Academics Overview

The online master of science in data Science program from Southern Methodist University equips data-driven professionals with the skills required to generate measurable impact in their business or organization. Graduates of this program will master the concepts and tools required to effectively mine, manage and analyze unstructured data and to clearly communicate results and solutions to inform strategy in organizations.

Developed by esteemed practitioners in the data science field, coursework outlines key learning objectives through practical application and provides students the opportunity to incorporate key concepts and tools into their current role. Students build upon what they learn in their courses by working on case studies, participating in compelling workshops and engaging with industry professionals.

Students can customize their curriculum and choose an area of specialization for their elective coursework. Adding a specialization allows students to focus on mastering disciplines aligned with their career interests and to further deepen the specific skill sets needed in their organization.

Areas of Specialization

Program Requirements

The 33.5-credit program can be completed in as little as 20 months:

  • 21 core credits
  • 9 elective credits
  • 1.5 immersion experience credits
  • 2 capstone credits

Here are sample course schedules for both 5-Term and 7-Term tracks (PDF, 79kb).


Why DataScience@SMU?

Employers are seeking data-driven candidates with the advanced technical skills and business acumen to make strategic, informed decisions in today’s global business environment.

To meet the demand, DataScience@SMU features an interdisciplinary curriculum that draws from three SMU schools: Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering and Meadows School of the Arts. Students apply the tools and methods used by data science professionals to complete project-based assignments and participate in real case studies that solve organizational challenges.

Our students cultivate the skills necessary to meet the current high demand for data science professionals in various industries. The program features corporate networking opportunities and career services that allow students to advance their career while working toward completing their degree.

Students become equipped with the critical tools needed to make well-informed decisions and immediately apply what they learn to their career. Students can choose an optional Machine Learning Specialization or Business Analytics Specialization to gain a more in-depth competency related to their interests and become sought-after professionals in the field of data science.

“The program provides excellent breadth and depth on skills and tools required for a data scientist. So far, I’ve learned a total of 30 different programming languages and data analytics packages. The machine learning, classification, clustering and recommender system skills I’ve acquired have been outstanding.”

– Ben Fowler, DataScience@SMU student


Learning Objectives

The online Master of Science in Data Science program matches the academic rigor and standards of SMU’s on-campus programs. Students learn techniques to effectively manage and analyze data and make strategic decisions. SAS, Python and R programming languages are used as a foundation to cultivate technical skills in areas that include statistical analysis, programming, data mining and network security.

The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed for students to develop and strengthen the following skills:

Statistical Analysis – Students will learn experimental design and methods, including developing the statistical techniques to form relevant questions, collect and analyze appropriate data and make informed decisions.

Technical Skills – Students will cultivate technical skills in statistical analysis, programming, data mining, machine learning, database management and data and network security. Both Python and R programming languages are used extensively throughout the program as the foundation of these technical skills’ applications.

Visualization and Communication – Students will not only develop the oral and written communication skills to successfully summarize and present results to non-experts in various industries, but they will also learn several approaches to data visualization, including visual and information design principles and creative coding.

Applied Data Science – Students will take an interdisciplinary approach to the practical application of analytic and mathematical principles, bringing together methods, concepts and practices in the data science field.


From the very beginning of the program, a heavy emphasis is placed on networking so that students have the opportunity to form close relationships with current and aspiring data science professionals. Students are required to attend at least one on-campus immersion during their time in the program. It is recommended that they attend in their first term. During the three- to four-day experience, students will engage with classmates, faculty, industry leaders and employers for collaborative, hands-on workshops, panels, lectures and informational sessions. Students will also return to campus at the end of the program to present their Capstone project presentations.


Career Services

To fully leverage the SMU data science community, the dedicated career services team actively facilitates employer engagement both at immersion events as well as the online student portal. The career services team taps recruiters and industry professionals (including SMU alumni) for job search advice and insights into hiring trends for data scientists and shares this information with students.