FAQ for the Master of Professional Studies in Data Sciences and Applications

Here you can find answers to the most common questions about the ICDS Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Data Sciences and Applications.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Is this a STEM program?

Yes! International students are eligible to apply for the 24-month OPT STEM extension.

When was the program introduced at UB?

Our first cohort launched in Fall 2019!

What kind of background do I need?

The students enrolling in this program come from a broad range of backgrounds.  Notably, student backgrounds do not need to be from a STEM major such as Engineering or  Mathematics. It is recommended that students have some exposure to calculus, probability and/or statistics and computer programming, but they do not need to have formal training in all of these. Industrial experience is also valuable, but not required.

When can students enroll and what are the deadlines?

The Data Science and Applications program only offers fall intake. 

When do classes start?

The academic calendar is posted online on the Registrar’s website.

Is there an orientation?

Yes! Students will attend two orientations: one is hosted by the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences for ALL new graduate students, and the second is a program-specific orientation that is focused on the program, degree requirements, etc.

How long is the program?

Students can finish in 1 –1.5 year, depending on how students choose their final semester scheduling. All full-time students will take 12 credits in the Fall semester and 12 in the  Spring semester. Students have the choice to finish in 1 year by completing both their Project Guidance (internship or research with a faculty member) and Major Applications course requirements in the summer.

Alternatively, students can finish in 1.5 years by taking their project course (internship) and major applications course in the fall.  Another 1.5 year option is to complete a project course as a full-time summer internship, and complete the Major Applications course in the Fall. The latter choice is ideal for students on an F1 visa, which carries a stipulation on the number of hours of intership that can be completed in a final semester of the program.  

I am an international student on a visa. Can I complete a full-time internship and graduate in 1 year?

No, students cannot have full-time CPT if it is their last semester of study, and students must complete 2 semesters of full-time study before becoming eligible for CPT.

How many courses do I have to take a semester?

To maintain full-time status, students must take 12 credits per semester. A reduced course load may be available in certain situations, such as a student’s final semester. Students should talk with the graduate coordinator on an individual basis to see if they qualify for reduced course loads.

What is the structure of the program?

The program is 30 credit hours or 10 courses. It is cohort based so students will take courses in the same sequence – there is no straying from the schedule for the first two semesters. Students interested in pursuing the program on a part-time basis should consult the graduate coordinator to come up with an individualized schedule.

Can I take more credits if I want to?

Students must follow the course plan as it is laid out for the first two semesters; if students return for a third (or fourth semester, depending on summer registration) where they are part-time, students may choose to take additional courses but they will not count towards the degree requirements. After all degree requirements have been met students must apply for degree conferral and cannot continue to enroll in non-degree courses.

Can I transfer credits?

Yes- students can transfer up to 6 graduate-level credits. Students must have earned a “B” or higher in previous coursework, and they courses must be equivalent to coursework in the curriculum in order for the courses to be deemed transferrable. If students are interested in seeing if coursework can be transferred they should send a transcript and course syllabus to cdsedept@buffalo.edu. 

Not all of the core courses interest me, can I swap it for another course?

No.  The curriculum is set up with required courses and one elective (or two- if students opt for the all-course option). Students can only replace a course if they have already taken it for credit towards another degree (Example, a student takes CSE 474 Intro to Machine Learning for their undergraduate requirement and received a B or higher. In this situation the student can take an advanced machine learning course to fulfill the machine learning core requirement).

Can I complete an internship in the program? When is the earliest I can start?

Yes! Students have the option to complete a project-based internship as part of their requirement to complete 3 credits of CDA 571 Project Guidance. Students can choose an internship or a research project with a faculty member. Students are required to seek out their own internship opportunities. The internship is a considered a culminating experience and students cannot enroll in the internship course until 2 semesters of full-time study in the program have been completed. International students must be aware of the CPT requirements and deadlines as posted on International Student Services Website.

Can I do an internship out of the area?

Yes, you can for both 1 year and 1.5 year program options. The Major Application course is offered online to students that are away for their internships (Project Guidance). Therefore, the courses can be taken simultaneously or in sequence.   

Can I see the schedule?

Fall Entry:

1st Semester (Fall)

2nd Semester (Spring)

3rd Semester (Summer) 4th Semester (optional – fall)
EAS 503 Introduction to Data Driven Analysis CSE 574 Intro to Machine Learning CDA 561 Major Applications* CDA 561 Major Applications*
CDA 541 Statistical Data Mining I CDA 511 Intro to Numerical Analysis CDA 571 Project Guidance* CDA 571 Project Guidance*
CDA 502 Database Management Systems CDA 546 Statistical Data Mining II    
CDA 531 Probability Theory CDA 551 Cybersecurity, Privacy and Ethics    

*Students can choose to take both CDA 561/571 in the summer to graduate in 1 year, or can take just one and extend the program to 1.5 year (which offers room to take additional courses in the 4th semester, if student is interested in additional courses  outside of the degree requirements.

What is the cost?

Students can find information about tuition and fees on the student accounts website.

Do you have any assistantships?

No.

I see there is another program that looks similar. What is the difference in the MS and the MPS program?

Both programs are driven by some of the more cutting edge topics and research in data science. They are exactly the same length and both have requirements for a capstone project (which includes the opportunity for students to complete a project-based internship in industry!).  The fundamental differences are the backgrounds of students entering each program and the specific course requirements.

The Engineering Science MS focus in Data Science program is mostly intended for STEM students with a strong quantitative background, e.g., an undergrad degree in Computer Science, Statistics, Applied Math, Engineering, or a Natural Science. The program of study delves into the deep mathematics and computing of data science. Nearly all courses students taken in this program come from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

 The Master of Professional Studies in Data Science and Applications is mostly intended for students from other backgrounds, often students with some experience in industry, who wish to learn data science and apply it to their domain of interest. This program is more focused on applications of data science.  The course requirements are more interdisciplinary in nature, as they are from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Management, School of Public Health and Health Professions, School of Pharmacy, and the College of Arts and Sciences. 

What are the minimum GRE scores you admit?

We pursue a holistic review of applications and have no hard GRE cutoff. This review includes transcripts, letters of recommendation and industry experience. 

What prior experience do I need before entering?

Some prior knowledge of mathematics, statistics and computing (commensurate with that from an engineering/natural science/math undergraduate program) is required. Most students in the program have a solid undergraduate background in a STEM field. Entrace requirements can be found on our program homepage.

Is there an employment report for recent years that illustrates post-graduate employment statistics for the program?

Not as of yet, our first cohort will graduate in September 2020 

I still have questions. Who can I contact?

For curriculum-related questions, please contact the graduate coordinator at cdsedept@buffalo.edu. For admissions questions contact gradeng@buffalo.edu.