FALL '24 by 7/1


Admissions Requirements for the Online Master of Data Science

Apply for the Fall 2024 cohort by July 1st



Online Master of Data Science
Degree Requirements

UPCOMING DEADLINE: Apply by July 1st, 2024 to join Rice’s Fall 2024 cohort!

Data Scientists, Data Analysts, and Machine Learning professionals are in greater demand than ever. Rice University’s online Master of Data Science program is ideal for a range of professionals who want to stand apart from the competition with advanced data and quant skills, while building their data science portfolios through hands-on projects.

Accepting Applications Year-Round

The Master of Data Science (MDS) program at Rice University offers 3 intakes per year, accepting applications on a rolling basis. You can expect to hear about an admission decision within 2-4 weeks of the application deadline.

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Fall 2024 Application Deadline: July 1, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Classes Start: August 26, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Application Deadline: November 1, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Classes Start: January 13, 2025



What career-relevant skills and knowledge will I learn from Rice’s MDS program?

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Online Data Science Master’s Degree Prerequisites

Learn more about the required prerequisites for the online Master of Data Science program, featuring specializations in Business Analytics and Machine Learning.

Required for All Applicants

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Bachelor's Degree

The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in statistics, mathematics, economics, finance, computer science, analysis and research, engineering or another STEM area. However, it is not a strict requirement that the degree be in a STEM field.

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Solid Mathematical Background

A solid mathematical background is recommended, specifically high-school level algebra and trigonometry, college-level calculus, basic discrete math skills, and boolean logic.

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3.0+ GPA

The ideal applicant will have at least a 3.0 (B) grade point average in their undergraduate work. Admissions exceptions can be made if a student has sufficient work experience, GRE scores that show a high level of competence, a master’s degree, strong letters of recommendation, and/or specific circumstances that led to a low GPA.

Optional Prerequisites

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Test Scores

For applicants with a 3.0+ GPA, taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is NOT required for admission to the online Master of Data Science program. For students with a <2.9 GPA, GRE test scores, several years of relevant work experience, and/or strong letters of recommendation are highly recommended. Read more about international TOEFL/IELTS scores below.

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Work Experience

Because this program is aimed at data and analytics professionals who want to expand their careers and upskill, we recommend that applicants have some industry work experience, preferably in business and data analytics, software or data engineering, market research, or other math- and statistics-related areas (e.g., finance, actuarial sciences, public policy analysis, sports analysis, economics, and more).

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Basic Programming Skills

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, foundational coursework or relevant experience in programming will be helpful to Rice Master of Data Science students, particularly Python, R and/or SQL. Our students will learn how to program in Python as part of the curriculum, but existing coding skills will help students get up-to-speed quickly. Explore Rice’s recommended preparation courses below.

Application Materials

Required Materials

Resume or CV

A current resume or CV is required for all applications. Please be as thorough as possible in representing your work and academic history.

Official Transcripts

Either official and unofficial transcripts should be submitted with your application. Upon acceptance into the program, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to course registration.

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

A Statement of Purpose is required for all applicants to the Online Master of Data Science (MDS) program. This statement should clearly and succinctly summarize your past academic and professional experience and achievements, discuss your motivation for seeking the Rice MDS degree, explain your interest in data science, business and data analytics, and/or machine learning and lay out how you plan to apply your training to meet real-world challenges and advance your career. You should also briefly discuss any other factors you would like the admission committee to consider while reviewing your application, such as personal background, work experience, special projects and/or leadership roles.

For resources on how to write a Statement of Purpose, check our resources below:

Two Letters of Recommendation

The letters should be from direct supervisors or people in similar roles, professors, research advisors, or others who are familiar with your relevant educational, professional experiences, and interest in data science and analytics. Please do not submit letters from friends or family members. You may submit more than 2, but no less than 2 must be submitted with your application.

$85 Application Fee

You're almost ready for admission! Make sure to include your application fee of $85.00 upon submission.

