Master of Data Science

Master of Data Science Program

Data science has quickly become a critical enabling capability in many different fields—science, healthcare, energy, manufacturing, and many others. The availability of data has already changed many disciplines in fundamental ways and soon virtually all disciplines will require a new type of scientist: a “data scientist” who is not just a statistician, or a computer scientist, or a mathematician, but is well-versed in all of these fields, and how they apply to the study of data.

Rice's Master of Data Science (MDS) is a professional non-thesis degree designed to support the needs of interdisciplinary professionals intending to pursue a technical career in data science.

The program offers students online or on-campus options with a curriculum that delivers the skills needed to collect, evaluate, interpret and communicate data. Students must apply to either the online or on-campus program and will be explicitly admitted to one program or the other.

Visit the Online MDS website to learn more about the part-time, virtual MDS degree, or read below to learn more about the full-time, in-person program at Rice University's beautiful, 300-acre tree-lined campus in Houston, Texas.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completing the MDS degree, students will have proficiency in:

  • Understanding the computational and statistical foundations of Data Science
  • Knowing and understanding how to use the core methods of Data Science as applied to an area of specialization or across a breadth of areas
  • Applying Data Science knowledge, theory, and techniques to solve difficult, real-world problems, beginning with raw and dirty data, and ending with actionable insights
  • Effectively communicating written and orally about Data Science methods and results to a lay audienc

Curriculum Overview

This non-thesis curriculum requires the completion of a minimum of 31 credits. It is a rigorous blend of courses that deliver the skills you need to collect, evaluate, interpret and communicate data for effective decision-making across a variety of industries.

  • Core Courses: Your curriculum includes core courses designed to help you gain an understanding of the computational and statistical foundations of data science.
  • Specialization: You’ll gain deeper knowledge in data science by choosing a specialization in business analytics, machine learning or image processing.*Currently, image processing coursework is only offered for the on-campus program.
  • Electives: You’ll further customize your program of study with an elective in ethics, cybersecurity, or security and privacy.
  • Capstone: Then, to give you experience applying your knowledge to a real-world problem, you’ll participate in a capstone project that will help you demonstrate your skill, collaborative ability and problem-solving acumen.

View the MDS Curriculum to learn more about core courses, specializations, electives and our data science capstone project.

Key Dates for On-Campus Applicants

Applications for the Master of Data Science program are being accepted for Fall enrollment. The on-campus program currently has one intake per year (the fall semester) and operates over the course of three academic semesters. Students may choose to attend three consecutive semesters (fall, spring, and summer) or to seek an external internship during the summer (in which case the program would cover the fall, spring, and fall semesters). All required application materials must be submitted as follows:

  • Fall 2022 Applications Due: January 30, 2022


The Master of Data Science On-Campus Degree is a 31-credit program. The public on-campus MDS rate will be $25,750 per semester for the 2021–2022 academic year. Please note that fees are subject to change and may rise each year.

Admissions Overview

Rice considers all applications holistically. Admissions decisions are based on Rice’s assessment of each applicant’s ability to succeed in the program, considering his or her undergraduate grades, test scores and work experience. The admissions standards will be the same for both programs. The GRE test will be recommended for all applicants, but not required. Learn more about the admissions process in the Department of Computer Science.

Learn More

For questions about the on-campus MDS program, email or visit the Online MDS website to learn about the online MDS program.


Info Sessions

Want to learn more about our professional master's degree program? Register for one of the upcoming virtual info sessions:

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