Data Science Option

MS Statistics: Data Science (MSDS) Two Year Program

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.

MS Statistics: Data Science (MSDS) One Year Option

The MSDS one year option makes it possible for those who have completed a bachelor’s degree at UW-Madison with a major in Statistics, Math, Computer Sciences, or some Engineering fields to complete the MSDS degree in one year. Students will graduate with a Master of Science in Statistics: Data Science degree after completing graduate coursework in a fall, spring, and summer semester.

MSDS 1 Year Option Program Requirements

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

Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

  • March 1: Application deadline for MS Statistics: Data Science and MS Statistics: Data Science for upcoming fall semester.
  • October 15: Application deadline for MS Statistics: Data Science for following spring semester.
    • Preferred application term is fall
    • MS Statistics: Data Science one year option not available for spring term start

We do not accept summer applications.

All applications submitted by the deadline will receive priority consideration. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Any applicants with questions should email the MSDS program coordinator.

Admission, Tuition, and Program Requirements

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Applying for Admission to the MS Statistics: 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
  • 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 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
      • 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.
  • TOEFL Scores
    • Arrange TOEFL scores (if required) to be sent to the Graduate School.
    • 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).

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

More information regarding the TOEFL 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 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.


The Statistics department will be offering 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 $12,000 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 online.

Program Requirements and Policies