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 2018-2019 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?
The schedule of classes is typically Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with three to four classes running simultaneously each module. (A “module” is approximately half a semester.) One to 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 courses starting in early July to bring everyone's level of understanding up to a similar level. All students take the Exploratory Data Analysis course as well as two of the following: Computation for Analytics, Linear Algebra, and Probability or 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.
Financing Your Education
What is the total cost of the program? Is financial aid available?
The approximate tuition cost of the 32 unit program is $44,320 in the academic year 2018–2019.
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 very best applicants. For the class of 2017–2018, the median fellowship (among students given fellowships) was $4,000 (range $2,000 – $10,000). You do not need to fill out a separate application to be considered for a fellowship; all applicants are considered.
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 practicum projects in our program. Some practicum positions are 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 practicum projects. We expect that 100 percent of your time is devoted to coursework and practicum work.
Which companies do MSDS students work with as part of their practicum?
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 2017–2018 cohort work with companies from all industries, including Williams-Sonoma, Kiva, Mozilla, Eventbrite, Capital One, United Healthcare, Paypal, and Summit Public Schools, among others. Learn more about our practicums.
Do students need to find their own practicum companies?
No. The program matches students with companies based on interest, skill set, and project.
Do students typically get paid by their practicum companies?
The decision to provide compensation for practicum work is up to each individual company. Approximately 50 percent of projects are paid, and 50 percent are unpaid.
What are the employment outcomes?
Ninety-eight percent of all graduates received an offer of employment within three months of graduation with a median base salary of $110,000. See our Careers page for more details on student 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 (for example, Python, Java, C++, MATLAB, etc.). Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree. Typically, though not always, our applicants majored in mathematics, engineering, economics, statistics, or computer science.
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 mathematics and computer science 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 college. 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.
|UC Berkeley Extension
UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension
UC Irvine Extension
University of North Dakota
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Louisiana State University
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 prefer knowledge of programming languages like Python, Java, C#, C++, Matlab, or Mathematica.
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 2017–2018 had the following relevant scores:
- Median Quant GRE score = 167
- Median Quant GMAT score = 50
While the GRE exam is not a perfect measure of academic achievement or potential to be a successful data scientist, prospective students scoring strictly less than 160 on the quantitative portion are increasingly non-competitive for the MSDS program.
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 but we are generally looking for GPAs of 3.0 and above and examine transcripts carefully. The class of 2017–2018 has a median undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 3.47.
What is the typical acceptance rate?
We received 643 submitted applications for the 2017–2018 cohort, of which 134 were sent formal acceptance letters (an acceptance rate of approximately 20 percent). We anticipate that the acceptance rate for the 2018–2019 cohort will again be between 10 and 20 percent.
What are the programming languages used in the program?
We mostly use R, Python, and SQL.
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 the MSDS program open to international students?
Yes, the program welcomes international applicants. International students in the class of 2017–2018 hail from India, China, UK, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Turkey, South Korea, Spain, Singapore, Russia, and Taiwan.
What is the minimum TOEFL score that you will accept?
The program seeks applicants with TOEFL scores of 90 or higher. International students in the 2017–2018 cohort have a median TOEFL score of 106 (range 93–117).
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?
The TOEFL is waived for applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or two years or more of studies in a degree program in English at a higher education institution in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand. The TOEFL is also waived for applicants from Norway and Iceland. Our program does not waive the English language exam requirement for applicants with degrees completed in countries other than those listed above where the medium of instruction was English.
Are there loans or scholarships available for international students?
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.