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.

A new undergraduate Certificate in Data Science has been approved beginning Fall 2021.  We will have additional information posted over the summer.  The certificate curriculum is available in the Guide.

Freshmen and Transfer SOAR students interest in the Data Science major should check out our Data Science Major SOAR FAQ webpage.

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.

Declaration Process

  1. Read Data Science degree requirements and policies on the Guide page
    1. Students can pursue either a BA or BS degree option, so make sure you select the option you are pursuing, or consult an advisor to help you make this choice
  2. Meet with a Data Science major advisor to determine if the DS major is a good fit for you! Appointments can be made on Starfish or via remote drop-in advising (see below for instructions)
    1. Students with last names beginning with A-L should schedule their major declaration appointment with Sara Rodock
    2. Students with last names beginning M-Z should schedule their major declaration appointment with Dana Maltby
    3. Students are encouraged to utilize remote drop-ins for quick declaration appointments with few questions. Students with multiple questions surrounding four year planning, career outcomes, or exploring if the DS major is right for them are encouraged to make an appointment
    4. 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 major
    1. Link to declaration form:
    2. Please have ready: your Campus ID # and preferred graduation term (ex: Fall 2020)
  4. DS staff will add you into the major
    1. At this time, you will be assigned an advisor
    2. 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 ( indicating that you wish to drop the major.  You must include your 10-digit student ID number and the email must come from your email account.

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Summer and Fall 2021 Enrollment Information

The Summer and Fall 2021 Schedule of Classes have now been released.  All students declared in Data Science have been sent enrollment information special edition weekly newsletters.  Here are PDF copies of the newsletters for those not declared or who might have missed the emails.

Student 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.

Double Major and Certificate Information

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, Math, 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:

Certificate Information

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

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

Statistics, Computer Sciences, and Math Course Enrollment Questions

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 below).

Research for Undergraduates

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.

Get Involved!

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:

Advising and Contact Information

Data Science Major Advisors

Dana MaltbyDana Maltby

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

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.  She enjoys interacting with students and being a part of their academic journey. In her free time she likes to bake, read and get outdoors.

Sara Rodock

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

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, working with our MS Statistics: Data Science students, 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.

Current Students Advising Appointments

Current UW-Madison students with questions regarding the Data Science major may schedule an appointment with a Data Science advisor, via Starfish (please schedule with the correct advisor based on your last/family name) or email the advisors at with questions.  Appointments are available via Zoom or phone.  Students will be able to select their preferred method when making an appointment via Starfish.

As always, email questions are welcomed.

SOAR Advising

Data Science advisors will be available to meet with Transfer SOAR students during their SOAR week.  Please make an appointment with either Sara or Dana, regardless of last name alphabet split, via Starfish.

Transfer and Freshmen SOAR students should review our SOAR FAQ page for specific information related to their enrollment, course equivalencies, and advisor access.

Data Science Drop-In Advising

Drop-in advising for the 2020/2021 year has ended.  We will post information at the end of the summer with new Fall 2021 drop-in advising information.  Current UW-Madison students with questions should make an appointment or email the Data Science major advisors.