Data Science Major

Students in the Data Science major will be able to apply computational, mathematical, and statistical thinking to data-rich problems in a wide variety of fields in a responsible and ethical manner. This includes the ability to manage, process, model, gain meaning and knowledge, and present data. 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 and then select either the Data Science BS or BA to see more.  From here you can see a full listing of the curriculum and the sample 4-year plan for course planning.

Looking for the undergraduate Certificate in Data Science? The certificate curriculum is available in the Guide and additional information including advising on their website.

How to Declare Data Science

There is no course, minimum grade, or GPA based requirements to declare. As per the Guide, students must declare a major prior to reaching 86 credits. Students cannot declare the Data Science major prior to your first term at UW-Madison.

Students should first read Data Science degree requirements and policies on the Guide page.

All students interested in the Data Science major will need to attend one of the three types of declaration events outlined below and then fill out a declaration form. Forms that are filled out prior to attending an event will be deleted. There are no exceptions made to this process.

Completion of a declaration event is good for one calendar year, students who complete the declaration form more than a calendar year after their most recent declaration event will need to attend a new event.

Declaration Event Options

These will be offered both in-person and online during peak times such as the beginning of the semester and during enrollment for the following semester. During peak enrollment times these will be offered daily. These sessions will include an overview of the Data Science major, course pacing, and ability to ask questions.

Please note that students who are currently on probation or who may have one or both Data Science major GPAs below a 2.0 need to schedule an individual meeting. Students in these situations who attend a declaration session will be contacted to schedule an appointment prior to their declaration being processed.

  • In-person sessions: students must pre-register, attend the entire session, and sign-in with their students ID card at the session
    • dates, times and locations to be added later in the semester
  • Online sessions: will take place via Zoom and prior registration is required, students must register (click on link below for a specific session) and attend themselves to have their attendance counted towards meeting the declaration event requirement
    • Tuesday, October 11: 4pm, Zoom link
    • Wednesday, October 26: 5pm, Zoom link
    • additional dates, times and locations to be added throughout the fall semester

Students are welcome to make individual advising appointments year-round with the Data Science major advisors to declare the Data Science major. Students who have significant questions, have exceeded 86 credits, are on probation, are currently not in L&S, or with other more complicated situations are recommended to make an individual appointment for their declaration event. Appointments are scheduled via Starfish.

Students who are currently on probation or who may have one or both Data Science major GPAs below a 2.0 need to schedule an individual meeting and should not use a declaration session or drop-in advising to declare.

Advanced planning is strongly recommended for individual meetings during the enrollment period for the following semester as the advisors’ calendars tend to fill quickly during this time.

The Data Science major advisors typically offer drop-in advising for one hour each week during the fall and spring semesters. Students are welcome to attend drop-in advising to meet their declaration event requirement. Typically this is best for students with minimal questions regarding declaration. Information is provided below for drop-in dates, times, and modality.

Students who are currently on probation or who may have one or both Data Science major GPAs below a 2.0 need to schedule an individual meeting and should not use a declaration session or drop-in advising to declare.

Important Notes

  • For students in L&S, the Data Science major can be paired with either a BA or BS degree option. If you need to change your degree you may do so online
  • Students who are in an L&S specialized degree such as AMEP or students outside of L&S will have their degree associated with their home school or college and will not complete L&S BA or BS degree requirements
  • Students in the process of transferring to L&S from another school or college at UW-Madison will first need to have their transfer to L&S processed before they can be declared in Data Science
  • Engineering students are required to meet progression in an engineering program before declaring double majors or certificates, students in this situation who need to declare for data science course access but cannot, should schedule a meeting with a Data Science advisor
  • Students in CALS must schedule an individual meeting for declaration so that the CALS double major paperwork can be completed

Data Science Declaration Form

Students who have completed their declaration event can then fill out the declaration form. Please have ready your Campus ID number and preferred graduation term (ex: Fall 2026). Students who are currently participating in SOAR, have yet to complete their declaration event, or are in the College of Engineering and have yet to meet progression will have their form deleted and not processed.

