Accelerated Data Science Curriculum & Specializations

Beginning Fall 2023

The Master of Science in Data Science program requires the successful completion of 12 courses to obtain a degree. These requirements cover six core courses, a data governance course, four required courses corresponding to a declared specialization, and a capstone project. Students are registered for three courses per term and will complete the degree within four terms.

As part of the application process, students will choose one of five specializations: Analytics and Modeling, Artificial Intelligence, Data Engineering, Analytics Management, or Technology Entrepreneurship. Core courses and courses within each specialization are listed below.

Please see the academic catalog for additional information regarding the curriculum. Current students should refer to curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program.

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CORE COURSES:

MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists

Students learn techniques for building and interpreting mathematical models of real-world phenomena in and across multiple disciplines, including linear algebra, discrete mathematics, probability, and calculus, with an emphasis on applications in data science and data engineering. This is for students who want a firm understanding or review of these fields of mathematics prior to enrolling in courses that assume understanding of mathematical concepts. 

Prerequisites: None

 

MSDS 401 Applied Statistics with R

This course teaches fundamentals of statistical analysis. This includes evaluating statistical information, performing data analyses, and interpreting and communicating analytical results. Students will learn to use the R language for statistical analysis, data visualization, and report generation. Topics covered include descriptive statistics, central tendency, exploratory data analysis, probability theory, discrete and continuous distributions, statistical inference, correlation, multiple linear regression, contingency tables, and chi-square tests. Selected contemporary statistical concepts, such as bootstrapping, are introduced to supplement traditional statistical methods.

Recommended prior course: MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists.

MSDS 403 Data Science and Digital Transformation

This is a case study course that gives students an opportunity to solve business problems and apply core skills needed for technical and leadership roles in data science. The course provides an introduction to digital transformation, industry use cases, designing and measuring analytics projects, data considerations, data governance, digital trust and ethics, enterprise architecture and technology platforms, and organizational change management. Students act as data scientists, as strategists and leaders, evaluating alternative analytics projects and solving digital transformation challenges. Students learn how to apply a step-by-step development process, creating digital transformation roadmaps and addressing real-world business problems.

Prerequisites: None, but previous background in data science is assumed.

MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation

This course introduces data management and data preparation with a focus on applications in large-scale analytics projects utilizing relational, document, and graph database systems. Students learn about the relational model, the normalization process, and structured query language. They learn about data cleaning and integration, and database programming for extract, transform, and load operations. Students work with unstructured data, indexing and scoring documents for effective and relevant responses to user queries. They learn about graph data models and query processing. Students write programs for data preparation and extraction using various data sources and file formats.

Recommended:  Prior programming experience or MSDS 430 Python for Data Science.

MSDS 422 Practical Machine Learning

The course introduces machine learning with business applications. It provides a survey of statistical and machine learning algorithms and techniques including the machine learning framework, regression, classification, regularization and reduction, tree-based methods, unsupervised learning, and fully-connected, convolutional, and recurrent neural networks. Students implement machine learning models with open-source software for data science. They explore data and learn from data, finding underlying patterns useful for data reduction, feature analysis, prediction, and classification.

Prerequisites: MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists, MSDS 401 Applied Statistics with R, and MSDS 402 Data Science and Research Practice OR MSDS 403 Data Science and Digital Transformation.

MSDS 460 Decision Analytics

This course covers fundamental concepts, solution techniques, modeling approaches, and applications of decision analytics. It introduces commonly used methods of optimization, simulation and decision analysis techniques for prescriptive analytics in business. Students explore linear programming, network optimization, integer linear programming, goal programming, multiple objective optimization, nonlinear programming, metaheuristic algorithms, stochastic simulation, queuing modeling, decision analysis, and Markov decision processes. Students develop a contextual understanding of techniques useful for managerial decision support. They implement decision-analytic techniques using a state-of-the-art analytical modeling platform. This is a problem and project-based course.

