International Applicants

UMBC’s Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Data Science program prepares students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds for careers in data science. In the core courses, students get a fundamental understanding of data science through classes that highlight machine learning, data analysis, data management, and ethical and legal implications surrounding data science.

Courses and Pathways

Students are required to take ten courses to earn their professional master’s degree. Seven of these ten courses are

  • DATA 601 – Introduction to Data Science

  • DATA 602 – Introduction to Data Analysis and Machine Learning

  • DATA 603 – Platforms for Big Data Processing

  • DATA 604 – Data Management

  • DATA 605 – Ethical and Legal Issues in Data Science (Online)

  • DATA 606 – Capstone in Data Science

  • ENMG 652 – Management Leadership and Communications

Please visit our program website to read course descriptions. More detailed information can be found here.

In addition, students take three courses in domain-specific pathways developed in collaboration with academic departments across the university. Through these pathways enable students to utilize the skills and techniques they learned in the core courses within their own field or area of expertise. Please visit our pathways page to learn more about them and the courses offered in these pathways.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply for the Master of Professional Studies: Data Science program?

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

Is MPS (Master of Professional Studies) the same as MS (Master of Science)?

No. Please visit this page where we discuss differences between MPS and MS.

What kinds of jobs can someone with a master’s degree in data science do?

Please read this collaged article: https://dil.umbc.edu/jobs-you-can-do-with-a-master/

What are the eligibility requirements Master of Professional Studies: Data Science program?

Successful applicants should have:

  • An undergraduate degree

  • GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) or higher

  • Competency in Calculus, Statistics, and basic programming.

  • English proficiency score

How is applicants’ competency in calculus, statistics, or basic programming assessed?

We examine students’ transcripts and expect a grade of B or higher in courses related to these three subjects.

What can applicants do if they do not meet some of the requirements?

Candidates, without previous education on calculus, statistics, or basic programming, might consider taking such courses at UMBC, or nearby schools, or even online platforms such as edX and Coursera.

We also have three foundational data science courses to teach these subjects. These courses are:

  • Statistical Analysis and Visualization with Python

  • Data Structures and Algorithms in Python

  • Mathematical Foundations of Machine Learning

If an applicant is missing one of these subjects, then they can take the corresponding course in their first semester at UMBC.

Does UMBC offer undergraduate-level courses that will satisfy the prerequisites for the program? If so, what are these courses?

If the candidate is interested in taking these courses at UMBC, we recommend them to take Math 151, Stat 355, and CMSC 201 (Python section) to meet the pre-requirements. Some other recommendations (including online courses) can be found at our GitHub page: https://github.com/UMBC-Data-Science/Welcome.

Where can I take the prerequisite undergraduate-level courses if I can’t take them at UMBC?

Due to their lower fees, community colleges might be a good alternative. Near our main campus, the Community College of Baltimore Country offers Math 251 and Math 153, which helps students to meet our calculus and stats prerequisites. Similarly, Montgomery College offers MATH 181 and MATH 117 near our Shady Grove campus. Students, who are interested in taking online courses, might consider the University of Maryland Global Campus’ MATH 140 and STAT 200 courses.

Will you accept courses taken on sites like Coursera and edX in fulfillment of the prerequisite requirements?

Yes, we will accept online courses with a verified certificate in fulfillment of the prerequisite requirements. Visit our GitHub page: https://github.com/UMBC-Data-Science/Welcome for some recommendations.

Do you admit students for summer sessions?

No. We only admit students for the Fall and Spring semesters.

Is GRE required?

No.

Is there a thesis requirement?

No, there is no formal thesis defense. However, the MPS DS includes a semester-long capstone project which involves significant research and writing.

Is work experience required?

No.

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 admitted, can I defer admission?

Students can defer their admission for a semester. Please contact datascience-mps@umbc.edu for additional details.

What kind of documents are required for application?

Your application should include the following documents: (Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. If you already have started an application, you can finish up)

  • Statement outlining your goals and expectations in the program. This also is an opportunity for you to further explain your background and qualifications for the program and provide any additional information about you or your experience which will help with the evaluation of your application.

  • Current resume (When applying online, upload your resume to the graduate school application.)

