Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions and Application Questions

Q: Who should apply for the Duke Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) program?

Duke's Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science program is open to all individuals who demonstrate a passion for data analysis, a mastery of analytical reasoning, an aptitude for learning quantitative and technical skills, and compelling academic or professional achievement. Individuals that would like to change or advance their careers in data science are encouraged to apply!

Q: What is the admissions committee looking for?

MIDS seeks creative, self-motivated students who are passionate about using data to solve problems. We'll look for evidence that you've made efforts to learn about data science and that you're confident data science is the right path for you. 

We're particularly excited to welcome students who want to apply data science to topics in which they already have deep expertise. Although certainly not required, we value compelling stories about specific problems you want to solve.

Q: When is the application deadline?

February 15, 2021.

Q: Is there an “early” deadline?

No. February 15th is our only application deadline.

Q: What are the requirements to apply to MIDS?

Applicants need to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution (or will have completed their undergraduate degree before the Fall 2021 semester begins).

Transcripts

  • 3 letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resume
  • English Language Proficiency Test Scores (if English is not your first language)
  • GPA
  • 2-minute video


Not required but successful applicants to MIDS tend to also have:

  • previous quantitative coursework (i.e., linear algebra, statistics, etc.)
  • previous computer programming coursework or experience  (i.e., Python)

Q: Is the GRE required?

No. The GRE is optional for the 2021 application year.

Q: Is there a minimum GPA, GRE, or TOEFL score?

There are no minimum test score or GPA requirements to apply to MIDS. Our admissions committee reviews applications holistically and test scores and GPA are considered alongside other application components. 

Q: Who should I ask to write me a recommendation letter? Do they all need to be from academic sources?

Request letters of recommendation from people best qualified to attest to your capacity for graduate work. We prefer to have academic references representing your major field, though we realize that there are situations where this may not be possible. In such circumstances, seek out people who can comment on qualities that will be relevant to your academic pursuits, particularly research.

Q: Do you require a writing sample in the MIDS application?

No, we do not require a writing sample.

Q: Is work experience required?

While many of our students have work experience, it is not required.

Q: Do I need a STEM degree to apply?

MIDS welcomes candidates from all backgrounds and undergraduate major areas. Our students have all types of degrees ranging from technical to liberal arts. If you’re eager to solve real world problems using data science, we encourage you to apply!

Q: : My undergraduate degree is not in a STEM field, how do I provide evidence of technical background/ability?

While MIDS does not have any prerequisite classes/undergraduate degrees, applicants must demonstrate their ability to succeed in quantitative, analytical, and technical classes. If you haven't taken these types of classes while in school, you must provide evidence of your aptitude or ability to learn in these areas through online classes, portfolios, code repositories, or other similar mechanisms. When applying, use the “Additional Materials” section, the statement of purpose, and the video, to include relevant information.

Q: Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes, MIDS is a full-time degree program and qualifies for a visa. International applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible in order to allow ample time to clear the student visa process. Non-citizens residing in the U.S. are encouraged to apply early as well.

Q: Do you accept other English language proficiency exams?

Yes. Please refer to this webpage for more information about English language proficiency exams.

Q: What is Duke University code for the GRE and TOEFL? 

Duke University's Graduate School institution code is 5156.

Q: Do you prefer applicants who have just completed their bachelor’s degree or applicants with more professional experience?

MIDS does not have a preference. Each year we admit students that have recently completed their undergraduate degrees as well as students who have been working for several years.

Q: I’m currently in a graduate program but I’m thinking about transferring to MIDS, is this allowed?

Students currently enrolled in other graduate programs are welcome to apply to MIDS, however we are not able to accept credits from other programs.

Q: Do you admit students transferring from other graduate programs?

Students in other programs are welcome to apply but are considered the same as other applicants. In particular, work from other programs cannot be applied to the MIDS program.

Q: When are admittance decisions made?

Applicants will be notified by email when a decision is available, normally by March 15.

Q: How do I apply?

You can find detailed instructions on how to apply here.

Q: Can you provide feedback on my application before I submit it?

No, we are not able to provide any feedback or evaluate applications before they are submitted.

Q: I am having technical issues with the application, what should I do?

Please reach out to grad-admissions@duke.edu for assistance.

Q: How will I know when a decision has been made on my application?

You will receive an email stating that a decision has been made. That message will provide instructions for accessing the online decision letter.

Q: If I am denied admission, can I apply again?

Yes, you are welcome to apply again.

Q: If I am denied admission, will I be told why?

Unfortunately, due the confidential nature of applications, we are not able to provide comments beyond what is communicated in your decision letter.

Q: I have a three-year undergraduate degree, can I apply?

Yes. For specific questions regarding three-year degrees please reach out to grad-admissions@duke.edu.

Q: Does MIDS require an interview?

Yes. A zoom or skype interview is required.

Financial Questions

Q: How much is tuition?

The 2020-2021 academic year tuition rate is $27,840. For the 2021-2022 school, a 4% increase is projected.

