Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a link to a previous information session by Data Science advisors. Please note only those with a Wellesley login will be able to view.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is data science?
Data Science lies at the intersection of computer science, mathematics, and statistics, and requires a strong connection to an applied context.
What is a “structured, individual” major?
Structured: requirements like any other major

Individual: must submit proposal documents to the registrar, for approval by the college, as if you were submitting an individual major on any topic.

If you make any changes to your course plan at any point, you have to submit paper work.


This is how several other new, interdisciplinary majors were piloted, like Peace and Justice and International Relations.


I've decided to declare a Data Science major -- what steps should I take?
  1. Talk to a data science advisor (today!) See Faculty page for more information.

  2. Talk to a concentration advisor.

  3. Gather the registrar’s documents for individual majors:
    Individual Major Form (here, “concentration” means four courses from one department - note that MATH and STAT are the same dept)
    Unofficial Transcript
    Statement of Intent

  4. Make a copy of the Supplemental Form for Declaring Data Science and fill it out.

  5. Email both advisors (in one email) the supplemental form, individual major form, unofficial transcript, and statement of intent, and ask them to write statements of support

  6. Receive signed statements of support from the two advisors, electronically

  7. Email the registrar all the documents - those you emailed the advisors, plus the two statements of support - with the subject “Individual Major Proposal”

  8. You will hear from the registrar if/when your proposal is approved 

Which introductory statistics course should I choose?

If you are a Data Science major or STAT minor, we recommend that you first take MATH 205, and then begin statistics with STAT 218.

If waiting to take STAT 218 after MATH 205 would make it difficult for you to complete the major, STAT 160 may be a good option for you. STAT 160 is a rigorous introductory statistics course without prerequisites, aimed at students who plan to continue in statistics and data science. 

For other options, all with prereqs:

  • PSYC 105 (formerly called 205)
  • ECON 103/SOC 190
  • BISC 198
  • POL 299

QR/STAT 150 does not count as an introductory statistics course for the data science major. Students who have taken 150 should move forward by choosing one of the introductory courses listed above.  

Please note:

  • Do not take more than one! 

  • AP Stats does not replace intro stats!

  • Linked here is an advising document about choosing a first STAT course.


Which statistical modeling course should I choose?

We encourage you to take both STAT 260 and STAT 318, one for the modeling foundation and the other as an elective.

STAT 260: prereq is any intro stats course, includes practical data handling skills, data cleaning, visualization, missing data, non-parametric methods 

STAT 318: prereq is STAT 218 or STAT 260, plus MATH 205 and MATH 206, includes proofs/derivations that STAT 260 skips, advanced regression models

Another option is the QAI Summer Program, a non-credit version of STAT 260:

  • Does not count as one of the 12 major courses

  • Satisfies the statistical modeling foundation

  • Take an additional elective if using this as a foundation course

Which CS courses should I choose? What if I can't get into CS111 or CS230 before continuing with higher level CS courses?

We recommend beginning with any introductory programming course, equivalent to CS 111 (Python), followed by CS 230 (Java). 

However, it is understandable if you cannot get into these courses. CS 111 and CS 230 are over-enrolled and give preference to underclasswomen. Good thing: they are offered every semester.

But, do not wait!

All 300-level CS courses require CS 230. 200-level, elective CS courses allow you to take CS 230 in parallel (with permission of instructor, based on strong CS111 showing). Learning the foundations of programming early on, makes it easier to become proficient in R and work with advanced tools (e.g. R Shiny) or build your own R packages. Both Python and R are extremely popular in Data Science circles and offer similar libraries.

I want to double major, can I do this?

Yes, you can. However, data science concentrations cannot have the same name as the other major.

Not allowed:

  • Economics + DS with economics

Instead, concentrate in something unrelated or in a subfield of other major.


  • Economics + DS with social justice
  • Economics + DS with global health economics
Can a course count toward both DS and another major or minor?

There is no double counting. Many courses count toward DS and another major or minor Choose where to count each course, and choose an elective in other major/minor (with advisor approval). 

For example: DS/PSYC double major could

  • count PSYC 105 toward DS and take an additional elective for PSYC
  • count PSYC 105 toward PSYC and take an additional elective for DS
Can I major in DS and have a minor?

Yes, with exceptions. For example, Data Science majors can minor in math. However, Data Science majors cannot minor in statistics or CS.

Is there a Data Science minor?

There is no data science minor, but there is a statistics minor.

What does a statistics minor look like?

Statistics minor information:

  • Advisors: Prof. Pattanayak and Prof. Wang
  • Can be added to any major, including Math (but not DS!) 

  • Under the Math department

  • First cohort of 7 students graduated 2019

  • Many of the same rules as data science: extra electives instead of double-counting, extra electives if placing out of a requirement or taking the QAI Summer Course, statistical modeling must be taken at Wellesley, don’t wait for CS 111, study abroad and MIT courses possible

Consists of five courses:

1. Probability (STAT 220), prereq: MATH 205

2. Intro CS (CS 111, 112, or 115)

3. Statistical modeling (STAT 260 or STAT 318), must be taken at Wellesley

4. Two electives, includes any intro stats, any STAT courses, ECON 203 or 303

At least three of the five courses must have the STAT prefix.


I want to study abroad and/or take a class at MIT -- is this possible? What steps should I take?
Ordinarily, the following must be taken at Wellesley:
  • CS 230
  • Statistical modeling foundation course
  • Two 300-level courses

It will be easier to find countable courses abroad if you have already taken statistical modeling at Wellesley.

Preapproved MIT courses:

  • 6.00 Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, in place of CS 111
  • 18.600 Probability and Random Variables, as elective, in place of STAT/MATH 220
  • 6.036 Introduction to Machine Learning, as CS elective
  • 18.615 Introduction to Stochastic Processes, as STAT elective
  • 18.655 Mathematical Statistics, as STAT elective, in place of STAT 221
  • 15.068 Statistical Consulting, as STAT elective
Are there any policies I should be aware of?
  • There is no limit to courses you can take credit-non, similar to many other majors.
  • You cannot substitute other courses for MATH 206 unless placed out of it
  • No independent studies are permitted
Do I have to major in Data Science to have a future working with data?

No. Similarly, you do not have to be a data science major or statistics minor to take courses in stats and CS. Your resume can say "coursework in ..."

How else can I get involved in data at Wellesley?