  • Transcript(s) from each college & university attended

  • 2 reference letters

  • International Students: TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test score

  • Non-refundable application fee ($50 online)

How do I apply?

By submitting an online application. Here’re the specific steps:

  • Go to the application website

    • Select proposed program Data Science >> Data Science (PRST MPS)

    • Choose the campus you want to study. (Main campus is recommended for international students).

    • Submit your statement of goals as an attachment in the “Academic Goals and Research Interests” section.

    • Submit your resume.
    • Even though there is a section for Financial Assistance, we do not offer any kind of assistantship for MPS students.

    • Next -> Next -> Provide information about your references.

    • Next -> Answer the questions.

    • Review and submit.

  • Request official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions to be sent to our mailing address provided below or emailed to gradschool@umbc.edu.

If you get admitted to our program and decide to join us, then we will need official copies of your ELC scores and transcripts.

  • Request for TOEFL to be sent by ETS to UMBC (code 5835). If you have taken IELTS or PTE, please request them to mail your result to us. Our mailing address is provided below.

  • Request official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions to be sent to our mailing address provided below or emailed to gradschool@umbc.edu.

Mailing Address

UMBC Graduate School, MPS: Data Science

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, MD 21250, USA

When is the application deadline?

For international students, June 1 and November 1 are the application deadlines for the Fall and Spring semesters, respectively.

Is it possible to waive the TOEFL or IELTS scores?

Applicants who earned their undergraduate degree in a country in which English is not the official and spoken language must take either the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic test. Only one test is required. An exception is made for applicants who have earned or will complete a master’s degree in the United States before enrollment.

What is the minimum TOEFL score that you will accept?

90 (In each section, we require 22 or higher)

What is UMBC’s institution code for the TOEFL?

5835

What is the minimum IELTS score that you will accept?

6.5 (In each section, we require 6.5 or higher)

What is the minimum PTE score that you will accept?

62

Do you accept online tests provided by Duolingo?

Yes, we accept Duolingo test results for Spring 22 applicants. The minimum score needed is 115.

I took an ELC exam many years ago, would you accept it?

Scores must be less than two years old.

How long does the program take to complete?

International students need to take at least 9 credits every semester (except the last one) due to their F1 status. Hence our international student generally earn their degrees in 3 or 4 semesters.

Can I get my certificate in addition to my Master’s?

Yes, you can. Please visit this page to learn the details. Note that per Graduate School policy, you must have a B or higher in all certificate courses to earn the certificate and must maintain a B average to graduate with the MPS degree.

Will students’ schedules be flexible?

All the Data Science classes are held in the evenings or taught online so that working professionals have great flexibility in terms of choosing their courses. If a student is available only for evening classes, then s/he can complete the program with courses offered by MPS (i.e. Data Science, Cybersecurity, Project Management, Management Science, Bioinformatics, and Health IT). Other pathway courses (offered by Computer Science, Information Systems, and Public Policy) might take place during the daytime; so students need to adjust their schedules.

What degree will be written on the diploma?

The diploma will specifically have a “Master of Professional Studies” degree.

May students participate in the on-campus graduation ceremony?

Yes, they may.

Are there some online classes?

Yes, we offer at least one online section of all the core data science courses (e.g. Data 601-606). International students need to take at least one in-person class due to visa regulations.

What is the expected class size?

25 students or less.

What does the class schedule look like?

Classes run during the evenings Monday through Thursday.

Are summer courses offered?

Yes, we generally offer a few courses (either 6, 8, or 12 weeks) over the summer session. Consult the Schedule of Classes for information on times and locations. Summer courses may meet more frequently due to the shortened summer schedule.

Do I have to take 3 courses in the summer?

No.

Can I take courses both at UMBC’s Main Campus and the Universities at Shady Grove?

Yes.

Is there a difference between the coursework and the faculty that is provided at the main and Shady Grove campuses?

The same set of courses are taught by different faculty members. However, sometimes a faculty, who teaches a course on the main campus, teaches the same course at the Shady Grove campus (or vice versa) next semester.

Is the MPS DS program considered a STEM program?

