Is the GRE or GMAT exam still required due to the pandemic?

We will require a valid GRE or GMAT score from applicants to our 2022-2023 class. Both the GRE and GMAT exams offer options to complete the exam fully online and most test centers are beginning to reopen. Waivers are available for applicants with 2+ years of full time work experience and for those who have earned a PhD. Work experience waivers will be applied automatically when you submit your application, if you qualify. Please contact us at info@datascience.usfca.eduif you have earned a PhD and are requesting a waiver.

Is the TOEFL or IELTS still required due to the pandemic?

Yes, the TOEFL exam now offers options to complete the exam fully online and test centers are beginning to reopen. We now also accept the Duolingo online exam. 

Will the program be held online or on campus?

Our 2021-2022 cohort will meet on campus, in-person. There are no plans to offer future cohorts online at this time.

Program Details

Didn't this program used to be called the MS in Analytics program?

Yes! Our name officially changed to MS in Data Science in 2017. Since our program began in 2012, both our curriculum and the definition of "analytics " have evolved greatly. This name change does not represent a radical change in curriculum, but instead more of a correction to a name that now accurately describes what students can expect from this program.

What is the length of the Master in Data Science program?

This is a full-time, 12-month program. The program starts in early July and continues through the end of June in the following year.

Do you offer night classes or is there a part-time option to the program?

There are no night classes. There is no part-time option at this time.

Do you offer online classes?

There is no online option at this time. At USF, you will interact frequently in person with both your instructors and the other students in your cohort.

What is the expected class size?

Our 2022–2023 cohort will be approximately 80 students in size. In most classes, we run lectures in two or more sections to keep class sizes small. There are no teaching assistants leading class lectures or class discussions in our program.

What does the class schedule look like?

Classes run during the day Monday through Friday, with four classes running simultaneously each module. (A “module” is approximately half a semester). Two days per week are devoted to practicum work. The practicum starts in mid-October.

What is the purpose of the data science boot camp?

Because students come from a variety of academic backgrounds, students take three five-week intensive review courses and pass a linear algebra exam starting in early July to bring everyone's level of understanding up to a similar level. All students take EDA & Visualization as well as Computation for Analytics and Probability & Statistics. The boot camp is a way for students to quickly decide whether they have the appropriate background and the proper motivation to succeed. Every year, a few students do not continue with the program after the end of boot camp.

Where can I find the MS in Data Science curriculum?

What type of career services are offered by the Data Science program?

Faculty Support: Students meet weekly with a faculty mentor to discuss their practicum projects, but this also serves as a time for career counseling and interview coaching and advice.

Interview Skills: All students are required to complete 10 hours of interview skills training outside of class time provided by the program, to include job search coaching, resume and cover letter preparation, mock interview sessions, salary negotiation, and more.

MSDS Specific Career Events: Every spring, the MSDS program hosts recruiting events such as employer info sessions, on-campus interviews and screens, site visits, mock-interviews with alumni, etc. Our weekly seminar series and annual Data Institute Conference serve as additional networking opportunities. Learn more on our Careers page

Alumni Network: With an active alumni base of 411 and counting, they are an excellent resource for our MSDS students. Hear from our alumni.

What is the USF Data Institute? How does the MSDS program interact with the Institute?

The Data Institute (DI) develops innovative programs to foster the next generation of data scientists and serves as the umbrella organization for data science research and programming at USF. The Institute supports three major initiatives which include AI and Medicine, Data Ethics, and Environment and Social Impact. Each year, a number of internship projects and research projects in these areas are available to MSDS students in partnership with the Institute.

Current MSDS students are eligible to participate in some Data Institute certificate classes free of charge. MSDS alumni receive a discount on DI certificate courses as well.

Financing Your Education

What is the total cost of the program? Is financial aid available?

The total tuition cost of the 35 unit program is $52,850 in the year 2021–2022 ($1,510 per unit).
Please see our Financing Your Education page for more information on Financial Aid.

Does the program offer any scholarships?

The Master of Science in Data Science program awards a limited number of partial scholarships to our best applicants. For the class of 2021–2022, the median scholarship (among students given scholarships) was $4,000 (range $2,000–$15,000). You do not need to fill out a separate application to be considered for a scholarship; all applicants are considered.
Additional scholarships or fellowships may be available from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Schmidt Family Foundation, Newmark Women in Tech awards, and/or other outside grants. Please see our Financing Your Education page for more information.


Does the program offer teaching assistantships or research assistantships?

No. Teaching assistantships and research assistantships are typically reserved for doctoral students at research-oriented institutions. The time that might ordinarily be allocated, in a doctoral program, to supporting a faculty member's research or to helping a professor teach a course is allocated to internship projects in our program, though we have a growing number of research-focused projects. Some internship positions are paid and some are unpaid, depending on the company.

