Master of Communication Data Science

The Master of Science in Communication Data Science is a cross-disciplinary joint degree program offered by the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Students must be admitted by both schools.

Students will be experts in the emerging field of data science for communication. Graduates will learn about theories and principles underlying human communication and the ways in which people utilize and engage with communication technologies. They will also understand the technical underpinnings of emerging communication platforms, ranging from social media to enterprise collaboration platforms to virtual and augmented reality. They will have the capability to build these technologies and effectively manage teams that do so. They will also master the theoretical and technical tools to investigate and analyze large volumes of data generated by digital communication platforms using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Upon graduation, students will have not only data science skills but will be uniquely qualified to lead data science teams that require communication expertise. Traditional media outlets ranging from newspapers to network/cable news are hungry for individuals who understand the new technology-enabled social communication paradigms and can help translate this knowledge into new sources of information. An example is the coverage of natural disasters, where it is difficult for media to get on the ground, but where social media allows victims to relay experiences and provide accounts of these situations. How to collect, manage, distribute and capitalize from these news sources is a major challenge in current media.

There are also careers in exploiting emerging communication platforms for marketing and communication. Many technology companies realize the value in employing experts who understand the reception of their products by the public. Communication is now so vital to the function of many products that success and failure are often determined by how well communication is performed, and how seamlessly it integrates into existing platforms. In the corporate world, the need to understand and capitalize on social media is pervasive, and the unique expertise this degree provides leaves graduates well positioned to design creative approaches to reach new audiences. In addition, as technology becomes ubiquitous in society, the role of the informed communicator has become very important in formal and informal formats. There is need for individuals who understand the basics of communication and have enough technology knowledge to provide analysis at a meaningful level. Finally, there are careers using data science to analyze online activities from a variety of contexts, including entertainment sites, online games, and mobile apps. Recommender systems, opinion mining, and social information diffusion are emerging technologies for the entertainment industry. Online games generate rich data about social interaction and individual behaviors. Many startups seek a combination of communication and data science skills to improve their products and reach new markets.

The curriculum is designed to be accessible to students with any background, including students with a communication background and no computer science knowledge as well as students with a computer science background and no communication knowledge. Students with undergraduate degrees in computer science, engineering, science or mathematics will acquire the necessary knowledge of communication through the curriculum, and can request to replace introductory data science courses with more advanced ones. Students with undergraduate degrees in communication, journalism, or social sciences will acquire formal and practical data science skills and a solid background on communication theories needed for data science.

A minimum of 32 units with an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 is required for the Master of Science in Communication Data Science. Students should consult with an academic adviser prior to registering for any classes. For course descriptions, please visit this page. To apply, please visit the this page.