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Data Science

The Data Science Initiative at Brown offers a master's program that will prepare students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds for distinctive careers in Data Science.

Big data is generating a fundamental revolution in many scholarly and intellectual endeavors. Large scale data sets come from digitized analog content created over centuries as well as new data from a large number of sources such as remote sensing, mobile devices, genomic studies, brain images, massive administrative databases, simulation runs, retail transactions, and cameras. These new data sets, coupled with algorithmic and statistical techniques for advanced analysis, make it possible to improve human well–being, accelerate scientific discovery, advance scholarship, and create new social and commercial value. Extracting meaning and value from increasingly complex and voluminous data requires a distinctive set of skills, methods and tools that have been woven together to form an emerging discipline called "Data Science." This new discipline integrates foundational elements from computer science, mathematics and statistics, and combines them meaningfully with deep domain–area knowledge.

The Data Science Initiative at Brown offers a master's program that prepares students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds for distinctive careers in Data Science. Rooted in a research collaboration among four very strong academic departments, the master's program offers a rigorous, distinctive, and attractive education for people building careers in Data Science and/or in Big Data Management. The program's main goal is to provide a fundamental understanding of the methods and algorithms of Data Science. This is achieved through a study of relevant topics in mathematics, statistics and computer science, including machine learning, data mining, security and privacy, visualization, and data management. The program also provides experience in important, frontline data–science problems in a variety of fields and introduces students to ethical and societal considerations surrounding data science and its applications.

The program's course structure, including the capstone experience, will ensure that the students meet the goals of acquiring and integrating foundational knowledge for data science, applying this understanding in relation to specific problems, and appreciating the broader ramifications of data–driven approaches to human activity.

Admission Information

Students entering the program will be required to have completed at least a year of calculus (at the level of MATH 0090 & 0100), a semester of linear algebra (at the level of MATH 0520), a semester of calculus–based probability and statistics (at the level of APMA 1650), and an introduction to programming (at the level of CSCI 0150 or 0170).

We also admit exceptional students who lack one or more of the minimum requirements in linear algebra, probability and statistics, and computer science.

Admitted students will consult with the program director to acquire any additional preparation for the program. Please see the Data Science Initiative website for more information.

Admission Requirements

  • GRE General: Not required
  • GRE Subject: Not required
  • Personal Statement: 1000-1500 word personal statement that gives your reasons to pursue graduate work in the field of your study. The statement should include examples of your past work in your chosen field, your plans for study at Brown, issues and problems you'd like to address in your field and your professional goals.
  • Recommendations: Three (3) recommendations required
  • Resume: Required
  • Additional Materials: Writing sample optional
  • TOEFL/IELTS: Required for any non-native English speaker who does not have a degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction or from a University in the following countries: Australia, Bahamas, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada (except Quebec), Ethiopia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Gambia, Uganda, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales), West Indies, Zambia).

We will NOT be accepting the TOEFL at home version or the IELTS Indicator exam. However, we WILL be accepting the TOEFL ITP Plus exam for students in mainland China.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2021 - Start your application today.

Sc.M. Completion Requirements

3 credits in mathematical and statistical foundations
3 credits in data and computational science
1 credit in societal implications and opportunities
1 elective credit to be drawn from a wide range of focused applications or deeper theoretical exploration
1 credit capstone experience, which includes a paper and/or oral presentation
Thesis: Not required.

Data Science Initiative
Brown University
Box 1891
164 Angell St, 3rd Floor
[email protected]

Visit the Data Science Initiative


Director of the Data Science Initiative: Sohini Ramachandran

Director of Graduate Studies: Samuel Watson, Mathematics