General Program Information

Is the MS-DS an accredited degree program?

Yes, the online MS-DS program falls under the University of Colorado Boulder's overall accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and was approved by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE).

Does the MS-DS diploma say this is an "online" degree?

No, the diploma that MS-DS on Coursera students earn is the same as the diploma for our on-campus program. There are no "online" or "Coursera" designations.

How do I enroll in the program?

You can enroll right away into a series of 3 one-credit pathway courses with a focus on either statistics or computer science. No transcripts or applications are required. To get started, fill out our enrollment form to select and enroll in a pathway course and pay your tuition.

To enroll in the non-credit versions of the MS-DS curriculum, sign up for an account on Coursera, find the course you are interested in, and click the Enroll button to audit the course.

Does this program require a thesis?

No, the MS-DS is a non-thesis degree that requires 30 credit hours of coursework only.

Does the degree include a capstone project?

The degree does not currently include a capstone project.

How long does it usually take to complete the degree?

This degree is self-paced. Students who take 3 courses per 8-week session (equivalent to a full-time graduate-level course load) typically complete the degree in about 2 years. However, you can take more courses per session to complete the degree more quickly. Or you can take fewer courses per session if you prefer a slower pace. Please note that you must complete all courses within 8 years.

Can I attend graduation on campus at the University of Colorado Boulder?

Yes, students who successfully complete the online MS-DS degree will be invited to campus for graduation.

How do I get my diploma after I graduate?

Degrees are conferred three times annually. Check the graduation calendar for semester-specific dates. Diplomas will be issued electronically. Paper diplomas are available upon request for a small fee. See Order a Diploma or Certificate.

Students who graduate from the program and earn the MS-DS degree are welcome to attend on-campus graduation ceremonies but are not obligated to do so.

Can I pursue a Ph.D. with this Master's degree?

This program is designed for working professionals in the industry. It is not intended to train Ph.D. students or research students. Other institutions and universities may accept transfer credit from the online MS-DS program at their discretion.

Eligibility and Admissions

Are there any prerequisites?

There are no formal prerequisites for the MS-DS on Coursera, but you should be knowledgeable in the following:

  • Python 
  • R programming 
  • Calculus including derivatives and integrals
  • Linear algebra including matrix multiplication, matrix inversion and solving linear systems using matrices

Complete your pathway with a 3.0 GPA average or better to demonstrate your proficiency and be admitted to the program. 

If you do not yet feel ready to complete your pathway courses, we suggest reviewing courses on the Coursera platform and/or enrolling in a pathway specialization as a non-credit learner, which gives you the option of previewing course content. Then, you can upgrade to the for-credit version and pay tuition when you are ready. Any assignments you complete in the non-credit experience will be automatically applied to your for-credit experience after you upgrade. Due to their interactive nature, discussion board posts and peer-graded assignments may not transfer from session to session when you upgrade. Be sure to save your work off-platform.

What if I do not have a background in computer science or statistics?

There are no formal prerequisites for the MS-DS. However, you should be knowledgeable in the following:

  • Python 
  • R programming 
  • Calculus including derivatives and integrals
  • Linear algebra including matrix multiplication, matrix inversion and solving linear systems using matrices

You must complete your pathway courses with a 3.0 GPA average or better to demonstrate your proficiency and be admitted to the program.

If you would like to brush up on your programming skills, we recommend that you try the following:

If you are not sure if you are ready to complete your pathway courses, we suggest reviewing courses on the Coursera platform. You can enroll in a pathway specialization as a non-credit learner, which gives you the option to preview course content. Then, you can upgrade to the for-credit version and pay tuition when you are ready. Any assignments you complete in the non-credit experience will be automatically applied to your for-credit experience after you upgrade. Due to their interactive nature, discussion board posts and peer-graded assignments may not transfer from session to session when you upgrade. Be sure to save your work off-platform.

Do I need a bachelor's degree to be admitted to the program?

No. This program uses performance-based admissions, which means you must complete 3 pathway courses for credit with a 3.0 GPA average or better. This demonstrates your proficiency and allows you to be admitted to the program.

Is this program open to students outside of the United States?

Yes. This program is delivered 100% online. 

Due to current restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, webcourse delivery cannot be provided to the following areas: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Syria and the Crimea Region of Ukraine.

What application materials do I need to submit?

You do not need to submit anything. Because this program uses performance-based admissions, you do not need to submit transcripts, test scores (like GRE or TOEFL), essays, or even an application fee. You must complete 3 pathway courses for credit with an average GPA of 3.0 or better to demonstrate proficiency and be admitted to the program.

