Updated Degree Requirements for 2023-2024

At the end of the Program in Data Science’s inaugural year, the team has decided to make some small changes to requirements for the 2023-2024 academic year. These changes will go into effect for students who declare the major on or after September 1, 2023.*

New Gateway Course: Principles of Data Science (DATASCI 112)

The primary change is that DATASCI 112 (Principles of Data Science) will now be included as a gateway course for all students in the program, whether they are pursuing the B.A. or the B.S. As its name suggests, the course is a hands-on introduction to the principles and methods of data science, allowing students to start extracting insights and making decisions from data in the real world, while preparing them for more advanced study in statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. 

The class was offered for the first time in winter 2023, and it was met with excellent reviews from students. Ricky Rojas (class of 2026) shares, “DATASCI 112 is a fascinating survey of different aspects of Data Science. You learn an interesting mix of practical python skills, machine learning packages, and statistical methods that enable you to complete really cool projects.” He says he would recommend the class to anyone who might be interested in Data Science. He explains, “It gives you a taste of a lot of what the field has to offer while giving you skills that could be easily transferred to a wide range of situations. This class influenced me to pursue a degree in Data Science because I found myself wanting to learn more about each of the topics covered in greater depth.”  At the end of the quarter, many students reported feeling empowered to work with data. For example, Piper Fleming (class of 2026) says that the skills she learned in DATASCI 112 were immensely helpful in her summer internship. 

Including DATASCI 112 as a required gateway course for the major also will allow students to meet and make connections with others in the major early in their experience, creating a more tightly knit community. 

While it’s not currently required before declaration, the program recommends taking DATASCI 112 early – ideally during frosh or sophomore year – as it is an excellent introduction to the major and provides an important foundation for future courses. At the same time, it’s worth noting that several juniors and seniors with significant data science experience took the class in winter 2023 and reported finding it engaging and beneficial.  

Changes for the Data Science & Social Systems B.A. (see full details here):

  1. DATASCI 112 has been added as a gateway course. Students are encouraged to take DATASCI 112 before or at the same time as the other gateway course, DATASCI 154.  
  2. One fewer computer science course is required. 

Changes for the Data Science B.S. (see full details here): 

  1. DATASCI 112 has been added as a gateway course. 
  2. Two official subplans have been created, and students will be required to choose one:
    1. Mathematics and Computation subplan 
      • This option will allow students to follow the same requirements as those in the previous academic year (with the addition of DATASCI 112 as a gateway course). Some requirements have simply been rearranged to fit into the structure of the subplan. 
      • This subplan is largely in response to feedback from students that the words Mathematics and Computation are important in reflecting the content of the major. Thus, the subplan will allow this language to be included in the name of the degree.
    2. Biology and Medicine subplan
      • This option is intended for students with a particular interest in biological processes and the analysis of health and biological data. This subplan includes a set of biology classes that is recommended for students interested in applying to medical school.

So far, the new requirements have been met with a positive reception from students. Sophia Chun (class of 2025), who declared the Data Science & Social Systems major in spring 2023 explains, “The introduction of Principles of Data Science as a tandem gateway course and alteration of the computation core intrigued me, opening up the opportunity to explore more applicable and interdisciplinary analytical techniques.” Ultimately, Sophia decided to follow the updated requirements to solidify her computational data science knowledge and develop more analytical tools to use in her work.  

*Can students who declared before September 1, 2023 choose to follow the updated requirements?

Yes! Students who have declared before September 1 and would like to follow the new requirements simply need to contact the datasciencemajor-inquiries [at] lists.stanford.edu (student services team) and update their program sheet accordingly. 

The student services team is also happy to answer students’ questions about these changes and discuss how to incorporate them into a plan of study.