Prerequisites: MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401 Applied Statistics with R.

MSDS 485 Data Governance, Ethics, and Law

This course introduces data management concepts, including data quality, integrity, usability, consistency, and security. It considers the lineage of data, sometimes referred to as data provenance. It reviews ethical, legal, and technical issues relating to data acquisition and dissemination, as well as privacy protection. The course provides a management introduction to cybersecurity, including network, system, and database security, as well as encryption and blockchain technologies. The course covers laws relating to protecting intellectual property, with discussion of copyrights, patents, and contracts.

Prerequisites: None

MSDS 498 Capstone

The capstone course focuses upon the practice of data science. This course is the culmination of the data science program. It gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their business strategic thinking, communication, and consulting skills. Business cases across various industries and application areas illustrate strategic advantages of analytics, as well as organizational issues in implementing systems for data science. Students work in project teams, generating business plans and project implementation plans.

Prerequisites: Completion of all core courses in the student's graduate program and specialization.

Analytics and Modeling Specialization

In the world of data science, the analysts and modelers specialize in testing real-world predictions about data. Data analysts and modelers conduct research and take complex factors into account to build predictive models and create forecasts upon which data-driven decisions can be made. With a focus on traditional methods of applied statistics, this specialization prepares data scientists to utilize algorithms for predictive modeling and analytics, developing models for marketing, finance, and other business applications.

MSDS 410 Data Modeling for Supervised Learning

This course introduces traditional statistics and data modeling for supervised learning problems, as employed in observational and experimental research. With supervised learning there is a clear distinction between explanatory and response variables. The objective is to predict responses, whether they be quantitative as with multiple regression or categorical as with logistic regression and multinomial logit models. Students work on research and programming assignments, exploring data, identifying appropriate models, and validating models. They utilize techniques for observational and experimental research design, data visualization, variable transformation, model diagnostics, and model selection. 

Prerequisites: MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401 Applied Statistics with R.

This is a required course for the Analytics and Modeling specialization.

MSDS 411 Data Modeling for Unsupervised Learning

This course introduces traditional and modern methods of unsupervised learning. Students see how to represent relationships among many continuous variables using principal components and factor analysis. They identify groups of individuals and groups of variables with cluster analysis and block clustering. They explore relationships among categorical variables with log-linear models and association rules. They visualize multivariate data with lattice displays, multidimensional scaling, and t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding. And they detect anomalies using autoencoders and probabilistic deep learning. This is a project-based course with extensive programming assignments.

Prerequisites: MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401 Applied Statistics with R

This is a required course for the Analytics and Modeling specialization.

MSDS 413 Time Series Analysis and Forecasting

This course covers analytical methods for time series analysis and forecasting. Specific topics include the role of forecasting in organizations, exploratory data analysis, stationary and non-stationary time series, autocorrelation and partial autocorrelation functions, univariate autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models, seasonal models, Box-Jenkins methodology, regression models with ARIMA errors, multivariate time series analysis, and non-linear time series modeling including exponential smoothing methods, random forest analysis, and hidden Markov modeling.

Recommended prior course: MSDS 410 Supervised Learning Methods and MSDS 411 Unsupervised Learning Methods. 

Prerequisites: (1) MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation or CIS 417 Database Systems Design and Implementation and (2) MSDS 422 Practical Machine Learning or CIS 435 Practical Data Science Using Machine Learning.

This is an elective course for the Analytics and Modeling specialization.

MSDS 430 Python for Data Science

This course introduces core features of the Python programming language, demonstrating fundamental concepts in computer science. It provides an in-depth discussion of data representation strategies, showing how data structures are implemented in Python and demonstrating tools for data science and software engineering. Working on data analysis problems, students employ various programming paradigms, including functional programming, object-oriented programming, and data stream processing. Special attention is paid to the standard Python library and packages for analytics and modeling.

Prerequisites: None.

This is an elective course for the Analytics and Modeling specialization.