Major declarations are typically processed within 2 business days and you will receive a confirmation email including your assigned advisor for the major once it is processed. Once added to the major, you will receive priority enrollment for courses with priority for DS majors in the initial enrollment period.

How to Drop the Data Science Major

If you are no longer interested in pursuing the Data Science major, please email the Data Science advisors (dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu) indicating that you wish to drop the major.  You must include your 10-digit student ID number and the email must come from your wisc.edu email account.

Advising and Contact Information

Data Science Major Advisors

Dana MaltbyDana Maltby

Advisor for students with a last/family name L-Z

1223 Medical Sciences Center

dmaltby@wisc.edu

Dana joined the Statistics department as a Data Science advisor in June 2020.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2018, and completed her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis with a concentration on Higher Education-Student Affairs in May 2020.  Her favorite part of her job is meeting students, getting to know them, and helping them through their academic journeys. In her free time she likes to bake, read and get outdoors.

Sara Rodock

Advisor for students with a last/family name A-K

1227 Medical Sciences Center

rodock@wisc.edu

Sara joined the department in Summer 2018. Prior to working in Statistics and Data Science, she worked for 10 years in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences as an advisor and in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies for 8 years. Sara is a Badger alumnus from the History department. She enjoys assisting students with exploration of the Data Science major and helping students plan for their future careers and/or continuing education.  In her spare time she competes in powerlifting and enjoys knitting and cooking.

Plia Xiong

During busy periods, when the Data Science major advisors have very full schedules, Plia Xiong (the Certificate in Data Science advisor) is also meeting with Data Science major students.  Please feel free to schedule with her via Starfish.

Current Student Advising Appointments

Current UW-Madison students with questions regarding the Data Science major may schedule an appointment with a Data Science advisor, via Starfish or email the advisors at dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu with questions.

During the beginning of fall Zoom and phone appointments will be available and students will be able to select their preferred method when making an appointment via Starfish.

If you cannot meet via Zoom or phone and must meet in-person, please email the Data Science advisors to arrange this.

As always, email questions are welcomed.

Questions regarding the Certificate in Data Science should be directed towards the certificate advisor.  Students debating between the two programs can meet with either a major or certificate advisor.

Drop-In Advising

Drop-in advising will be available on Thursdays in the fall from 1-2 pm (central), via Zoom.  Drop-ins will begin September 8 and run through December 15 (with the exception on Thanksgiving on November 24).

There may be waiting times of up to 15 minutes.  Students who have questions or issues that take more than 10 minutes will be referred to making an appointment.

Declaration Session

If you are looking to attend a group declaration session, please see the information provided above under how to declare data science.

How to Find Us

Our offices are located in the Medical Sciences Center (MSC), 1300 University Ave.  The easiest way to access our offices is via the main entrance on University Ave, then enter the 1205 suite in MSC and head towards the back of the suite.

Data Science Major Frequently Asked Questions

Data Science Programs & Declaration

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

The Data Science 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 Certificate in Data Science is a great fit for students who are users of the programs and want to focus on  developing basic data science skills to apply it to other or specific areas. Additionally, the Data Science major requires up to MATH 222 and the Certificate does not require any calculus.

How do I learn more about the Data Science Certificate?

Check out the Guide page and Statistics departmental page for more information.

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

Please see above for the major declaration requirements and follow those processes.  On your declaration form indicate that you are declared in the Data Science certificate, wish to drop that and instead have the major.

I am planning a double major or certificate. Is this common? What programs are recommended? How do I know what classes overlap?

Double Major Information

Some students in the DS major will choose to pursue double majors and/or certificates. As Data Science is such a vast field, students are encouraged to explore how they may want to utilize the knowledge and skills they build throughout their time in the program. One great way to do so is to complement DS with another area of study.

Common double major paths for students in DS will include Computer Science, Economics, Information ScienceMath, and Statistics, among many others. Please view the links to the Guide pages for major requirements.

