Online Master of Data Science
Degree Program



Online Data Science Master's Degree

Data scientists are not just statisticians, computer scientists or mathematicians, but highly sought-after individuals with expertise in all of these areas, as well as the ability to answer complex, strategic business questions using big data. With an online data science masters, you can break into one of the world’s fastest growing fields. As the demand for data scientists increases, an advanced Master's degree opens doors to every sector undergoing digital transformation, including tech, energy, healthcare, professional services and more.







Here's what working professionals will appreciate about the online Master of Data Science at Rice University:

  • Same online and in-person degrees
  • A robust, interdisciplinary data science curriculum taught by world-class faculty who care about you
  • A stronger resume and more employment options upon completion of the program
  • Customizable, specialized degrees with expected completion for part-time students in 2-3.5 years (or 18-24 months full-time starting Fall '22)
  • Access to the Data to Knowledge Lab and real-world big data challenges
  • Best-in-class online teaching platform

As a reputable, top-ranked university in Houston, TX, we’re committed to providing a superior data science education to our students through innovative research collaborations and by the means of our trusted faculty and staff.


Our Rankings

#1 Top Computer & Information Sciences Schools in Texas

Top Computer & Information Sciences Schools in Texas


#1 Best Statistics Master's Degree School in Texas

Best Statistics Master's Degree School in Texas


#3 Best Statistics Master's Degree Schools

Best Statistics Master's Degree Schools


#4 Best Computer Information Systems Master's Degree School

Best Computer Information Systems Master's Degree School


6 Online Business Analytics Courses from the #12 Ranked Online MBA Business Analytics Program

Online Business Analytics Courses from the #12 Ranked Online MBA Business Analytics Program


13 CS, Math & Engineering Specialties in the Top 30

CS, Math & Engineering Specialties in the Top 30


Source: College Factual (2022), US News & World Report (2022)

A female rice university student wearing a blue shirt, applications are open for the mds program.

Applications Open for Spring 2023

Applications for the online Master’s degree in Data Science are being accepted for the Spring 2023 cohorts. All required application materials must be submitted online by November 1, 2022. To learn more about applying to our online Master of Data Science program or see future intake dates, please visit our Admissions page.


An Interdisciplinary Curriculum Designed to Solve Business Problems

Rice's online Master of Data Science program is designed to support the needs of working professionals who want to apply data science and data analytics knowledge, theory and techniques to solve difficult, real-world problems, beginning with raw, unstructured data and ending with actionable insights. Discover the difference between Rice University’s online data science masters and other comparable programs.


An Immersive Data Science Education

Program participants will develop a graduate-level understanding of the computational and statistical foundations of data science, including the use of data analytics to extract big data insights. Through in-depth study, online Master of Data Science students obtain mastery of either one of the core methods of data science or one application area of data science. As a leading research institution, students pursuing the online Master of Data Science program at Rice will gain immersive, experiential learning through the Capstone Project.


Business Analytics and Machine Learning Specializations

Online MDS students can choose between relevant specializations in either machine learning or business analytics. Within these concentrations, you will develop the necessary technical skills needed to improve machine learning and AI or help executives make data-driven decisions using big data, data analytics, and data visualization.


Flexible & Convenient Pacing, Customizable Education Paths

The online Master of Data Science program is designed for non-traditional graduate students who need to balance their educational goals while working and/or raising families. You’ll be able to maintain your work-life schedule while earning your degree part-time in our best-in-class flexible and engaging learning format. Part-time students can expect to complete the flexible online MDS program within 2 - 3.5 years, and starting in Fall 2022, students may complete the program full-time in 18-24 months with strong prerequisites.




An Epicenter of Innovation

Engineer checking robotics automation machine in intelligent factory industrial on real time monitoring system software. Digital manufacturing application.

Students will benefit from Rice University’s stature within Houston, Texas: Energy Capital of the World. Leveraging employer relationships within the Energy industry, Aerospace industry and Texas Medical Center in Houston, students will apply their knowledge to real-world applications like the Energy Transition, space robotics, and breakthrough biomedical innovations.

With Rice at the nexus of these influential industries, our online MDS students can leverage professional opportunities and resources, including:

- Connection to The Ion and networking opportunities within Houston’s entrepreneurship community

- Opportunities to collaborate with Fortune 500 companies, Rice Faculty and researchers, government, and non-profits 


man on a laptop sitting at a table learning online courses

Best-in-Class Online Learning

Consider the benefits of achieving your Master of Data Science degree online from Rice: a best-in-class flexible and engaging learning format. In our online Master of Data Science programs, your classes are led by distinguished Computer Science Department faculty and enhanced by interdepartmental and intercollegiate experts. Learn from professionals in small class groups and via 1:1 faculty interactions. You will gain real-world skills that support your career goals.

Online Master of Data Science Information Sessions

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Get in touch with an Enrollment Coach to learn more about the Online MDS program and to get your questions answered.



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.

SPRING 2023 November 1, 2022 January 9, 2023
SUMMER 2023 March 1, 2023 May 1, 2023
FALL 2023 July 1, 2023 August 21, 2023



Industry-Leading Faculty

Rice’s multidisciplinary data science faculty are experts in a variety of areas, including computer science, statistics, electrical and computer engineering, and business. In addition to core coursework in programming, data analytics, statistics, data visualization, machine learning and big data, our faculty will also provide instruction in other key areas, including:

  • Ethics in data science
  • Deep learning and network science
  • Image processing and medical imaging
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data-driven marketing, finance and operations management



What does the online Master of Data Science program 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.

Are scholarships, discounts or financial aid available?

Yes, alumni of Rice University receive 10% off the cost of tuition for the Online Master of Data Science. Visit the Rice Alumni financial offers page for further details.

Because the Master of Data Science (MDS) is a non-thesis (non-research) degree, Rice University does not offer tuition waivers, stipends, fellowships, or assistantships for this program. Corporate and employer 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.

How do I decide between Rice's Master of Data Science and the Master of Computer Science?

Data scientists are part statisticians, part mathematicians, and part computer scientists, but above all, they love the idea of leveraging data to form hypotheses and uncover answers, solve big problems, and make strategic recommendations to improve their organizations and society.

If, however, you prefer the prospect of engineering and building technologies like machine learning to create advanced software systems and digital innovations (for example, machine learning algorithms, autonomous vehicles), the Master of Computer Science may be right for you. Prospective students for the MCS program should have programming experience, although a CS background is not required with sufficient prerequisites.

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.

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

Master of Data Science applicants do not have to have a computational 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.

How long does it take to complete 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 upon admission).



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