5th Year MIDS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Who will my classmates be?
UC Berkeley seeks candidates with strong academic and professional backgrounds. 5th Year MIDS candidates must meet the same rigorous admissions standards as students in our on-campus programs. Our 5th Year MIDS students have a diverse range of academic backgrounds, including economics, applied mathematics, cognitive science, business administration, computer science, political economy, sociology, molecular and cellular neurobiology, data science, and more.

When do classes begin?
The 5th Year MIDS program has one fall start date each year.

What are the program requirements?
The 5th Year MIDS program consists of 27 specific DATASCI units (9 courses). Students are also required to attend a three- to four-day immersion at UC Berkeley or in another location relevant to data science. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education requires Minnesota residents to complete 30 units to earn their 5th Year MIDS degree.

How long does the program take to complete?
5th Year MIDS is designed to be completed in just over one year over the fall, spring, summer, and fall terms. Students will take 3 classes in the fall, 3 classes in spring, a data science practicum in the summer, and 2 classes including Capstone in the fall. Students are also required to attend immersion. Please review the required course sequencing page for full details.

What degree will I earn upon completion of the program?
Graduates will earn a Master of Information and Data Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Will my course schedule be flexible?
Courses contain both live and asynchronous sessions. Students are required to be online for at least 90 minutes weekly per course for live, synchronous sessions. Instructors also assign coursework in preparation for weekly classes, which students may complete when their schedule allows.

Live sessions are typically scheduled Monday through Friday, 2:00 – 3:30 pm Pacific Time or 4:00 – 5:30 pm Pacific Time. Occasionally, classes may be offered 6:30 – 8:00 pm Pacific Time.

Conditional on space availability and sufficient prerequisite knowledge, 5th Year MIDS students may be able to enroll in any of the advanced DATASCI courses. Note these will be taken with MIDS students.

Will my diploma denote that I earned my degree online?
No. Students receive the same diploma as students in other on-campus UC Berkeley graduate programs, with no indication they earned their degree through an online program. Students are invited to participate in on-campus graduation ceremonies, as well.

What is the class size?
Class size ranges from 15 to 18 students to encourage a collaborative learning environment.

How does the 5th Year MIDS pathway differ from that of traditional MIDS?
The 5th Year MIDS pathway is designed to be completed in just over one year, over the fall, spring, summer, and fall terms. Students will take 3 classes in the fall, 3 classes in spring, a data science practicum in the summer, and 2 classes including Capstone in the fall. Students are also required to attend immersion. We recommend that you carefully review the list of required courses here.

5th Year MIDS benefits from a cohort model where students take courses alongside their fellow 5th Year MIDS classmates, which provides additional social learning opportunities and allows faculty to better personalize the 5th Year MIDS student experience.

The traditional MIDS pathway is designed for working professionals with 8 years average work experience. Students generally take two courses per term and complete the degree in 5 semesters / 20 months. Students in the MIDS pathway have more flexibility with coursework options and sequencing after their first semester.

All 5th Year MIDS and MIDS students have access to the same I School and UC Berkeley network and resources.

Does the program provide visas?
No. Because 5th Year MIDS is delivered online and nonresidential, we do not provide visas.

Can I complete the program from any country?
Per the Berkeley International Office Immigration FAQs, "the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has established regulations that prohibit U.S. persons (including the University of California) from providing services - including remote educational services - to individuals in certain sanctioned countries without a general or specific license. The list of OFAC sanctioned countries currently includes: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and the Ukraine-Crimea Region." Please contact the Berkeley International Office with further questions.

Career Services

What career services are available to students?
The I School Career Services team will provide you with personalized career planning, on-demand resources, transformational learning opportunities, and career connections. More information about I School Career Services.

Does 5th Year MIDS qualify as a STEM-approved degree?
5th Year MIDS is a designated STEM degree; the CIP code is 11.0401. However, 5th Year MIDS students are ineligible for the F-1 visa STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension because the 5th Year MIDS program is non-residential. Please contact the Berkeley International Office with visa questions.

What is immersion?
The required three- to four-day immersion is an opportunity for 5th Year MIDS students to meet faculty and peers in person on the UC Berkeley campus or in other locations relevant to data science. Students gain on-the-ground perspectives from faculty and industry leaders, meet with data science professionals, and strengthen their relationships with I School community members.

