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 Class of 2020 includes students with 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. Classes begin in late August.

What are the program requirements?

The 5th Year MIDS program consists of 27 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.

How long does the program take to complete?

5th Year MIDS is designed to be completed in one calendar year over the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students take four classes during each of the fall and spring terms, followed by one capstone course and an optional internship during the summer term. Students are also required to attend immersion.

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.

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 one calendar year, over the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students take 4 courses in the fall and spring terms and one course (Capstone), along with an optional internship, during the final summer term. The traditional MIDS pathway is designed for working professionals. Students generally take two courses per term and complete the degree in 8 semesters / 20 months. Once in the program, all students are considered “MIDS” students, and everyone has 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.

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 state-of-the-art 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 support 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 2020, we welcome applications from UC Berkeley seniors who have graduated or will graduate in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, or Summer 2020.

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 final application deadline?

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 and are by invitation only. We do not interview a large portion of our 5th Year MIDS applicants, but we may reach out to request an interview if we have follow up questions or want to learn more about particular components of your application.

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 simultaneously?

No, it is a UC Berkeley Graduate Division policy that you may only apply to one graduate program per academic cycle.

Is there an application fee?

For Fall 2020, the application fee is $120 for domestic applicants and $140 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. However, candidates lacking this experience may take a DATASCI W200. Introduction to Data Science Programming as part of their curriculum and/or self-paced summer bridge courses in linear algebra and data structures and algorithms. It is most important in your application to demonstrate aptitude for learning these subjects.

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.

Is the GRE / GMAT required?

No, GRE / GMAT scores are not required. However, strong scores could be helpful to demonstrate academic aptitude for candidates who did not perform up to their potential during their undergraduate pursuit. Otherwise, we do not believe it to be a necessary application component, and we would recommend that you put your time and effort into the required pieces of the application.

Can test scores be submitted after the application deadline?

No. Candidates are required to take the test prior to the application deadline. If taken close to the deadline, please include unofficial scores in your application. The admissions team will then confirm official scores once they are available.

How long are test scores valid for admission purposes?

No more than five years may have passed between the GRE / GMAT test date and the application deadline.

What are the GRE school and department codes?

The school code for UC Berkeley is 4833. The department code for the I School is 0404 (Information Sciences).

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.

Is there an enrollment deposit?

Yes, a non-refundable $300 enrollment deposit is required as part of the steps to accept admission. This deposit is credited towards tuition.

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 scholarships available?

Yes. Applicants are able to apply for new student scholarships via our online scholarship 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 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 employment as GSI, GSR, reader, or teaching assistant? 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 Director of Student Affairs.

  • Graduate Student Researcher: Performs research under the direction of a faculty member.
  • Tutor: provides tutorial services to individuals or groups of students under the direct supervision of a regular faculty member. I School faculty sometimes hire qualified graduate student tutors to provide lab assistance for I School courses.
  • Reader: Performs duties related to grading of papers and examinations, but are not assigned teaching duties.
  • Graduate Student Instructor: Serves as an apprentice teacher under the supervision of a regular faculty member.

In addition to wages, students may also receive a tuition waiver, 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:

October 21, 2019