Who should apply?

As the nation's first standalone School of Data Science, we offer the same rigorous, technical curriculum, career services, and access to industry-expert, pioneering and diverse faculty in both our part-time online and full-time residential MSDS degree programs. The only difference is that our part-time online MSDS degree will prepare you to be a leader in the field of data science while maintaining your full-time professional work schedule.

Whether you are a career switcher, recent college graduate working full-time who wants to further their education, a STEM professional seeking a promotion, an avid coder, or a leader with a terminal degree who wants to master data science tools, you have a place in our cutting-edge and transformative online MSDS program. The first semesters of our program instill foundational skills so that those who have taken our prerequisites but come from a non-STEM background can master data science tools.

The Online M.S. in Data Science is a rigorous program and successful applicants must show demonstrated academic performance, personal motivation, and other tangible skills such as tenacity, flexibility, maturity, and the ability to work in diverse teams. They must also have the following:

  • A problem-solving mindset
  • Working knowledge of discrete mathematical and statistical concepts
  • High-level of quantitative ability
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Proficient at programming (Python or R language) 

How to apply

A specific undergraduate major or program of study is not required. Students have come from a variety of majors and disciplines, including but not limited to astronomy, biology, business, computer science, engineering, economics, journalism, languages, mathematics, nursing, public policy, and statistics. Applicants must have earned their bachelor's degree prior to matriculation from a three- or four-year accredited institutions.

The program requires four prerequisite courses in addition to application requirements. Check out Prerequisite Key Topics for course descriptions, whether courses you have taken count toward prerequisites, and how they can be fulfilled.

View Important Deadlines

Prerequisite Courses

The M.S. in Data Science program requires four prerequisite courses. You can still apply without having all prerequisites, but they must be completed prior to matriculation. Proof of completion will be required for any incomplete prerequisites if an applicant is admitted and accepts their offer of admission.

Applicants must complete prerequisites at an accredited institution, either in-person or online, and at a college level. It is in your best interest to take courses that rigorously cover the subject matter in order to be best prepared for the MSDS program.

Prerequisites are essential tools for preparedness and academic success. Check out Prerequisite Key Topics for course descriptions, whether courses you have taken count toward prerequisites, and how they can be fulfilled.

View Prerequisite Key Topics

Application Requirements

The application requires the following materials that must be submitted by the deadline date in order for it to be considered complete:

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose should explain how the M.S. in Data Science program fits into your short- and long-term educational and career goals. (500 word limit)

Transcripts

Applicants must upload unofficial transcripts of their entire post-secondary academic record to the online application, including all undergraduate- and graduate-level coursework.

  • Unofficial transcripts are sufficient for the application process if you earned an undergraduate degree from an institution (or institutions) in which English is the primary language. Official undergraduate transcripts are required only after acceptance of an offer from the program.
  • A course-by-course credential evaluation (i.e., WES or ECE) is required for applicants who earned an undergraduate degree from an institution (or institutions) in which English is not the primary language of instruction. This will help the School better understand your educational background and capabilities. For a list of credential evaluators, visit NACES.

If admitted to the School of Data Science and you decide to accept your offer, you will be required to submit proof of degree conferral prior to course enrollment. Send official transcripts electronically to sdsadmission@virginia.edu or by mail to:

Mailing Address
School of Data Science Admissions
PO Box 401109
Charlottesville, VA 22904

Physical Address (for DHL and FedEx)
School of Data Science Admissions
Room 232
1001 Emmet Street North
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Test Scores

All unofficial test scores must be reported on the online application by the application deadline. Applicants are advised to account for test scoring processing time (e.g., 10 business days) when determining when to take any test.

Standardized Tests (optional)
The M.S. in Data Science application is now test-optional. Admissions takes a holistic approach when reviewing applicants, carefully considering all aspects of the application and supporting materials. If you decide not to submit a standardized test score, you are strongly encouraged to have all of your prerequisite course complete with grade. If you choose to submit scores:

  • GRE scores, have them sent via ETS to institution code 5820 (no department code needed).
  • GMAT scores should be sent via GMAC to the University of Virginia (institution), Data Science (program).
  • MCAT scores will be verified through the AAMC.

English Language Tests
Applicants who earned an undergraduate degree from an institution (or institutions) in which English is the primary language of instruction must self-report TOEFL or IELTS scores as part of their application. Official scores are only required if admitted to the program. Note that both TOEFL or IELTS scores are valid for only two years after test date.

For official scores, TOEFL scores should be sent via ETS to institution code C250 (no department code needed). IELTS scores should be submitted electronically by the IELTS test center. No paper Test Report Forms will be accepted. No institution code or department code is needed. Please contact the test center directly where you took the IELTS test and request that your test scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system.

TOEFL or IELTS scores are considered valid if taken within two years from the application deadline.

The TOEFL/IELTS is not required of applicants who have or will have obtained an undergraduate degree entirely from an institution (or institutions) in which English is the primary language of instruction. The TOEFL/IELTS requirement will automatically be waived for an applicant who submits evidence of these circumstances.

  • The minimum TOEFL (iBT) score requirement is 100 (including minimum section scores of 22 in speaking, 22 in writing, 23 in reading and 23 in listening). TOEFL scores should be sent via ETS to institution code B875 (no department code needed).
  • The minimum IELTS score requirement is 7.0 (including minimum section scores of 6.5). IELTS scores should be submitted electronically by the IELTS test center. Paper copies will be accepted; No institution code or department code is needed.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required as part of the online application. Once you have saved the contact information for a reference, the individual will receive email instructions to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf. It is preferable (but not required) for at least one letter to be from an individual with substantial knowledge of your academic accomplishments.

Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

A résumé or curriculum vitae helps us get to know an applicant beyond their formal academic coursework. There is no preference for students with or without professional work experience.

Recommended Supplementary Materials

Duolingo
Applicants can submit a Duolingo English Test, which combines an English proficiency test with a brief video interview. The interview component of the test is not scored, but the multiple-choice component is scored. 

InitialView
Applicants can submit an InitialView Interview which are live, unscripted video interviews that may be submitted by candidates to supplement their application. Interviews are not scored. 

Application Fee

A non-refundable application fee of $85 is required prior to submission of the application. Applicants who believe they may qualify for an application fee waiver should first review the Application Fee Waiver Eligibility and then submit an Application Fee Waiver Request Form. You cannot be granted a fee waiver after payment of the application fee. An application will not be considered submitted until the fee is paid.

For questions about the online application or the admission process, please contact sdsadmission@virginia.edu.