Learning Experience

What is the online learning experience like?
Students attend live, online classes each week, hosted using face-to-face video-conferencing technology. The platform encourages collaboration and connection with classmates and faculty, which allows students to build real, lasting relationships. In addition to the live class sessions, students complete self-paced, asynchronous coursework throughout each week, and have access to social groups with classmates and one-on-one interaction with faculty. The self-paced coursework is immersive and dynamic, and prepares students for classroom discussions with peers and instructors. Content includes compelling videos, interactive case studies, recorded lectures, and collaborative activities that foster teamwork.

Is this degree delivered completely online?
All classes and coursework are delivered entirely online. Students must attend live weekly class sessions online, as well as a three- to four-day immersion on the UC Berkeley campus or in other locations relevant to data science. Immersion is crafted to deliver additional learning, networking, and community- building opportunities.

Is attendance mandatory for live classes?

How is the coursework delivered and what does it entail?
UC Berkeley faculty members have worked with world-class course developers to create an I School curriculum designed specifically for an online learning environment.

Before each weekly live class, students complete coursework on their own time. Coursework is immersive and dynamic, and prepares students for classroom discussions with peers and instructors. Content includes compelling videos, interactive case studies, recorded lectures, and collaborative activities that foster teamwork.

What are live class sessions like?
Our online platform facilitates live, seminar-style classes driven by problem-solving, collaboration, and discussion. After each class, students have 24/7 access to class recordings.

How does the program facilitate connections for this online student body?
Our online platform facilitates collaboration and leads to real connections. Students create profiles similar to other social networking tools and get to know each other outside of class through social groups. In addition, students get together for online study sessions, group project work, faculty office hours, and even virtual happy hours.

What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
Our classes are capped at 18 students.

Who teaches the courses?
5th Year MIDS instructors include tenured faculty, leading industry practitioners, and postdoctoral scholars.

What student support and advising services are available to students?
Support begins the moment you request information and continues beyond graduation. You will be assigned an advisor who is available to meet with you one-on-one throughout the program to help you meet your academic and career goals. Our student success team will work with you to provide technical assistance and help you acclimate to our online learning community. Once you graduate, you will join the I School and UC Berkeley global alumni network, which connects you for life to other graduates around the world.

Admissions and Application Materials

Who is eligible to apply?
For Fall 2024, we welcome applications from UC Berkeley seniors who have graduated or will graduate in Summer 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, or Summer 2023.

Is there a minimum GPA?
No, there is no minimum GPA required to apply. Because our application review process is holistic, the admissions committee takes into consideration all of the application materials that you share with us. Your GPA is just one piece of this story.

What majors are accepted?
All majors are considered and encouraged to apply to the 5th Year MIDS program.

When are candidates notified with admissions decisions?
Candidates who apply by the early application deadline will receive admissions decisions by early December. Candidates who apply by the final application deadline will receive decisions by early April. 

If denied at the early application deadline, may candidates reapply to the other application deadlines?
No, decisions are final for all applicants of any given start date.

Will there be an interview?
Interviews are at the discretion of the admissions committee, are by invitation only, and may be requested if we have follow up questions or want to learn more about particular components of your application. Please prepare as you would for a professional business interview.

Is work experience required?
Although prior work experience is preferred, it is not required for admission.

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
We prefer a mixture of academic and professional letters. Most importantly, your recommenders should be able to provide details about your accomplishments, impact, technical aptitude, leadership skills, personal qualities, and potential for success in and contribution to the 5th Year MIDS program. We recommend that you select individuals with whom you have had considerable interaction.

I’m interested in more than one UC Berkeley graduate degree. May I apply to both?
It is a UC Berkeley Graduate Division policy that you may apply to only one graduate program per admissions cycle. Please see additional details on the Graduate Division Admissions FAQ.

Is there an application fee?
For Fall 2023, the application fee is $135 for domestic applicants and $155 for international applicants. This fee is nonrefundable and must be paid when you submit your application.

What specific technical skills are required?
We expect students to have had some exposure to fundamental data science concepts including object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithms and analysis of algorithms, and linear algebra. It is most important in your application to demonstrate an aptitude for learning these subjects.

Admitted students who lack a working knowledge of these fundamental concepts will be required to complete applicable coursework in their first term. Please see degree requirements for additional details.

