Tips for MSc applicants

Dear student, before starting your application, be mindful when choosing the educational track for the MSc program you apply to. You can find detailed descriptions of each educational track for DS (MLAI, MML), ACS (DIMMS, HPC), and IoT&WT programs.

The Skoltech MSc admission process consists of a series of steps (see How to Apply):

  1. Online application (apply)
  2. Online Math Test
  3. Online MSc selection days

Below we will provide you with some essential information about the ideal candidate profile as well as tips from CDISE faculty on how to successfully pass the MSc selection specifically to MSc Data ScienceMSc Advanced Computational Science, and MSc Internet of Things and Wireless Technologies

Expected backgroundTips on CVTips on Motivation letterTips on Recommendation lettersTips on Online Math TestTips on Interview with CDISE facultyTips on Math Examination

Expected background

Students applying to DS, ACS, and IoT&WT programs are expected to have a solid background in:

  1. Mathematics: multivariate calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and probability.
  2. Computing: proficiency in at least one commonly used programming language (e.g., Python), knowledge of basic algorithms, data structures, and computer architecture.
  3. (only for the IoT&WT program) Physics or engineering is highly recommended.

Tips on CV

An academic CV (Curriculum Vitae) or resume is an essential document that shortly summarizes your experience and expertise and serves as your visit card. Remember that the English version is required for the admission process!

We have prepared a detailed guide with DOs and DON’Ts of writing a resume to apply to Skoltech MSc programs (English).

Also, hear out from Assistant Professor Maxim Panov, MSc programs coordinator in CDISE, on how to compose an academic CV for an MSc program application (Russian):

Tips on Motivation letter

A motivation letter (or personal statement) is a crucial admission element that answers the questions WHY you particularly need a specific MSc program to pursue your academic and professional goals. Remember to:

  • Start with WHY you are applying for a specific MSc program in Skoltech
    • What do you expect to gain by completing a degree in a chosen field of study at Skoltech?
  • Emphasize your commitments to dedicate two years to MSc studies in full-time student status
    • Part-time work is neither permitted nor tolerated in Skoltech, as it violates the full-time student status
  • Be concise: 500-1000 words maximum
  • Use formal English academic/business communication language

Check this handy guide by Skoltech admission experts on how to write a motivation letter (English).

Also, hear out from Skoltech faculty members, Skoltech Head of Student Outreach and Recruitment Office, and Skoltech Vice-President for Development on how to compose a motivation letter for an MSc program application (Russian):

Tips on Recommendation letters

Two recommendation letters written by your thesis supervisors, team supervisors, and other relevant people are there to:

  • Confirm your expertise and achievements during previous studies/work,
  • Demonstrate your potential as an applicant,
  • Highlight the links to the scientific community (mostly through your recommender),
  • Define your research interests,
  • Reflect a variety of opinions about the student’s capabilities.

Remember that each recommendation letter should:

  1. Describe the relationship between the author and the applicant (joint research, supervision, teaching, etc.)
  2. Be written by the recommender, not the applicant
  3. Be signed by the recommender
  4. Contain contact phone number/e-mail of the recommender
  5. Be one-page long, preferably on the institution/organization blank paper
  6. (if originally in another language) Be translated into English.


Find our step-by-step guide prepared by Skoltech admission experts on how to request recommendation letters (English).

Also, check the article from Associate Professor Evgeny Burnaev, an internationally recognized expert in Machine Learning and leader of the ADASE research group, on 7 steps for a great recommendation letter (in Russian).

Tips on Online Math Test

The goal of the Online Math Test is to assess the BASIC math abilities of MSc applicants in calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and probability (see examples). This test is an obligatory admission element before the MSc applicant screening process.

To help you out, Skoltech students and admission experts have prepared a survival guide with tips on how to prepare and successfully take the online test.

Tips on Interview with CDISE faculty

During the interview with CDISE faculty and researchers, you are expected to:

  • Deliver a concise presentation (8-10 min) about your academic and research background (including relevant projects)
  • Answer general application questions about:
    • Your motivation, commitments, and goals you pursue in the chosen MSc program
    • A prospective MSc thesis topic
    • A prospective research advisor
    • A prospective research group that you are interested in
  • Answer comprehension questions to test your background and expertise in math, calculus, linear algebra (DS) and also physics (IoT&WT)
  • (if needed) Tell more in detail about your previous academic research and relevant work experience
  • Speak English!

Hear out from Assistant Professor Maxim Panov, MSc programs coordinator in CDISE, on how to pass an MSc admission interview (in Russian):

Tips on Math Examination

The goal of the Math Examination is to assess ADVANCED math abilities of MSc applicants in calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and probability. The math exams typically include several problems on topics studied in standard undergraduate mathematical courses (see example). Below we list them along with examples of well-known textbooks:


  • M. Spivak. Calculus (1994)
  • S. Lang. A first course in calculus (1986)

Linear algebra

  • S. Lang. Linear Algebra (1987)
  • Sh. Axler. Linear Algebra Done Right (2015)

Ordinary differential equations

  • M. W. Hirsch, S. Smale. Differential Equations, Dynamical Systems, and Linear Algebra (1974)
  • V. I. Arnold. Ordinary differential equations (1973)


  • H. Tijms. Understanding Probability (2007)
  • Sh. Ross. A first course in probability (2019)

Read more about tips on how to enter Skoltech on Postnauka (Russian).