Pathways and Certificates


As listed below, we have partnerships with various departments so that you can take elective courses on various subjects. We call those course-sets “pathways”. Electives are offered regularly – some are offered every semester, while others are rotated throughout the year. A common question is “which course should I take?” — unfortunately, we can’t really answer that with certainty since your choice of courses is entirely dependent on your own background, capabilities, desires or professional needs.

Even though it is recommended, you don’t have to choose your 3 electives from the same pathway. Some pathways are only available at one campus (either at the main campus or Shady Grove campus). For example, Spatial Analytics courses are only offered at the Shady Grove Campus. Computer Science (CMSC) and Information System (IS) courses are offered only at the main campus and most of those courses are taught during the daytime (before 5 pm).

Some electives have pre-requisites and not every elective is appropriate for every student. Therefore, be sure to read the Notes/Comments section in the course registration system to ensure you meet any listed academic or practical pre-requisites — and especially if you are taking a CMSC or an IS course as an elective. Also note that electives outside of DATA (in particular, from CMSC or IS) may meet multiple times during the week and/or during the day, which may not fit into your schedule. You can also learn more about graduate courses and their prerequisites at Graduate Catalog.

You are not limited to only taking DATA-listed courses as electives, but graduate courses (600-level and higher) that you select from other programs or departments as electives must be related to your DATA degree program and the pathway you choose. If you are unsure if a given elective course is applicable and will count toward your degree requirements, feel free to check with your Data Science Graduate Program Director (GPD) before registering for it. For CMSC electives, we strongly suggest contacting the professor in advance to determine your suitability and/or qualifications for their courses, including having the appropriate academic or professional prerequisites. In fact, if in doubt about your suitability for a course, it’s always good to check with the instructor (or GPD) ahead of time — just to be safe.

To locate electives from other programs, visit the graduate course catalog located at the Graduate School website. While you are free to take relevant electives from other programs, to ensure you are meeting the goals of the DATA program, if you wish to take electives not listed on our “pathway course lists”, contact the GPD first.

SPECIAL TOPICS IN DATA SCIENCE (DATA 690): You may take multiple “Special Topics” as electives — however, the topic of each Special Topics course must be different for it to count towards your degree.