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 advisor in the area of the project.

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


A student wishing to complete a master's thesis may enroll in two course units of CIS 597/Masters Thesis Research, 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 advisor, proposing a suitable thesis topic. The thesis advisor and student discuss and determine the topic, scope, etc. of the thesis. The student must then discuss the proposal with Dr. Susan Davidson (either in person during her office hours Th 11-12 or by email). Once discussed, the student should request for a google doc master's thesis approval form by email. The advisor and Program Director will evaluate the thesis 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 document is approved, it is signed by the advisor, Program Director, and CIS Master's chair.