Data Science Masters

September 22, 2020

MSDS Admissions Insights: 2020-2021 Essays

Happy first day of fall! The MSDS program recently launched our 2020-2021 application, and we revised our essay prompts for this year. Because we recognize that writing essays is one of the most challenging aspects of applying to graduate school, we want to provide you with some direct insights into what we are looking for when we read your essays.

Essay 1: Why UW MSDS?

We are interested in learning why you would like to join our data science program. 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 the specific qualities that attract you to our data science program, and to identify how well the MSDS program aligns with your aspirations. This essay is your chance to show us that you are good fit for the MSDS program, and vice versa.

Essay 2: Data Visualization

Note that this essay prompt has multiple questions. Be sure to answer them all! The 500-word count is brief, so you will have to use good judgment about what aspects of the given data science visualization 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 of a data visualization rather than general reflections or a summary. We hope to see evidence of strong communication and critical thinking skills, and we encourage you to put those skills on display in your response to this essay prompt.

Essay 3: Overcoming a Barrier

We are asking you to tell one specific, discrete story about a time you overcame a barrier in your academic or professional life. 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 how you overcame the obstacle and what you learned about yourself in the process. Writing about a time you overcome an obstacle gives you the opportunity to implicitly convey some of the character traits and strengths that define you as a person.

One final piece of advice: the essays are an opportunity to share with the admissions committee who you are behind your transcripts and your 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.

Good luck! We look forward to reading your essays in January.