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University of Wisconsin Extended Campus Online Master of Science in Data Science

Why University of Wisconsin Extended Campus?

The University of Wisconsin system offers a Master of Science in Data Science degree through an innovative partnership between six of its constituent campuses, or its “Extended Campus.” Applicants to the program should have a 3.0 GPA minimum in their undergraduate work. They should have completed coursework in elementary statistics, introductory computer programming, and introduction to databases. Standardized test scores are not required.

Program Snapshot

University NameUniversity of Wisconsin Extended Campus
LocationSix campuses of the University of Wisconsin System
StateWisconsin
Niche.com GradeA+
Name of DegreeMaster of Science in Data Science
School or Department Administering ProgramUW Extended Campus – 6 different universities
Credits36
Cost per credit$850
Tuition for Entire Program$30,600
Test RequirementsNot required
Minimum GPA3.00
Prerequisite Courses and SkillsPrerequisite coursework in elementary statistics, introductory computer programming, and introduction to databases
Campus Visit Required?N
Typical Time to CompleteTwo years
When Can Students Start the Program?Fall, Spring, Summer
Program ConcentrationsNone
Synchronous ClassesNo
Required Courses
  • Foundations of Data Science
  • Statistical Methods
  • Programming for Data Science
  • Data Warehousing
  • Big Data: High-Performance Computing
  • Communicating about Data
  • Data Mining
  • Visualization and Unstructured Data Analysis
  • Ethics of Data Science
  • Prescriptive Analytics
  • Data Science and Strategic Decision Making
  • Capstone
Does the Program Include a Capstone?Yes
Does the Program Include a Practicum or Internship?No
Other Features that Make the Program Unique
  • Virtual lab
  • Very detailed program outcomes
  • Reasonable cost
  • Geographic spread throughout the state
  • Interdisciplinary administration
Program Objectives (quoted directly from the program)
  • Identify and assess the needs of an organization for a data science task
  • Collect and manage data to devise solutions to data science tasks
  • Select, apply and evaluate models to design solutions to data science tasks
  • Interpret data science analysis outcomes
  • Effectively communicate data science-related information in various formats to appropriate audiences
  • Value and safeguard the ethical use of data in all aspects of their profession
  • Transform findings from data resources into actionable business strategies
Program DescriptionThis 36-credit program offers courses in all phases of the data science lifecycle, intending to prepare students for leading careers in data science in a range of organizations.  Students identify an organization’s needs, collect and manage needed data, select, apply and evaluate data models, interpret outcomes, and effectively communicate to different audiences. The program emphasizes the ethical use of data and actionable business strategies. A capstone project is required. 

What will I Learn?

All students in the program must complete the same courses, and there are no elective options. The curriculum is based on the student learning to perform data science tasks ethically at all stages of the data lifecycle, to communicate results to drive actionable business strategy. Courses are conducted using a unique virtual lab environment, meaning that students can simply log in to the virtual lab to be able to use a range of industry-leading software and tools. Faculty and staff work at six University of Wisconsin campuses throughout the state and the structure of the program is interdisciplinary, meaning that the curriculum integrates a variety of perspectives and approaches.

Students begin the program with a course on Foundations of Data Science. They then gain critical skills in introductory courses in Statistical Methods and Programming.  The pathway through the data lifecycle begins with a course in Data Warehousing, followed by Big Data: High-Performance Computing.  Courses in Data Mining and Prescriptive Analytics add to the toolbox of aspiring data scientists. Communicating results to a variety of audiences are the focus of two required courses on Communicating About Data and Visualization and Unstructured Data Analysis. Ethics of Data Science allows students to exercise their critical thinking skills, as does a course on Data Science and Strategic Decision Making. Students then have an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned through a final capstone project exploring a data-intensive problem.

How much will the program cost?

Students finish their degree within two years and pay $850 per credit for a total of 36 credits, or $30,600

How does the program fit into my life?

All courses are asynchronous, meaning that instructors create learning materials such as lectures, activities, quizzes, assignments, and group discussions in weekly modules, and students are responsible for completing the module on their schedule within the given week.  The program can be completed 100% online, and no campus visits are required.  The program is usually completed in 2 years. Students can enter the program in Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters. Because of the project-based nature of the program, students can expect to need to schedule time to work with classmates or meet with instructors.

Summary

The University of Wisconsin Extended Campus data science program integrates an interdisciplinary approach with a practical curriculum culminating in an applied capstone project.  The program is highly structured and predictable, offering an easy-to-understand pathway to developing expertise in core data science tasks and knowledge. The separate course in ethics, as well as the emphasis on communication to a range of audiences, are distinctive features of the program. Students who would like more choices in designing their degree program, or who are looking to specialize more deeply in one domain or task area will likely want to look elsewhere.