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Admissions: MEDS Program

Bren’s Master of Environmental Data Science (MEDS) degree is an 11-month professional degree program ideal for students entering with a background in environmental science, environmental studies, or similar disciplines with exposure to data science and mathematics. This program is full-time and held on-campus.

A background in computer science, statistics, or data science is not required; the MEDS program is intended to give students a comprehensive education in leading-edge practices of data science from the ground up. An educational background in environmental disciplines will help MEDS students apply their data science skills and tools to solve environmental problems. 

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Important Dates & Deadlines

For Summer 2022 Start Date:

Online Application Opens September 1, 2021
Application Deadline December 1, 2021
Admissions Decisions Late March 2022

How to Apply

Review our application guide on how to apply to the MEDS program, including a required materials checklist, information about fees and fee waivers, and more.

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Graduate Admissions Timeline

The Bren School’s Master of Environmental Data Science program accepts applications for Summer matriculation only.

Holistic Admissions Approach

The Bren School proudly stands by a holistic admissions process. Bren's admissions committee looks for well-rounded applicants with excellent academic performance, maturity, work experience, great letters of recommendation, and strong personal statements. Each applicant offers a unique suite of experiences and accomplishments that are fully considered by the admissions committee.

We believe holistic admissions is important to diversity and inclusivity at the Bren School, and to removing barriers to gaining a first-rate graduate education. Please read about Bren's holistic admissions process to understand how we weigh and consider your application materials, as well as how to request an application fee waiver.

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Admissions Eligibility

The Bren School is a graduate school within the Graduate Division of UC Santa Barbara. Applications to the Bren School are completed through the UCSB Online Graduate Application. Please note that you may apply to only one department at UCSB per admissions cycle.

Educational Background

A degree in an environmentally-related discipline is required for the MEDS program: biology, chemistry, ecology, economics, geology, geography, governance, politics and policy, life cycle assessment, marine science, environmentally-related engineering, etc. Strong coursework (4-5 courses) in environmentally-related topics may also satisfy this requirement. Programming or computer science experience is not required.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

UC Santa Barbara requires applicants to receive a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited four-year institution prior to starting a graduate program. The undergraduate minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) is 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

In rare cases, Bren can petition the UCSB Graduate Division to admit a student who has a GPA that is slightly below 3.0 if the rest of the application is extremely strong and unusual circumstances may have contributed to the lower undergraduate GPA.

Review the complete UCSB Graduate Division graduate admissions eligibility requirements.

GRE Exam Scores

Update: Due to challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the admissions committee and the Bren School faculty waived the GRE requirement for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 admissions. The Bren School will not be accepting any GRE scores from applicants this year (applications due December 2021).

While GRE scores typically must be submitted in order to be considered for admission to UCSB, neither UCSB nor the Bren School enforce a minimum GRE score. Learn more about our holistic admissions approach.

The Bren School does not require a subject test for its applicants. The Bren School does not accept scores from other exams, such as the GMAT, in lieu of the GRE.

Academic Preparation

The MEDS program at the Bren School values a diverse student body and we welcome applicants from any undergraduate major with environmentally-related experience. In addition to a background in an environmentally-related discipline, you are expected to complete the following minimum prerequisite coursework:

Math – one course (quarter or semester)
Students may meet the math prerequisite by taking at least one math course, including calculus, econometrics, or linear algebra, among others.

Statistics – one course (quarter or semester) 
Students may meet the statistics prerequisite requirement by taking at least one statistics course, including statistics and probability, applied statistics, regression analysis, or linear models, among others.
Important things to consider:

  • Only courses earned with a grade of C or higher will be counted toward meeting MEDS prerequisite requirements.
  • Prerequisite courses may be met through any accredited two- or four-year college or university (including community colleges). Courses completed through online education platforms (such as Coursera) are not accepted.
  • If you wish to use Advanced Placement (AP) credit to count toward meeting the MEDS prerequisites, please include course summaries in the Prerequisite Verification Form when you submit your application.

Applying Without Full Academic Preparation
If you are lacking preparation in a prerequisite area, we still encourage you to apply. You must include a memo in your application outlining how you plan to rectify the deficiency before enrolling, if admitted. Presenting a good plan will strengthen your application. While you are not required to have finished all of the prerequisite coursework for admission, you must have it all completed before enrolling in Bren School courses.

Holistic Admissions Approach
Please read about Bren's holistic admissions process to understand how we weigh and consider your application materials, as well as how to request an application fee waiver.

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International Student Eligibility

In addition to reviewing the following information, we recommend that international applications do the following:


All applicants are required to self-report their Grade Point Averages (GPA) on their UCSB online application. Although most institutions in the United States use a 4.0 scale (including UCSB), international students do not need to convert their GPAs to the U.S. grading scale. You are required to self-report your GPA on your application in the same scale used by your home institution. Read more details about Completed Units/Credits 


If your native language is not English, then you are required to complete either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. The TOEFL ITP, or Institutional Testing Program are not accepted. Scores for either exam may be no more than two years old at the time of application. The University requires a minimum score of 550 (paper test) or 80 (computer test) for the TOEFL exam. The University requires a minimum Overall Band Score of 7.0 or higher for the IELTS exam.

The Bren School generally does not admit students to the MEDS program unless they have TOEFL or IELTS scores significantly higher than the minimum required by the University. Bren’s master’s programs are rigorous and do not allow time for students to develop their English skills simultaneously. In addition, there is a considerable amount of group work that requires a high level of proficiency in English.

Exceptions to English language proficiency exams may be granted to applicants who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at an institution whose primary language of instruction is English. If you think you qualify for this exception, you will need to upload unofficial transcripts from your institution and indicate on the online application that it is an English instruction-only institution. There are no additional forms or steps necessary at the time of application.

All non-native English speakers who are admitted to UCSB—even those having an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score—must take the university's English Language Placement Exam (ELPE) before Fall quarter courses begin. The Bren School expects students to have completed all English as a Second Language (ESL) courses recommended by the test results prior (or concurrently) to starting coursework at Bren.

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Take the next step toward your future.

Request more information, bring your questions to a webinar with our admissions manager, or start or complete your online application.

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