Data Science Option

What is data science?

Data science is the study of extracting knowledge from data. Our MS Statistics: Data Science (MSDS) combines a background in statistical theory, methods and practice related to data science with communication skills to train a new generation of leaders who will use data effectively for planning and decision making.

Data science concepts enable students to translate vague questions about complex data into pragmatic analysis steps using statistical thinking. We build from basic methods that compare groups and relate measurements, to more complicated models that depend on the way data are gathered. In practice, planning and decision making involve choices about how to analyze data and communicate findings. These concepts will be grounded at key points with projects that involve real data and/or realistic simulated data.

Primary goal:

Graduates will build data analysis reasoning and communication skills in realistic inter-professional strategic planning settings that involve making sense of complex data to realize organizational objectives.

Learning objectives

Graduates of the program will be able to address complex data problems in a holistic way with a range of skills. Specifically, graduates will be able to:

  • Learn about data in context of how they were gathered
  • Summarize and visualize data to reflect context and elicit insights
  • Use models to guide analysis and explain statistical thinking
  • Grasp concepts behind mathematical foundations of statistics
  • Gain computing expertise with complex data analysis
  • Interpret and critique key ideas of an analysis approach
  • Narrate results integrating text, graphics, and statistical reasoning
  • Develop as a professional who leads team decision processes with data

Who can apply?

The program is being designed for the following types of students:

  1. students participating in the statistics or mathematics Visiting International Student Program (VISP) here at the University of Wisconsin;
  2. post-graduate students with 5 or more years experience in the workforce; and
  3. students who have a BS/BA degree or expected to obtain a BS/BA degree prior to the first semester as an MSDS student.

Information regarding the program requirements can be found in the MSDS regulations PDF linked at the bottom of the page.

How to apply

The official deadline for MS Statistics: Data Science applications is March 1 for admission for the following fall semester and October 15 for the following spring semester (preferred application term is fall), we do not accept summer applications. Applications that were submitted by the deadline will receive priority considered. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Please note that there are two sections below depending on if you are currently a Statistics VISP student or not.

Any applicants with questions should email the MSDS program coordinator.

Option 1: If you are currently not a statistics VISP student at the University of Wisconsin

Before applying to the Statistics Department, read the Graduate School’s Frequently Asked Questions. Note that there is a non-refundable application fee, and that applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score (TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS). Please visit the Graduate School’s page for more information on this requirement. Send English proficiency test scores to institution code 1846 (there is no departmental specific code needed).

  • Application Fee: Begin the electronic application and pay the application fee.
  • Statement of interest
  • Resume or CV
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. 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.
  • 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):
      • STAT 303 R for Statistics I and STAT 304 R for Statistics II
      • 4 semester of calculus including MATH 221 Calculus & Analytic Geometry I, MATH 222Calculus & 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
      • STAT/MATH 309 and 310  Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I and II are highly recommended
  • GRE scores are required:
    • Please note: the subject GRE is not required, but we do require the general GRE which includes verbal, quantitative and analytical writing assessment
    • GRE scores should be sent electronically to institution code 1846
  • TOEFL is required if your previous education was not in English and you do not meet one of the exemption categories according to the Graduate School.
    • Send English proficiency test scores to institution code 1846 (there is no departmental specific code needed).
  • 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.

Option 2: If you are a current VISP student at University of Wisconsin-Madison

The admissions process for VISP students is different than for post-graduate students since VISP students are already here at UW-Madison taking classes in the department at the time of application.

  • Application Fee: Begin the electronic application and pay the application fee.
  • TOEFL: VISP students are not required to provide TOEFL scores with their application since they will have completed two full-time semesters of study at UW-Madison by the time of the application term.
  • GRE: Not required. If you are requesting GRE scores to be sent, please follow the instructions given above for post-graduate students with workforce experience.
  • Letters of recommendation: Not required. If you would like to request one or more letters of recommendation to be sent, please follow the instructions given above for post-graduate students with workforce experience.
  • 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):
      • STAT 303 R for Statistics I and STAT 304 R for Statistics II
      • 4 semester of calculus including MATH 221 Calculus & Analytic Geometry I, MATH 222Calculus & 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
      • STAT/MATH 309 and 310  Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I and II are highly recommended
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV
  • 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.

Important notice regarding tuition, campus assistantships, and enrollment in other programs:

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 in the program are not allowed to accept research assistantships, teaching assistantships, project assistantships or other University appointments that grant tuition remission, tuition waivers, and/or academic fees. Accepting such a position or tuition waiver while enrolled in the program may result in the student being removed from the program. Corporate tuition support and waiver of tuition for veterans is not included in these categories.
  • 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.

Program Requirements and Policies

A full listing of all of the current program requirements and policies are available in our MSDS Program Handbook.  Please make sure that you select the correct version depending on the year that you entered the MSDS program (not the year you started VISP if you are a previous VISP student):

Any current students with questions should email the MSDS program coordinator.