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Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Master of Professional Studies in Data Science Fellowship



Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in
Data Science Fellowship Application

Welcome to the CARD/FAES Application Portal for the UMBC MPS in Data Science IRTA Fellowship Program. This portal is maintained by FAES in cooperation with the Center for Alzheimer's and Related Dementias (CARD).

The newly formed Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (CARD) at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is offering a two-year unique, research-intensive master’s level fellowship program to build a stronger, more diverse and inclusive community in biomedical data science. The goal of this program is to cultivate the next generation of data science and bioinformatics professionals at CARD and beyond. Fellowship awardees will gain foundational knowledge in data analysis and data management through collaborative online instruction and research performed at CARD and partner institutes with experts in the field of Alzheimer's and related dementia research. Beyond their coursework, as members of the research team, fellows have the opportunity to utilize and refine new skills while working with real data curated at CARD and partner institutes, and benefiting from a wide range of training opportunities. Information about the CARD mission and philosophy, scientific themes and structural priorities, as well as mentors, can be found on the CARD website.

Three application cohorts will be administered over the course of three years; Fall semester of 2022 (Cohort I-enrolled), 2023 (Cohort II), and 2024 (Cohort III). 

The following information provides details on who is eligible for this exciting opportunity and the eligibility requirements, admission requirements and how to apply for the fellowship program, proposed coursework, and timelines for completing the CARD and UMBC applications. Please note, to receive fellowship consideration, applicants should only apply to UMBC once they have been instructed to do so by FAES staff upon passing the Phase I evaluation process. Applicants should not apply to UMBC at the same time they submit their fellowship application. ​Watch the video of the Virtual Information Session (recorded in February 2024) for additional information about CARD, research and mentoring at CARD, and to better understand the framework for blending FAES and UMBC courses. The FAQ page includes answers to a variety of commonly asked questions that may not be otherwise covered on this page.   


  1. U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Legal Residents: Selected candidates will receive a full-time Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Student (Academic) Fellowship to work at CARD for a total of two consecutive years. During this time, selected candidates will be trained in data analysis while studying the MPS degree. The fellowship will cover costs of the MPS degree (excluding books), including a stipend while working at CARD.
  2. Candidates with no intention of working at CARD are not eligible for the fellowship. However, they can pursue the MPS on their own by applying directly with UMBC

The program is a 30-credit hour professional graduate degree. This two-year degree/fellowship program will allow qualified students who take specified FAES Data Science and Bioinformatics courses to transfer up to 15 credits to UMBC’s MPS in Data Science. The master’s degree will be earned in two consecutive years. All courses will be taught by highly experienced data science professionals.


Fellows are required to complete 5 courses (3 credits each) offered through UMBC, and 8 courses (2 credits each) offered through FAES. Fellows will follow the proposed schedule below to complete the coursework successfully in two years. Deviation from established course schedules will require advisor approval.

Year 1 - Fall

and one of the following (DATA 690 Special Topics subject matter are subject to change):

Year 1 - Spring

Year 2 - Fall

Year 2 - Spring

*Students must consult with a CARD advisor to choose 4 electives from Approved FAES Bioinformatics Pathway Courses over the duration of the fellowship. BIOF 521 is a required elective for all fellows.

Approved FAES Bioinformatics Pathway Courses

For FAES Course Policies, please visit the FAES Academic Programs website.


Combined CARD/FAES and UMBC Admission Requirements:

1.  NIH Policy for Appointment of Student (Academic) IRTAs

  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent legal resident to apply for the Student IRTA status.
  • Applicants must be a graduate or senior undergraduate who will graduate in spring and apply for the next fall semester start.
  • Applicants must have the ability to train at the NIH campus located in Bethesda, MD.
  • Applicants must pass a federal background check. (In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a federal background check, using Standard Form-85 (read SF-85). NOTE: Section 14 of the form asks "In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?" The question pertains to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.)
  • Initial stipend is based on the number of years of experience at the start of the traineeship.
  • Stipend advances are not provided.
  • Student IRTA stipends are based on educational level completed.
  • Taking individual courses through FAES before the start of this fellowship does not confer the same status or recognition as completing an entire Master's degree program.

