Data Science Masters

September 23, 2019

MSDS Admissions Insights: 2019-2020 Application Essays

Happy first day of fall! The MSDS program recently launched our 2019-2020 application, and we revised our essay prompts for this year. Because we recognize that writing application essays is one of the most challenging aspects of applying to any graduate program, we want to provide you with some direct insights into what we are looking for when we read and evaluate your essays.

Essay 1: Why UW MSDS?

We are interested in learning why you would like to pursue a UW MSDS degree. You should articulate how our program uniquely advances you towards your goals. A strong essay will go beyond generic responses, applicable to any data science master’s program, and will instead provide a clear and personalized motivation for wanting to attend our program. Before you start writing your essay, we encourage you to brainstorm and identify how well the UW MSDS program aligns with your aspirations.

Essay 2: Data Communication

Note that this essay question has multiple parts. The 500-word count is brief, so you will have to use good judgment about what aspects of the given data science communication you choose to discuss. Our favorite thing about this prompt is that there is no one right approach to writing this essay. We are expecting responses that are as diverse and compelling as our applicants. However, an excellent essay will provide strong, detailed analyses rather than general reflections or a summary.

Essay 3: Failure

We are asking you to tell one specific, discrete story about a time you failed. The 350-word limit is short, so you will have to decide what level of context to provide. We recommend offering us just enough situational detail to set the scene while leaving yourself space to reflect on why you failed and what you might do differently if you had a second chance. You may be hesitant or even embarrassed to admit that you have experienced failure in the past. However, writing about a time you failed gives you the opportunity to convey who you are in ways that implicitly but powerfully reveal your character and strengths. We hope that you will have the humility to write a candid essay.

One final piece of advice: the essays are an opportunity to share with the admissions committee who you are behind the transcripts and the resume, so take your time. Think carefully about the content and the quality of your essays. Please respond thoroughly but concisely to the prompts. Applicants are required to adhere to the word count.