Q: What are the non tuition costs to attend?

Please refer to this webpage for non-tuition costs.

Q: Does MIDS offer scholarships?

Duke MIDS is committed to having a diverse student body with a variety of backgrounds and our scholarships will reflect this commitment. Partial tuition scholarships are available. We take into consideration financial need as well as merit when awarding scholarships.

Q: Can I apply for FAFSA?

Yes if you meet the basic eligibility requirements to receive federal student aid:

Be a United States Citizen or an eligible noncitizen

If you have a “green card” (in other words, if you are a permanent resident alien), you will be considered an “eligible noncitizen” and will be able to get federal student aid if you meet the other basic eligibility criteria.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, please continue to www.fafsa.ed.gov.  You will need to file the 2020/2021 FAFSA and have your completed tax returns for 2019.  Graduate Students are considered independent, so therefore, NO parental income or information should be entered on the FAFSA. Our school code is 002920.

Q: What other resources are there for funding?

A website maintained by Duke’s Office of Research Support lists awards available from a variety of federal and private sources, as well as awards funded by the university.

Q: Is there any funding for international students?

Please refer to this webpage for opportunities for international students.

General Questions

Q: When does the fall 2021 semester start?

The fall semester is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, August 17th 2021. For other academic dates, please refer to the University’s academic calendar.

Q: How long will it take for a full-time student to complete the Master’s program?

Two years or four (4) semesters.

Q: Does the Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) program have STEM accreditation?

Yes, Duke MIDS is a STEM-designated degree program, giving international students who meet certain requirements up to 36 months to gain work experience in the U.S. after degree completion. Our CIP code is 30.3001.

Q: Am I able to enroll part-time?

Due to the cohort nature of MIDS and sequencing of the curriculum, we do not allow students to enroll part-time. The class schedules and time investment required to succeed make it infeasible for students to be working professionally while enrolled.

Q: How many credits do I need to graduate?

You are required to complete 42 credits to graduate. 30 credits will be made up of core MIDS courses, and at least 12 credits need to come from electives. A summer internship between your first and second year is also required.

Q: What courses do I need to take to graduate?

Students take 7 core MIDS courses, a 1 year Capstone Project course, and half credit seminar/workshop courses that focus on professional development. Further, MIDS students need to complete at least 4 semester long electives to graduate. A complete list of MIDS core courses can be found here.

Q: Are we able to waive certain CORE courses if we have already completed it at undergrad level?

No.

Q: Can I transfer credits from another institution?

Unfortunately, no, you cannot transfer credits from another institution at this time.

Q: Is the degree offered online?

No, we do not currently have an online program.

Q: How do I find a list of pre-approved elective courses I can take?

There is a list on the MIDS website with “pre-approved” courses that are most common to students enrolled in MIDS. You can find that list here. However, students are not limited to these courses and should use DukeHub to explore other options related to their academic and career interests.

Students can also discuss with MIDS staff/faculty what they are looking for and then MIDS staff/faculty can advise from there. Please note: students are advised to not take an elective during their first semester.

Q: Can I take an undergraduate course and use it to fulfill a MIDS elective course requirement?                      

No.

Q: Can I audit a course outside of the MIDS program?                   

Yes, as long as you received the approval of the MIDS Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) as well as approval from the course instructor. To count as an elective, however, the course has to be taken for credit.

Q: Will I be able to work or obtain a Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant position?          

Yes, given the academic work in MIDS, we advise not doing so until a student has a good feel for how much time they might have for such a position. There are numerous research and teaching assistant positions available across campus.

Q: How is a Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) degree different from a degree in statistics, math, or computer science?

Our curriculum is broader than traditional graduate programs in individual academic departments and has a stronger emphasis on technical computing skills, practical experiences, and teamwork.

Q: How is a Duke Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) ​​degree different from a degree in business analytics?

Our curriculum emphasizes a deeper understanding of the statistical and mathematical theory behind the tools used in data projects than traditional business analytics programs. We welcome students who want to apply data science to the problems they are most passionate about, including (but of course not at all limited to) problems in business, government, public policy, biomedical science, journalism, and the humanities.

Q: How is a Duke MIDS degree different from a degree in information systems?

Our curriculum emphasizes modeling, analyzing, and interpreting data more than traditional information systems programs. This approach benefits students who want to work outside of business settings in addition to those who want to work in business settings.

Q: What is the online review?

Over the summer, students will be required to complete a set of online instructional modules on Linear Algebra, Statistics, R, and Python. We recognize many students may still be working over the summer, so we will provide ample time for students to complete these requirements, but all requirements must be met before arriving on campus. Students with strong backgrounds in any of these areas will be able to test out of a specific module(s).

Q: What is bootcamp and when does it start?

Bootcamp is an intensive dive into programming and begins 3 weeks prior to the start of the fall semester. Bootcamp is required of all incoming students.

Q&A with Tom and Jason

Tom Nechyba and MIDS student Jason Chang discuss the Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) program, application requirements, data science, and life at Duke!