Admission Requirements: Online Master of Data Science



Academic Requirements & Prerequisites

With the exponential rise in hiring demand for Data Scientists and related professions, the online Master of Data Science program is ideal for a range of students - career changers, working professionals who want to stand apart from their competition and get better jobs, recent college graduates who want to improve society with big data, and more. With a rigorous curriculum and individualized learning experience from world-class faculty who care about you, Rice’s Data Science graduate students gain valuable skills and experience in a fully-online, flexible and convenient environment. Upon completing the program, alumni will possess the practical, industry experience and high-demand knowledge and skills required to realize their career goals in the exciting and lucrative field of Data Science. Please find the online Master of Data Science admission requirements below and apply online today.

To qualify for the Online Master of Data Science program, prospective students must have a Bachelor’s degree, however, it is not a requirement that this degree must be in a computational field. A solid mathematical background is recommended along with some foundational knowledge of computer programming (for example, Python). Learn more about program prerequisites, requirements, and available prep courses below.


Earning Your Degree Online Starts Here

Join other working professionals to build your data science skills to advance your career and increase your earning potential.



The GRE is not required for admission to the online Master of Science in Data Science program. Instead, your work experience will be evaluated.



The online MDS program offers three start dates a year: fall, spring and summer. Choose the start date that works best for your schedule.



Online application to the program is fast and easy. We receive a large volume of applications. Plan to submit your application as early as possible to avoid delays in processing.


Prerequisites for MDS@Rice

A Completed Bachelor’s Degree

All candidates must have a Bachelor's degree, but it is not a strict requirement that it be in a computational field.

Mathematical Sophistication

You will be taught the relevant statistics and mathematics necessary to succeed in data science. However, this material can be complex, especially if you do not have an appropriate mathematical background, specifically high-school level algebra and trigonometry, college-level calculus, basic discrete math skills, and boolean logic. If you need a refresh in mathematics or programming, learn more about our online Data Science Bridge Course.

Programming Foundations

MDS@Rice students will learn how to program as part of the curriculum, including programming languages like Python, R, and SQL among others. Some foundational knowledge or a background in programming may help students feel more comfortable completing their coursework, however, prior programming knowledge is not required. While data science does involve some coding, students will not be required to possess advanced coding or software engineering skills.

Students interested in the MDS@Rice program who feel they may need a refresher in foundational topics can also enroll in the online Data Science Bridge Course. This 6-week-mini-course covers essential foundational materials in calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, and programming basics, including algorithms and data structures with practice in Python language.

Test Scores

  • GRE: Effective in 2021, the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is no longer required for admission to the online Master of Data Science program, though it is recommended. This is in recognition of the fact that the GRE may be a significant obstacle for working professionals applying to graduate programs. If you are able to take the GRE, please submit your scores with your application. If GRE results are absent from an application, work experience will be evaluated instead. You may submit your GRE scores sent directly to Rice University using code: 6609 (GRE subject tests are not required).
  • TOEFL Scores: Applicants who are foreign nationals or whose native language is not English must take either the TOEFL or IELTS test and must score at least 90 on the iBT TOEFL. For those students who choose to take the IELTS in lieu of TOEFL, the minimum score is 7. The TOEFL school code for Rice is 6609. The TOEFL and IELTS are not necessary for an international student who has received a degree from a university in which English is the official language of communication.

Required Application Material

  1. Recommendations should be requested from at least 3 individuals. Recommendation letters should be requested from at least three individuals. These letters should be from professors, research advisors, direct supervisors or others familiar with your relevant educational or professional experiences and your interest in data science. Please do not submit letters from friends or colleagues. You may submit more than three letters, but at least three are required with your application. Visit the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Admissions page for additional information.
  2. Transcripts and Unofficial transcripts may be submitted with your application. Both official and unofficial transcripts may be submitted with your application. Upon acceptance into the program, you will be asked to send official transcripts. In addition, please submit a current CV or resume with your application.
  3. Have your GRE scores sent directly to Rice University using code: 6609 (GRE subject tests are not required). If an applicant has relevant industry experience, the Admission Committee will factor in work experience and the recommendation of your current supervisor in lieu of GRE scores when evaluating the application.
  4. A Statement of Purpose is required for all applicants. This statement should clearly and succinctly summarize your past academic and professional experience and achievements, discuss your motivation for seeking the MDS degree, and explain your interest in data science and goals for applying the discipline to real-world challenges and for advancing your career. You should also briefly discuss any other factors you would like the Admission Committee to consider while reviewing your application (e.g. personal background, work experience, leadership roles, etc.).
  5. TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for any applicants who are foreign nationals or whose native language is not English. The code to send the electronic scores is: 6609. TOEFL score, the minimum is 90 on the iBT & 600 on the paper-based TOEFL. IELTS score, the minimum is 7. This requirement is automatically waived for eligible applicants who upload their transcripts from an English-speaking university into this application showing a degree in progress or conferred.
  6. A current CV or resume is required to be submitted with your application.
  7. You're ready for admission! Make sure to include your application fee of $85.00 upon submission.

MDS@Rice Tuition

Students in the online Master of Science in 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.

Ready to Apply?



Important Dates

We offer three intakes per year, so choose the best time to start for you:

SUMMER 2022 March 1, 2022 May 2, 2022
FALL 2022 July 1, 2022 August 22, 2022
SPRING 2023 November 1, 2022 January 9, 2023



Request Information

Send us your information and a Rice Enrollment Coach will follow up with you.