Frequently Asked Questions
This page covers frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the Master of Science in Data Science program.
Visit the FAQs from the Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs page for more information on attending graduate school at University of Rochester.
Further questions about this program? Email email@example.com.
Can I apply for spring admission?
At this time, our applications for a fall admission cycle only.
Only students and employees who are internal within the University of Rochester may be considered for spring admission. Interested applicants should contact the education program coordinator in October and apply before Thanksgiving break to discuss consideration to be admitted for the coming spring semester.
When will I receive my decision?
We do not start reviews for fall admissions until January. Completed applications received by January 5, 2022 receive first review for fall admission and will receive a decision February 15. Applications received by February 15 will receive decisions by March 15. Applications received before February 15th will have the highest probability for admittance. Part-time applicants and current PhD applicants will receive a decision by April 15.
What GPA, TOEFL/IELTS, and GRE scores should I have to be considered for your program?
See our application page for more details about the standardized test scores we are seeking.
The averages for recent admitted students are 3.5 GPA, 105 TOEFL/7.5 IELTS, 322 GRE Q+V.
If my GPA, TOEFL/IELTS, or GRE score is below the minimum specified in your page, do I have a chance of being admitted?
The committee will look at your application as a whole. If the other parts of your application are particularly strong (statement of purpose, references, additional materials) may be of interest to the committee and can assist us in the decision.
If you ever failed, withdrawn from, dropped, had an incomplete, or retaken a course that is noted on your transcript, you should provide an additional short statement on the application to explain the circumstances of your situation. You may also submit an additional narrative (up to one page) and upload to the Other Documents section of the application to explain low GPAs or unusual circumstances of your academic history.
Do I need TOEFL or IELTS scores if I am enrolled in a program in the US or other English-speaking country?
The English proficiency test requirement is automatically waived for citizens of the following countries.
- Commonwealth Caribbean Nations
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Virgin Islands
Do I need TOEFL or IELTS scores if I am enrolled in a degree program in an English-speaking university?
English language proficiency is not waived for students in English-speaking degree programs outside of those countries listed above. We recognize that many students in these programs have mastery in the English language, however the proficiency exams gives us the most consistent evaluation of reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities for applicants to our program.
In rare exceptions, you can petition the department to waive the English Language Exam Requirement. Please contact the department’s graduate coordinator to request a waiver.
Can I have a English proficiency waiver if I transferred from a school in a country not listed above and graduated with another two years from an English-speaking institution?
We will still require a TOEFL/IELTS/DET English proficiency exam for students who transfer into institutions and complete study of English speaking degree programs in less than 3 years.
Can I have a English proficiency waiver if I completed a masters, PhD or professional degree at an English-speaking institution?
Please contact the department’s graduate coordinator to request a waiver.
I have a degree from a three-year program. Can I apply to your program?
If you are applying with a three-year degree from a non-US institution, you will need to provide a WES evaluation stating that the degree you were awarded is equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree. When this information is submitted to the application, then our graduate program will accept that you have the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree.
Is the GRE test required?
We do not require a GRE score. About half our applicants take the test and submit scores but there is only a slight increase being admitted over those who don't submit. A strong GRE score can make an applicant with a weaker GPA more attractive for admission. Conversely, a weak GRE score can make an applicant less attractive for consideration.
Is the verbal part of the GRE important?
If you are submitting GRE scores, all parts of the GRE are important. Since data science has a large component of communication, verbal and analytical writing are important in addition to quantitative skills.
I'm also interested in applying for another MS degree at the University of Rochester. Can you duplicate my application?
If you are interested in applying to the MS in business analytics from the Simon School of Business, our programs are from separate schools and do not share application portals so you must apply to each program separately.
If you are interested in the MS in computer science or the MS in technical entrepreneurship and management (TEAM) programs which are also offer in the School of Arts, Sciences & Engineering (ASE), you may request the departmental coordinator to duplicate your application and waive the applications fee.