I've already taken similar courses to those offered in the program. Do you accept transfer credits?

No. Our curriculum is specifically designed for our MSDS students. Students take courses together as a cohort and all students must complete all 35 units of required coursework here at USF in order to graduate.

This program is expensive! Why isn't more financial aid available?

We are proud to run a program that, with high probability, significantly increases the earnings power of our graduates over the long run. Some students from past cohorts have already paid off all of their loans from cash bonuses or other forms of deferred compensation received. We are confident that the return on investment associated with this particular professional program is superior to the return on investment from many other forms of professional training (law, medicine, etc.). There is a shortage of data scientists in the job market right now, and that shortage is projected to get far worse before it gets better.

When is my tuition payment due?

Tuition is due at the beginning of each semester. The university offers a payment plan for those who wish to make monthly payments.

Can I work during the program?

Students are not permitted to work during the program with the exception of their internship projects. Due to the accelerated nature of the program, there is no time for outside jobs and students find it necessary to devote 100% of their time to coursework and internship work.

Nine Month Internship (Practicum)

Which companies do MSDS students work with as part of their internship?

One of the major advantages of the MSDS program at the University of San Francisco is that students work on real projects with real companies for approximately 9 months out of their 12-month experience. Students in the 2020–2021 cohort work with companies from all industries including Eventbrite, Reddit, AWS, the ACLU, Electronic Arts, Facebook, the New York Mets, Stanford Medical, and UCSF, among others. Learn more about our internship placements.

Do students need to find their own internship companies?

No. The program curates data science projects for our students and matches students with companies based on interest, skill set, company needs, and project.

Do students typically get paid by their internship companies?

The decision to provide compensation for internship work is up to each individual company. Approximately 50 percent of projects are paid, and 50 percent are unpaid.

What are the employment outcomes?

Since the program's inception in 2012, over 90% of all graduates have received an offer of employment within three months of graduation. Graduates in 2019 earned a median base salary of $120,000 and 95% received an offer of employment within three months of graduation. See our Careers page for more details on career outcomes.

Program Admission: Requirements and Timetables

What are the key background requirements?

Applicants must have high grades in prior coursework in probability and statistics, linear algebra, and computer programming (Python, Java, or C++). Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree. Typically, though not always, our applicants majored in mathematics, engineering, economics, statistics, or computer science. We welcome applicants from all bachelor's degree backgrounds.

Learn more on the How to Apply page.

I haven’t completed all of the program requirements. Can I complete the requirements during the program?

You must have completed all required prerequisite courses before the start of the program. This is an accelerated master's program and there is no time to take extra courses. You may apply with courses in progress provided that they will be completed by the time the program begins.

Does USF offer courses that will satisfy the prerequisites for the program?

Yes, in some cases. You can take these as a visiting student prior to applying for the MSDS program, if you do not require a student visa to study in the U.S. USF is not able to issue I-20s for visiting students. Please consult the catalog for more information on Loading... and Loading... courses.

Where can I take the prerequisite courses if I can't take them at USF?

We encourage prospective students to examine the offerings of accredited colleges or universities local to them. Many applicants complete our prerequisites at a community. If you are unable to complete the courses locally, the following institutions offer one or more courses via online or distance learning format that will satisfy our prerequisite requirements. Courses at these institutions are taken for a grade on a transcript and require a proctored final exam.
 Linear Algebra

Brandman University

University of North Dakota

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Louisiana State University

Harvard Extension 

Distance Calculus

UCSD Extension


 Inferential Statistics

I'd like to take a course at the University of San Francisco to satisfy the linear algebra prerequisite. Which course should I take?

You should take MATH 230 (Elementary Linear Algebra). The Department of Mathematics typically offers this course every year in the fall semester. MATH 202 (Linear Algebra and Probability) satisfies neither the linear algebra nor the inferential statistics prerequisite for the MSDS program.

I'd like to take a course at the University of San Francisco to satisfy the inferential statistics prerequisite. Which course should I take?

You should take MATH 101 (Elementary Statistics). The Department of Mathematics typically offers this course every semester. There are other courses at the university that satisfy the inferential statistics prerequisite, such as MATH 102 (Biostatistics), MATH 103 (Statistics for the Social Sciences), or ESS 200 (Statistics). We will also accept two-course sequences in probability theory and mathematics statistics for mathematics majors as satisfying the inferential statistics prerequisite. For example, at the University of San Francisco, this sequence is composed of MATH 370 (Probability with Applications) and MATH 371 (Statistics with Applications).

I'd like to take a course at the University of San Francisco to satisfy the computer programming prerequisite. Which course should I take?

