Vanderbilt announces launch of new data science minor in fall 2021

Vanderbilt University has announced the addition of an undergraduate minor in data science beginning with the fall 2021 term.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)
Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs (Vanderbilt University)

Driven by the growing interest on the part of the data science community at Vanderbilt for an undergraduate program in data science, the Data Science Minor Working Group was established in March 2020 by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente and the deans of the College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, Peabody College and School of Engineering to develop and propose a trans-institutional undergraduate minor in data science.

“Data science has the potential to improve individual and community health and education, and to develop smart communities, enable informed decision-making and enhance overall quality of life. Given the wide range of applications and potential benefits, the addition of this minor is central to our mission and will strengthen students’ approaches to solving real-world problems in their lives and careers,” Wente said. “Thank you to the Data Science Minor Working Group for making this academic offering a reality for our students.”

Thomas Palmeri
Thomas Palmeri, distinguished professor of psychology

The new trans-institutional, interdisciplinary data science minor will be shared by all four undergraduate schools and colleges, and students will be able to begin declaring the minor this spring.

“Data science is an emerging interdisciplinary field whose goal is to extract knowledge and enable discovery from complex data using a fusion of computation, mathematics, statistics and machine learning and to effectively communicate data-driven insights,” said Thomas Palmeri, distinguished professor of psychology and chair of the working group.

The minor, paired with any major, will allow students to learn various data analysis techniques, including machine learning and data visualization, as well as gain scientific computing, programming and data management skills.

The data science minor requires a total of 19 credit hours, including the following courses:

  • Introduction to Data Science (3 credit hours)
  • Introduction to Computer Programming (3 credit hours)
  • Introduction to Statistics (3 credit hours)
  • Fundamentals of Data Science (4 credit hours)
  • Applied Machine Learning (3 credit hours)
  • a disciplinary or interdisciplinary elective, or research hours (3 credit hours)

The following members comprised the Data Science Minor Working Group:

Thomas Palmeri (chair), distinguished professor of psychology, College of Arts and Science; co-director of scientific computing, director of undergraduate research, Vanderbilt Data Science Institute

Hiba Baroud, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Littlejohn Dean’s Faculty Fellow, School of Engineering

Andreas Berlind, associate professor of physics and astronomy, College of Arts and Science; co-director, Data Science Institute

Jeffrey Blume, professor of biostatistics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; vice chair for education in biostatistics, director of graduate education, Data Science Institute

Laura Booker, senior lecturer in leadership, policy and organizations, Peabody College

Joy Calico, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and professor of musicology, Blair School of Music

Joshua Clinton, Abby and Jon Winkelried Professor of Political Science, College of Arts and Science

Will Doyle, professor of leadership, policy and organizations, Peabody College

Xenofon Koutsoukos, professor and chair of electrical engineering and computer science, School of Engineering

Doug Schmidt, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and professor of computer science and computer engineering, School of Engineering; associate provost for research development and technologies; co-director, Data Science Institute

Jesse Spencer-Smith, adjunct professor of computer science, School of Engineering; chief data scientist, Data Science Institute

Vanessa Beasley (photo by Vanderbilt University's Daniel Dubois) el Dubois/Vanderbilt University)
Vanessa Beasley, vice provost and dean of residential faculty

Sonya Sterba, associate professor of psychology and human development, director of the Quantitative Methods Program, Peabody College

“The data science minor will help students to answer questions in an ethically responsible way across a wide range of majors and fields of study,” Vanessa Beasley, vice provost and dean of residential faculty, noted. “The addition of this minor continues to fulfill our commitment to providing students of all backgrounds with the tools to pursue immersive learning experiences and dynamic careers.”

Interested students should contact their academic adviser. Learn more about the program at

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314