Data Science Certificate

Students in the Data Science Certificate will develop abilities such as data management, reproducibility, modeling strategies, and ethical considerations of data science to be paired with their knowledge gained from their major or domain area.  Data Science is one of the fastest growing career sectors in Wisconsin and across the nation.

By its very nature, the field of data science is one that teaches novel and cutting-edge ways to engage in the “continual sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

The curriculum is available in the Guide. Please visit this page to learn more. Students from any major and school/college are welcome to to declare the Data Science Certificate. 

If you are interested in the Data Science major, please see their page here.

Looking to declare before Spring 2022 enrollment begins?  Attend our Certificate Declaration Session on Thursday, November 4 at 5pm via Zoom (registration required for a link to join).  Interested students will be able to attend this session, fill out the declaration form (see below), and have their Data Science certificate declaration processed.

How to Declare the Data Science Certificate

There are no prerequisites to declare this certificate. Students are encouraged to meet with a Data Science advisor to discuss certificate requirements and ensure it fits with their academic and career goals. This certificate is only for non-Data Science majors. 

Declaration Process

  1. Read Data Science certificate requirements and policies on the Guide page.
  2. Meet with a Data Science advisor to determine if the DS certificate is a good fit for you! Appointments can be made on Starfish or via drop-in advising (see below for instructions).
    1. Students interested in the certificate should schedule a meeting with Plia Xiong.  Students who are debating between the certificate and the major can meet with either Plia or the Data Science major advisors.
    2. Students are encouraged to utilize drop-ins for quick declaration appointments with few questions. Students with multiple questions surrounding four year planning, career outcomes, or exploring if the DS certificate is right for them are encouraged to make an appointment.
    3. Students who have met with advisors within the past year do not need to meet with advisors again; however, if it has been over a year since meeting with a DS advisor, students will need to complete another appointment.
  3. Fill out the declaration form letting DS staff know of your intent to declare the certificate.
    1. Link to declaration form: 
    2. Please have ready your Campus ID # and preferred graduation term (ex: Spring 2022).
  4. DS staff will add you into the certificate.
    1. At this time, you will be assigned an advisor.
    2. Once added to the certificate, you will receive priority enrollment for courses with priority for DS certificates in the initial enrollment period.

How to Drop the Data Science Certificate

If you are no longer interested in pursuing the Data Science certificate, please email the Data Science advisor ( indicating that you wish to drop the certificate.  You must include your 10-digit student ID number and the email must come from your email account.

Advising & Contact Information

Data Science Certificate Advisor

Plia Xiong

Plia Xiong 

Plia joined the Statistics Department in July 2021. She is a Badger Alumna with a B.S. in Human Development & Family Studies. She enjoys volleyball, badminton, watching movies, and singing.

Current Students Advising Appointments

Students can schedule an appointment with the Data Science Certificate Advisor via Starfish and can choose to meet via Zoom or phone. 

Students with questions about the Data Science major should contact the Data Science major advisors.

Data Science Certificate Drop-In Advising

Fall 2021 Drop-In Hours (9/7/21 – 12/17/21)

Drop-in hours will be cancelled on these days: Fri 11/19; Fri 11/26; and Fri, 12/17.

Students will be seen first-come, first-served and a wait of up to 15 minutes may be expected. In-person drop-in will be reassessed for later in the fall semester.

Certificate Declaration Event

Looking to declare before Spring 2022 enrollment begins?

Attend our Certificate Declaration Session on Thursday, November 4 at 5pm via Zoom (registration required for a link to join). Interested students will be able to attend this session, fill out the declaration form (see above), and have their Data Science certificate declaration processed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

I am declared in the Data Science certificate (or plan to be). What should I take this spring?

The Spring 2022 Schedule of Classes has now been released.  All students declared in Data Science have been sent enrollment information special edition weekly newsletters.  Here are PDF copies of the newsletter for those not declared or who might have missed the emails.

Students with questions are encouraged to reach out to the Data Science advisors via email, an appointment, or drop in advising.  Please see the Advising & Contact Information section above for information on how to connect with advisors.

What is the general pacing for completing the Data Science certificate?

Please see  below for the general pacing for completing the certificate in three semesters.

  • Semester 1: Programming + L I S 461
  • Semester 2: Programming + Elective
  • Semester 3: Elective

Please see  below for the general pacing for completing the certificate in five semesters.

  • Semester 1: Programming
  • Semester 2: Programming
  • Semester 3: L I S 461
  • Semester 4: Elective
  • Semester 5: Elective

What is the difference between the Data Science major and the Data Science certificate?

The DS major is a great fit for students interested in developing and revising tools to analyze data on all scales such as building algorithms, math underpinnings, and video programming. The DS Cert is a great fit for students who are users of the programs and want to focus on  developing basic DS skills to apply it to other or specific areas. Additionally, the DS Major requires up to Calc 2 and the DS Certificate does not require any calculus.

What course substitutions are permitted and which ones are not permitted?

  • STAT 301 and 371 cannot be substituted for STAT 240 to fulfill the foundation requirement.
  • COMP SCI 300 cannot be substituted for COMP SCI 220.

How much math do I need to have in order to declare the certificate?

There is no math requirement to declare the certificate.

I do not have a programming background, what should I take?

COMP SCI 220 and STAT 240 are great introductory courses that presume no previous programming or coding background.

What is the difference between the domain electives and fundamental electives?

Fundamental electives build more directly on existing skills of foundation courses whereas Domain electives where you use your DS skills to apply it to a specific area or field.

I have a class that I think should count as an elective for the certificate, what should I do?

Please send a syllabi and your rationale for counting it as an elective to the email for review.

I am in the DS major, how do I switch to the certificate?

Email the Data Science certificate advisor ( indicating that you wish to switch from the major to the certificate. Please include your Campus ID number in the email.

I see that there is a course that overlaps with my major and the DS certificate, can I have it count for both?

A course can count towards either the DS major or certificate, but please note that students in the DS major may not also pursue the DS certificate.

I am interested in research, where can I get started?

Please see the Department of Statistic’s page on undergraduate research for more information about how to find research opportunities as an undergraduate at UW-Madison.

What student organizations are related to Data Science?

Student organizations are a great way for Data Science students to get involved on campus. Find a list of current student organizations on  Use keywords that interest you when searching for organizations like “data,” “statistics,” “computer science,” “coding,” etc.

Several student orgs that DS students may take an interest in are:

I am interested in study abroad, where do I start?

Studying abroad is a great option for students who want to broaden their horizons and immerse themselves in new cultures. Data Science students interested in studying abroad should consult with Study Abroad advisors for assistance with identifying and applying to programs.

Students in the DS major should typically expect to complete general education/breadth courses while abroad, as there are limited programs with courses equivalent to DS major requirements.  Please reference the Study Abroad Major Advising pages and the Data Science page in particular, for ideas of programs that may have relevant courses.

What resources are available for careers and internships?

SuccessWorks is the career services unit for L&S students and a fantastic partner and resource for career and internship assistance.

We strongly recommend checking out our Student Career Resources page for great resources and reading the weekly newsletter (once you are declared) for upcoming events.  Additionally, students who have questions about careers and internship are welcome to meet with the Data Science advisors (see advising section above for email and how to make appointments).