The masters in data science program at the University of Rochester is competitive. In 2022, we received over 750 applications for the 50 full-time spots in our program. Here are some tips to make sure your application won't be easily dismissed and ways to make it shine.
- Make sure transcripts are in English or with a certified English translation.
- Make sure any uploaded documents/images are clearly readable and are oriented properly (portrait or landscape orientation) so they can be read easily by the reviewer.
- If you are a current fall student in a program and can include courses you are registered in the spring semester, it will give us a better idea of applicable coursework in your final semester of study.
- If you ever failed, withdrawn from, dropped, had an incomplete, or retaken a course that is noted on your transcript, make sure you answer the question on the Personal: Required Background section honestly.
- You may submit an additional narrative (up to one page) and upload it to the Other Documents section of the application to explain low GPAs or unusual circumstances of your academic history.
Statement of Purpose/Resume
- Succinct statements of purpose are appreciated. While we don't give a maximum or minimum word count, the committee is reading numerous applications so keep it short and to the point. Communicate your story in a way that demonstrates you are the right person for our program. A good statement of purpose or resume is typically 1-2 pages in length.
- Readable formatting is appreciated. For the statement of purpose, an easily readable typeface (i.e. Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica) in 12pt is preferred. Do not double space your essay; single space or 1.15 sentence spacing looks good. Make sure you are formatting your paragraphs so that it is readable and tidy. Your statement is more like a cover letter than an academic essay paper.
- Standard or infographic resumes in other fonts are acceptable. A targeted resume that is customized to specifically highlight the experience and skills you have that are relevant to our program and demonstrate your qualifications are appreciated.
- Overuse of flowery words, run-on sentences, overly long paragraphs, incorrect grammar, lack of appropriate capitalization, missed punctuation and poor formatting may be a turn-off to a reviewer. Proofread your application, resume, and essays before submitting.
- Submitting TOEFL/IELTS scores below the minimum are highly discouraged unless a retaken score with improvement meeting the minimum is also shown.
- Verified scores are preferred however self reported scores with a copy of the score report may be submitted for application review.
- We strongly encourage non-native English speakers to submit the additional one page narrative essay. Best essays are personal narratives that give us a better understanding of your English language journey. As mentioned with statements of purpose, proofread your narrative so it is easy to read.
- Three letters of reference are required. Applications with two letters will not be reviewed.
- We do not advise submitting more than three recommendations. We appreciate quality, not quantity of letters.
- All letters of recommendation must be received before the review deadline. Make sure your reference is aware of the deadline.
- Letters should be written by someone who can describe your skills, accomplishments and personality.
- At least one of the recommenders should be a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student, unless you have been out of school for more than four years. Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work. As a professional courtesy, you should notify your recommenders of the request for a recommendation letter in advance.
- We recommend using professional email addresses from the recommenders place of work (university or company) but we will accept personal email addresses if necessary.
- We appreciate quality, not quantity when submitting other documents.
- You may also submit an additional narrative (up to one page) and upload to the Other Documents section of the application to explain low GPAs or unusual circumstances of your academic history.
- Additional documents should reflect relevance to the data science application. Online course certificates or awards can be useful to see, but if there are too many to upload you should consider just a summary by listing them on an additional one page attachment.
- Make sure any uploaded documents/images are clearly readable and are oriented properly (portrait or landscape orientation) so they can be read easily by the reviewer.
- Do not upload passport or other information for visa. This will be requested through another portal if you are admitted.
How will I know if I need the summer bridging course?
Your offer letter will state whether or not you need to take the summer bridging course. This requirement is based on previous coursework, employment, and grades.
Is the summer bridging course an introductory level computer science class?
No, it is an intermediate-level course in data structures. If you do not have introductory-level programming knowledge, additional courses may be recommended for entry into the program.
What if I can’t start in the summer in order to take the bridging course?
