Undergraduate Social Data Science Major

The Colleges of Information Science (INFO) and Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) are pleased to offer an undergraduate major (BS) in Social Data Science (SDSC) at University of Maryland!

The major will build expertise in the complex skills needed to create and work with  information that captures aspects of human behavior. Social data science encompasses all elements of the data life cycle, including measure conceptualization, data gathering, management, manipulation, analysis, presentation, archiving, and re-use. Further, effective and appropriate construction, analysis, and use of social data requires understanding social science theory and domain expertise. This program will combine the expertise of BSOS and INFO faculty members to prepare students to effectively, ethically and efficiently create high quality information products, such as datasets, visualizations, and models, about human activity and behavior.

The University of Maryland has extraordinary faculty, research, and education expertise in Social Data Science across all of the partner colleges as well as in research centers, including SoDa and START.



The Program

Students take a set of core courses housed primarily in the iSchool and BSOS’s Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM). They then select a track discipline in which they train in relevant theory and methods, from among the following options: African American Studies, Anthropology, Economics, Government and Politics/International Relations, Geography/Geospatial Information Science, Psychology, or Sociology.  Students may not enroll in a double-major or double-degree with the Social Data Science major and the major of their track area because of the significant overlap in coursework. Learn more about the curriculum on the Major Requirements page.

Why consider this major? 

The University of Maryland’s Colleges of Information Studies and School of Behavioral and Social Science have identified valuable synergies to support the new social data science major. This major will teach vital technical skills in the field of data science, combined with theory and method for making sense of data, empowering you to effectively analyze and process datasets to derive insights. Furthermore, it will prepare you to handle data about people and the nuances that come with analyzing, exploring, and understanding it. Explore opportunities for careers, internships, and research within the social data science field.

What is social data science? 

Social data science is an interdisciplinary field of study that leverages data science techniques to address social challenges. Let’s say you wanted to use a machine learning model to identify infants and adolescents most in need of social services. This task is perfect for a social data scientist, who would not only be able to apply critical modeling techniques but also possess the research and policy knowledge to holistically address this issue from a social perspective. 

Learning Outcomes

Understanding data science is becoming increasingly important in a variety of fields as data sets grow larger and larger. Just as important is understanding the ethical, legal, and social responsibilities at all stages of the effort. This program’s core courses will prepare students to work with data science practices, technologies, tools, and sources across disciplines and industries, while the track courses will provide students with opportunities to apply these skills while gaining expertise in a particular social science context.