s Requirements for Admission website for more information about English proficiency requirements.

If you are unsure whether you meet a Graduate School requirement for admission (linked above), such as English proficiency, please contact the Graduate School directly with any questions:  admissions@grad.wisc.edu.

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 admissions@grad.wisc.edu with your Applicant ID number.

Is there a prompt or any guidelines for the required Statement of Purpose?

While there is no specific prompt for the Statement of Purpose, we recommend a length of 1-1.5 single-spaced pages. The UW-Madison Graduate School also has helpful guidelines for writing graduate school statements of purpose available on their prospective students website (scroll down to “Guidelines for the Statement of Purpose”).

Can I have an application fee waiver?

At this time, the Statistics and Computer Sciences departments do not offer application fee waivers for prospective MS Data Science students. Certain students may be eligible to receive an application fee grant from the UW-Madison Graduate School

If I attend an information session will I be granted a fee waiver?

Thank you for attending an information session! The Statistics and Computer Sciences departments do not offer application fee waivers for prospective MS Data Science students at this time. Certain students may be eligible to receive an application fee grant from the UW-Madison Graduate School

Can I apply to start in the spring or summer term?

Unfortunately, no. MS Data Science offers only Fall admission with a March 15 application deadline each year.

Does MS Data Science offer rolling admission? When will my application be reviewed?

No. The MS Data Science program does not offer rolling admission, and there is no priority deadline or review for MS Data Science.

All submitted applications to MS Data Science are reviewed following the March 15 application deadline.

Can I apply after the March 15 deadline?

No. There is a single application deadline of March 15 for Fall admission each year. All application materials are reviewed as received upon the March 15 application deadline.

Can I submit application materials after the deadline?

All application materials are reviewed as received upon the March 15 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 once your application has been submitted. You cannot add any new documents. However, you can manage your recommenders and update documents that you have already uploaded through the applicant status check page.

MS Data Science Frequently Asked Questions:
Accepted Students

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I have been recommended for admission. What does that mean? How will my admission be finalized?

Being “recommended for admission” means that the MS Data Science program has admitted you to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School. All applications that have been “recommended for admission” are then reviewed by the Graduate School, which will make a final, official admission decision to ensure applicants meet the minimum requirements for admission.

Students who have received an official offer of admission will need to accept or decline their offer. Then, the Graduate School will request additional information and documentation (i.e. official transcripts) in order to finalize admission to UW-Madison.

As a visa holding student, when and how do I provide financial documentation?

Visa holding students must provide financial documentation in order for their I-20 to be processed. More information about financial documentation for visa holding graduate students can be found on the UW-Madison Graduate School’s International Students website as well as on the International Students Services Admitted Students webpage.

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

Unfortunately, UW-Madison Graduate School policy does not permit deferrals or term changes. If you cannot begin the MS Data Science program in the term to which you were admitted, you will need to submit another application. While previously admitted applicants have a high likelihood of readmission, we cannot guarantee all applicants will be readmitted due to the changing nature of the applicant pool.

I have been admitted to MS Data Science. Can I change to or add another MS program once I begin?

Due to the nature of the program, MS Data Science students may not be concurrently enrolled in MS Data Science and another undergraduate, graduate, or certificate program.

While it is highly unusual, it may be possible to change to another Master’s program at UW-Madison once students have begun the MS Data Science program. Make sure to review the admissions requirements, eligibility, and timeline for the intended program.

Please note that changing programs within the Statistics and Computer Sciences departments is extremely rare, and students must demonstrate an extraordinary need.

I’m a UW-Madison alumni. Will I be able to transfer credits toward my MS Data Science degree?

Maybe. Students who are UW-Madison alumni with qualifying courses from their undergraduate program may transfer up to 7 credits as applicable to the MS Data Science program.

Is MS Data Science a research-based program?

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

Will I be required to complete a thesis in MS Data Science?

No. Because MS Data Science is a coursework-based program, writing a Master’s thesis is not a component of the degree.

What is the funding package like for admitted students?

Due to the nature of the program, MS Data Science students do not receive funding packages.

However, the MS Data Science program offers a limited number of selective scholarships to highly qualified applicants as part of their recommendation of admission. Please review the “Funding and Cost of Attendance” section above for more information.

Can I work as a teaching, program, or research assistant as an MS Data Science student?

Admitted students are welcome to apply for graduate assistantships (teaching assistant/TA, research assistant/RA, or program assistant/PA) and hourly positions on campus to help offset their costs. While students in programs like MS Data Science are allowed to accept teaching, project, or research assistantships, they will only receive stipend pay and will not receive any tuition remission. This is a UW-Madison campus policy for programs designated as “professional programs.” If there are teaching assistantship positions available in the Statistics or Computer Sciences departments, information will be sent to students admitted to the MS Data Science program. Other hourly and assistantship positions can be found on the Student Jobs site.

In order to pay for the program, MS Data Science students will often hold on-campus hourly positions, work off-campus (if eligible), or take out loans.

Is MS Data Science a STEM-designated program for OPT extension?

According to the most current list of STEM-designated programs by the Department of Homeland Security, UW-Madison’s MS Data Science program is designated as STEM-OPT eligible.