Data Science: Degree Requirements

Cathy Wu

A program change was instituted for students entering the MSDS program in the fall 2021 semester which added an additional required ethics course.  For students beginning graduate study at UD, a total of 33 credits is required for the degree. For students already in graduate programs at UD, a total of 30 credits is required for the degree. 

At least 6 credits of core courses are required from the following list from DMS (each course is 3 credits):

  • MATH612 Solving Linear Equations and Optimization (F)
  • MATH637 Mathematical Techniques in Data Science (S)
  • MATH672 Vector Spaces (F)
  • MATH630 Probability Theory and Applications (F)

At least 6 credits of core courses are required from the following list from CIS (each course is 3 credits):

  • CISC621 Algorithm Design and Analysis (F/S)
  • CISC637 Database Systems (F/S)
  • CISC683 Introduction to Data Mining (F)
  • CISC684 Introduction to Machine Learning (S)

At least 6 credits of core courses are required from the following list from AES (each course is 3 credits):

  • STAT611 Regression Analysis (F)
  • STAT613 Applied Multivariate Methods (F)
  • STAT674 Applied Data Base Management (F/S)
  • STAT675 Logistic Regression (S)

A three‐credit ethics course on data science, the permanent version of PHIL 667 Ethics in Data Science and AI or courses cross‐listed with it, is required.


Credit for both STAT674 and CISC637 cannot be applied to the degree. Please use this link to view prerequisite table for MSDS course.

Up to 12 credits of elective courses may come from a variety of courses on campus with relevant application or quantitative content. An initial list of example courses is given in Appendix A. The courses must be at the 600 level or above for the home college from which the degree is awarded. A course from the required lists may be chosen as an elective provided that it has not already been used to satisfy the six core course requirement. The initial elective list is not meant to be exhaustive. The electives taken by the student must be approved by the advisor and the Executive Committee of MSDS. The student’s choices of electives shall be approved by the advisor prior to registration and by the Executive Committee prior to the beginning of the last semester.

Up to six credits can be used to do a MS thesis according the requirements of the department in which the student will take the degree. The University requirements for master’s theses shall apply to the thesis in this degree. The committee for the thesis shall include three members with at least one member not from the specialty department.

30 credits of course work are required. Up to three credits of Special Problem or Research can be applied toward the credit total. These Special Problem or Research credits may come from experience on campus or in industry (e.g., internships).  Special Problem or Research credits must be related to the degree and must be approved by the advisor and the executive committee. Valid scholarly output from such credits are presentations (oral or poster), papers, reports or similar that demonstrate related work in the field.

The MSDS can be obtained in conjunction with a limited number of bachelor's degree programs as a 4+1 combination. Here the x in Bx can be A for arts, S for science or other letters for other degrees. At the time of writing, the bachelor's degrees available are as follows. Any of the bachelor's degrees from the DMS may be combined with the MSDS: B.A. in mathematics or mathematics education, B.S. in actuarial sciences, applied mathematics, mathematics and economics, mathematics education, quantitative biology, or honors versions of any of them, HBx. Similarly, any of the bachelor's degrees from CIS, electrical and computer engineering (ECE), mechanical engineering (ME), or physics and astronomy (DPA) are available for combining with the MSDS as a 4+1 program. From CIS, these are computer science (B.A., B.S.), information systems (B.S.) and honors versions (HBx). From ECE, these are computer engineering (BCpE), electrical engineering (BEE) and honors versions (HBx). From ME, these are bachelor of mechanical engineering (BME) and the honors version (HBME). From DPA, these are B.S., B.A., HBS, HBA options in each of physics or astronomy as well as B.A. and HBA in physics education. Up to six credits from the graduate coursework may be applied to the bachelor's degree that come from the area of the undergraduate major. For example, mathematics courses may be applied to a major from DMS; computer science courses can be applied to a major from CIS; and electrical engineering courses may be applied to a major from ECE.

Students who wish to be admitted to the Bx/MSDS 4+1 program should submit an application during the junior year of academic study toward an undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware as described in the "Admission Requirements" section.  

An advisor will be assigned prior to the start of the first semester. The first semester courses shall be approved by the advisor prior to the start of that semester. The student and the advisor will develop a program of study; the program of study submitted to the executive committee for approval prior to the end of the first semester of courses.

Students may need to alter approved programs of study due to scheduling conflicts or the creation of new courses directly related to the student’s goals. Students who wish to make minor changes to their program of study must obtain permission from their advisor. Major changes to the program of study, such as the substitution of one or more core courses, must be approved by the program committee. All changes in a previously approved program of study must be approved by the program director.

Up to six credits may be transferred from courses applicable toward the degree, provided that the credits have not been applied to obtain a different degree. The transfer must be approved by the Executive Committee, and if necessary, in consultation with the department that offers the (potentially) equivalent course.

The M.S. degree is awarded by the dean of the Graduate College for this interdisciplinary degree. The Executive Committee shall approve the program of study of the MSDS prior to the student applying for the degree (i.e., the forms submitted prior to graduation).

Timetable and satisfactory progress toward the degree

1. Academic load and satisfactory progress

The MSDS program will follow the University of Delaware Graduate College recommended policy for determining students’ failure to make satisfactory progress toward degree requirements and time limits for completion. Students may be enrolled on a full‐time (nine credits per term) or part‐time (fewer than nine credits per term) basis.

2. Grade and GPA requirements

Students must pass all of the core courses with a minimum grade of B or better, and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 or better in the six core courses, to continue in the program. The student may repeat a core course one time in order to earn an acceptable grade for the degree. All graduate‐numbered courses taken with graduate student classification at the University of Delaware are applied to the cumulative GPA. Credit hours and courses for which the grade is below B‐ do not count toward the degree even though the grade is applied to the overall GPA. Elective courses may not be repeated to apply to the degree.

3. Grievance procedures

Students concerned that they have received an unfair evaluation or have been graded inappropriately may file grievances in accordance with the student guide to University of Delaware policies. Students are encouraged to contact the program director prior to filing a grievance.