We consider numerous criteria including academic performance, letters of recommendation and industrial experience. We also consider GRE scores, TOEFL scores (if relevant), motivation, work experience, awards, honors, prizes, and other accomplishments. Because master's applicants are so diverse, no single set of criteria adequately cover all the cases. In more detail, we are looking for:
- Academic performance: The GPA is not the only criterion. The grades in data-science related areas are also important. Also, we take into account the fact that at some very competitive schools it is very difficult to achieve a high GPA.
- Letters of recommendation: Letters must give a detailed, factual, and candid evaluation of the applicant's capabilities. Rankings and comparisons with other students are very useful. Ask your recommender to follow these guidelines. Remind your recommenders of deadlines to ensure they are met. We routinely find ourselves unable to admit potentially qualified students because their letters of recommendation have not arrived in time.
- Work experience: Please describe any work experience you might have. Obviously not all applicants have work experience, but for those who do, some description of it helps us better evaluate your application.
- GRE scores: These scores let us compare the basic skills of applicants from diverse backgrounds. We are aware that: test performance can improve considerably with practice, some people do not perform well on tests, and the verbal GRE is harder for some foreign applicants. While we do not require general test scores, the test provides an additional objective form of evaluation that is often helpful in determining an applicant's abilities.
- TOEFL and IELTS scores: Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received a college degree from an institution in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL exam. Additional evidence (e.g., certificate of completion of an English course) may also be submitted. We generally do not consider applicants who have scored below 620 (PBT) or 260 (CBT) or IBT (105), and prefer scores higher than that. The corresponding minimum IELTS score is 7.5. If you feel you are exempt from taking the TOEFL please email the Graduate School directly at email@example.com to get a waiver.
- Personal Statement: The statement that accompanies your application helps us learn more about you.
- Awards, honors, and prizes: Unless they are well-known (e.g., NSF fellowship or graduation with honors), please give details about them (how many candidates? how many awards? what were the selection criteria?). This is especially important for foreign applicants. If these awards are really important, we would expect your recommenders to mention them.
- Research experience: Research experience is not required for master's applicants and many of our applicants do not have any, but you can use experience you've had to demonstrate your ability to handle graduate-level data science material.