We have collaborated with other major advisors to create sample 4-year double major plans. These showcase a recommended plan of progression for students in the common double major paths. As always, please consult your advisors for individual course planning questions. You can view them here:

Updated August 25, 2022

Certificate Information

Common certificates for DS students to pursue include: Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Educational Policy Studies, Economic Analytics, Entrepreneurship for Non-Business Students, Environmental Studies, Global Health, Graphic Design, Math, Political Economy, Philosophy, & Politics, Public Policy, Science Communication, Sports Communication, Sustainability.

Information on certificate requirements can be found on the Guide page.

When should I use drop-in advising versus scheduling an individual advising appointment?

Drop-in advising hours may be used for quick questions (~10 minutes or less) regarding Data Science major declaration, course add/drops, etc and these (minus declaration) also might be appropriate to send via email. Questions related to future semester enrollment planning, course selection, post-graduation plans, careers and internships, etc. are better suited for individual appointments with DS advisors.

Does the Data Science major qualify for STEM-OPT extension?

Data Science does qualify for STEM-OPT extension, after the Department of Homeland Security reviewed their list of eligible programs. The CIP code is 30.7001 – Data Science General. You can view a list of all eligible programs here: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub/additional-resources/eligible-cip-codes-for-the-stem-opt-extension.

Courses and Enrollment

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I am declared in the Data Science major or I plan to be. What should I take this fall term?

The Fall 2022 Schedule of Classes is available.  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 sections below for information on how to connect with advisors.  Students with issues regarding access or errors for Statistics, Computer Sciences, and Math classes should see the “Statistics, Computer Sciences, and Math Course Enrollment Questions” section just below.

I've taken STAT 301, 324, or 371 in the past. Can I substitute that for STAT 240?

We do not allow substitutions for STAT 240, including STAT 301, 324, or 371. While all of the courses both teach introductory statistics, STAT 240 is a 4 credit course that includes programming in the R language, as well as data management, analysis, and modeling. Students who have taken STAT 324 previously will be well prepared for STAT 240 and will learn additional concepts that will prepare them for future courses such as STAT 340 and Statistical Modeling electives.

Does L I S 461 satisfy Com B credits?

Students have the option of enrolling in two L I S 461 sections and BOTH satisfy DS major requirements. Options are:

  • 3 credits: lecture only, Humanities credits or
  • 4 credits: lecture + an additional weekly discussion section, Humanities credits, AND Com B credits

If you have already taken Com B and do not wish to take an additional course, you may select L I S 461 for 3 credits only.

This information can also be found in the DS major Guide page! Check the “Requirements” tab.

I am having trouble enrolling in a STAT, COMP SCI, or MATH major course. Can someone help me?

If you are having difficulties with enrolling in courses in Statistics, Computer Sciences, or Mathematics for the Data Science major, please review the following webpages for more information:

For Data Science courses offer through other departments (i.e. Economics), please contact that department with any enrollment issues that you might be experiencing.

If you still have enrollment issues, please contact the Data Science advisors (see contact and advising information above).

I have questions about course access and requisites. Where can I go for help?

First, you may visit the Statistics Department’s Courses and Enrollment FAQ to find answers to commonly asked questions. Otherwise, you may also check out the Registrar’s Office website for dates/deadlines, enrollment information, tutorials, and more.

How will a dropped course or dropped major appear on my transcript?

Students are often worried about how a dropped course, dropped major, withdrawal, etc. will appear on their transcript and this is a very normal concern.  Please check out this page from the Registrar’s Office that explains how everything (including GPA, degree(s), dropped course, honors, etc.) will appear on your transcript.

What steps should I take if I plan to graduate this semester?

