M.S. admissions

Please review the list of frequently asked questions prior to starting your application.

All applicants for data science graduate degree programs are required to have a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. university or foreign equivalent at the time of enrollment. This must be documented with a valid transcript. A bachelor's degree must be awarded by the time the students begins this program. Whatever the undergraduate major, the successful candidate must show the prerequisites for admission.

How to apply

All degree applicants must apply online using the Office of Graduate Admissions system and all letter writers must use the online recommendation system. Please visit the Office of Graduate Studies for full Graduate School application instructions.

Important dates

We only offer fall admission for the M.S. program.

Applications must be completed and submitted by or before March 1 11:59 p.m. CST to be reviewed. This deadline applies to all domestic and international applicants.

To ensure your application is processed as efficiently as possible, we strongly recommend that you submit your completed application (and all required materials) at least two weeks before the application deadline. Applications submitted after the program deadline may not be considered.

We will give late applications special consideration if the delay is due to extenuating circumstance outside of the applicant's control, such as a natural disaster or widespread internet outage.  If you find yourself in such a situation, please submit your application as soon as you are able, and notify us at csadmit@umn.edu when you have submitted your application explaining the extenuating circumstances. 

Education requirements

Minimum degree requirements

A four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in computer science, math, statistics, engineering, natural sciences, or a related field. Three-year programs are not considered for admission.

GPA

Students should self-report their own calculated GPA using the original scale of their school.  A minimum GPA of 3.5 (or the equivalent in other grading scales) in undergraduate coursework is normally expected to be considered for admission.

Prerequisite Requirements

Our data science program consists of rigorous courses in which the following prerequisites are the minimum needed to succeed. The following are the minimum requirements to apply, but applicants are expected to significantly exceed these minimum requirements in at least one area related to mathematics, statistics, or computer science, either through their coursework or work experience.  A lack of one or two prerequisites does not automatically preclude admission, but your Statement of Purpose would need to include your plans to fulfill a missing prerequisite.  In any case, a complete application must include a list showing how you have fulfilled each of the following prerequisites (list specific courses or experiences) or your plans to fulfill them before or after arrival.  Your admission may be conditional on meeting the prerequisites within a limited time.

  • Mathematics:
    • Calculus (2 semesters) Equivalents to MATH 1271 and MATH 1272 at the University of Minnesota
    • Multivariable Calculus (1 semester) Equivalent to MATH 2263 at the University of Minnesota
    • Linear Algebra (1 semester) Equivalent to either MATH 2142, MATH 4242, or CSCI 2033 at the University of Minnesota
  • Statistics (1 semester) Equivalent to STAT 3021 or a higher level STAT equivalent at the University of Minnesota
  • Computer Programing (2 semesters) or equivalent experience in a general-purpose programming language (e.g., C, C++, Java, Python), including basic algorithms and data structures equivalent to the first two semesters of beginning computer science courses as part of an undergraduate Computer Science degree. Equivalents to CSCI 1103 (java), CSCI 1113 (C/C++), CSCI 1133 (python), CSCI 1913 or 1933 (CS 2 with algorithms and data structures)
  • Experience with mathematical software environments such as Matlab, R or the equivalent is a definite plus, but not a total substitute for experience with a general-purpose programming language.  A class on advanced data structures is also a plus (Equivalent to CSCI 4041 at the University of Minnesota).

Students can find equivalencies at other schools by using transferology.

Documents to upload

Personal statement/statement of purpose

You must write a statement of purpose outlining your immediate educational and long-range career objectives in relation to data science and why you are applying to the University of Minnesota's Data Science program. Discuss any interests in specific research topics or faculty members' projects. In a separate section within the statement of purpose, concisely discuss your relevant educational, research, or industrial backgrounds as they relate to data science or data analytics, and the specific prerequisite areas (Calculus and related math classes, statistics, computer programming & related systems). If you have expertise in computing or another prerequisite field that is not reflected in your transcripts, please include a description. Include any unique experiences relevant to the research you have done, especially any data-driven projects. Give an example of the most complicated computer-driven problem you have solved or program you have implemented. There is a 4000 character limit on this statement (strongly recommended; does not include spaces; not strictly enforced). No other statements are required for the data science program.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Please include a curriculum vitae which includes educational institutions attended, degrees awarded, and employment history, with dates. If not listed elsewhere, include a table or list showing how you have satisfied each of the admission prerequisites listed at the bottom of this page - list specific courses or other specific experiences, even if listed elsewhere in this application. Lacking specific prerequisites does not automatically preclude admission, but your statement of purpose would need to include your plans to fulfill the missing prerequisites. Short descriptions of any special projects or experiences can be included here, though longer descriptions should be reserved for the statement of purpose submitted separately. You will have to upload separately complete transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended (informal copies are OK though official copies will be required upon admission before you can enroll).