Where and how do I share my technical skills?
On the 5th Year MIDS program page of the application, you will find the Core Technical Competencies section. Please make sure to describe in detail: your level of proficiency, how you acquired these skills, and if applicable, the class(es) you took and the grade(s) you received.

Financing your Education

Tuition, Fees, Fellowships and Financial Aid

What is the cost of attendance?
Our Funding Your 5th Year MIDS Education page shows the most up-to-date information on program costs.

Do students get automatically enrolled into the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)?
Yes. Students who wish to opt out of SHIP must submit a SHIP waiver form before each term they wish to waive out of SHIP. Learn more about waiving SHIP

What types of aid are available?
U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal financial aid programs, which include student loans. We encourage you to apply for financial aid as early as possible.

How do I apply for financial aid?
To apply for federal aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The federal school code for UC Berkeley is 001312.

Are fellowships available?
Yes. Applicants are able to apply for new student fellowships via our online fellowship application. And, as part of our commitment to serve the public good, the I School is proud to offer the Jack Larson for Good Fellowship for incoming MIDS students, as well as the Paul Fasana LGBTQ Studies Fellowship and Curtis B. Smith Cybersecurity Fellowship for current UC Berkeley I School graduate students. Learn more about our fellowship opportunities.

Are there any school specific supplemental financial aid forms I need to complete?
In order for your loans to disburse, you will need to complete entrance counseling and electronically sign the Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note (MPN). Complete loan counseling at StudentLoans.gov.

Once admitted, how long will it take to receive my financial aid award package?
Students are generally packaged with financial aid 2–4 weeks prior to classes starting. This is contingent on the timely submission of the correct FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).


What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application the Department of Education uses to determine if you are eligible to receive federal student aid.

Where can I find the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is available online at FAFSA.ed.gov. The FAFSA is a free application; you will not be asked to pay.

What is the University FAFSA school code?
The Berkeley FAFSA school code is 001312.

Do I need my parents’ tax information to complete the FAFSA if I live on my own?
No, if you are applying for graduate school, you do not need your parents’ information to complete the FAFSA.

When should I complete the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is available every October for the upcoming academic year. If you are planning to use federal student aid, you should complete your FAFSA while applying for admission.

What constitutes an academic year for federal student aid?
An academic year is the year for which financial aid is used to fund your education. Generally, this is the twelve-month period that begins on July 1 of one year and ends on June 30 of the following year.

What FAFSA forms should I complete?
For students beginning 5th Year MIDS in Fall 2024, complete the 2024–2025 and 2025–2026 FAFSA forms.

What federal student aid is available to graduate students?
The type of federal student aid graduate students are eligible to apply for include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. Learn more about the types of federal student aid.

Why am I not eligible for the Pell Grant or Federal Subsidized Loan?
The Department of Education awards federal Pell Grants to eligible undergraduate students who have not yet completed their bachelor’s degrees. The Department of Education awards subsidized loans to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Therefore, graduate students are not eligible for the federal Pell Grant or the Direct Subsidized Loan.

Student Employment

Am I eligible to pursue academic student employment as a GSI, GSR, reader, or tutor? What are academic appointments?
Yes, 5th Year MIDS students are eligible for graduate student academic appointments. Due to the rigor of the program, however, it is strongly advised that students work no more than 10 hours per week. Students who wish to work more than this must get approval from the I School’s Senior Director of Student Affairs.

Academic Student Employee (ASE) Positions:

  • Graduate Student Instructor: Serves as an apprentice under the supervision of a regular faculty member, who is usually the Instructor of Record for the course. GSIs may lead discussion or laboratory sections, hold office hours, read student papers, assist with exams or grading, and more.
  • Reader:Performs duties related to grading of student assignments, papers, and/or examinations. They may also attend lectures, hold office hours, or have other duties, but are not assigned teaching duties.
  • Tutor: Provides tutorial services to individuals or groups of students under the direct supervision of a regular faculty member.

Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) Positions:

  • Graduate Student Researcher (GSR): Performs research under the direction of a faculty member.

In addition to wages, students may also receive partial fee remission waivers that offset a portion of their tuition and fees, depending on the hours worked during the course of the semester. The Graduate Division determines the requirements for qualifications and working conditions for all graduate student appointments. Please visit the Graduate Division's Appointment Office website for additional information.

Last updated:

July 25, 2022