Data Science Masters

We’re delighted that you are considering applying to the University of Washington Master of Science in Data Science program!

Our application deadlines for the Autumn 2022 intake were January 10, 2022 for international applicants, and January 18, 2022 for domestic students. Both of these deadlines have now passed, and we do not accept late applications for any reason. Please note that we admit students once per year for the Autumn quarter only. The next application cycle begins in September 2022 for the Autumn 2023 intake.

Check out some great admissions articles on our blog for tips about application materials and the kinds of students we seek.

Admissions Requirements

4-year U.S. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent

Applicants are required to have a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States or its equivalent from an international institution. If you have a 3-year undergraduate degree, please contact the central UW Graduate School to clarify if your education will meet the requirement.

3.0 Minimum GPA from last 2 years of graded full-time study

Applicants are required to have a GPA of at least 3.0 for the last 60 graded semester credits or the last 90 graded quarter credits of their schooling (U.S.), or roughly the equivalent of the last two years of graded study (undergraduate and/or graduate). If you need help converting an international GPA to the 4.0 U.S. scale, you can use the grade conversion tool provided by the UW Graduate School, or you can use a GPA from another international GPA translation service (WES, Scholaro, etc.) if your grading system is not represented on the UW Gradual School tool.

If you have less than a 3.0 GPA for the last 2 years of graded full-time study, it is still possible to be admitted if you are an otherwise outstanding candidate for our program. If you are in this situation, please use the “Optional Essay” section to address what happened that caused a lower GPA, and why you might be a successful graduate student in our program despite a lower GPA. This 3.0 minimum is a requirement of the central UW Graduate School for all graduate school applicants, and we can petition for an exception for candidates we wish to admit with a lower GPA. We have successfully petitioned for exceptions to this requirement in the past.

No GRE or GMAT used in our holistic admissions process

We found that the GRE/GMAT were not good indicators of success in our program, and in fact reinforce structural biases in education around gender, race/ethnicity, class, and other equity factors we seek to reduce with our holistic admissions process. Our admissions committee seeks to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the MS in Data Science program and in the data science field.

There is no benefit to providing GRE or GMAT scores with your application.

Prerequisite equivalent completion: Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, and two Intro to Programming Classes

Applicants must complete and have grades for the following prerequisite coursework (or equivalent) by the application deadline:

  • Multivariable Calculus III (UW MATH 126)
  • Linear/Matrix Algebra (UW MATH 208)
  • Two Introduction to Programming courses (UW CSE 142 and 143). Please note that UW CSE 160 and 163 have recently been approved for fulfilling for these prerequisites.

Courses must be completed at a regionally-accredited two- or four-year college or university (or international equivalent) for credit and a grade before applying, as we use grades from these in the admissions process. You cannot have courses in progress, or complete them after applying. Programming courses need to be in Python, Java, Javascript, C#, or C++. Computational tools such as R, MATLAB, and SQL are not enough to demonstrate programming proficiency.

We do not accept Coursera/Udemy, MOOCs, boot camps, GitHub, self-study, or non-credit/ungraded certificate classes for these.

Professional Programming Experience Equivalency. Some applicants may demonstrate programming skills through five years or more of substantial, practical experience with Python, Java, JavaScript, C#, or C++. If you believe you satisfy the programming prerequisites through practical experience instead of coursework, please provide a recommendation from a technical colleague describing your coding contributions at work.

Deadline Policy: no late applications or materials accepted

The UW MSDS program accepts students once per year for the autumn quarter intake. Applications must be received by January 10, 2022 at 11:59pm Pacific time for international students, and January 18, 2022 at 11:59pm Pacific time for domestic students. All materials must be submitted by the deadline, with the exception of recommendations which may be received up to 2 weeks after the respective deadlines. We do not have rolling admissions or priority deadlines.

We do not accept late/incomplete applications, or late application materials.

Application Materials

Online UW MyGrad application

Applicants are required to upload all application materials to the online MyGrad application.

Essays: Four required, one optional

Four short essays are required and one is optional. Your short essays are an opportunity to articulate your candidacy for the Master of Science in Data Science program at the University of Washington. The best essays are clear, succinct, thoughtful, well-written, and engaging. Your essays play an important role in our holistic admissions process, and we expect that they are your own original work. Read essay advice from our former Admissions Specialist, Samantha Turner, on our blog. 

Essay 1: Why UW MSDS? (350 words maximum)

What led you to pursue a M.S. in Data Science and what drew you to the University of Washington’s program? Why is the University of Washington the best place for you to earn your degree?

Purpose of this essay: Articulate why you are interested in the M.S. in Data Science degree program from the University of Washington.

This should not be a personal statement.

Essay 2: Data Visualization (500 words maximum)

Select one of the four following data visualization examples below and explain why you think it is an effective example of data visualization. If you have problems accessing one of the visualizations, please choose a different option from the list.

Your evaluation should also include how it can be improved. Some criteria to consider are: Does the data visualization accurately summarize the data? Is it visually appealing? Could an individual without background knowledge of the data subject understand the summary?

Purpose of this essay: Demonstrate that you can objectively evaluate a data visualization by identifying its strengths, weaknesses and areas to improve.

Essay 3: Teamwork and Conflict Resolution (350 words maximum)

The MSDS program at UW is made up of students with a wide variety of skills and backgrounds, and the data science industry relies heavily on teamwork.

Teams are often made up of individuals with skills and strengths different than your own. Please describe a time when you were on a team and faced a conflict, and what you did to work towards a resolution.