Is this program open to international students?

Yes! The MS-DS on Coursera is open to students around the world. However, due to current restrictions imposed by U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, we cannot provide online courses to the following countries: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea Region of the Ukraine. See CU Online Course Delivery Restriction for details.

Do international students need to submit additional application materials (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)?

No. To be admitted to the MS-DS as a degree-seeking student, you must enroll in and complete your pathway with a 3.0 GPA or better. Your pathway is a series of 3 one-credit courses with a focus on either statistics or computer science – you choose the pathway that is right for you. The courses in your pathway are part of the required curriculum, so you make direct progress toward your degree as you complete your pathway.

Do international students need a student visa?

No. Because this program is entirely online, students are not eligible for a student visa (e.g., F-1 or J-1 visa) or Form I-20. Students who are already in the US on an H1-B visa need to work with their sponsor to determine if they are eligible to participate in this correspondence course.

What if I’ve taken a CU class before (e.g., from the MS-EE on Coursera)?

You must reach out to the Registrar at reg-specialprograms@colorado.edu to request that you be changed to an MS-DS student. This is an important step to ensure you are able to enroll in classes, earn admission to the MS-DS degree program, and receive Data Science communications.

Remember that only MS-DS courses count toward the MS-DS degree. Other CU classes on Coursera (like MS-EE courses) do not count toward 30 credits needed to earn the MS-DS degree.

Once accepted to the program, am I required to maintain a minimum GPA?

Yes, you must maintain a 3.00 average throughout the program to remain in good academic standing. The MS-DS degree cannot be awarded until the minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA has been achieved. See the MS-DS Student Handbook for details, including what happens if your cumulative GPA falls below 3.00.

Choosing Courses

What is a specialization?

A specialization consists of 3 one-credit courses linked together to more fully cover a topic.

Do I have to take courses in a specific order?

We recommend you complete courses using one of our two Recommended Learner Journeys; however, you may complete courses in any order. Please note that to be formally admitted to the program, you must complete a pathway specialization with a 3.0 GPA or better. If you have already completed coursework and have received academic credit for your work prior to completing a pathway, your completed credits will be applied to your degree progress and academic transcript once you are formally admitted.

Do any of the courses have prerequisites?

No. The degree is designed to be flexible. You will complete 21 credits of core coursework in statistics, computer science, and general core concepts as well as 9 credits of elective coursework. You may complete courses in any order, but we recommend following one of our two Learner Journeys.

How much time should I plan to spend on each course?

For every one credit hour you take, you may spend 4–6 hours per week depending on your knowledge and skill. This includes videos, discussions, readings and assignments.

How many courses should I take during each 8-week session?

This degree is self-paced, and there is no minimum or maximum number of courses required per session. We recommend new students take one class in their first session as they adjust to the demands of this graduate-level program. In subsequent terms, we recommend students take 3 or fewer courses per session, which is equivalent to a full-time graduate-level course load. Students who take 3 courses per session complete the degree in about 2 years. You must complete all courses within 8 years.

How do I know if a course counts toward the MS-DS?

Look for the graduation cap icon and “Part of the Master of Science in Data Science degree” on Coursera’s course description page. Remember that only courses with this notation fulfill MS-DS degree requirements. Other CU classes on Coursera (e.g., those offered in the MS-EE degree) do not count toward 30 credits needed to earn the MS-DS degree.

See Curriculum to find MS-DS courses and view course details.

Pathway Courses

What are pathway courses?

Pathways are a series of three 1-credit courses with a focus on either statistics or computer science. Complete your pathway with a 3.0 GPA or better to be admitted to the program.

Choose one of the following pathways:

Data Science Foundations: Statistical Inference

  • ​Probability Theory: Applications for Data Science (1 credit)
  • Statistical Inference for Estimation in Data Science (1 credit)
  • Statistical Inference & Hypothesis Testing for Data Science Applications (1 credit)

Data Science Foundations: Data Structures & Algorithms

  • Algorithms for Searching, Sorting & Indexing (1 credit)
  • Trees & Graphs: Basics (1 credit)
  • Dynamic Programming, Greedy Algorithms (1 credit)
Can I take both pathways?

Yes, all students must complete the courses in both the Data Science Foundations: Statistical Inference pathway and the Data Science Foundations: Data Structures & Algorithms pathway to complete the degree. To gain admission, you only need to complete one pathway, and you can choose the pathway that is right for you. Start with the Data Science Foundations: Statistical Inference pathway if you are strong in statistics. Start with the Data Science Foundations: Data Structures & Algorithms pathway if you are strong in computer science.

