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 spring 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 spring.  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 winter break for incoming freshmen students; these appointments will be canceled.

Your SOAR advising appointment does not count as your Data Science major declaration meeting, even if your SOAR advisor is a Data Science advisor.

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

Transfer SOAR Students

Advising from a Data Science advisor will be available to incoming transfer students at SOAR for those advise through the College of Letters and Sciences (L&S).

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

Please see the FAQ below for some important information.

Data Science Major SOAR FAQs

Enrollment & Classes

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What should I take this term 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.  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.

If STAT 240 and COMP SCI 220 are full please add yourself to the waitlist, if available, and talk with your advisor about back-up courses.  If full, see below.

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

It is recommended to enroll in an open section and make that section work in your schedule rather than wait listing a section that is already full.

If STAT 240 and COMP SCI 220 are only listed as closed/wait listed you should wait list your preferred section and enroll in a back-up course such as a gen-ed class.

If both courses are closed (no wait list available) you should continue to check back throughout the first week of the semester for open or wait listed seats.

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

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.

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, we welcome you to do so and it will count towards the Data Science major.

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.

Transfer Credits & Course Equivalencies

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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.

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.

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.

Even if your class does not end up with a direct equivalent course the credits do still help you progress towards your overall degree credits.

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 take the placement test) or consider the credit by exam option for MATH 221.

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.

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

There are a few options for students in this situation including taking the credit by exam or substituting a course:

  • Incoming freshman – talk to your SOAR advisor and email the Data Science major advisors (dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu) if you have additional questions
  • Incoming transfer – talk to a Data Science advisor at SOAR or make an appointment after SOAR

Additional Questions

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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 spring.  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.

It is totally okay if you start one major and later want to switch to Data Science.  Your advisor will work with you to plan future semesters and understand your path to graduation.

I want to declare Data Science before classes start in the spring, 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 spring 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.