The Data Science Program provides its students with opportunities to participate in diverse research projects from across the campus, particularly through the various institutes and centers that Penn offers. Students should have taken at least one elective course in the target application domain before embarking on the project.  The student will be mentored jointly by the Program Director and by an adviser in the area of the project.

Students may choose from suggested projects or may also come up with their own project/adviser ideas.


A student wishing to complete a master’s thesis or independent study may enroll in two course units of DATS 597/Masters Thesis Research or two credits of DATS 599/Master’s Independent Study , which count as technical and depth area electives towards the ten credits needed for the MSE degree in Data Science. The student first chooses a thesis or independent study adviser, proposing a suitable topic. The adviser and student discuss and determine the topic, scope, etc. of the thesis or independent study. The student must then discuss the proposal with Dr. Susan Davidson (either in person during her office hours  or by email). Once discussed, the student should request for a google doc master’s thesis approval form by email. The adviser and Program Director will evaluate the thesis or independent study and make the determination of its suitability as a research document before giving a formal approval. An oral presentation of the thesis is required. This can take the form of a public presentation open to all DATS faculty and students to attend, or in lieu of that, a conference presentation or poster presentation (decided by the thesis adviser). Once the final thesis or independent study document is approved, it is signed by the adviser, Program Director, and CIS Master’s chair.