Analytics Management Specialization

As the strategic and tactical decisions of organizations become increasingly data-driven, analytics managers bridge the work of analysts and modelers with business operations and strategy to lead data science teams, address future business needs, identify business opportunities, and translate the work of data scientists into language that business management understands. This specialization equips data scientists with the communication and management strategies needed to be data-driven leaders who utilize models, analyses, and statistical data to improve business performance.

MSDS 474 Accounting and Finance for Technology Managers

TThis course reviews corporate finance and managerial accounting with a focus on technology projects. It shows how the cycle of accounting, valuation, financial markets, cost of capital, and the real economy affect firm performance. Technology managers and entrepreneurs need to assess company needs in terms of workflow, coordination with other organizations, satisfying multiple stakeholders, and employing highly specialized knowledge professionals. Students learn how to read financial statements and evaluate risks associated with technology projects. They learn how to conduct breakeven and return-on-investment analyses. The course provides in-depth coverage of spreadsheet programming methods, setting the stage for subsequent financial modeling work. Students create business plans for technology firms, evaluating new ventures and justifying capital investments.

Prerequisites: None.

This is a required course for the Analytics Management specialization.

MSDS 480 Business Leadership and Communications

This course introduces concepts of leadership and organizational behavior. It builds on the premise that leadership is learned and discusses how to drive change in organizations at stages of conception, growth, and evolution. Students spend three weeks on technology-specific project management, in which they design a project plan using an agile approach. They learn how to incorporate the cross-industry standard processes for information system design, data analysis, and modeling. They practice executing plans in simulated business settings. Working on case studies and theory-based assignments, students see how to address leadership challenges unique to technology organizations. The course focuses on developing effective communication strategies and presentations that resonate across business and technical teams to emphasize vision and organizational acceptance.

Prerequisites:  None

This is a required course for the Analytics Management specialization.

 

MSDS 476 Business Process Analytics

This course introduces data-driven management methods, including business process workflows, mining, modeling, and simulation, activity-based costing, constrained optimization, and predictive analytics. Data from business operations, properly recorded in time-stamped logs of activities and their associated costs, represent essential information for business management. Analyzing business activities provides a guide to business intelligence and business process improvements, including those associated with robotic process automation and digital transformation. By reviewing detailed case studies and using commercial and open-source analytics platforms, students learn how data and models can be used to guide management decisions.

Prerequisites: None. 

This is an elective course for the Analytics Management specialization.

MSDS 472 Management Consulting

This course introduces concepts, processes, tools, and techniques of management consulting. This includes winning consulting work, executing engagements, communicating with clients, and managing client relationships. Working in teams, students simulate a real-world consulting engagement, developing critical thinking, listening, speaking, and written communication skills. Students construct consulting presentations, communicating key findings and client impacts while employing data visualization best practices. The course is appropriate for students considering management consulting as a profession, as well as for students with internal expert or consultant roles.

Prerequisites: None.

 This is an elective course for the Analytics Management specialization.

Artificial Intelligence Specialization

Advances in machine learning algorithms, growth in computer processing power, and access to large volumes of data make artificial intelligence possible. Recent advances flow from the development of deep learning methods, which are neural networks with many hidden layers. Artificial intelligence builds on machine learning, with computer programs performing many tasks formerly associated with human intelligence. Students in this specialization learn how to move from the traditional models of applied statistics to contemporary data-adaptive models employing machine learning. Students learn how to implement solutions in computer vision, natural language processing, and software robotics.

MSDS 453 Natural Language Processing

This course reviews natural language processing with a focus on recent developments in computational linguistics and machine learning. Students work with unstructured and semi-structured text from online sources, document collections, and databases. Students learn how to parse text into numeric vectors and to convert higher dimensional vectors into lower dimensional vectors for subsequent analysis and modeling. Applications include speech recognition, semantic processing, text classification, search, recommendation systems, sentiment analysis, and topic modeling. This is a project-based course with extensive programming assignments.

