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

Freshmen students interested in the Data Science major will be able to work with a generalist advisor at SOAR to help pick the appropriate courses to explore the major.

If after your SOAR date you have specific questions that were not addressed at SOAR, you are welcome to email the Data Science advisors (dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu).  We do not have the capacity to have appointments during the summer with incoming freshmen students, these appointments will be canceled.

If you are assigned to meet with a Data Science advisor as your generalist advisor for freshmen SOAR please note that this does not count as your Data Science major declaration meeting.

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

Transfer SOAR Students

An advisor from the Data Science major will be available each week of transfer SOAR for remote advising to work with incoming transfer SOAR students regarding DS major course selection.

DS advisor availability

There will be three data science advisors available for the weeks of June 6, 27, and August 8:

If after your SOAR date you have specific questions that were not addressed at SOAR, you are welcome to email the Data Science advisors (dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu) or make an appointment via Starfish.

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

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 programming based classes, especially in their first semester at UW-Madison.

Transfer students are strongly recommended to talk with a Data Science advisor during SOAR to discuss their plan and gain access to held seats in intermediate and advanced-level courses, as appropriate.

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

Seats for both STAT 240 and COMP SCI 220 should be released throughout the summer so that SOAR students can access these 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?

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.

Seats for STAT 240 should be released throughout the summer.  If STAT 240 is listed as closed/wait listed you should wait list your preferred section and check back regularly to see if new spots have become available.

We anticipate that there will be open seats in COMP SCI 220 and students should enroll in an open section. If no open sections work, please continue checking back. If a wait list is available, you may add yourself to the wait list.

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 record 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 for a 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 FAQ section (bottom of the page with a red background) you will see a question about double majors.  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 or you qualify to enroll in the sequence and wish to complete it (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 221 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.

I want to declare Data Science this summer, how do I do that?

Unfortunately you cannot yet declare. As a current SOAR student you will have to wait until classes begin in the fall to declare. If you fill out the declaration form prior to beginning your first course on campus your declaration form will be deleted and you will need to fill out the form once your classes have begun and your declaration can be processed.

What about a certificate in Data Science?

Information about the Certificate in Data Science is available in the Guide and additional information on the program website.

What laptop is recommended for a students majoring in Data Science?

The Data Science major has no specific recommendations for laptop, however, students who want to ensure that their computer will suffice should see the information regarding laptops on the Computer Sciences at SOAR webpage.