Note that you cannot "mix and match" pathways to earn program admission. You must complete all 3 courses within one pathway to gain admission. (E.g., you cannot complete 2 courses in the Data Structures & Algorithms Pathway and 1 course in the Statistical Inference for Data Science Pathway to earn admission.)

What happens if my pathway GPA is lower than 3.0 or I fail a pathway course?

If you do not complete each pathway course with at least a C grade or do not earn at least a 3.0 GPA average for the pathway, you can pursue another pathway. If you successfully complete this second pathway, you will be admitted to the degree program.

To successfully complete a pathway and earn admission to the program, you must:

  • Earn at least a grade of C in each pathway course 
  • Maintain a 3.0 average GPA (or higher) for your pathway courses
  • Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA (or higher) for all for-credit courses taken to date
  • Declare your intent to pursue the degree when you enroll for classes

You can also preview the second pathway option as a non-credit learner, and then upgrade to for-credit when you are ready to pay tuition and complete the final exams.

After admission to the degree, your cumulative GPA will include all attempted for-credit coursework. This includes any courses you failed before gaining admission to the degree. However, you are allowed to retake your original pathway courses and try to improve your grade. See the MS-DS Student Handbook for details about course repetition and grade replacement.

What happens after I complete my pathway courses?

After you pass 3 courses in one of our pathway specializations with a 3.0 GPA or higher, you will automatically be admitted to the program. All admitted students receive an official offer letter via email.

Course Details

How long is a course?

Courses are open for 8 weeks. There are 6 enrollment sessions per year. Each enrollment window starts 2 weeks before the first day of class and ends 2 weeks before all coursework is due. All for-credit coursework is due by the last day of the 8-week session.

Are courses self-paced?

Courses are self-paced; however, all for-credit coursework must be submitted by the last day of the 8-week session.

What happens if I do not complete a course by the end of the term?

Non-credit courses

Non-credit courses have no time limit.

For-credit courses

If you have accessed restricted content (usually the final exam), you will receive a letter grade for the course based on the work you completed before the end of the term. This includes an exam grade—even if you did not finish the exam. 

If you have not accessed restricted content nor received a course grade, you can drop or withdraw from a course, depending on your timeline. See the Registrar's Special Programs page for information and forms related to drops, refunds, and withdrawal.

Tuition payments cannot be rolled over to future sessions. 

Are there exams?

Courses may include project-based assessments and/or online proctored exams that use ProctorU, an online proctoring service that ensures exam integrity and accountability. ProctorU requires a computer, Internet connection, and webcam and monitors students in three ways:

  • By using secure identity verification to ensure that the person taking the test is the correct student.

  • By employing a human proctor to monitor the test taker through a webcam. You will be connected to a real person to guide you through the process.

  • A proctor watches the test-taker’s screen in real-time and can see everything the student is doing.  

  • ProctorU is available 24/7; however, you must test your equipment and schedule your proctoring session at least 72 hours in advance of your desired session. To test your equipment, take the ProctorU System Test. For more information, see the ProctorU Test-Taker Resource Center.

What should I do if I'm worried about my grade in a particular class?

Students who are worried about succeeding in a particular class have multiple options to consider, depending on the exact circumstances. Options include:

  • Previewing a non-credit version of the course beforehand to get a head start
  • Attend weekly office hours with the course facilitator (for-credit courses only)
  • Connect with peers in Slack for support (for-credit courses only) 
  • Connect with peers in discussion forums for support 
  • Dropping or withdrawing from the course
  • Course repetition 
  • Grade replacement (admitted degree students only)
  • Pursuing a different pathway (before degree admission)

Please see Options for MS-DS Students Worried About Course Grades for an outline of the above options. The MS-DS Student Handbook has more details.

Are all lectures pre-recorded?

Yes, lectures are recorded on video and available on demand. You do not need to worry about attending a live lecture in a different time zone.

Is each lecture just a recording of an on-campus class?

No, instructors create videos specifically for Coursera. These lectures are designed with online learners in mind.

Is there any group work?

There may be group work. Assignments vary by course and may include individual and group work assignments.

Non-Credit and For-Credit Options

What is the difference between non-credit and for-credit courses?

Non-credit

  • Non-credit courses are flexible and available on-demand.

  • Non-credit courses carry a monthly subscription fee.

