Standardization and Transparency in Data Science Masters Degree Programs

An ADSA Working Group

Working Group Charter:

The ADSA community has indicated interest in finding methods for characterizing data science education programs at a variety of levels. The community has also shown interest in a careful taxonomy for data science competencies and the role the ADSA community might play in this process. The first iteration of this working group developed a taxonomy of competencies for masters level data science programs (see below for more information). The current iteration of the working group is considering how to fold artificial intelligence competencies into the taxonomy, as well as how to apply the taxonomy to employer position descriptions and candidate reviews.

Working Group Members:

Nairanjana Dasgupta (Lead) - Washington State University
Abani Patra (Lead) - Tufts University
Purush Papatla - University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Tony Thrall - National Security Agency
Brian Wright - University of Virginia


A whiteboard with all kinds of writing on it

View the Taxonomy

The STIDS working group developed a taxonomy of competencies for data science masters degree programs.

four bar charts depicting survey responses about data science masters degree programs

Pilot Study

The STIDS working group ran a pilot study to exercise the masters degree program taxonomy. Learn more about the results here.

STIDS Background and Previous Work

With the rapid emergence of data science degree programs it has become challenging for students, faculty, staff, and administrators to meaningfully compare program offerings. To start to address this challenge, ADSA established the Standardization and Transparency for Data Science Degrees (STIDS) Working Group. The initial charge for this Working Group was to create a careful taxonomy for data science competencies in Masters degree programs.

The result of this work is the A Taxonomy for Data Science Masters Degree Programs. Using this taxonomy as a framework, the working group created a survey for those implementing Masters degree programs in data science (or similarly named degrees) to collect information about the skills and competencies covered across various degree programs. The ultimate goal is to make this information transparent and openly available for prospective students, administrators, and future employers of graduates. You can find the results of our pilot survey here.