If for some reason, you are unable to make it to the University of Rochester during the summer semester and your offer required matriculation for the summer bridging program, the Graduate Admissions Committee reserves the right to rescind your acceptance. Please contact our office to discuss options if you are unable to make it for the summer.
What is the duration of the program?
Full-time students must complete the program in two or three semesters.
- Two semesters is a Fall (late August through late December) and Spring (mid-January through mid-May) semester of an academic year so it would be completed in 10 months with a degree awarded in May.
- Three semesters is a Fall and Spring of an academic year plus an additional Fall semester so it would be completed in 17 months with a degree awarded in December. There are no graduate course in the summer so many students find internships or research opportunities during the break.
If a student is invited to the summer bridge course prior to starting the masters program, they will be asked to enroll in a 6 week course starting late-June or early July through mid-August.
Can I take longer than two or three semesters to complete the program?
The program is designed to be cohort-based so all full-time students must complete the program in two or three semesters. Full-time students are not able to extend to a fourth semester.
Do you have part-time studies for your program?
In some circumstances, we allow a student to take the program with part-time status. Part-time students are not allowed to take more than two courses per semester and should have a flexible schedule as courses are not typically offered at times convenient to a working professional. A matriculated part-time student will not receive tuition discounts. The degree must be completed within five years of matriculation to the program.
Students considering part-time status should contact the education program coordinator to seek advice on the program of study (Advanced Certificate or Master of Science) before applying.
Can I take the program at night or online?
Courses for this program are only offered during the day and all require in-person attendance.
Can I write a thesis instead of doing the practicum course?
No. Our program is a practicum based program and the practicum is a requirement of our program. You are able to engage in research opportunities on campus and you are limited to 6 credits of academic research credit towards your program as elective coursework.
How can I find research opportunities in data science?
Watch this video for a presentation on student research opportunities in data science. You can also investigate the research profiles of our affiliated faculty.
If I get accepted into the MS in data science, can I transfer into MS in computer science?
While there are several overlaps in the curriculum in our programs, the data science and computer science programs operate separately. It is extremely rare to get permission to transfer between programs. We recommend you apply only to the programs you are seeking to enroll in.
I am completing an MS or PhD and some courses in my program are also part of the data science curriculum. Can I overlap courses and also complete a MS in data science?
While there are several overlaps in the curriculum in our programs, data science can only share two courses from another degree in the Arts, Sciences & Engineering School and up to 10 credits from another school per the transfer credit/dual use policy.
Does your program provide placement for internships and jobs?
The Greene Center for Career Education and Connection is a resource students in our program use to prepare themselves for careers and assist with their job search. The Greene Center offers many activities such as:
- Preparation workshops
- Information sessions
- Career fairs
- A robust job postings database
In addition, our program brings in professionals in data science to review resumes of students in our program. We also bring in monthly speakers to profile career paths in data science.
What are the career outcomes of students who have completed your program?
Most of our students get jobs in industry while several of our students go on for further study to complete PhD programs. The university’s career outcomes website can give you a sense of where our graduates are now working. We have also noted outcomes on our masters overview website. In addition, you can search for many of our graduates on LinkedIn.
Is your program STEM-certified?
Yes. Because we are STEM-certified, an international student on an F-1 visa is eligible for the STEM Extension OPT which grants an additional 24 months period to work in the US, following an approved and unexpired 12-month OPT period.
I am an international applicant, and after completing the MS degree I want to get a job in the US. Are jobs more restricted for foreign citizens?
It depends on the industry you are seeking to gain employment. Some companies and national laboratories do require US citizenship or permanent residency (green card), or have limited opportunities for foreign nationals.
What is the typical cost of the MS program?
Tuition and fees for the current year are available on the Office of the Bursar website.
- Tuition: Our MS program is typically completed with 32 ASE graduate credit hours. The amount of tuition for the MS program will vary depending on whether a partial tuition waiver is offered within the acceptance letter. Tuition for some courses taken at the Simon School have a different amount per credit hour. In 2023-24, the tuition for $1970/credit hour ASE courses and $2274/credit hour for Simon School courses.
