Who should apply for the Data Science Institute academic programs?

Anyone interested in advancing their career or changing career paths by developing data science skills is encouraged to apply.

What are the eligibility requirements for the Data Science Institute academic programs?

Successful applicants for both the Master of Science in Data Science and Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences programs should have:

  • an undergraduate degree
  • prior quantitative coursework (i.e., linear algebra, probability/statistics, etc.)
  • prior introductory to computer programming coursework (i.e., Python, Java, C+, etc.)

We often have prospective students ask about how they should meet the required quantitative or computer programming prerequisites if they have not previously completed formal credit-bearing coursework. Many applicants often ask about completing MOOC courses as a means of meeting the prerequisites. While these strategies are encouraged, keep in mind that the admissions process is competitive. Faculty reviewers will often place more weight on formal coursework (or work experience) over MOOCs.  That being said, MOOCs are routinely used to supplement learning and/or serve as a refresher course for many of our students.

Is an engineering undergraduate degree required?

Applicants are not required to have a degree in engineering; preparation in the field of data science is acceptable.

How long will it take for a full-time student to complete the Master’s program?

Since the Master of Science in Data Science is a 30-credit degree program, most full-time students complete the program in three semesters (12 credits in the fall, 12 credits in the spring, and 6 credits in the fall). Students must complete the program in five years. Please note that international students must be enrolled on a full-time basis, which is at least 12 credits per semester.

How long does it take to complete the Certification program?

Typically, students complete the four-course, non-degree granting program in two semesters, completing two courses in the fall and two in the spring.

When does the fall semester start?

The fall semester starts in early September. Please refer to the University’s academic calendar for exact dates.

Is work experience required?

While many of our students have work experience, it is not required.

What are the minimum GRE, GPA, and/or TOEFL scores required for admission?

There are no set minimum scores for admission; applicant scores and grades will be evaluated in the context of other applicants. That being said, many applicants often ask about average scores for the those previously offered admission (Fall 2017):

  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.7
  • Average GRE:  166 (Q), 157 (V), 3.8 (W)
  • Average TOEFL: 106.5

Our faculty review applicants' materials as a whole, not simply a measure of scores. We encourage all applicants to put their 'best foot foward' by ensuring they place equal focus on all of the required materials, including but not limited to: captivating personal statements, strong letters of recommendation, etc.

Are international students eligible to apply to the Data Science Institute academic programs?

Master of Science: Yes, the M.S. program is a full-time degree program and thus qualifies for a visa.

Certification of Professional Achievement: The Certification program, as a part-time non-degree program, does not qualify for a visa for students to come to Columbia from abroad. However, as of the Fall 2016 term, the program is now offered as an online program. Join us from anywhere in the world!

Is there a spring admissions cycle?

Applications for new students are accepted for the Fall semester due to the rotation of the core courses (and required prerequisites). Current Columbia students in other programs looking to transfer may be eligible to apply for a spring term admission; eligibility inquiries should be directed to our office (212) 854-0310.

Are students who have completed three-year degree programs eligible to apply?

Yes, students who have graduated from a three-year degree-granting program are eligible to apply to the M.S. in Data Science program.

May I apply to both the Master of Science and Certification of Professional Achievement programs?

No, applicants can apply to only one program in Columbia Engineering at a time. If applicants apply to more than one program per term their applications may be invalidated.

Are current Columbia students able to apply?

Columbia does not allow students to be jointly registered in more than one program at a time. We do however welcome applications from current Columbia students exploring the possibility of a transfer to our program. Non-admitted students may register for our program's courses, space permitting, and with faculty/advisor approval; note, however, that such students will not be eligible to receive a Certification or Master degree when enrolled in another program at Columbia University.

If I am denied admission, can I apply again?

Yes, you may apply again by submitting a new application and supplemental material. 

If I am denied admission, will I be told why?

Unfortunately, due to a high volume of applications, reviewers cannot provide feedback on why an application was rejected.

If I am admitted, can I defer admission?

No, Columbia Engineering does not allow admission deferrals. To be considered for a future term, you may reactivate your application for up to one year. The application fee will be waived and you may use previous application material. Please contact us to reactivate an application.

How do I apply to the Data Science Institute academic programs?

For the on-campus programs, applications must be submitted via our online application system. Please refer to the Application Questions and the Office of Graduate Student Affairs for further information. For the online program, applications must be submitted through Columbia Video Network (CVN).

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