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Master's Degrees | Foundations of Data Science

Foundations of Data Science

Entrance Exam: NONE

NC State’s Master’s degree in Foundations of Data Science (MSFDS) will help meet the demand for a new breed of data science professionals. MSFDS is a terminal professional degree program based on course work and integrated professional development activities. The program will equip its graduates with both depth and breadth, balanced across three core disciplines lying at the heart of data science. No research, thesis or comprehensive examination is required.

The MSFDS degree may be pursued via a standard track or through one of the following three concentrations in Computer Science, Mathematics or Statistics:

Foundations of Data Science (MS): Computer Science Concentration

Foundations of Data Science (MS): Mathematics Concentration

Foundations of Data Science (MS): Statistics Concentration


Essential requirements for admission to the program are undergraduate-level knowledge of single and multivariable calculus and matrix or linear algebra. Coursework in probability and statistics, and a course in data structures or algorithms will make applicants more competitive for admission to the program.

Exceptions may be approved by the MSFDS Director of Graduate Programs (DGP). Submission of GRE General Test scores is optional. Prospective domestic students, including foreign nationals with active visa status, can enroll in the online degree program on a full-time or part-time basis. International students are only eligible to apply to the full-time, on-campus version of the program.

For Fall 2024 admissions, applications will be considered on a rolling basis until program capacity is reached (see also NCSU Application Deadlines). Applicants may be contacted for an admissions interview.

Plan of Study

The MSFDS degree may be pursued via a standard track or through one of three concentrations in Computer Science, Mathematics or Statistics. The MSFDS degree requires completion of 30 credit hours.  While pursuing a graduate degree at NC State, all students must be registered every Fall or Spring semester until completion of the degree. All masters students at NC State must complete their degree requirements within six (6) calendar years of starting their graduate program.

Career Prospects

Every year, the amount of data collected, and the variety of sources from which it originates, increases. This data spans a broad range from health data collected via personal devices to public health, financial, environmental or policy data collected by the public or private sectors.

Meaningful interpretation of this data requires the development, integration and application of tools rooted in both theory and methodology of core disciplines of data science. Machine learning and algorithms can only do so much; productive interpretation requires trained professionals to develop tools and approaches that can transform data into actionable recommendations and plans. Graduates of the Master of Science in Foundations of Data Science are well equipped to serve in positions requiring these skills.

Government agencies need data scientists for guidance regarding everything from emergency preparedness to planning for national security or economic prosperity. Corporations require forecasting analysis for production purposes, risk analysis and marketing success. The environmental economy needs analysis to develop sustainable technology and practices that are also profitable. It’s challenging to find a sector that doesn’t seek consultation from data scientists or related professionals.

The Master of Science in Foundations of Data Science provides advanced exploration of mathematics, statistics, computer science and machine learning. With this solid foundation of highly marketable knowledge, graduates find employment as data scientists, research or risk analysts, and forecasting experts in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.