2.  Required documents for CARD/FAES online application

  • Unofficial transcripts from each college/university attended (undergraduate and graduate; international transcripts in English)
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • At least two (2) and up to three (3) recommendation letters (at least one letter needs to support applicant's interest in Data Science)

3.  UMBC MPS degree in Data Science admissions requirements and online application process

  • Please visit the UMBC Master of Professional Studies: Data Science Program listing for specific information on degree requirements, application processes, and required documents.
  • Applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree in any subject with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Applicant’s prior coursework should include college-level math, statistics, and programming.
  • Note that:
    • Work experience that demonstrates the applicant’s programming and quantitative abilities might be considered as a substitute for meeting the aforementioned requirements.
    • Applicants who do not have prior coursework or industrial experience should take online courses in statistics, linear algebra, and programming.
    • GRE scores are not required for admission.


  • CARD/FAES Application Closes:  April 22, 2024
  • Letters of Recommendation Deadline:  April 29, 2024
  • Phase I CARD Application Reviews:  Individuals meeting eligibility requirements and Phase I selection criteria will be notified by May 09, 2024, provided with an admission fee waiver code to complete the UMBC application, and scheduled for a preliminary Phase II interview.
  • UMBC Fellowship Application Closes:  May 20, 2024
  • UMBC Admission Notifications:  On a rolling basis
  • Phase II Candidate Interviews:  June 10-13, 2024 (applicants accepted to UMBC will be contacted confirming their interview with CARD staff)
  • Candidate Selections:  Notifications sent no later than June 19, 2024
  • Phase III IRTA Administrative Process:  June 26-July 12, 2024 (candidates will be contacted by CARD staff to complete the IRTA onboarding process)
  • IRTA Fellowship Begins:  August 26, 2024
  • FAES Fall 2023 Courses Begin:  August 28, 2024
  • UMBC Fall 2023 Courses Begin:  August 28, 2024

FAES/UMBC/CARD staff will coordinate class registration and schedules with selected fellows.


Eligible and interested applicants must apply for the fellowship first through FAES using the online application form below. Once receipt of the FAES application has been confirmed and candidates have successfully passed Phase I of the evaluation process, candidates will receive a special code waiving UMBC’s admission fee to proceed to apply to UMBC

Please review all application requirements and have your supporting documentation with approved contacts for at least two letters of recommendation ready before you apply. Otherwise, save your progress and return later to complete the application. Note: Please ensure that you have notified your recommenders in advance of applying that they will be contacted directly by FAES and that you are allowing enough time for them to submit their letters by the Letters of Recommendation deadline. For additional information on submitting letters, please refer to the "Letters of Recommendation" section of the application below.

To receive fellowship consideration, all required information and supporting documentation​ must be submitted to FAES no later than April 22, 2024 (all three letters of recomendation must be submited by April 29, 2024). Similar documentation may be required for UMBC’s application due no later than May 20, 2024, and must be submitted separately from the documents requested here, including the same letters of recommendation. Please be sure to apply to the Shady Grove Campus of UMBC when submitting your application. 

Applicants who were selected during the Phase I review process and admitted to the UMBC MPS in Data Science Program will undergo the Phase II review process. Interviews (Phase II) will be conducted virtually by CARD staff before fellowship awards are announced. Applicants selected for the fellowship will be contacted by CARD. CARD will provide guidance on applying for the Phase III IRTA student status.

To learn more about ongoing research projects and mentors at the CARD, please visit

Application now closed. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Fellowship eligibility and requirements:

FAES application portal, courses, and fellowship status updates:

FAES Program Staff |

UMBC application, admissions, and courses:

UMBC-Shady Grove Program Staff | (application & admissions)

Chelsea Moyer, Director of UMBC-Shady Grove I (application & admissions)

Dr. M. Ali Yousuf Assistant Graduate Program Director for Data Science at Shady Grove I (courses)