Optional Materials


For applicants with a 3.0+ GPA, taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for admission to the Master of Data Science program, but is recommended for all applicants. The GRE is required for applicants with a <2.9 GPA, unless an exception is granted by the Rice Admissions committee.

If you are submitting a GRE ID, you must have taken the GRE within five years of applying.

If GREs are absent from an application, the Admissions committee will consider relevant work experience instead. Although exceptions can be made, applicants who do not have GRE scores are expected to have some full-time work experience in the areas of math, analysis, research, computer science, and/or engineering.


TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for any student whose native language is not English. The code to send the electronic scores is: 6609. For the TOEFL score, the minimum is 90 on the iBT and 600 on the paper-based TOEFL.

For students who choose to take the IELTS in lieu of the TOEFL, the minimum score is 7. Students with a degree from a university where English is the official language are exempt from submitting TOEFL/IELTS scores.


Get Additional Support with Your Application

Rice University provides resources to help our prospective online students navigate the online Master of Data Science admissions process, including coaches, preparatory courses and pathways.

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1:1 Enrollment Coaching

We know graduate school is a significant life milestone and one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Rice Enrollment Coaches are free, optional advisors available to discuss your personal and professional goals and help guide you through your Rice online Master of Data Science consideration process.

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CS/DS Bridge Course

This 6-week mini-course is designed to provide a pathway into the Rice online Master of Data Science degree, covering essential foundational materials in calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, programming basics, including algorithms and data structures with practice in Python.


Important Dates

We offer three intakes per year, so you can choose the best time to start for you. For more information on program prerequisites, view Admission requirements (above).

FALL 2024 July 1, 2024 August 26, 2024
SPRING 2025 November 1, 2024 January 13, 2025
SUMMER 2025 March 1, 2025 May 5, 2025



Strengthen Your Application
and Feel Prepared

Rice has curated extensive free and online courses to help applicants feel prepared for the Master of Data Science program. Covering math, programming, engineering, and business skills, brush up in relevant areas to bolster your application and career confidence.

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How to Satisfy Most Prerequisites

Rice University’s Computer Science & Data Science Bridge Course: Rice offers a 6-week CS/DS Bridge Course designed for those with a strong technical background who need a refresher in the following subject areas:

  • Essential foundational materials in calculus and linear algebra.
  • Discrete mathematics including first-order logic and inductive proofs as well as other important foundational material
  • Programming basics including algorithms and data structures with practice in Python language.

Rice University’s Fundamentals of Computing Specialization: This online specialization covers the bulk of the Master of Data Science prerequisites, except for logic. Free to audit.


Looking for Tuition and Other Info?

Is Rice University’s Online Master of Data Science an accredited program?

Yes, Rice University's Online Master of Data Science degree program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

How much does the Online Master of Data Science program at Rice cost?

Students in the Online Master of Data Science program will pay the standard Rice University part-time rate of $1,666.70 per credit hour. The program requires a minimum of 31 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements, so most students will pay approximately $51,000 total tuition.

Start your application today. 

How long does the Online Master of Data Science program at Rice take to complete?

Since Rice's Master of Data Science (Online) program is designed as a part-time program for working professionals, most students take 1 or 2 courses per term. At this pace, students can expect to finish in approximately 2-3.5 years.

Students who are not working are welcome to attend the program full-time, which would allow them to complete the program in 18-24 months (pending strength of prerequisites upon admission).

Should I apply if I don’t have a STEM undergrad/graduate background?

Master of Data Science applicants do not need a computer science or STEM background, as the goal of the degree is to quickly cover foundational topics in computation, mathematics, and statistics. The program is interdisciplinary by design so that it has direct application for students across industries.

Can I apply as an international student?

Yes, international students are welcome to apply! We would recommend connecting with an enrollment coach to ensure time zone differences won’t hinder your ability to participate in optional or required live sessions.

Please note that Rice University’s Online MDS does not sponsor foreign visas at this time.

Want More Information?

Get support from a dedicated Rice Enrollment coach to answer your questions and provide support through the application process.


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