Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the University of California–Berkeley not only boasts a top full-time MBA program, but also one of the most competitive. And it’s also highly coveted, as the No. 2 program on Fortune’s first-ever ranking of the best online data science master’s programs.
The Berkeley School of Information historically admits only 30% to 35% of applicants each year who are either transitioning to a data science role or who are looking to hold leadership positions in the field, Alex Hughes, the head graduate adviser for the program, tells Fortune. The average incoming student has a 3.5 undergraduate GPA and is in the 79th percentile for their GMAT score, although a GMAT or GRE score is not required to apply.
“There are other programs that are also very good, but they have perhaps a slightly different focus than we do,” Hughes says. “We’ve got a view that data science is more than just sitting and programming—that data science involves issues of identifying the core question that’s coming from business and being able to focus that into the type of question that we can bring an algorithm to solve.”
Hughes and current data science master’s student Srishti Mehra shared with Fortune some insight about the application process to UC Berkeley—and what sets the program apart.
D. Alex Hughes is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the UC Berkeley School of Information, his research focuses on group identity shapes political access and how social connections shape political behavior.
Srishti Mehra is a current MIDS student.