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I recently graduated with a degree of BSc in Physics, after failing a masters in physics due to depression. I have been interested in data science during my undergraduate studies and have been trying to find a job as a data scientist or machine learning engineer, but after several months of rejections, it's clear that companies don't want someone with no experience or a relevant degree. So I am pondering the possibility of applying to a masters in data science or machine learning. Is reapplying masters frowned upon? Any advice on how I can convey to the professors that I can complete the degree despite my failure?

Update: I have disclosed my situation in my personal statement. My referees have also promised to write strong recommendation letters. It all depends on my performance in the interview now, if I get one.

Update 2: I applied to UCL, KCL, Nottingham and Bristol. I received offers from all apart from UCL! I accepted the offer from KCL.

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    You can apply, but, like any student, you have to make a case for appropriate background and likelihood of success. Failing for medical reasons can either help you or hurt you. It will hurt if people get the idea that the problems continue to be a negative factor. – Buffy Jun 1 at 22:29
  • When you say "failing", do you mean that 1) you dropped out 2) you made it to the defense and failed the defense aspect or 3) You could not achieve the grades needed to get you past the min. threshold? – GrayLiterature Jun 2 at 0:59
  • Also, can you please elaborate on what you have done since your depression to help yourself, if at all? More context is needed. – GrayLiterature Jun 2 at 1:00
  • @GrayLiterature I didn't make it to the defense, but had passed the exams. I would've gotten 4.0 GPA otherwise. My mind was a mess at the time, I basically locked myself in my room for a few months, and by the time I recovered a little bit there was only like 2 weeks left. So I spent the 2 weeks preparing for the exams and there was no way for me to complete the thesis. – Henry Wang Jun 2 at 7:02
  • @GrayLiterature After graduation I flied back to my home country to spend a few months with my grand parents, who I haven't seen for years, and thanks to them I gradually recovered. – Henry Wang Jun 2 at 7:05
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I can only speak for the UK, but in my opinion there's no issue about applying for a second master's degree. I knew two people on my MSc that had already "completed" a master's degree, and for one of them it was his third.

The personal statement is always the best way to express how you feel about the course you're applying for, but if your first degree is good, and you don't need to mention your previous masters, I wouldn't bother.

If you're genuinely anxious, you could contact the course convener and ask him/her some questions about the course and then simply ask whether your undergraduate degree is sufficient qualification. (I think you should have no problem with a data science degree if you have a physics degree - just make sure you are no stranger to coding.)

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  • I think you misread the question. The OP didn't complete the first one. – Buffy Jun 3 at 12:16
  • Yes and now he wants to do another. I don't know his particulars, whether there is a national grading database where universities can see his entire track record, or whether he alone is responsible for disclosing his relevant qualifications during application. In case of the later, I would just not disclose a failed degree. – sunra Jun 3 at 12:40
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    I have to attach an official academic transcript, if they read it, then it is very obvious that I failed my masters. So an update: In the end, I just enclosed my situation in my personal statement, and promised that I have made a recovery. In this case, I think its better to be honest. – Henry Wang Jun 3 at 19:09

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