Letters of Recommendation

Submit the names of three individuals who can speak to your ability to do graduate-level work in data science, ideally familiar with the background experience described in your statement of purpose. One of the three letters must be recent (in the last two years), and if you have been out of school for less than 5 years, it is encouraged for one of three letters to come from a faculty member. Note: for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate only one letter is required, though two are recommended.

Transcripts

Upload unofficial transcripts directly to your application per the instructions for submitting your application to the graduate school. Official transcripts will be required if you are admitted and wish to attend our program. No hard copies should be faxed or mailed as this will significantly delay the processing of your application.

Additional items

The following items are optional in your application:

  • Extenuating circumstances statement
  • Writing sample
  • Description of research
  • Diversity statement (strongly encouraged)

The diversity statement should cover how your background, experiences, and achievements will contribute to the University's and our Department’s goal of promoting excellence through diversity and inclusion. If applicable, you should mention hardships or obstacles that you have overcome to complete your undergraduate education. Some University of Minnesota graduate student applicants will be considered for funding opportunities, like the DOVE Fellowship, based upon their diversity statement.

Potential areas to address include:

  • hardships you have faced and overcome
  • family background
  • first-generation college student
  • non-traditional attributes for computer science/data science
  • your diverse identities (examples: ethnic, racial, economic, or educational backgrounds and experiences, gender identity, sexual orientation)
  • your commitment to working toward achieving equity and enhancing diversity within the field of computing, STEM, or within your community
  • geographic diversity
  • community involvement
  • multilingual skills
  • international travel which changed your perspective
  • special talents
  • anything unique you would contribute to the program

Test scores

Please see below for information on test score requirements.

GRE

GRE scores are not required, but are recommended particularly for those applying from international institutions for the MS degree.

If submitted, the GRE is only one of many factors considered for admission, and no score will guarantee or preclude admission. Applications without the GRE will still be considered based on the material submitted.

Institution Codes

  • GRE institution code: 6874
  • GRE department code: N/A

English language proficiency

  • International students must send official TOEFL, MELAB or IELTS scores. For more information, visit the Graduate School’s TOEFL information page. Please note that official scores will appear in your application AFTER you submit the application and pay the fee.
  • Submitting your TOEFL Score:
    • Official TOEFL scores must be sent electronically from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the University of Minnesota Graduate School (not the department).
    • The ETS institution code for the Twin Cities campus is 6874 (there is no departmental code; if you need to enter code, please use 99 for the department code).
  • Submitting your IELTS Score:
    • Below is the exact information you should provide to your test centers when requesting scores to be sent to the University of Minnesota:
      • Account Name: University of Minnesota Twin Cities Graduate Admissions
      • Address: 309 Johnston Hall
      • Address: 101 Pleasant St SE
      • City: Minneapolis
      • State: MN
      • Zip code: 55455
  • Please allow 4-6 weeks for scores to be sent and matched to your application by the Graduate School. If you have already submitted an application, check your application status to find out if the Graduate School has received your official test scores. Inquiries should be sent to gsquest@umn.edu as our department does not process these scores.
  • The department requires a speaking score of 23 or higher on the TOEFL or 7 or higher on the IELTS to qualify for teaching assistantships.

Important information on transcripts and credentials

  • Remember to read the complete instructions for uploading transcripts and credentials before you proceed.
  • If you've received credit from institutions outside of the United States, view additional instructions for international transcripts and credentials before uploading your documents.
  • Your application must indicate each institution of higher learning from which you have earned credit and you must submit transcripts or academic records for each of these institutions. This includes partial or incomplete transcripts.
  • Unofficial transcripts or academic records must be uploaded directly to the application BEFORE you submit it. Non-English transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation. DO NOT submit paper or fax copies of this material. If you have previously enrolled at any University of Minnesota campus, you can obtain electronic copies of your transcripts from One Stop student services.

What happens after I submit my application?

  • Your application will be reviewed by the Data Science Admissions Committee after the application deadline (March 1).
  • You will receive email status updates from the Office of Graduate Admissions at each point in the admission process. 
  • Contact gsquest@umn.edu regarding any inquiries about your GRE or TOEFL scores. Our department does not receive or process these documents.

Program admission statistics

Statistics for applicants can be found on the Graduate School website.