Yes, our MPS DS program is eligible for the STEM OPT extension.

Universities are required by various agencies and accreditors to assign a CIP code to each program of study they offer. The CIP code for MPS Data Science is 11.082 which is included on the DHS list of STEM extension eligible programs.

Can international students gain real-world experience, i.e. internship?

Yes, see the question/answer below.

Are international students of the MPS DS program eligible for CPT and OPT?

International graduates typically apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training) after they graduate. International students can apply for CPT (Curricular Practical Training) as well after completing two full semesters. If you are interested in this option, please contact the Program Director as soon as possible. Please direct all further questions regarding CPT, OPT, or STEM to the Office of International Education Services.

Students need to complete two full semesters before they can start working. So this means that if you a student starts in the Fall semester, then that student can work in the summer of the following year. However, if a student starts in the Spring semester, then that student cannot work in the summer of that year.

Where can I find the MPS in Data Science curriculum?

Visit our “Course Descriptions” page.

What are the programming languages used in the program?

The main programming language of the program is Python.

Can I transfer graduate credits from another institution into the UMBC Data Science Program?

You may be able to transfer up to six graduate credit hours earned from another institution into a UMBC Data Science program. Contact the Graduate Program Director to discuss your situation and be sure to include a complete course description. A 3.0 GPA is required for each course transferred. Once you are admitted and an enrolled student in UMBC’s program, you must complete and submit a Transfer of Credit Request Form.

What is the total cost of the program? 

Our program requires 30-credits to obtain an MPS degree. The tuition and fees differ based on students’ residency and where they take courses (i.e. at Main Campus or at Shady Grove campus). Please visit Student Business Services’ website for up-to-date information.

Is financial aid available?

No

Does the program offer any scholarships?

No.

Does the program offer teaching assistantships or research assistantships?

No. As the Data Science program, unfortunately, we don’t have any sort of financial aid (neither a scholarship nor an assistantship). A few of our students currently work as research assistants for CS and IS professors but their number is low compared to the total number of international students.

We hire a few of our senior students (who completed Data 601-604) as tutors/graders but the amount we pay is low compared to assistantships.

Some of our students were able to find internships and full-time jobs through UMBC Career Center’s website. Some other students found jobs on campus through UMBCWORKS. However, you’ll need a UMBC account to log in.

When is my tuition payment due?

Your bill for your tuition and fees each semester is only generated when you register for classes. You can use the billing calendar to see the schedule of when your bill will be generated, and when it is due, based on when you register each semester.

  • Please note that bills are only generated in your MyUMBC account – you will not receive a paper bill in the mail. You can see your bill by logging into your MyUMBC account, and under the Topics menu, choose Billing and Personal Finances. You can click on Payments and Billing to see your bill, or click on Account Inquiry to see a live balance, which will reflect recent transactions before your actual bill is updated.

  • Bills can be paid in a number of ways, including those listed here on SBS’s website.

  • If your family or another individual should have access to your bill, you can set up a “parent PIN” that allows another person to have access to your bill. PIN stands for Personal Identification Number. Log in to your MyUMBC account, click on Topics, then Billing and Personal Finances, then Payments and Billing, then click on “create new” under the Parent PIN section.

  • If your bill is paid by an outside organization, such as a scholarship from your home government, you can learn more about connecting your financial sponsor to UMBC here.

I’m planning to pay my tuition costs using a bank loan, but my bank will only grant me a loan after I receive admission. What can I do?

There is no problem from our end. If you meet the admission criteria, then we’ll admit you and you will have time to take care of such issues.

If I decide to drop off a course or leave the program, can I get my money back?

The answer depends on the timing of your decision. If you apply for a refund in the first week of that semester, you will get a full refund. Later in the semester, the less refund you will get. Please visit Student Business Services’ website for details.

Can I change my program from Data Science to another one?

You can after completing one semester. The Graduate School does not consider a program plan change request until the student has at least one semester of courses completed.  Any program plan change request needs to be approved by multiple academic departments, including the student’s current program, as well as the program to which the student is requesting the change. Grades, course relevance, and other factors will be considered before any change is approved. Newly admitted graduate students are not eligible for a program plan change.