MS in Data Science - Official Blog

December 19, 2018

Application Advice Part 5 – Transcripts

One of the questions we hear most often from applicants has to do with what the admissions committee wants to see on your transcripts. Which aspects are the most important? How are they evaluated? Your transcripts are a rich source of information. This is one of the reasons why they are so important in the admissions process.

We look for evidence of academic excellence and intellectual curiosity in several places on your transcripts:

  • Overall GPA
  • Major GPA
  • Upper-division coursework
  • Patterns of improvement
  • Academic honors
  • Senior thesis
  • Independent studies

In short, we like to see that you took a well-rounded, challenging course load in college. If you did not start out strong, but showed improvement over time, we interpret that as a sign of growth and maturity. We also look favorably upon upper-division coursework, a senior thesis, independent studies, and academic honors because they suggest that you would thrive in graduate school.

Extenuating circumstances: If you believe your transcripts do not reflect your true capabilities, you may wish to use the optional essay to explain any unusual circumstances that impacted your academic performance. Common reasons include illness, bereavement, mental health issues, disability, and working to pay for college. If there was an unusual circumstance you wish to address in your application, please explain it briefly and honestly; do not lay blame or complain.

International students: For international students, we understand that undergraduate education varies across countries, and we carefully evaluate international transcripts using the guidelines provided by your undergraduate institution. Please remember to upload the transcript legend (on the back page in most cases), so that we can accurately assess your academic performance.

Uploading transcripts: You must upload unofficial transcripts to the online application from every college or university where you earned a degree or completed prerequisites. It is important that your transcripts are legible and the pages in order. Please note that we receive a high-volume of applications, so you should make sure that your transcripts are easy to read (e.g., no blurry scans, no cell phone pictures, etc.).