You should take CS 110 (Introduction to Computer Science I). The Department of Computer Science typically offers this course every semester. CS 110 features Python, a preferred programming language for the MSDS program. However, our more competitive applicants have also taken the equivalent of CS 112 (Introduction to Computer Science II), a second course in computer programming that typically features Java and requires students to build more sophisticated and larger programs.

What kind of programming experience do I need to satisfy the requirements?

Programming experience is necessary to be successful in the MSDS program. While practical experience is valuable, we require that applicants complete at least one programming course at an accredited college or university. Note that HTML, web design, PHP, Microsoft Excel, VBA, etc. might be valuable, but they do not count towards programming experience. We require knowledge of programming languages like Python, Java, C#, or C++. If you do not have prior experience in Python, we recommend that all applicants complete at least one course in Python as that is the language used most in the program.

Will you accept courses taken on sites like Coursera and edX in fulfillment of the prerequisite requirements?

No. Given the uncertainties surrounding online coursework, and the failure of many online courses to provide a mechanism by which student code is evaluated and checked for plagiarism, applicants should show coursework on transcripts from accredited academic institutions in order to have a competitive application. Certificate coursework can serve as a supplement to courses taken for college credit.

What GRE or GMAT scores are you looking for?

The students enrolled in the class of 2021–2022 have the following relevant scores:

  • Median Quant GRE score = 166
  • Median Quant GMAT score = 49
We are generally looking for quantitative GRE scores of 160 and above, though a high GPA or work experience can help to offset a lower GRE score.

Are GRE/GMAT waivers available?

We require either the GRE or GMAT exam. This requirement is waived for applicants with 2+ years of full-time work experience in any field and for applicants who have earned their PhD.

What is the school code for the MSDS program for the GRE and GMAT exams?

The USF school codes are 4850 for GRE and 91M-3X-08 for GMAT.


What is the minimum GPA required?

We do not have a minimum GPA requirement, though we are generally looking for GPAs of 3.0 and above and we examine transcripts carefully. The class of 2021–2022 has a median undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 3.315.

What is the typical acceptance rate?

Our typical acceptance rate is approximately 25 - 35%.

What are the programming languages used in the program?

We primarily use the Python programming language.

Is there an early admission deadline?

Yes. Our deadline for priority scholarship consideration is December 5. It is still possible to receive a scholarship if your application is received after December 5, but the availability of scholarship funds after that date is uncertain.

Are admission decisions made on a rolling basis?

Yes. Starting in December, we process applications on an ongoing basis. Some applicants are summarily denied. Some applications are placed on hold until the final March 1st application deadline. Other applicants are interviewed and admitted to the program before the application deadline. In general, we advise prospective students who are highly motivated to join our program to apply as early as possible in the admissions cycle.

Can you review my CV and transcripts and let me know what my chances of admission are?

We do not provide a pre-review of any application. We cannot comment on an individual's chances of admission as our applicant pool changes from year to year.


If I apply by the priority deadline, does that mean I will get an early decision?

No. Our priority deadline is for priority scholarship consideration and does not guarantee an early decision.

Is an admission interview required?

Yes. An important part of our admissions process is an online technical interview with a member of our faculty admission committee. The interview consists of questions drawn from our prerequisite subjects (linear algebra, statistics and programming) and also serves as a chance for applicants to ask questions about the program.

International Students

Is the MSDS program open to international students?

Yes, the program welcomes international applicants. International students in the class of 2021–2022 hail from Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, India, Italy, Iran, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

What is the minimum TOEFL score that you will accept?

I have completed an undergraduate degree at a college or university in a country where English is the official language. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?

English language exams are waived for applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or one year or more of studies in a degree program in English at a higher education institution on the exempted countries list. Our program does not waive the English language exam requirement for applicants with degrees completed in countries other than those included on the exempted list.

Are there loans or scholarships available for international students?

The graduate admissions office provides a list of organizations that offer financial resources for international students. You can find more information on financial aid or loans available to international students at the Student Enrollment Services Office.

Will I be able to request CPT or OPT? Is the MSDS program a STEM major?

International graduates typically apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training) after they graduate. MSDS qualifies as a STEM major. International students apply for CPT (Curricular Practical Training) during the academic year for their practicum assignment. Please direct all further questions regarding CPT, OPT, or STEM to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

Do I really need to upload my financial documents at the time I apply?

Yes, USF requires that proof of funds is submitted at the time you apply in order to expedite the I-20 process if admitted.

I'm planning to pay my tuition costs using a bank loan, but my bank will only grant me a loan after I receive admission. What can I do?

If you plan to finance your education with a loan, you will need to obtain a letter from your bank stating that they will provide a loan for the needed amount if you are admitted. Upload this letter to the certification of finances section of the application. If you are unable to provide a letter, please contact for other options.