Prerequisites:(1) MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation or CIS 417 Database Systems Design and Implementation and (2) MSDS 422 Practical Machine Learning or CIS 435 Practical Data Science Using Machine Learning.

This is a required course for the Artificial Intelligence specialization.

MSDS 458 Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning

An introduction to artificial intelligence, this course illustrates probability-rule-based generative models as well as discriminative models for learning from data. It reviews applications of artificial intelligence and deep learning in vision and language processing. Students learn best practices for building deep learning models for classification and regression. The learn about feature engineering, autoencoders, and strategies of unsupervised and semi-supervised learning, as well as reinforcement learning.  This is a project-based course with extensive programming assignments.

Prerequisites: (1) MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation or CIS 417 Database Systems Design and Implementation and (2) MSDS 422 Practical Machine Learning or CIS 435 Practical Data Science Using Machine Learning.

This is a required course for the Artificial Intelligence specialization.

MSDS 410 Supervised Learning Methods

This course introduces traditional statistics and data modeling for supervised learning problems, as employed in observational and experimental research. With supervised learning there is a clear distinction between explanatory and response variables. The objective is to predict responses, whether they be quantitative as with multiple regression or categorical as with logistic regression and multinomial logit models. Students work on research and programming assignments, exploring data, identifying appropriate models, and validating models. They utilize techniques for observational and experimental research design, data visualization, variable transformation, model diagnostics, and model selection. 

Prerequisites: MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401 Applied Statistics with R

This is an elective course for the Artificial Intelligence specialization.

MSDS 430 Python for Data Science

This course introduces core features of the Python programming language, demonstrating fundamental concepts in computer science. It provides an in-depth discussion of data representation strategies, showing how data structures are implemented in Python and demonstrating tools for data science and software engineering. Working on data analysis problems, students employ various programming paradigms, including functional programming, object-oriented programming, and data stream processing. Special attention is paid to the standard Python library and packages for analytics and modeling.

Prerequisites: None.

This is an elective course for the Artificial Intelligence specialization.

Data Engineering Specialization

After analysts and modelers have built and tested models, data engineers implement models to scale within an information infrastructure, creating systems and workflows to organize and manage large quantities of data. This means understanding computer systems (including software, hardware, data collection, and data processes) and solving problems related to data collection, security, and organization. This specialization trains data scientists to utilize system-wide problem-solving skills, choose hardware systems, and build software systems for implementing models made by data analysts to scale in productions systems.

MSDS 432 Foundations of Data Engineering

This course provides an overview of the discipline of data engineering. It introduces software and systems for data science and software development as required in the design of data-intensive applications. Students learn about algorithms, data structures, and technologies for storing and processing data. Students gain experience with open-source software, text editors, integrated development environments, and cloud systems. Students employ best practices in software development, utilizing tools for syntax checking, testing, debugging, and version control. The course also introduces formal models for algorithm and system performance.

Prerequisites: (1) MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists and (2) MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation or CIS 417 Database Systems Design.

This is a required course for the Data Engineering specialization.

MSDS 434 Analytics Application Engineering

This course covers programming components essential to the development of analytics applications. The focus is analytics software engineering. Students learn to develop desktop and client-server solutions. They learn about web-based solutions employing a variety of front-end and back-end system components. The course introduces machine learning operations and engineering. Students use cloud systems to package and distribute containerized computer software. They develop software, working on open-source programming, database, and systems integration projects. They employ best practices in software development.

Recommended prior courses: (1) MSDS 432 Foundations of Data Engineering and (2) MSDS 422 Practical Machine Learning or CIS 435 Practical Data Science Using Machine Learning.

Prerequisites: (1) MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists and (2) MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation or CIS 417 Database Systems Design.

This is a required course for the Data Engineering specialization.