- Mandatory graduate fees: (approximately $388/semester in 2023) include the graduate and health fees.
- Health insurance: Students can either enroll in the UR Student Health Insurance Plan (Aetna) or they can waive this plan if their health insurance plan meets University Insurance Criteria. Additional Information can be found here. In 2022-23, the cost was $1746/semester.
- International students will also pay an international fee (currently $53/semester in 2023.)
Here is a financial worksheet (xls) to help you better understand the costs and breakdown of our program.
Do you offer scholarships?
Yes. Partial merit based tuition discounts are offered for qualified students, but we do not offer full scholarships. You do not have to fill out any extra paperwork to be considered for the merit scholarship. It is part of our application.
Do you offer any teaching assistant or research assistant opportunities?
We do not guarantee any additional financial assistance. We typically have one or two teaching assistant opportunities to MS students in the second or third semester of the program but not during the first semester of study. We do not offer research assistantships to MS students. Some students find opportunities paid positions within departments on campus or by becoming an intern at the Rochester Data Science Consortium. Incoming students will not have access to JobLink (on-campus employment database) until two weeks before the start of the semester.
Do you offer waivers for the application fee?
The application fee is $70. The fee may be waived for University of Rochester students, employees and alumni.
How much is the deposit for admitted students?
If you are offered admission to our MS program, a non-refundable deposit of $1500 is required by April 15 (or by the offer deadline) to hold your spot in our cohort. This deposit will be applied to your financial account to reduce the amount due on your first tuition payment. The fee may be waived for University of Rochester students, employees and alumni.
I've been accepted! What do I do next?
- Mid-March: We will have a Zoom information session for admitted students. Admitted students will receive an invitation by email.
- By April 15 (or by your offer deadline): Let us know of you are accepting or declining our offer. If you are offered admission to our MS program, a non-refundable deposit of $1500 is required by April 15 (or by the offer deadline) to hold your spot in our cohort. This deposit will be applied to your financial account to reduce the amount due on your first tuition payment. The fee may be waived for University of Rochester students, employees and alumni.
- After April 15: We will submit departmental information to the International Studies Office for international students. Here is information you will need to prepare for your New Student Information Form. Most incoming international students will receive their I-20 before the end of May.
- By May 1: Apply for the housing lottery if you wish to live in one of the campus owned apartments.
- June-August: Prepare to attend graduate school at Rochester. Here is a checklist of what you need to do to matriculate into our program. You must submit your pre-enrollment documentation before you can register for classes.
- August: Make sure you arrive in Rochester to get settled and are able to attend orientation and the first day of class!
International Students: How much funding do I need to show to get my I-20?
After you are admitted, we will provide you with a estimated amount which you need to provide recent financial statements. These estimates are for immigration purposes only and may differ from the student’s ACTUAL billed expenses for tuition, fees and living expenses. These estimates are updated every year around April. In general, you should have approximately $50,000 USD in funds ready.
International Students: I have been admitted to the program of study for the MS in Data Science, yet my major on the I-20 form says Computational Science. Is this a mistake?
The Major1 for the program of study on your I-20 will say Computational Science 30.3001. Computational Science is how the US Department of Education has assigned the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for the data science program at the University of Rochester. This is only used on your I-20 paperwork. Your final diploma from the University of Rochester will say Data Science.
What housing options are there for graduate students?
The University of Rochester has several graduate housing options available for students and their families in any University graduate program. You can choose university sponsored apartments or find off-campus affordable housing in neighborhoods nearby.
My bachelors degree gets completed this spring/summer but my university won't be issuing a diploma until end of July or August. What documents can I send so that I can register for fall semester courses?
We must have proof of degree conferral before lifting your registration hold. We recognize that Indian institutions often do not create their degree conferrals until many months after the date of graduation. We will accept a provisional certificate sent by the institution if this is the case. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.