Online Master of Data Science FAQs
Find the answers to all of your questions about the MDS@Rice program. Our collection of Master of Data Science FAQs includes answers from our expert team members. Don’t see the answer you need below? Contact an Enrollment Coach for any additional questions.
When does the online Master of Data Science program at Rice University start?
The online Master of Data Science program offers three start dates per year, Fall, Spring, and Summer. To learn more about applying to our program, please visit our admissions page.
What are the eligibility requirements for the online Master of Data Science program at Rice University?
The online Master of Data Science is a graduate degree program that requires a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent (GPA minimum: 3.0 or equivalent). Your degree may be in a non-computational discipline and you should have an interest in data science as well as strong math skills.
For more information on application requirements, please visit our admissions page.
Is the program designed for students to work at their own pace?
The online Master of Data Science curriculum is designed so you can work 100% online at your own pace, but with some structure. You will find that the course lecture material and content is available for you to work through on your own schedule. However, there are due dates for all assignments and graded work. Content is released on a specific schedule so that you will move through the course with your cohort.
We consider the interaction between faculty and students and peer student interaction to be crucial components to graduate learning and overall student success. For this reason, students should be prepared to engage with faculty and with each other throughout the program.
What is the cost of the program per credit hour?
Students in the program will pay the standard Rice University part-time online Engineering rate of $1,666.70 per credit hour. The program requires a minimum of 31 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
Is financial aid available for the online Master of Science in Data Science program?
Because the online Master of Data Science program is a non-thesis (non-research) degree, Rice University does not offer financial aid or tuition assistance. Corporate and merit-based scholarships are sometimes available, and all accepted students are eligible to apply. Students are also encouraged to visit the Rice Office of Student Financial Services for more information about loans and outside sources of aid.
What topics will be covered as part of the course curriculum?
The curriculum for the online Master of Data Science program is a rigorous blend of courses in computer science, management, ethics, communications and statistics. You will be able to complement your core courses with a specialization in business analytics or machine learning. More specializations, such as bioinformatics, are planned future offerings. You can further customize your data science master’s curriculum by selecting an elective in ethics, cybersecurity, or security and privacy.
If you’d like to learn more about our program, visit our curriculum page.
What is the difference between data science and data analytics?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between data science and data analytics. Data analysts focus on analyzing vast amounts of data to discern patterns that can be used in effective business decision-making. Data scientists know how to develop and apply analytical tools and build automation systems and frameworks to structure data, mine it, explain it and offer insight into how the data informs business decisions.
What is the length of the online Master of Data Science program?
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.
Starting with the Fall 2022 intake, students who are not working will be welcome to attend the program full-time, which would allow them to complete the program in 18-24 months (pending strength of prerequisites at time of admission).
How do I apply for the online Master of Data Science program?
Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. The program has three intakes per year, so you are able to choose the start date that works best for you (Fall, Spring or Summer). Application requirements include:
- Two letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with your professional experience, and technical and communication ability
- CV or resume
- Statement of purpose
- Undergraduate transcripts
- TOEFL/IELTS score if your native language is not English
- GRE scores are recommended but if an applicant has relative work experience as indicated by the resume and letters of recommendation, this requirement may be waived
- Application fee of $85
Can I work while pursuing an online Master of Data Science at Rice University?
Yes. Working students may complete their degree part-time over approximately 2.5 - 3 years, while maintaining full-time jobs. Starting with the Fall 2022 intake, we'll offer the option to complete the program full-time in approximately 18-24 months for students taking a hiatus from work (pending strength of prerequisites at time of admission).
To learn more about our programs for working professionals, visit our student experience page.
Is the GRE required?
The GRE is recommended for all applicants, but is not required. If you have strong math skills and relative work experience as indicated by the resume and letters of recommendation, this requirement may be waived.
Visit our admissions page to learn more about application requirements.