Students must apply for graduation via their Student Center to indicate that they are nearing completion of their degree. See the Office of the Registrar’s website for information and instructions about this process. In addition, we advise students to do the following:

  1. Look at your DARS report via MyUW. Read it over carefully to find deficiencies-if you are meeting all requirements to graduate, everything will be GREEN. Be aware that each major (if you have more than one) will have its own DARS report
    • *Keep in mind that your DARS is showing in-progress classes as classes you will keep and pass. If you do not pass your classes, have an incomplete grade, or get the GPA you need, this could influence your graduation date
  2. Check to make sure your major(s) is/are declared correctly. That is, make sure you have officially added and/or dropped majors so that the list of majors on record is exactly what you want for graduation. If not, go to the individual departments to add or drop a major. This also applies if you have declared Honors in the Liberal Arts (L&S students) or Honors in the Major
  3. If you are a visa holding student please review the ISS Program Completion Checklist
  4. Talk to an advisor about questions you have about meeting requirements

Involvement

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I need help with careers and internships or have questions. Where do I start?

Check out the Data Science Skills Sheet to explore data science related career information (like common job titles, qualifications, and skills data scientists use daily).

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).

Information and resources specific to visa-holding students pursing an internship or job in the U.S. can be found on our International Student FAQ page.

I am interested in studying abroad. Where should 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.

I want to do research, how does that happen?

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 orgs 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 https://win.wisc.edu/.  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:

Resources

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I am struggling in my classes. Where should I go for help?

  1. Start with your instructors! Your TA or your professor will host office hours (time/location can be found in your course syllabus) that is time set aside specifically for students to come ask questions. Use this time to clarify content from lecture, troubleshoot problems on homework/projects, or go over exam questions that you got wrong to prepare for the final. If your instructor’s office hours do not work within your schedule, typically you can set up an individual appointment–email your instructor if this is the case.
  2. Different departments have learning centers available for FREE drop-in tutoring for certain courses. Check them out:
  3. Other academic support resources on campus:
  4. Form a study group with peers from class! Your fellow students in classes can be a great resources when studying. Quiz each other, ask each other questions, and try to explain course material to others so you can check your own understanding. Important reminder: make sure that you are only doing group work if your instructor specifies that group work is allowed on certain assignments or projects.

I'm an international student with lots of questions. Where do I begin?

Please check out our international student FAQ for resources specific to international students, including Terra Dotta forms. Feel free to refer to this page for questions, consult your ISS advisor, or contact the Data Science major advisors at dsmajor@stat.wisc.edu.

I need some support. What campus resources are available to me?

UW offers a variety of resources for students. Please take a look at this list to determine if your needs are met. If you still have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to an advisor and we can point you to the right place.

  • University Health Services: for medical, mental health, wellness, prevention, survivor services, and health insurance, please visit their website.
    • 24 hour Crisis Services: please call 608-265-5600 (option 9) if you are thinking about suicide, or if you’re concerned for the well-being of someone you know to speak with an on-call crisis counselor, available 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Food Assistance: a list of a variety of resources that are available to students who may be struggling with food insecurity.
  • McBurney Disability Resource Center: for students and instructors both new to or already familiar with campus to explore disability-related accommodations or reach out about accessibility concerns.
  • Dean of Students Office: a primary resource for students navigating personal, academic, or health issues to supportive campus and/or community resources.
  • Financial Aid Office: advising appointments, basic needs support, emergency support, success services, and workshops/events.
  • Hate/Bias Incident Report: hate or bias should never be a part of the Wisconsin Experience. If you or someone you know is hurting, there are resources to provide support.
  • Gender & Sexuality Campus Center: the Center provides education, outreach, advocacy, and resources for UW-Madison communities and allies to improve campus climate and daily intersectional experiences.
  • Multicultural Student Center: engage in community building, dialogue groups, cultural programs, and exploring affiliated student organizations for marginalized identities.
  • University Veteran Services: supporting the experience of military-connected students in key areas including education benefits, student success, and education/advocacy.
  • L&S Academic Deans’ Services: an office that assists students in reaching their academic potential and attaining their undergraduate degrees by providing information abut L&S academic rules and procedures and a variety of other services.