  • Non-credit completion certificates do not imply the conferral of credit from the University of Colorado Boulder or appear on a student’s transcript. 

For-credit

  • For-credit courses have session start and end dates. Each session is 8 weeks long.

  • For-credit tuition is $667 per credit hour.

  • Additional material and assessments must be completed to earn credit; these materials are only available to students who pay tuition. 

  • Students receive academic credit on a transcript from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Are the non-credit versions of courses free?

No, the non-credit courses carry a monthly subscription fee. The monthly subscription fee is paid to Coursera, not to the University of Colorado Boulder.

Can I start with the Coursera classes and then switch to on-campus classes?

No. The Coursera degree and the on-campus degree are not interchangeable. If you start the Coursera degree, you cannot later switch to the on-campus program.

How do I enroll in the non-credit versions of courses?

To enroll in the non-credit versions of courses, sign up for a Coursera account, find the courses you are interested in enrolling in, and click the Enroll button. Once you enroll, you will be able to either audit the course for free or pay a certificate fee to earn a Course or Specialization Certificate. Some courses offer a free trial during which you can try out the course for free before committing to paying the certificate fee.

How do I upgrade from non-credit to for-credit?

You may upgrade from non-credit to for-credit at any time during the enrollment window. Each enrollment period starts 2 weeks before the first day of class and ends 2 weeks before all coursework is due. 

  • All for-credit coursework is due by the last day of the session. 
  • Previously completed assignments will be automatically applied to your for-credit experience. 
  • Prior to accessing for-credit content for the first time, you must pass a short (4–5 hours) non-credit onboarding course. You only need to complete this course once. 

Please note that if you start a non-credit course within the same month that you upgrade to the for-credit version, you will not receive a refund for the monthly subscription associated with the non-credit course. The monthly subscription fee is paid to Coursera, not to the University of Colorado Boulder.

Does work I complete in the non-credit version transfer to the for-credit version when I upgrade?

Yes, the work you complete in the non-credit version of a course transfers over to the for-credit version when you upgrade and pay tuition. You will complete a final project or exam. You can upgrade from non-credit to for-credit at any time during your learning journey. You have up to 8 years to complete the full program.

Do I have to pay the monthly Coursera subscription fee and the CU Boulder tuition at the same time?

If you are taking a non-credit class, you only pay the monthly Coursera subscription fee. If you are taking a for-credit class, you only pay the $667 per credit hour tuition fee. Please note that if you started a non-credit course within the same month that you upgrade to the for-credit version, you will not receive a refund for the monthly subscription associated with the non-credit course. The monthly subscription fee is paid to Coursera, not to the University of Colorado Boulder.

Does Coursera offer a certificate of completion for non-credit courses?

Yes, students can earn a Course Certificate from Coursera for non-credit courses and specializations. This non-credit certificate of completion does not earn transcripted credit from the University of Colorado Boulder, nor can it be applied to the degree.

Can I still take non-credit courses after admission into the program?

Yes, you can always start with a non-credit version of a course on Coursera and later upgrade to the for-credit version and pay CU Boulder tuition.

Finances

How much does the program cost?

The cost of the Master of Science in Data Science is $667 per credit hour. The program requires 30 credit hours of coursework.

Do I need a paid Coursera subscription to enroll in courses?

When you pay CU Boulder tuition for a for-credit course, you do not need a Coursera subscription. However, non-credit courses carry a monthly subscription fee. This means that if you start in the non-credit version of a course on Coursera and later upgrade to the for-credit version, you will also have paid Coursera's monthly subscription fee.

Is my tuition rate determined by where I live?

No. Because this program is 100% online, the tuition is the same for all students regardless of where you live.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept the following forms of payment: 

  • Pay online from a U.S. checking or savings account (no fee). If a payment is returned for insufficient funds, a $20 returned payment fee is charged.
  • Pay online with a U.S. credit or debit card with a service fee of 2.75% for each transaction.
  • Pay online with a wire transfer via Flywire.
Is financial aid available?
  • U.S. federal student aid: This program is not currently eligible for financial aid provided through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Scholarships: CU Boulder does not currently offer scholarships for this program. However, you can search for private scholarships and improve your chances of success with our tips to apply
  • Student loans: Private loans may be an option for you. Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions. Note that enrollment in this program will not affect your existing federal student loans (i.e., you will not be able to defer your loans based on half-time or full-time enrollment status).
  • Employer tuition assistance: Many employers value the skills this program provides. Check directly with your employer to see if they have a "tuition assistance" or "tuition reimbursement" program, where your employer helps pay your tuition. 
  • V.A. education benefits: This program is currently not eligible for education benefits offered through Veteran’s Affairs (VA), including the GI Bill, VEAP, DEA, etc.
  • Tax benefits: Consult a tax advisor to determine which credits and deductions might apply to you. Learn more about tax credits, deductions and other benefits.
Can I roll my tuition payment over to the next session?

