Data Science Major – SOAR FAQ

Welcome SOAR Students Interested in Data Science!

We welcome you to UW-Madison and appreciate your interest in the Data Science major.  Below is some information specific to Freshmen SOAR students and Transfer SOAR students interested in eventually declaring Data Science.  We have also included some of the common questions we get so that hopefully you are able to get quick answers, but we are happy to chat more in the fall if your situation is more complex.

Please note that no students entering the College of Letters and Sciences are admitted to a major.  If you are ready to declare Data Science you can do so in the fall.  Instructions are available on our program webpage.

Freshman SOAR Students

Due to demand and staffing needs, incoming freshmen SOAR students will not be able to make individual Data Science major advising appointments with the Data Science advisors during the summer.

Students are expected to meet with their assigned SOAR generalist advisor (which could be one of the Data Science advisors) and select courses for the fall.  All generalist advisors will be able to help with the selection of appropriate fall courses.

If after your SOAR week you have specific questions that cannot wait until the fall, you are welcome to email the Data Science advisors (dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu).

Please see the FAQ below to see if you question is addressed there.

Transfer SOAR Students

In addition to meeting with your assigned SOAR generalist advisor, incoming transfer students who intend to declare the Data Science major are strongly encouraged to meet with a Data Science advisor during their SOAR week.  Scheduling is done via Starfish and students can meet with either Data Science advisor.

Transfer students interested in either or both Statistics and Data Science are recommended to meet with Sara Rodock as she advises for both majors.

If after your SOAR week you still have urgent questions that must be answered prior to the start of fall classes, you are welcome to email the Data Science advisors (dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu).

Please see the FAQ below for some important information.

Data Science Major SOAR FAQs

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What should I take this fall for the Data Science major?

In the Guide for the Data Science major you will find a sample four-year plan that outlines the recommended order and pacing for Data Science major courses.  We recommend taking the courses in fall of the freshman year.  If you have completed some of those courses, then continue to look at the plan and see what courses you have yet to take and plan to take those.  Students are recommended to take no more than 2 quantitative or coding based classes, especially in their first semester at UW-Madison.

In addition to meeting with your assigned generalist SOAR advisor, transfer students are strongly recommended to meet with a Data Science advisor (can schedule via Starfish) to discuss their plan and gain access to held seats in intermediate and advanced-level courses, as appropriate.

Only is very unusual situations will freshman students be given access to held seats in intermediate and advanced-level courses.

What is the difference between the Computer Sciences and Data Science majors? What is the difference between the Statistics and Data Science majors?

This is a really good question and the Data Science advisors would be happy to chat with you more about this in the fall.  In the mean time we recommend reviewing the Data Science major sample 4-year plan and enrolling in a few courses to begin your exploration of Data Science.

STAT 240 and COMP SCI 220 are closed! What do I do?

Both Statistics and Computer Sciences plan to add additional seats for STAT 240 and COMP SCI 220 throughout the summer.  If the course is closed and/or wait listed, please continue to check the Course Search and Enroll app to see when new seats are available.  If the course is wait listed please enroll to the wait list for your preferred section as well.

It is strongly recommended to enroll in an open section rather than waiting on the wait list to see if you might get a seat.

Once all additional seats have been released, students will be granted access from the wait list.  In addition to meeting with your assigned generalist SOAR advisor, transfer students are strongly recommended to meet with a Data Science advisor (can schedule via Starfish) and may be given priority access to enroll.

I have credit for STAT 301, can I skip right to STAT 340?

No, students must specifically have credit for STAT 240 before they can move on to STAT 340.  If you have a course from a previous institution that you feel is equivalent to STAT 240, please submit a syllabus course reevaluation request (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-reevaluation-request/).

I have credit for COMP SCI 200, can I enroll directly in COMP SCI 320?

No, students must have credit for COMP SCI 220 or COMP SCI 300 before they can move on to COMP SCI 320.  If you have a course from a previous institution that you feel is the equivalent to COMP SCI 220 or COMP SCI 300, please submit a syllabus course reevaluation request (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-reevaluation-request/).

Students intending to major in both Computer Sciences and Data Science are recommended to use COMP SCI 300 as their data programming I course.  Students not intending on a Computer Sciences major or certificate are strongly recommended to use COMP SCI 220 as their data programming I course.

I have some weird credits on my that transfer as something like STAT X16, MATH X20, or the like. What do those count for?

Most likely, based on the information had at the time your course was equated, there wasn’t enough to determine that your previous course is a direct equivalent to an existing course at UW-Madison.  If you feel that you should have a direct equivalent please submit a syllabus course reevaluation request (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-reevaluation-request/).

I want to do a double major with Computer Science, Statistics, Mathematics, or Economics. What should I enroll in for the fall?

On the Data Science major page there is a section called “Double Majors and Certificates” that you can expand.  In this section you will find sample four year plans for these common double majors with Data Science.  For other double majors students should refer to the 4 year plan for both majors of interest in the Guide.

SOAR students considering majoring in Math should check out the Math SOAR webpage (https://math.wisc.edu/undergraduate/programs/soar/).

I have been recommended to take the accelerated Math sequence starting with MATH 375. Can I use that for the Data Science major?

Yes, absolutely, if you are recommended to take the accelerated calculus sequence (https://math.wisc.edu/undergraduate/honors-calculus/), we welcome you to do so and it will count towards the Data Science major.

I have credit for MATH 211, does that count for the Data Science major?

Unfortunately, MATH 211 does not count towards the Data Science major.  We would recommend that you either take MATH 221 (which may require you to re-take the placement test) or consider the credit by exam option for MATH 221 (https://math.wisc.edu/undergraduate/calculusexam/).

If you have transfer credit for MATH 211, but you feel that the course you took is more similar to MATH 211 you should check out this page and consider asking to have the class re-evaluated.

Information on re-evaluation, retaking the placement test, and the calculus by exam can all be found on the Math department’s webpage for new students (https://math.wisc.edu/undergraduate/new-student/).

I took the equivilent to MATH 221 in high school, but don't have credit for that class. What should I do?

We recommend that you first talk to your general SOAR advisor and see what they recommend.  You may need to reach out to the Math department (https://math.wisc.edu/undergraduate/placement/help/) to discuss how to enroll in MATH 221 and/or possibly consider the credit by exam option for MATH 221 (https://math.wisc.edu/undergraduate/calculusexam/).  Even if a student has credit for MATH 222, but doesn’t have MATH 221 we require MATH 221 for the Data Science major and recommend credit by exam.

Should I take MATH 234 for the Data Science major?

MATH 234 Calculus – Functions of Several Variables is not a required course for the Data Science major; however, many of our students opt to take MATH 234 because it can make additional upper-level electives available to you, some popular double majors require it, or it can possibly be a prerequisite for graduate programs down the road.

What about a certificate in Data Science?

An undergraduate certificate in Data Science has been approved beginning in the Fall 2021 semester.  Information about the curriculum is now available in the Guide.