Major Requirements

Major Requirements

Tapping the economic and social potential of big data requires overcoming two challenges. The first is understanding how to handle and analyze large bodies of raw information. The second is knowing how to apply these data in research, problem solving and decision making without compromising values like individual privacy. Data science provides tools for exploring data but it doesn’t tell us what to look for or whether what we think we find is really there. Penn State’s Social Data Analytics Program gives students both the technical skills of a data science degree — developing computational skills to collect and manage the data, get it in the right form and identify useful patterns — and knowledge of social context and social science methods to apply those skills to real problems effectively and ethically.

What are the requirements for a major in Social Data Analytics?

Admission to the major requires a grade of C or better in MATH 110/140, MATH 111/141, and CMPSC 122, and a grade of B or better in PL SC 309. These courses must be completed by the end of the semester during which the admission to major process is carried out. 

For the B.S. degree in Social Data Analytics, a minimum of 121 credits is required.  These credit requirements are described below.

Of these 45 credits, 15 are included in the requirements for the major.  See the University Bulletin for information on the general education requirements.

The 91 major credits include 15 credits of General Education courses: 6 credits of GQ courses and 6 credits of GS courses, and 3 credits of GH courses.

Majors must receive a grade of C or better in their required courses, as specified in Senate Policy 82-44.

  • PL SC 010The Scientific Study of Politics, GS(3)
  • PL SC 001Introduction to American National Government, GS(3)
  • PL SC 309Quantitative Political Analysis
  • STAT 318Probability Theory
  • STAT 380Data Science through Statistical Reasoning and Computation
  • DS 220Data Management for Data Sciences
  • DS 300Data Privacy and Security
  • DS 310Machine Learning and Data Mining
  • DS 330Visual Analytics and Visualization

Foundational & Advanced Political Science Courses, 18 credits:

Select 3 credits:


Select 15 credits of PL SC courses; at least 12 credits must be at the 400 level and at least 9 credits must be data intensive courses from a department list, including but not limited to:

  • PL SC 404Analysis of Public Policy in the American States
  • PL SC 429Analysis of Elections
  • PL SC 447Analysis of Public Opinion and Political Attitudes
  • PL SC 476Empirical Legal Studies


Ethics Courses, select 3 credits:  

  • PHIL 106Introduction to Business Ethics
  • PHIL 107Introduction to Philosophy of Technology
  • PHIL 233Ethics and the Design of Technology
  • PHIL 406Business Ethics
  • PHIL 407Technology and Human Values
  • STS 101Modern Science, Technology, and Human Values


Advanced Analytics Courses, select 9 credits (initial list, other courses will be added):