Data science minor to be offered beginning Fall 2021

Vanderbilt has announced a new cross-school undergraduate minor launching in Fall 2021.


Anjali Chanda

The Vanderbilt Engineering and Science Building as photographed on Nov. 5, 2020. (Vanderbilt Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

Rachael Perrotta, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt announced on Jan. 29 that a new undergraduate data science minor will be introduced in the Fall 2021 semester. 

The 19-credit minor will span across all four undergraduate schools and include an elective and courses in statistics, data science, machine learning and computer programming. The Vanderbilt Data Science Institute compares the minor to other minors already offered at Vanderbilt, such as quantitative methods and scientific computing.

The data science minor will not be designated to any undergraduate school, and will instead be trans-institutional—housed by all four colleges. It will be associated with the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute, which already offers a Master of Science degree in data science

The minor requirements also include a new section of classes, titled Data Science (DS). Courses in this department include DS 1000: Data Science: How Data Shape our World, DS 2100: Statistics for Data Science and DS 3100: Fundamentals of Data Science. An independent research study is also offered as part of the minor, listed as DS 3850: Independent Study in Data Science. Classes in this department will count as credit in the home school of the student.

All courses with a DS prefix count as courses within each of the colleges, including A&S,” the FAQ section of the department’s website reads. “If you are an A&S student, and are taking a course that is cross-listed, make sure you enroll in the one with the DS prefix.”

Thomas Palmeri, Director of the new Undergraduate Data Science Program and distinguished professor in psychology, also holds positions as the Director of Undergraduate Research for the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute and the Co-Director of Scientific Computing. 

“Data science is an emerging interdisciplinary field whose goal is to extract knowledge and enable discovery from complex data using a fusion of computation, mathematics, statistics and machine learning …and to effectively communicate data-driven insights,” Palmeri said.

Students of all majors will be able to declare the minor beginning in the Spring 2022 semester, as the data science department claims that it holds relevance for any discipline.

The minor strives to prepare students for unique immersion experiences in basic and applied research, for civic and professional engagement in the public and private sectors, and for international experiences in industry, government, or non-governmental organizations,” per the department’s website. “The minor provides a solid foundation for future professions or graduate study in any field that collects, analyzes, models, or interprets data.”