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.”

This major will be available for declaration in Fall 2020, and the official curriculum will be available in the Guide on June 1, 2020, but interested students are encouraged to select courses that will help them move forward in the degree and to meet with the Data Science advisor.

Anticipated Data Science Major Curriculum

As noted above, the official curriculum will be available as of June 1, 2020 in the Guide.  Students will be able to declare the major in Fall 2020.  Here is a snap shot of the tentative curriculum to allow for Spring and Fall 2020 course planning.

Foundational Math Courses (9 cr)

  • MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1 (5 cr) MATH 217 can count for MATH 221
  • MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2 (4 cr)
  • Please note that some of the Data Science electives will require MATH 234 Calculus–Functions of Several Variables (4 cr)

Foundational Data Science Courses (19-20 cr)

  • STAT 240 Introduction to Data Modeling I (4 cr)
  • STAT 340 Introduction to Data Modeling II (4 cr)
  • COMP SCI 220 Data Programming I (4 cr) previously taught as COMP SCI 301
  • COMP SCI 320 Data Programming II (4 cr)
  • L I S 461 Data and Algorithms: Ethics and Policy (3-4 cr)

Data Science Electives (18 cr)

Students must take at least one course from each of the four following categories and then additional electives to reach the minimum credits. Additional courses taken within each category may count towards other electives.  More information on the electives will be available on June 1, 2020.

  • Machine Learning
  • Advanced Computing
  • Statistical Modeling
  • Linear Algebra (reasonable courses to take to meet this requirement include MATH 320, 340, or 341, additional courses will be included in this category come June 1)

Enrollment Information

Summer 2020 Courses

As of this point in time, none of the Foundational Data Science Courses are scheduled for Summer 2020. Students interested in taking courses related to the major this summer are encouraged to consider Math courses. In particular this would include

  • Foundational Math Courses such MATH 221 and MATH 222
    • or course that meet the prerequisites for MATH 221 if you aren’t ready for calculus yet
    • MATH 171/217 is acceptable in place of MATH 221, neither are offered this summer
  • Linear Algebra such as MATH 320 or 340 (doesn’t appear that MATH 341 is offered this summer)

Otherwise students who want to take summer courses are encouraged to focus on general education and degree requirements.

Fall 2020 Courses

Students with specific questions regarding Fall 2020 courses are encouraged to read the following PDF before contacting DS advising: Fall 2020 Enrollment Information Email

If you have additional questions not addressed in the above document, please use the information below in the advising information section.

If you are not currently on the email list of students interested in the Data Science major and would like to be added, please email

Advising and Contact Information

Advising Appointments

Current UW-Madison students interest in the Data Science major may schedule an appointment with the Data Science advisor, Sara Rodock, via Starfish or email the advisor at with questions.  From March 16 through April 17 two types of appointments will be available as an option, either via Microsoft Office Teams or phone.  Students may select their preference when making the appointment via Starfish. In-person appointments will be revisited closer to April 10.

As always, email questions are welcomed.

Data Science Drop-In Advising

Drop-in advising has been suspended through April 17 at this point, additional information will be provided as campus updates it’s response to COVID-19.