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M.S. in Data Science (MSDS) Requirements

General Requirements

All MSDS students must take 30 credit hours in order to graduate. There are four required courses:

  • CS 667: Machine Learning
  • CS 510: Database Application Development or CS 610: Database Systems
  • CS 685: Foundation of Data Science or CS 680: Matrix Algorithms for Data Science
  • CS 652: Advanced Algorithms and Applications

Program electives include the other CS graduate courses such as big data computing, data mining, natural language processing, deep learning, data visualization, high-performance computing and computer security courses, and approved non-CS electives such as business intelligence, quantitative analysis for business managers, bioinformatics, biostatics, and graduate level statistical analysis courses. Course descriptions are available in the UAB Graduate Catalog. The program is defined in terms of either of two plans:

  • Plan I: 24 credit hours of courses and 6 credit hours of thesis research (CS 699: Master's Thesis Research). Among the 24 course credit hours, at least 15 of them must be CS graduate courses.
  • Plan II: 30 credit hours of courses (course work only; does not require a thesis), among which at least 21 credit hours must be CS graduate courses.

Most students choose the Plan II option. Plan I contains a significant research component and requires the student work closely with a faculty member on a research project. This project should be begun early in the program.

Suggested Study Plan

Four core courses and six electives are required. Electives can be any CS graduate courses, some of which can be taken from the following lists of courses, grouped by fields. No more than three 500 level courses can count toward the degree. At most three credit hours of special courses (CS 697: Directed Readings or CS 598: Practical Work Experience) can count towards the MSDS degree. PLEASE NOTE: required courses may change; please consult the graduate program director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for specific requirements.

Data Analytics

  • CS 616: Big Data Programming
  • CS 660: Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 662: Natural Language Processing
  • CS 663: Data Mining
  • CS 665: Deep Learning
  • CS 673: Computer Vision and Convolutional Neural Networks
  • CS 675: Data Visualization
  • CS 680: Matrix Algorithms for Data Science
  • CS 687: Complex Networks

Cyber Security

  • CS 623: Network Security
  • CS 636: Computer Security
  • CS 643: Cloud Security
  • CS 645: Modern Cryptography
  • CS 689: Cyber Risk Management

High Performance Computing

  • CS 632: Parallel Computing
  • CS 633: Cloud Computing

Non-CS Electives

Students may take up to three (9 credit hours) non-CS electives from the following list of courses, upon the approval of the graduate program director:

  • Business Intelligence
    • MBA 617: Data Science for Business
    • MBA 658: Applied Marketing Research
    • MBA 662: Quantitative Analysis for Business Managers
  • Bioinformatics
    • INFO: 601 Introduction to Bioinformatics
    • INFO: 602 Algorithms in Bioinformatics
    • INFO: 603 Biological Data Management
  • Biostatistics
    • BST 611: Intermediate Statistical Analysis I
    • BST 612: Intermediate Statistical Analysis II
    • BST 621: Statistical Methods I
    • BST 622: Statistical Methods II

NOTE: You must avoid taking both BST 611 and 621 because there is a lot of coverage overlap, neither for taking both BST 612 and 622.

Plan I (Thesis Option) Guidance

If you are interested in the Plan I (thesis option) M.S., below is a summary of steps toward completing the degree:

  1. Select a faculty advisor.
  2. Maintain good standing.
  3. Appointment of graduate study committee — complete and submit the Graduate Study Committee Letter (available on the Graduate School's Online Forms page).
  4. Obtain IRB and/or IACUC approvals (if applicable).
  5. Admission to candidacy — complete and submit the Master’s Degree Admission to candidacy” form at least one semester before graduation is expected (available on the Graduate School's Online Forms page).
  6. Apply for degree — see UAB Graduate School deadline dates.
  7. Work on preliminary version of thesis.
  8. Request Thesis or Dissertation Approval Forms (available on the Graduate School's Online Forms page).
  9. Undergo final examination, including defense of thesis.
  10. Submit a PDF of the defended, committee-approved thesis to UAB/ProQuest submission website no later than two weeks (10 business days) following the public defense.
  11. Degree is conferred.