 

MSDS 476 Business Process Analytics

This course introduces data-driven management methods, including business process workflows, mining, modeling, and simulation, activity-based costing, constrained optimization, and predictive analytics. Data from business operations, properly recorded in time-stamped logs of activities and their associated costs, represent essential information for business management. Analyzing business activities provides a guide to business intelligence and business process improvements, including those associated with robotic process automation and digital transformation. By reviewing detailed case studies and using commercial and open-source analytics platforms, students learn how data and models can be used to guide management decisions.

Prerequisites: None.

This is an elective course for the Data Engineering specialization.

MSDS 431 Data Engineering with Go

This comprehensive introduction to the Go programming language reviews data structures and algorithms, the Go standard library, and packages for analytics and modeling. Students work on systems programming problems across various hardware and software environments, developing software applications, implementing database servers and clients. They learn about microservices and application programming interfaces. They learn about concurrent processing and massively parallel processing. They learn how to work with containers and how to implement scalable, high-performance, distributed systems in the cloud.

Prerequisites: None.

This is an elective course in the Data Engineering specialization.

Technology Entrepreneurship Specialization

Entrepreneurship involves creating a new business or business function where one did not exist before. Advances in science and technology spur innovation, giving existing, resource-rich companies a chance to reinvent themselves, often moving into new markets. These advances, many of them emerging from data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, provide an opportunity for individuals and firms to build new organizations or startups. The technology entrepreneurship specialization shows students the path to building a successful, innovation-driven startup.

MSDS 470 Technology Entrepreneurship

This course prepares students to establish and run a technology-focused entrepreneurial organization. It identifies opportunities for technology products and services, including opportunities in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Students review methods of industry and market analysis to guide competitive strategy. They learn how to transform ideas into successful businesses, identifying the right data, information technology, and human resources, and aligning with unmet market demand. They learn how to deploy efficient operating models for independent and enterprise startups. They learn about growing a network of people and obtaining capital assets, creating innovative intellectual property, sharpening unique competitiveness, and making product development and marketing choices. Students develop business plans and make presentations for starting entrepreneurial ventures.

Prerequisites: None

This is a required course for the Technology Entrepreneurship specialization.

 

MSDS 474 Accounting and Finance for Technology Managers

This course reviews corporate finance and managerial accounting with a focus on technology projects. It shows how the cycle of accounting, valuation, financial markets, cost of capital, and the real economy affect firm performance. Technology managers and entrepreneurs need to assess company needs in terms of workflow, coordination with other organizations, satisfying multiple stakeholders, and employing highly specialized knowledge professionals. Students learn how to read financial statements and evaluate risks associated with technology projects. They learn how to conduct breakeven and return-on-investment analyses. The course provides in-depth coverage of spreadsheet programming methods, setting the stage for subsequent financial modeling work. Students create business plans for technology firms, evaluating new ventures and justifying capital investments.

Prerequisite: None

This is a required course for the Technology Entrepreneurship specialization.

 

MSDS 476 Business Process Analytics

This course introduces data-driven management methods, including business process workflows, mining, modeling, and simulation, activity-based costing, constrained optimization, and predictive analytics. Data from business operations, properly recorded in time-stamped logs of activities and their associated costs, represent essential information for business management. Analyzing business activities provides a guide to business intelligence and business process improvements, including those associated with robotic process automation and digital transformation. By reviewing detailed case studies and using commercial and open-source analytics platforms, students learn how data and models can be used to guide management decisions.

Prerequisites: None.

This is an elective course for the Technology Entrepreneurship specialization.

MSDS 472 Management Consulting

This course introduces concepts, processes, tools, and techniques of management consulting. This includes winning consulting work, executing engagements, communicating with clients, and managing client relationships. Working in teams, students simulate a real-world consulting engagement, developing critical thinking, listening, speaking, and written communication skills. Students construct consulting presentations, communicating key findings and client impacts while employing data visualization best practices. The course is appropriate for students considering management consulting as a profession, as well as for students with internal expert or consultant roles.

Prerequisites: None

This is an elective course for the Technology Entrepreneurship specialization.

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