No, tuition payments cannot be rolled over to future sessions.

Can I get a refund for Coursera's subscription fee If I upgrade from non-credit to for-credit?

No. When you pay CU Boulder tuition for a for-credit course, you do not need a Coursera subscription. However, non-credit courses carry a monthly subscription fee. This means that if you start in the non-credit version of a course on Coursera and later upgrade to the for-credit version, you will also have paid Coursera's monthly subscription fee.

Can I get a refund if I decide I no longer want to pursue the degree?

You pay per credit hour. You may drop a class if you are within 14 days from the class start date or enrollment date (whichever is later), and you must not have accessed restricted content in the course. A refund will be returned to your credit card within 7-10 business days. When a course is dropped under these conditions, it will not appear on your student record. Visit the Office of the Registrar for more information.

Is there a cost associated with any proctored exams?

No, exam proctoring costs are included in your CU Boulder tuition.

Can University of Colorado employees use the tuition assistance benefit for this program?

No, this program is not eligible for the employee tuition assistance benefit.

CU Boulder Resources

How do I communicate with faculty to ask questions?

Course facilitators hold weekly office hours so you can connect with them and ask questions about the material being covered in the program.

Do MS-DS students have access to CU Boulder resources and facilities on campus?

Online MS-DS students do not have access to campus facilities but can access online resources including CU Boulder libraries, Career Services, and ForeverBuffs Alumni Services.

Are tutors available?

Tutors are not available at this time. We highly encourage you to work with your peers.

Will I get a student email address?

Yes, students taking for-credit classes receive an official @colorado.edu email address.

Will I get a student ID?

Yes, students taking for-credit classes receive an IdentiKey, which includes your CU Boulder login name and password. Your IdentiKey uniquely identifies you and acts as your student identification number. Students do not receive a physical Buff OneCard (student ID card).

Are there opportunities for local students to meet with professors in person?

There are not currently opportunities for local students in the online program through Coursera to meet with professors.

Technical Requirements

What kind of computer and software do I need for this program?

Please see Coursera’s list of recommended browsers and devices and ProctorU's equipment requirements.

  • Computer: We recommend you use a laptop or desktop computer rather than a mobile device (iPhones and Android phones) or tablet (iPads and Android tablets). Some 2-in-1 or hybrid laptops (like Google ChromeBooks), Linus operating systems, Windows 10S or Surface RT, and virtual machines may not be compatible with courses that include proctored exams.
  • Internet: We recommend you use an Internet download speed of 1.5 Mbps and an Internet upload speed of 1 Mbps.
  • Browser: We recommend that you use either the Chrome or Firefox web browsers.
  • Peripherals: You will also need a webcam, which is required to verify your identity and complete proctored exams.
  • For Exams: You must test your equipment and schedule your exam proctoring session at least 72 hours in advance of your desired session. To test your equipment, take the ProctorU System Test. For more information, see the ProctorU Test-Taker Resource Center.

Careers in Data Science

Are there internship opportunities available?

No. There are currently no internships available.

Are career resources available for MS-DS on Coursera students?

Students who have been admitted into the degree program will have lifelong access to Handshake through CU Boulder Career Services. Handshake is an online employment platform where employers post jobs and hold virtual events. Alumni can also use Handshake as a networking tool to connect with other alumni.

Admitted students also get access to VMock online resume-review. This tool leverages data-science, machine learning, and natural language processing to provide personalized feedback on your resume based on criteria gathered from employers and global best practices.

As a University of Colorado Boulder graduate, you will join the alumni association, Forever Buffs

Where do alumni work?

Graduates from CU Boulder go on to work at top companies including Amazon, Apple, Boeing, Disney, Google, IBM, Lockheed Martin, NASA, NBC, Twitter, and Yelp.

What salary range do data scientists typically earn?

The median annual salary for data scientists is $100,560, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is nearly twice as high as the average median salary in the United States.

Get Help

Who can I contact for additional questions?

Please email us at datascience@colorado.edu.

Who can I contact for help with exam proctoring?

If you are having difficulties with your final exams, please email us at datascience@colorado.edu.