How to Get into Lambda School's Data Science Program
Dec 10, 2020
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Lambda School’s data science program is one of the quickest and most affordable ways to become a data scientist. It can also be one of the most fun. Our hiring manager-influenced programs put you in the same (virtual) room as industry pros who arm you with every skill you’ll need to thrive in a career in applied statistics and machine learning. 

If you have a passion for tech and a mind for numbers, getting accepted into Lambda School’s data science program is fairly straightforward. This post will tell you everything you should know to ace the application process.

Before you apply to the Data Science program

Lambda’s coursework is rewarding but it’s also challenging, so there’s a little bit of housekeeping you’ll need to take care of before you start the application process.

Make sure you meet Lambda School’s requirements

The first thing you should do before applying for the online data science course is make sure you meet Lambda’ Schools applicant requirements. Are you passionate about finding a job in tech? Do you have grit and excitement about the field? Think about your work and home environment. Can you commit to attending 95% of your course and keep to your course schedule? Do you have access to WiFi and a computer with a webcam that will allow you to collaborate with your classmates and instructors online? Are you comfortable collaborating with other people and asking for help when you need it? If you can answer yes to all of those questions, you’re ready.

Ensure that you can commit to the full-time schedule.

Our full-time data science online courses are taught live, and you must attend 95% of classes to graduate. Full-time classes run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Monday through Friday with a personal warm up time from 8 to 9 a.m. and breaks for lunch. The full-time coursework takes  about six months to complete. We do not currently offer a part-time data science course.

Learn about Lambda School’s tuition options

Lambda School’s variety of tuition options make a new career in tech possible for anyone. There are several tuition options you can choose from as a student: Income Share Agreements (ISAs) and upfront tuition.

An ISA is a form of deferred tuition under which you agree to pay 17% of your post-Lambda School salary for 24 months, but only when you’ve been hired in a position paying more than $50,000 a year. ISA tuition is capped at $30,000, so you’ll never pay more than that for any reason. And if you don’t get hired after graduation, you don’t have to pay a cent. 

ISAs are currently unavailable in California. However, students in California who would like to defer tuition until after graduation have the option of using a Retail Installment Contract (RIC). Under a Retail Installment Contract, you agree to pay 17% of your post-Lambda School salary, but only once you're making more than $50,000 per year (or the equivalent of $4,166.67 per month). The RIC is capped at $30,000, however, unlike the ISA, students who sign a RIC will be required to pay $30,000 regardless of how long it takes. 

For students who would rather pay upfront, Lambda’s upfront tuition option helps you get your payments taken care of right away. Eligible students who apply to pay upfront can save 50% on the cost of tuition. This offer is not available in California, Texas, Washington DC, and Georgia. 

If you’d like to spread your tuition payments out over time, you can choose to pay tuition in installments. This option allows you to make three payments over the course of several months. Depending on the state you live in, your payment schedule and the amount you’ll be required to pay may vary.

You should carefully consider each of these options before deciding a financial plan that works best for your circumstances. 

Understand what you’re in for 

It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you get into a Lambda data science course. Lambda School is fast-paced and immersive, and includes over 900 hours of guided instruction. Our admissions advisors look for career-focused applicants who are digitally savvy and already have some experience with coding. Passionate, proactive, and dedicated students will excel in this kind of course, but it may not be for everyone. If you’re not interested in starting a data science career right away, a Lambda course probably isn’t the best choice for you.

One thing you can expect as a Lambda student is to be pushed outside of your comfort zone. You’ll be asked to apply the skills you learn in scenarios you may feel a little awkward in at first. That’s how we prepare graduates for whatever may come in the workplace. If you’re willing to embrace new experiences, you’ll thrive.

You can learn more about what we require at Lambda School in our Lambda School Course Catalog

The Lambda School Data Science application process 

How are we doing? Still excited? If so, you’re ready to apply. Lambda School has an easy, four-step admissions process:

  1. Create an account, complete a data science program application, and complete the entrance exams, including the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) and the Data Science skills challenge.
  2. Finalize your enrollment by selecting how you’d like to pay, determining what track you’d like to sign up for (part-time or full-time), and signing your student enrollment agreement. 
  3. Attend mandatory orientation (we call this “Lambda Launch”). 
  4. Log on for your first class! 

Once you’ve completed your application, it will be zipped along to our Lambda Admissions Team for review. We’ll send you an email in one to two days if you’ve been selected to proceed.

Passing the Lambda School entrance exams

Every student who applies for Lambda’s data science course is required to complete the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT), which helps us predict your ability to be successful at Lambda School. There are 50 questions on the CCAT that measure verbal, math/logic, and spatial reasoning and you will have 15 minutes to complete the test. It's normal to not complete all 50 questions during the time allotted, so simply do your best.

You'll also be asked to complete a data science skills challenge to show off what you know. This challenge has a 45 minute time limit and will test your knowledge on fundamental data science concepts. You'll need to achieve a score of at least 11/15 to proceed with the application process.

How to prepare

The DS Skills Challenge doesn't require coding. You'll want to brush up on the basics of linear algebra, statistics, and Python so you’re ready to pass the test. Here are some resources to help you prepare:

What happens if you take Lambda’s data science challenge and you don’t pass? The good news is you’ll be able to retake the test after waiting 24 hours.

Lambda's DS Skills challenge is intended to get you ready for our data science program. It gives us a sense of what kind of student you’ll be and it also gives you a chance to learn if becoming a data scientist is really your thing before you commit to joining a Lambda School cohort.

Want help preparing? Check out our FREE study guide for the Data Science Challenge!

If you take the challenge and realize you may be interested in the Web Development track, no worries. Contact us at and we’ll help you find a course that fits best.

You will not be able to pick a course start date until you’ve completed the data science challenge, so if you’ve got your heart set on starting at a specific time, you’ll want to complete the challenge at least two weeks in advance. 

What happens next

Once you’ve filled out an application and passed the data science challenge, all we need is a bit of paperwork to get you started. You’ll need to provide us with proof of your educational background, like your college transcripts, high school diploma, or GED certificate. You can take a Wonderlic basic skills test as an alternative if you do not have your diploma or certificate.

After you sign your enrollment agreement, we’ll email you all the information you’ll need to get ready for your first class, including details about your Lambda Launch. From that point, you’re officially in. Welcome to Lambda! 

Ready to start your journey to becoming a data scientist? Learn more about the application process and enroll in our free mini coding bootcamp!

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