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Prospective Data Science Masters Student FAQs

Q: Does my undergraduate degree have to be in data science?

A: No. However, most successful applicants are expected to have a degree in data science, computer science, information, engineering, physics, statistics or mathematics. Your application should demonstrate that you have sufficient preparation to succeed in the required courses for the degree program.

Q: Is there also a Ph.D. program in Data Science?
A: No. If you decide to continue for a PhD, you would do so by applying to a disciplinary program with one of the four sponsoring units, or others.

Q: What should I do if my recommender has not received my online invitation to recommend me?
A: This tends to be a problem with a recommender's email account set up. The emailed invitation is either blocked or automatically filtered into a junk mail folder. An applicant can check the status of their recommendations, resend a recommendation request, and even change a recommender if the recommendation is not yet started via an applicant's Personal Activity page. This page may be accessed under the Manage Your Account section of your online application homepage and by clicking on the Review Your Activity link. Once the application is submitted, the online application cannot be modified. Please refer to the application instructions for more details.

Q: Is it possible for me to update my application after it has been submitted?
A: No, this is not possible. You should include all relevant information in your application before you submit it.

The only exceptions are new GRE and/or TOEFL scores. If you retake a test after you submit the application, but before a final decision is communicated to you, have the official score(s) reported to the University. However, due to the review timeline and the large number of applications, it is not guaranteed that new test scores will be included in an application before it is reviewed.

Q: Do you accept transfer credit?
A: Please refer to the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies for rules about transfer of credit into the Master's degree program.

Q: Do you have part-time or evening programs?
A: Our program is intended for full-time students. You may optionally choose a part-time schedule of one course per term. Students working full-time would need cooperation from their employer. Only some classes are offered in the evening.

Q: Can you waive or defer the application fee?
Unfortunately, the Data Science program is unable to waive or defer the fee. The application fee is determined by the graduate school. It has a fee waiver system where you could apply, at

Q: What documents or standardized tests are necessary for applying?
A: We require official transcripts from undergraduate and any other graduate degree programs and two letters of recommendation. We also require TOEFL scores for most international students. GRE scores are optional: we do not require them, but will consider them if you provide them. Please follow the application instructions carefully.

Q: What is the institution code for the GRE and TOEFL?
A: The institution code for both the GRE and the TOEFL is 1839.

Q: Can the TOEFL be waived in certain cases for non-native English speakers?
A: Yes; please refer to these Rackham guidelines.

Q: Who should write my recommendation letters?
A: Your letter writers should be people with whom you have worked closely, and who are familiar with your academic work. We suggest that at least one of the recommendation letters be from academia.

Q: I have been in the work force for several years. Should I ask my employer or supervisors to write letters in support of my application?
A: In a case like this, we suggest that you receive at least one letter from a faculty member who knew you well, and the other from an employer. When in doubt, remember that our admissions committee wants to know about your ability to succeed in challenging coursework and projects. Primarily character references do not carry as much weight.

Q: When will I receive my decision notification?
A: The faculty make admission offers in March and April. You will be notified by letter or email as soon as decision has been reached.

Q: Will I be notified if something is missing from my application?
A: If something is missing from your file that is necessary for our decision, we will contact you regarding the missing item.

Q: How can I stay informed about the status of my application?
A: There is an on-line process for checking application status through the Rackham Graduate School. However, this will only indicate whether a decision has been made.

If something is missing from your file that is necessary for our decision, we will contact you regarding the missing item, and we will inform you as soon as an admission decision has been made. If you have serious concerns about the status of your application, please contact the Data Science graduate program office at the email address at the bottom of this page. Please understand that we receive a huge volume of inquiries and may be unable to respond immediately. Thank you for your patience.

Q: Can my friend/relative call and find out my status for me?
A: If you would like to give someone permission to contact us on your behalf, you must indicate this on your application before you submit it.

Q: Can my materials be returned to me?
A: Sorry, no. We are unable to return or forward any submitted documents.

Q: Can I defer my admission?
A: Deferral requests are reviewed and approved by the Admissions Committee. An admitted student may make a written request to defer admission for one year to the Data Science program office. International students must first submit financial support documentation to the Rackham Graduate School before the deferral request can be considered. Please be aware that deferrals are for admission status only; financial aid offers may not be deferred.

Q: How can I unlock my U of M Friend Account?
A: Only Rackham Admissions can unlock a Friend Account. Please send an email to indicating that your Friend Account is locked. The email should include your name, UMID, and email registered in the Friend Account.

Q: Whom can I contact if I have a specific question?
A: If you have a specific question that is not answered here, please contact the Data Science Graduate Program office via email at