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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ask a question about the Data Science?
If you have questions about the Data Science Minor or Immersion opportunities in data science, please email us:

What computer programming course should I take?
See What Programming Course To Take? In general, students interested in data science and scientific computing (not in computer science per se) should learn Python (and R).

How do I declare the Data Science Minor?
Use the forms and follow the procedures for your home college. See How to Declare the Data Science Minor.

When should I declare the Data Science Minor?
While minor declarations can be made any time, DS courses will give some preference to students who have officially declared the Data Science Minor. So we recommend declaring the minor sooner rather than later. It is always possible to drop a declared minor. Minor declarations must be submitted at least two weeks before registration begins. Otherwise, the minor declaration will not be processed until after registration. No preference will be given during registration for an “intent” to declare because the minor declaration was made too late.

I declared the Data Science Minor, but I did not get into the class I wanted to take for the minor. Why?
First, preference for students who have declared the minor only applies to DS courses, not other courses. Second, if you declared the minor within two weeks of registration, your minor declaration will. not show up on YES, and you will not have preference. Third, while we try to hold as many seats for students who have declared the minor as we can, not all seats are reserved.

I am a first-year A&S student. Can I really declare the Data Science Minor now?
Yes. While A&S students are usually prevented from declaring a major or minor until sophomore year, first-year A&S students can declare the Data Science Minor. As noted in the previous question, this can be important to do since some popular core DS courses will give some preference to students who have officially declared Data Science as a minor.

I am a current junior (rising senior), can I complete the Data Science Minor (for Spring 2021 juniors only)?
Juniors must contact the Director of Undergraduate Data Science to discuss options. DS 1000 is not open to current juniors (rising seniors). DS 3100 will not be taught next year (Fall 2021 or Spring 2022) and will need to be suitably replaced, which will require an approved plan from the Director. Furthermore, while DS / CS 3262 is current slated to be taught Spring 2022, that is not fully guaranteed, so students should see if they can take one of the other machine learning options.

I am a rising senior or current senior and cannot register for DS 1000. Why?
Rising seniors and current seniors can only register for DS 1000 if there are available seats immediately before the semester begins with permission of the instructor. DS 1000 is intended as an introduction to data science for first years and sophomores, which is why this restriction is in place.

How do I find courses approved for the data science minor on YES?
On YES, to select all courses approved for credit in the Data Science minor offered in a given semester, select the “Advanced” link next to the search box, select the “Class Attributes” drop-down box on the bottom right of the advanced search page, and then select “Eligible for Data Science” to find all courses. (Note that these course tags will not all be in place on YES until the registration period for Fall 2021 begins.)

What college is the home of the Data Science Minor?
The Data Science Minor is a trans-institutional minor, shared by A&S, Blair, Engineering, and Peabody.

I am an A&S student. Do DS courses count as A&S courses?
All courses with a DS prefix count as courses within each of the colleges, including A&S. If you are an A&S student, and are taking a course that is cross-listed, make sure you enroll in the one with the DS prefix. Electives outside of A&S without the DS prefix will generally not count as A&S courses, so plan accordingly.

What are the unique credit hour rules for the Data Science Minor?
Students electing an undergraduate minor in Data Science must follow academic regulations regarding minors in their home college, including but not limited to regulations regarding unique hours.

Can other courses, besides those listed, count towards the Data Science Minor?
New courses, special topics courses, or graduate-level courses that seem related to data science could count as electives. Contact the Director of Undergraduate Data Science to request consideration.

Why doesn’t CS 1104 count towards the Data Science Minor?
It does, as a prerequisite to CS 2204, which counts towards the minor. CS / DS 1100 was created as a new single-semester programming course for the Data Science Minor. It roughly has 2/3 the content of CS 1104 and 1/3 the content of CS 2204. While CS / DS 1100 counts as a single semester of programming for the minor, we strongly encourage students interested in data science, and in using data science tools and techniques, to take two semesters of programming in Python (CS / DS 1100 or CS 1104, followed by CS 2204). If you have taken CS 1104, you can take CS 1100, but you will only receive a total of four credits for the two courses. See also What Programming Course To Take?

I see that after having taken CS 1104, I can take CS/DS 1100 instead of taking CS 2204. What are the downsides of doing so?
After taking CS 1104, we do recommend you take CS 2204. If you are interested in data science, a broader experience in Python in desirable (in fact, we recommend that students having taken CS 1100 try to take CS 2204 as well). CS/DS 1100 and 1104 have significant overlap (both are introductions to programming using Python). That said, it is permissible to take CS/DS 1100 after having taken CS 1104. You will only get 1 (out of 3) credit hours for CS/DS 1100 (after having taken CS 1104), but the combination of CS/DS 1100 and 1104 will satisfy the DS minor programming requirement. Note that if you enroll in three 3-hour courses and CS/DS 1100 (after having taken CS 1104) it will look like you are registered for 12 credit hours during registration and at the start of the semester, but your credit hours will be reduced to only 10 credit hours (because the credits for CS/DS 1100 will be cut back to 1 after the add/drop period). Enrolling in fewer than 12 credit hours can have significant consequences on financial aid and potentially on visa status for international students. Please be mindful of this.

What is the difference between CS 1100 and DS 1100?
Nothing. They are the same course. They meet the same time in the same place and are taught by the same instructor. They are just cross-listed.

I have taken CS 1101. What computer programming course should I take next?
You have two options. You can either take CS 2201 (in C++) or take CS 1100 (in Python). Of course, you could also take CS 1104 and 2204 (in Python). CS 1100, 2201, and 2204 all satisfy the programming requirement for the minor. Note that CS 2201 is a prerequisite for many upper-level CS courses (as well as required for the CS major and minor). For more information, see What Programming Course To Take?

ECON 3750 and MATH 3670 are listed both as satisfying the core machine learning requirement and as electives. If I take one, will it double-count for both requirements?
No. They are listed under both because a student who takes one of the other machine learning courses to satisfy the core requirement (CS/DS 3262 or CS 4262) can also take ECON 3750 or MATH 3670 as an elective; the content is sufficiently different that both can count towards the minor, but one course cannot double-count for two minor requirements.

Can I take ECON 3750 or MATH 3670 as an elective if I have already taken CS 3262 or CS 4262?
Yes (see above). ECON 3750 and MATH 3670 are sufficiently different from CS 3262 or CS 4262 (and from each other) that you can take these as electives. In fact, you could take ECON 3750 to satisfy the machine learning requirement and then take MATH 3670 as an elective.

Why doesn’t MATH 2820 count towards the Data Science Minor?
It does, as a prerequisite to MATH 2821, which counts towards the minor. The two-course sequence of MATH 2820 and MATH 2821 counts towards the Data Science Minor; the two-course sequence is required because MATH 2820 goes deep into mathematical foundations of probability ad statistics concepts, but does not by itself cover the breadth of topics of other introductory statistics courses. This two-course sequence provides an excellent introduction to mathematical statistics.

To whom can I petition if the Director denies my request?
The Governing Board of the Data Science Minor acts as the college-level oversight body for this trans-institutional minor and would be the appropriate next step for petitions related to the minor.