Purpose of this essay: Articulate your ability to work with individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, particularly in resolving a conflict.

Essay 4: Diversity and Equity (500 words maximum)

How have you shown a commitment to diversity, anti-racism, and equity, and what unique perspectives would you contribute to the data science profession?

Purpose of this essay: demonstrate a commitment to diversity, anti-racism, and equity through your unique perspective.

Optional Essay (350 words maximum)

Provide additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the admissions committee. This may include gaps in employment history, academic performance issues, choice of recommenders, socioeconomic disadvantages, or any other relevant information. If you are a reapplicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.

Unofficial digital transcripts

Applicants must upload unofficial transcripts/marksheets from every institution where they earned a degree or completed prerequisite courses. These are are generally .pdfs, scans or other images. Transcripts and degree documents that are in a language other than English must be accompanied with an official English translation (translated by a university, government official/organization, or a certified translation service, example: American Translators Association).

Read about some transcripts tips from former Admissions Specialist, Samantha Turner, on our blog. 

We do not need or accept paper/official transcripts or other documents during the initial admissions process. If you are admitted and accept your offer, the central UW Graduate School will contact you about where/how to send official materials sometime during the summer.

Short resume or CV

We are looking for a concise summary of your professional and other credentials. It is strongly recommended that applicants limit their resume to one page, single-sided. Read about our resume tips from former Admissions Specialist, Samantha Turner, on our blog.

Letters of recommendation: 2 required, 3 preferred

Letters of recommendation are collected by our recommendation system, once you have entered your recommenders in the online MyGrad application. Recommendations can be submitted independently of your application, before OR after you have submitted, as long as you have designated recommenders in the system–so designate recommenders early!! Each recommender receives an email invitation to submit their recommendation via the UW Graduate School’s online recommendation portal. They may upload a .pdf or .docx letter of recommendation, or cut&paste or type the text of their recommendation into a text box. The portal includes additional questions for your recommender about your candidacy as well, so it collects more than just standard letters of recommendation.

Read advice on selecting and coaching your recommenders, from former Admissions Specialist, Samantha Turner, on our blog.

Note: Interfolio and other recommendation aggregators are not directly compatible with UW’s recommendation system. It’s best to use the MyGrad recommendation system when applying to programs at UW, as recommendations submitted through our system provide a more complete picture of your candidacy.

Proof of prerequisite equivalency completion

All applicants—both international and U.S. candidates—are required to show how they meet the prerequisite requirements in the Additional Information section of the online application. To show proof of completion, you must list the following information for each prerequisite requirement: course title, grade received, the semester or quarter you completed the course, and the name of the institution where you took the course. Please provide a brief course description and/or a URL link to a short course description.

Proof of English proficiency (for non-native English speakers)

There are many ways to prove English proficiency, as noted in UW Memo 8 which spells out the UW English Proficiency Requirement. Please note that the UW MSDS program’s requirements are slightly different/higher than the central UW Graduate School. Here are the main ways to prove English proficiency for the MSDS application:

  • An undergraduate or graduate degree from a regionally-accredited institution located in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, or other country where English is the official language, and English is the medium of instruction.
  • Official documentation from the applicant’s undergraduate institution verifying that all of their instruction was completed in English. Usually this shows up as a note on a transcript or separate letter from the institution that simply states that “the medium of instruction was English.”
  • TOEFL scores with a minimum 106 total score and 25 in each area test. Official test scores must be sent directly to UW from ETS, using institution code 4854. UW does not use department codes, as all scores go through the central UW Graduate School. You may choose any department code and scores will be transmitted to all programs to which you apply via the MyGrad online application at UW.
  • DuoLingo scores with a minimum 125 total score. Official test scores must be sent directly to UW from the testing company.
  • The MSDS program does not accept IELTS scores at this time, but may add it in a future cycle.

Many international applicants do not realize that if they have completed their undergraduate education entirely in English, and can document this, UW does not require any test scores at all. All you need to provide is the documentation of this in the form of a note on your transcript or separate letter from your undergraduate institution that your “medium of instruction was English.” In this case, providing test scores has no benefit at all for your application.

If this documentation is in the form of a separate letter, you can combine this with your transcripts into a single file/.pdf and upload that in the transcripts section of the online application.

$85 Application fee

The central UW Graduate School collects an $85, non-refundable application fee for all graduate program applications to UW. Application fee waivers are available from the UW Graduate School to some domestic students who demonstrate financial need. Unfortunately, international students planning to study on a student visa are not eligible for these fee waivers. (The MSDS program does not offer fee waivers on the program/department level.)

Important Links and Information for Applicants

Tuition, Costs, Financial Aid/Scholarships

Our Tuition, Costs, and Financial Aid/Scholarships webpage provides information about current MSDS tuition, estimates of quarterly fees and other costs, as well as external sources of financial aid, scholarships, and assistantships.

UW Graduate School application fee waiver page

The central UW Graduate School offers application fee waivers to domestic students who demonstrate financial need, in certain circumstances. Application fee waivers are not available to international students who plan to study on F or J visas.

2021 Class Profile information

Discover data about the demographic and other composition of our incoming 2021 cohort.

Resources for international students

Read information for international applicants about the UW English Proficiency Requirement, visa questions, CPT/OPT, and International Student Services (ISS).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Check out Frequently Asked Questions about curriculum, admissions, international student status, tuition & financial aid.