In order to get your MPS degree, you need to take the 7 core data science courses (DATA 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, and 607) and 3 elective courses.

#### I AM A NEW STUDENT. WHAT CLASSES SHOULD I TAKE?

if you are familiar with Python programming, fundamentals of statistics, and linear algebra, then

- Start with DATA 601 (Introduction to Data Science) since many other courses build upon the concepts presented in this foundational course.
- If you want to take another DATA course with DATA 601, then please consider taking DATA 604 Data Management or DATA 605 Ethical and Legal Issues in Data Science.

If you know how to program in an object-oriented programming language different than Python, then please consider taking Data 690 Special Topics: Data Structures and Algorithms in Python (DSAP) in your first semester. DSAP is a purely online class. You might like to take Data 605 Ethical and Legal Issues in Data Science and/or DATA 607 Leadership in Data Science.

If you don’t have serious programming experience, then please take “Data 690 Special Topics: Statistical Analysis and Visualization with Python (Stats and Viz)” in your first semester. This course is designed for students who have no or very minimal python programming experience. The other course you might like to take in your first semester is either DATA 605 or DATA 607. If you are an international student, then please take both Data 605 and DATA 607.

There is another course (DATA 690 Special Topics: Mathematical Foundations for Machine Learning) designed to help our students who need to refresh their knowledge in Linear Algebra. This course starts with basic matrix operations in Python and covers subjects like vector calculus, analytic geometry, matrix decompositions, and optimization. Note that we don’t offer this course every semester!

Note that **all the DATA 690 courses are counted towards your degree.**

#### WHEN SHOULD I TAKE DATA 602, DATA 603, and DATA 606?

- If you are familiar with data analysis and machine learning or if you have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science or Information Systems, you can take DATA 602 concurrently with DATA 601 but if it is not the case, then please take 602 after taking 601.
- If you already are familiar with big data platforms, you can take DATA 603 even in your first semester. Otherwise, please take it after completing DATA 601.
- If you are taking one or two courses per semester, then please consider taking DATA 603 after taking DATA 602.
- Additionally, you can only take DATA 606 (Capstone Project in Data Science) after completing your other required DATA courses — most students take that course in their final year but are thinking about potential research topics long before then.

Beyond those simple guidelines, below is some additional advising information for you to consider & save for future reference during your time with us….

#### WHY DO SOME COURSE TIMES ARE LISTED AS “TBA” (HOW CAN I REGISTER WITHOUT KNOWING THE DATE & TIME OF THE CLASS?

- If Date and Time are announced as TBA, then it means that it will be an asynchronous class. In other words, there won’t be any live lectures.

#### WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY COURSES WITH THE SAME CODE: DATA 690?

- DATA 690 is the general code for all the special topics courses, which cover emerging or specialized Data Science topics on an as-needed basis.
- Currently, there are three groups of special topics courses:
- Foundational Data Science Courses (Examples: Stats and Viz with Python, Math Foundations of Machine Learning, DSAP)
- Applications of Data Science (Example: Designing Data-Driven Web Applications and Applications of Machine Learning in Finance). Prerequisite: DATA 601.
- Advanced Data Science Courses (Examples: Modern Practical Deep Learning, Intro to NLP, and AI for Practitioners).
**DATA 602 is a prerequisite of advanced data science courses. You can’t take these courses before completing DATA 602!**

- The maximum number of Data 690 courses you can take during your graduate study is 6.
- You can take three of these Data 690 courses to satisfy the 30-credits (10 courses) requirement of your master’s degree.

#### HOW MANY CLASSES SHOULD I TAKE?

Graduate-level courses are not the same as the ones you probably took as an undergraduate student and likely will be more challenging. There is a higher degree of research, reading, writing, and group work involved in most of our courses. Certainly, some courses may be or seem “harder” than others, but how “hard” they may be for you is entirely dependent on how much time and effort you put into them and/or your prior background or knowledge. As such, that means we can’t tell you which courses are “harder” than others or which ones will require “more work” from you, since everyone’s preparation, schedule, tolerances, and capabilities are different.

**International Students:** If it is not their last semester, then the international students must take at least 3 courses in the Fall and Spring semesters. **Only one of these courses can be online. The others have to be either an in-person or a hybrid class.** **These two rules do not apply to Summer semesters and the final semester of graduate study.**

**Domestic Students:** Most DATA students start off with 1 or 2 courses in their first semester to see how things go, which is good for recent college graduates or those returning to school later in their careers. In fact, taking 2 courses while working full-time is the norm. If you’re not working full-time, we are comfortable with a student taking 3 courses. However, taking 3 or more graduate courses in a semester will likely present problems if you’re also working full-time… so doing that is not advised unless absolutely necessary and would be done at your own academic risk.

Remember, UMBC policy requires you to maintain a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA to graduate!

#### WHERE CAN I FIND THE LIST OF PATHWAY COURSES?

You can find the list of pathways and courses you can take here. Note that some of these courses are not available in all semesters.