The University of Massachusetts Amherst

DACSS Core Courses

The DACSS program regularly offers four core courses (required for M.S. DACSS students) that provide students with a solid grounding in data collection, programming and data management, statistical data analysis, data visualization and communication, and effective evidence-based decision-making.

DACSS 601 Data Science Fundamentals This course will introduce and reinforce fundamental data science concepts while providing students with hands-on experience with the DACSS data science/R workflow. Students with no prior experience will have access to efficient guided tutorials to help them get up to speed in R. For students with more programming experience, the flipped classroom approach will allow you to tackle challenging, complex data sets and practice more demanding data science skills in a supportive environment and with feedback geared towards refining coding skills and workflow habits. All students will achieve a solid grounding in general data management, data wrangling skills, and data best practices that are required in all advanced DACSS technical courses. Additionally, you will be able to meet and work with peers in the same cohort; students who will be with you throughout the program. We highly recommend taking this course. 

DACSS 602 Research Design for Social Scientists This course is a sophisticated and intensive review of a wide range of data collection and analysis methods used in social research (e.g., experiments, interviews, surveys, ethnography, text analysis, single case process tracing.) The course emphasizes how each method can make a valid contribution to our understanding of social, political, and economic life. Students will learn how to design and interpret social scientific studies using different methods of data collection and analysis that are increasingly likely to be encountered in business and policy settings. (Prior exposure to a research design or research methods course at the college-level is helpful but not required.)

DACSS 603 Introduction to Quantitative Analysis This course will provide students with an introduction to quantitative analysis in the social science, often referred to as econometrics or statistical analysis. The course will include a brief review of college-level statistics (required for all students prior to degree matriculation), and will then introduce students to statistical techniques including ordinary least squares (OLS), limited dependent variable analysis, and other regression analysis models. There will be two tracks through this requirement, one of which will more heavily emphasize the computational and interpretive aspects of quantitative analysis, while the other will require a stronger mathematical background and is a prerequisite for taking advanced econometric courses in Resource Economics.

DACSS 604 Data Communication and Visualization This course will provide students with hands-on experience writing about and visualizing a range of data types with different communication goals. Data Visualization components will include the theory/concepts of visualization and hands-on work with ggplot2 package in R. The course is expected to be organized as a workshop type experience and may include one or more live client project experiences in the future.


Please note: 

1. Most DACSS technical electives courses assume a working knowledge of R.  Therefore, all students (M.S. and all Graduate Certificate students), should take DACSS 601 Data Science Fundamentals during their first semester of classes, in order to ensure a a strong background in R. 

2. Students may take DACSS 602 Research Design concurrently with DACSS 601 Data Science Fundamentals. 

3. Students must take a substantive elective concurrently with DACSS 602 Research Design. Please contact us at if you are considering a schedule that would not allow you to take a substantive elective concurrently with DACSS 602 Research Design.

4. Students may take DACSS 603 Introduction to Quantitative Analysis concurrently with DACSS 601 Data Science Fundamentals, but should contact the Program at if considering this option.

5. Students who wish to enroll in DACSS technical courses are generally expected to have completed or be in the process of completing the first three core courses or equivalent coursework.