Carnegie Mellon University


Below are the most commonly asked questions about the M.S. in Data Analytics for Science program. Scroll down the page or jump to one of the following categories:

Have additional questions? Contact us any time!

Program Questions

What makes the M.S. in Data Analytics for Science (MSDAS) program unique and how does it compare with a general data science graduate program?

Unlike most data science programs that emanate from a computer science, engineering or statistics department that typically attracts students with these background, the MSDAS is specifically designed for students with an undergraduate degree in the sciences who want to be well-equipped to apply modern machine learning and AI tools to further advance the field of life and physical sciences. Further, the program leverages the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s (PSC) advanced computing environment, faculty expertise and robust scientific datasets as a crucial component of the program’s instruction.

What programming languages are taught in the MSDAS program?

While Python is the primary language of instruction in the MSDAS program, students will also be introduced to other programming languages such as SQL for data querying, and R for statistical analysis and visualization.

Can I take other CMU courses beyond the MSDAS program requirements?

Students have the option in the second semester to take one, pre-approved elective course offered through one of the four departments in the Mellon College of Science. Students will need to secure permission from the Director of Graduate Programs to take any coursework beyond the program requirements.

Can I exempt from any required courses?

Students are strongly advised to take all required courses. However, individuals with strong mathematical training in linear algebra may place out of the Linear Algebra for Data Science course, but need to satisfy the total unit requirement for graduation.

For non-US Citizens, is the MS-DAS program a STEM designated program eligible for the OPT STEM Extension?

Yes, the MS-DAS program is a designated STEM program and qualifies students for the 24-month STEM OPT extension. The CMU Office of International Education can assist you in this process. 

Admissions Questions

Do I need to have prior programming experience?

While students are not expected to have a deep programming background prior to matriculating, it is expected that students will have completed an introductory Python programming course OR be able to demonstrate the equivalent level of knowledge through personal/professional experience. Students lacking Python experience may still be admitted but will be expected to remediate this prior to matriculating.

Are there any math or statistics pre-requisites for the program?

The level of mathematics will vary among the students in each entering class. Most successful candidates will have completed courses up through linear algebra, with mathematical probability and advanced calculus being helpful but not expected. While students will be required to complete a course on Mathematics for Data Science as part of the required curriculum, students are expected to have a basic understanding of linear algebra concepts prior to matriculation. In particular, a basic understanding of vectors, matrices, inverses, norms, eigenvalue, and eigenvectors will be expected before the first semester.

A basic understanding of statistical practices is helpful, but not required. Students will be required to complete Essentials of Statistical Practice for Graduate Students which will provide a high-level introduction to statistical methods including R programming.

What are you looking for in a successful candidate?

We are seeking students with a degree in the foundational sciences (biology, chemistry, math or physics) or a related degree interest, who want to strengthen their knowledge of data analytics  and apply those skills to science research or development.

Is there an application fee and when is the deadline to apply?

There is no application fee, and we recommend that candidates apply by January 15, 2023 for the Fall 2023 entering class. We will accept applications thereafter on a rolling basis. Click here to access the online application system.

Who should I select as my recommenders and is there a format required for online recommendation letters?

You are required to submit three (3) letters of recommendation to be considered for admission to the MSDAS program. These should be written by professional or academic references who can speak to the quality of your previous work and your potential for success in a computational and analytical graduate program. 

Your recommenders will receive a link to submit the online recommendation and upload a formal letter of recommendation once you have supplied the recommender’s contact information in the online application system.

Are GRE scores required? What is the English language test policy for non-native English speakers?

We do not require nor collect GRE general or subject test scores.

The M.S. in Data Analytics for Science program requires non-native English language speakers to submit an official score of one of our accepted English language proficiency tests – Duolingo English Test, TOEFL or IELTS. 

Exceptions to this policy will not be granted except in the case of non-native English speakers who have completed or expect to complete a 4-year undergraduate degree in the United States. These candidates ,may use a prior score, including the test score used for the undergraduate application. Please include a copy of your prior score report in the optional materials section of the application.

Financial Questions

How much is tuition?

For tuition purposes, we are in Mellon College of Sciences. A complete list of graduate tuition and cost of attendance information may be found at Room/board and other costs are not included within this total.

Is there financial support for graduate students?

The MS-DAS is unable to provide financial support to students, but we have compiled a number of resources to assist you in finding funding opportunities on our Financial Aid page. It is advised that you review Carnegie Mellon's Enrollment Services Web site for external sources of financial aid. International students should check with their home country for additional funding opportunities and private loans. Our graduating students' high starting salaries make loan repayment very manageable.

CMU does provide support for eligible students as part of the CMU Rales Fellows ProgramCMU Rales Fellows Program is dedicated to developing a diverse community of exceptionally talented national STEM leaders from underrepresented or underresourced backgrounds by eliminating cost as a barrier to graduate education.

Is health insurance provided?

No, students must provide their own insurance. Carnegie Mellon requires full-time, degree-seeking students to enroll in the university's contracted student insurance plans or request a refund of the premium by completing a medical insurance waiver form on which they verify that their alternative insurance meets the university's mandated requirements.  Information about the insurance options available for purchase from Carnegie Mellon is found at the Student Health Services Web site.