Master of Data Science Course Curriculum & Specializations
The online Master of Data Science curriculum features instruction by data science experts and a best-in-class online teaching methodology. Academic rigor ensures you will be well-prepared to meet the demands of employers, while the program’s collaborative and engaging format supports a positive learning experience.
Quick Facts About the Online MDS Program
Intellectual challenge met with unquestioning support.
Obtain comprehensive knowledge in how to apply core methods of data science to areas of specialization.
World-class faculty that provide hands-on education and thoughtful interactions with students.
Coursework designed to enable students to solve real-world problems with data science theory and techniques.
Professional Preparation in Data Science
This non-thesis curriculum requires completion of a minimum of 31 credits. It is a rigorous blend of courses that deliver the skills you need to collect, evaluate, interpret and communicate data for effective decision-making across a variety of industries, including healthcare, engineering, finance and more.
Your curriculum includes five core courses designed to help you gain an understanding of the computational and statistical foundations of data science. You’ll gain deeper knowledge in data science by choosing a specialization in business analytics, machine learning or image processing. You’ll further customize your program of study with an elective in ethics, cybersecurity, or security and privacy. Then, to give you experience applying your knowledge to a real-world problem, you’ll participate in a capstone project that will help you demonstrate your skill, collaborative ability and problem-solving acumen.
WHAT YOU'LL GAIN
Program Outcomes & Experience
DATA SCIENCE SKILL ATTAINMENT
Quickly acquire computational and statistical foundations in data science, specialized knowledge in subjects of your choice and hands-on experience managing raw data to solve real-world problems.
NEW CONFIDENCE IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Gain professional confidence in communicating to lay audiences orally and in writing about data science methods and results.
Core Required Courses
- Computer Systems
COMP 613 - PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES AND DESIGN [3 CREDITS]
This course covers important concepts of programming languages that are critical to understanding and constructing software artifacts. You will study these concepts in the context of multiple programming paradigms, including functional and object-oriented programming. By using different paradigms, you will learn to think more deeply than in terms of a single approach or the syntax of one language. This course aims to provide a framework for understanding how to use language constructs effectively and how to design correct and elegant programs in any language.
COMP 628 - CYBER SECURITY [3 CREDITS]
In this introductory course, students will learn core components of cybersecurity technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect networks, computers, and data from attack, damage, and unauthorized damage. Students will be able to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from cybersecurity threats. Course topics include threat landscape, cryptography, malware, networking security, and cloud security.
COMP 642 - MACHINE LEARNING [3 CREDITS]
Machine learning is the automation of the inductive learning process that humans do so well. Machine learning is critical to the fields of robotics, medicine, security and transportation. In this course that focuses on practical applications, you will gain a foundational understanding of modern algorithms in machine learning.
COMP 643: BIG DATA [3 CREDITS]
Data science is the study of how to extract actionable, non-trivial knowledge from data. This course will introduce you to data science and focus on the software tools used by practitioners of modern data science and the mathematical and statistical models that are employed in conjunction with those tools. You will learn how to apply these tools and systems to different problems and domains with a focus on the analysis of “big” data — datasets that are too large to be analyzed on a typical personal computer.
COMP 665: DATA VISUALIZATION [3 CREDITS]
Data is being generated by humans and algorithms at an astounding rate. Analyzing and interpreting this data visually is key to informed decision-making across industries. This class will cover the basic ways that various types of data can be visualized and what properties distinguish useful visualizations from not-so-useful ones. You will learn to use Python as both the primary tool for processing the data and for creating visualizations of this data.
COMP 680 - STATISTICS FOR COMPUTING AND DATA SCIENCE [3 CREDITS]
Probability and statistics are essential tools in data science and central to fields like bioinformatics, social informatics, and machine learning. They are the foundation for quantifying uncertainty and assessing support for hypotheses and derived models, and are at the heart of areas such as efficiency analysis of algorithms and randomized algorithms. This course covers topics in probability and statistics, including probability and random variables, basic stochastic processes, basic descriptive statistics, and various methods for statistical inference and measuring support.
DSCI 535 - APPLIED MACHINE LEARNING AND DATA SCIENCE PROJECTS [4 CREDITS]
In this project-based course, you gain a unique opportunity to put your new knowledge into practice. You will be part of a student team that will complete a semester-long data science research or analysis project sponsored by a client from across a variety of industries and disciplines. As a team, you will conduct and report on your work, receive and provide feedback and deliver a presentation about your recommendations.
Areas of Specialization
Enhance your skill set by selecting one nine credit specialization. Program participants can choose from business analytics, and machine learning.
- Business Analytics
BUSINESS ANALYTICS [9 CREDITS]
Learn to navigate, understand and interpret data and apply it to help improve business performance. In the business analytics customization, you’ll be immersed in a sequence of six 1.5-credit courses that include:
- Marketing foundations, an introduction to marketing and its function in defining, creating and communicating value.
- Data-driven marketing, a focus on using customer data to optimize marketing decisions.
- Finance foundations, an introduction to the theory and practice of corporate finance and the analytical tools necessary to answer the most important questions related to financing and investment decisions.
- Data-driven finance, an application of machine learning and other data analytic tools to improve investment, financing and risk-management decisions.
- Operations management foundations, an introduction to the design and integration of successful operations tactics both within the organization and across supply chains.
- Data-driven operations management, application of advanced statistics, optimization and machine learning techniques on process optimization, production, inventory and supply chain issues.
- Machine Learning
MACHINE LEARNING [9 CREDITS]
Understand the basis for machine learning and how a machine can learn without being programmed. In the machine learning customization, three 3-credit courses will help you gain experience in using machine learning to aid in tasks including data visualization, pattern classification and more:
- Algorithms for machine learning, an introduction to the machine learning algorithms that automatically create models from data.
- Statistical machine learning, an introduction to how statistical techniques and machine learning can be used to analyze data.
- Deep learning, an introduction to the multi-stage machine learning methods that learn representations of complex data.
Online Bridge Courses
Rice University’s online bridge courses are designed to provide you the necessary background in math and programming that will help you succeed in the online Master of Data Science program. The six-week long session will give you a head start on mastering technical skills that will ease your transition into the data science master’s degree curriculum. We encourage you to join our non-credit bridge courses before you apply to experience the online learning experience, after you submit your application or upon acceptance into the program.
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