Admissions and
Application Requirements

The online Master of Applied Data Science (MADS) program from the School of Data Science and Society at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is designed to elevate your skills to an advanced level. The application review committee evaluates applications to determine your readiness to undertake this challenging graduate program. 

We look for applicants who demonstrate the following:

  • Team-oriented, problem-solving mindset
  • Motivation and passion for working with data in different domains
  • Base level of comfort with linear algebra, programming, and statistics and probability

See below for more information on the application process and requirements. 

Jump to:

Application Deadlines

Admissions Criteria

Application Requirements

Application Deadlines

The MADS program offers three start dates per calendar year (January, May and August). 

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so the sooner you apply, the sooner you can receive an admissions decision and begin planning your future. If you apply by the priority deadline, you are eligible to have your application fee waived.

Program Start DateEarly Priority DeadlinePriority DeadlineFinal Deadline
August 26, 2024
May 21, 2024
June 11, 2024
July 2, 2024

Jump to:

Application Deadlines

Admissions Criteria

Application Requirements

Admissions Criteria

To be eligible for admission into the online Master of Applied Data Science program, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. 

You will also need to demonstrate the following competencies, either through prerequisite courses or personal/professional experience.


  • Prior experience in programming languages, such as Python or Java 
  • Competencies and skill sets in data types, control structures, I/O functions, and basic visualization
  • Prior experience with scripting, test-driven development, and version control systems

Statistics and Probability

  • Prior introduction to probability
  • Prior introduction to a high-level scientific programming language (e.g. Python or R)
  • Familiarity with fundamental concepts from calculus, like derivatives and integrals
  • Familiarity with basic statistical concepts and techniques, like descriptive statistics, histograms, measures of central tendency, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, p-values, and sampling

Linear Algebra 

Proficiency in Algebra of matrices, including: 

  • Concepts of matrix multiplication
  • Matrix inverses, bases, norms, and inner-products
  • Eigenvectors

Skills Refresher Courses

If you need to build or brush up on any of the competencies above, we encourage you to take the following refresher courses, most of which are offered through edX, the program partner of the UNC School of Data Science and Society. 

These self-paced online courses are free to audit. However, if you need to demonstrate your competency in a particular area, you may want to pursue the verified track of that course, which comes with an enrollment fee. Verified courses on edX give you access to graded feedback and the opportunity to receive a verified certificate of completion — which indicates you have earned a passing grade and thus understood the material. 

Courses in Programming 

Courses in Statistics and Probability 

Courses in Linear Algebra 

If you take these courses before you apply to the MADS program, we encourage you to include in your application a list of the courses you have completed, along with any verified certificates you’ve earned. We also encourage admitted MADS applicants to refresh their knowledge of these topics before starting classes.

Jump to:

Application Deadlines

Admissions Criteria

Application Requirements

Application Requirements

The School of Data Science and Society reviews applications holistically. No GRE or GMAT scores are required to apply. You will need to submit the following materials to be considered for admission:

Online Application

Complete the online application and pay a nonrefundable $95 application fee. You may qualify for an application fee waiver. Reach out to an Admissions Counselor at 1 844-983-2675 or to learn more.

Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

Submit your current résumé or CV, and be sure to list any relevant professional and academic experience, including volunteer work.


Submit unofficial transcripts from all postsecondary institutions you have attended. If you do not have unofficial transcripts, you will need to request copies be sent directly to you from the school(s). You can then upload them to your application or email them to

Official transcripts are not required to render an admissions decision, but we will need to receive them before you can register for your second term of the program. (Official transcripts must be sent separately. You may upload official copies in the online application, but they will be considered unofficial.)

For military applicants, military transcripts are required, including JST (Joint Service Transcript) or ACE.

If your study abroad credits and grades are included on the home institution transcript, then an additional transcript is not required. If your study abroad credits and grades are listed as transfer credits, then an official transcript from the study abroad institution is required.

Statement of Purpose

Submit an essay of approximately 500 words (no more than two to three pages) in which you describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in data science, including your preparation for this field of study, your career goals, and why this program is a good fit. 

If you acquired your knowledge of data structures, algorithms, linear algebra, and/or programming in a way other than through undergraduate or graduate coursework (e.g., self taught, on the job), please explain your level of proficiency and how you acquired it.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required. These letters should be sent from individuals who can attest to your ability or potential to complete graduate studies in data science. Approved recommenders are past and present employers, professors and approved volunteer coordinators. If you have graduated from an academic degree program within the last five years, we recommend that you have at least one letter from an academic reference. Letters of recommendation are submitted through the online application process.

Considerations for International Applicants

International applicants, please review the requirements for admission at UNC The Graduate School website.

Learn More About the MADS Program

Request information to learn more about Carolina’s approach to applied data science and how the program prepares you for a career as a data scientist.