DATS Practicum

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.

DATS Independent Work Common Guidelines

DATS 597 and 599 count as technical and depth area electives towards the ten credits needed for the MSE degree in Data Science. The student must identify a member of the University’s Standing Faculty who is willing to advise the Independent Work and take responsibility for issuing the final grade. The student finds a suitable topic, chosen either with the proposed adviser or from a list of project ideas maintained by the Program Coordinator.

The adviser and student should discuss and determine the topic, scope, etc. of the Independent Work. The student must then discuss the proposal with the Projects Director (either in person during office hours or by email). Once discussed, the student should request an approval form by email from the Projects Director.

The output of DATS Independent Work must include a report as well as a presentation. The presentation 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 adviser), which may be a formal talk or poster presentation.

The adviser and Projects Director will evaluate the Independent Work to determine its suitability before giving a formal approval.  Once approved, it is signed by the adviser, reader (if applicable), Projects Director, and Program Director.

Practicum-Specific Guidelines

A student wishing to complete a Practicum may enroll in one or two course units of DATS 599/Master’s Independent Study (depending on the scope of the project). If the faculty is not within SEAS, the Projects Director will nominally co-advise the project. Occasionally, you may wish to undertake a Practicum proposed from industry, in which case you must still produce a tangible, academically-based product that can be evaluated by the Projects Director. 

The report should be a 5-10 page write-up describing the project and its outcomes, including links to any evaluable code.

Thesis-Specific Guidelines

A student wishing to complete a master’s thesis should enroll in two course units of DATS 597/Masters Thesis Research. The student should choose a thesis adviser who is a member of the University’s Standing Faculty in SEAS; there must also be a reader who is a member of the University’s Standing Faculty (who can be outside of SEAS) and who will read your final thesis. 

Information re: thesis formatting and submission of the thesis to the SEAS Research and Academic Services Office can be accessed here. A copy of the approved version of the thesis should be emailed to the CIS Master’s chair.