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. The certificate curriculum is available in the Guide and additional information including advising on their website.

Looking to declare before Spring 2022 enrollment begins?  Attend our Major Declaration Session on Monday, November 1 at 5pm via Zoom (registration required for a link to join).  Interested students will be able to attend this session, fill out the declaration form (see below), and have their Data Science major declaration processed.

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, via drop-in advising (see below for instructions), or by attending a major declaration event
    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 2023)
  4. DS staff will add you into the major
    1. 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
    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.

Advising and Contact Information

Data Science Major Advisors

Dana MaltbyDana Maltby

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

1223 Medical Sciences Center

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-L

1227 Medical Sciences Center

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.

Plia Xiong

During the Spring 2022 enrollment peak in November and December 2021, the Data Science Certificate advisor, Plia, is also meeting with Data Science major students.  Please feel free to schedule with her via Starfish.

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.

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 with questions.

For September and October 2021 all appointments will still be remote and we will assess in-person appointments after that.  Students will be able to select their preferred method when making an appointment via StarfishStarting in November some in-person appointments will be available.

During the Spring 2022 enrollment peak in November and December 2021, the Data Science Certificate advisor, Plia, is also meeting with Data Science major students.  Please feel free to schedule with her via Starfish.

If you cannot meet via Zoom or phone and must meet in-person, please email the Data Science advisors to arrange this.  *Please note during the campus mask mandate masks are required for any in-person meeting.

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.

Data Science Major Drop-In Advising

Drop-in advising for Fall 2021 will be available on Tuesdays starting September 14 through December 14 from 2:00-3:00 pm (central).  These are available online via Zoom. In-person drop-in will be reassessed for spring semester.

Students will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis and a wait of up to 15 minutes may be expected.  Please have your 10-digit Campus ID number ready for advisors.

Major Declaration Event

Looking to declare before Spring 2022 enrollment begins?  Attend our Major Declaration Session on Monday, November 1 at 5pm via Zoom (registration required for a link to join).  Interested students will be able to attend this session, fill out the declaration form (see above), and have their Data Science major declaration processed.

Data Science Major FAQs

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I am declared in Data Science or plan to be, what should I take this spring?

The Spring 2022 Schedule of Classes has now been released.  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 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, 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.

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 below).

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

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).

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  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:

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 with more information.  A Statistics departmental page is now available.  Certificate specific certificate advising, DARS, and a declaration process for the certificate are now available.

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 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:
    1. Statistics Learning Center (SLC): 
    2. Computer Science Learning Center (CSLC): 
    3. Math Learning Center (MLC):
  3. Other academic resources on campus:
    1. Greater University Tutoring Service (GUTS) a student-run tutoring service available for all students:
    2. University Tutoring and Learning Support Services:
    3. Academic Coaching and Tutoring Services (ACTS) for students in the DDEEA scholarship and service programs: 
    4. The Writing Center:
  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.

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.

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.

How will a droped 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
    1. *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, 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. Talk to an advisor about questions you have about meeting requirements