Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Do the Science Academy programs have a STEM designation?
A: These programs do not have the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) designation as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. However, International students on F-1 visas who complete the Science Academy degree programs in person will be eligible to apply for the standard 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation.

Q: Are the courses online?
A: Instructional delivery is primarily face to face. DATA698 and DATA699 are online courses.

Q: Are assistantships available? 
A: Students can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal financial aid. Because most of our students are working full time, we do not offer assistantships or fellowships, though students are eligible to apply to positions in other departments.

Q: Do I have to have a mathematics background to be admitted?
A: Having the appropriate background in mathematics, or the ability to learn it quickly, is necessary for successfully completing several of the courses in the curriculum. Completion of formal course work, ongoing or planned course work, or evidence of mathematical competency are used in evaluating applicants.

Q: What is required for DATA699: Capstone Research Project in Data Science?
A: The MPS program in Data Science and Analytics is a non-thesis program. However, the program does require DATA698 Research Methods and Study Design. In DATA699 Capstone Research Project, elective, the specific project is one of your choosing, subject to faculty approval. This is an opportunity for hands-on, in-depth work within data science and analytics where you can apply learning from previous coursework. 

Q: I am interested in taking a few courses but am not sure I want a full degree. Is that an option?
A: The Graduate Certificate in Data Science may be a good fit. The four required courses for the Graduate Certificate are part of the MPS in Data Science and Analytics. If you complete the certificate and apply to and are admitted into the MPS, those courses will transfer.

Q: I have less than a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) for my prior college-level studies. Can I still apply? 
A: Yes, you can still apply. In your application, include more information including: 

  • Any explanation for your low GPA that you want to convey.
  • A calculation of your GPA in courses relevant to the program (e.g., mathematics, statistics, computer science, programming).
  • A description of your current work experience including sufficient detail about skills/knowledge/experience.

Q: What research can I expect in the MPS in Data Science and Analytics program? 
A: The MPS in Data Science and Analytics program is set up so that there is a capstone project in the last term of the program which provides you an excellent opportunity to do intensive research. The required coursework before then will prepare you for the capstone project. In the penultimate term you will take DATA698 Research Methods and Study Design, in which you will design a project based on the concepts and methods you have learned up to that point in the program. 

Q: What is the application fee?
A: The Graduate School lists the step-by-step process for applying to a graduate program at the University of Maryland. Step 5 of the six steps includes paying the non-refundable $75 application processing fee for each program to which you apply.

Q: Does the Science Academy offer application fee waivers?
A: The Graduate School does offer waivers to students affiliated with certain preparatory and professional organizations. Besides these opportunities, the Science Academy does not offer any application fee waivers. 

Q: What is the required TOEFL score?
A: Learn more about the Graduate School’s English Language Proficiency Requirements here. Students can submit TOEFL, Pearson (PTE), or IELTS scores. We do not accept the Duolingo exam. Students must score within the requirements for full enrollment or the English Bridge Program.

Q: I have applied for a graduate assistantship in another department at UMD. How does tuition remission work?
A: Tuition remission for graduate assistants covers the standard in-state tuition rate. The Science Academy tuition is a special tuition rate. Students are responsible for paying the difference between the graduate assistantship tuition remission and the Science Academy tuition each semester. More information on the tuition assistance program and process.

Q: I work on campus and am eligible for tuition remission. Will this cover all my expenses for the Science Academy program?
A: Similar to tuition remission for graduate assistants, tuition remission covers the standard in-state tuition rate. The Science Academy tuition is a special tuition rate. Students are responsible for paying the difference between their tuition remission and the Science Academy tuition each semester. More information on the tuition assistance program and process.

Q: I earned a 3-year undergraduate degree in another country. Am I still eligible for admission?
A: Depending on where you earned your undergraduate degree, and any other academic work you have completed, you may still be eligible for admission. Learn more about the Graduate School's policy.

Q: Are the GREs required for admission?
A: GRE scores are not required for admission to the Science Academy programs. Students may submit official scores but it is optional.