Master of Science in Environmental Data Science

Program Director (Data Science): Yolanda Gil, PhD
Program Co-Director (Environmental Studies): John Heidelberg, PhD
Program Associate Director (Environmental Studies): Jessica Dutton, PhD

The Master of Science in Environmental Data Science is an interdisciplinary joint degree program offered by the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Students will complete a core set of courses to provide a foundation in data science and environment/public policy and choose electives to optimize their preparation for their preferred career path and unique professional opportunities. Data science technologies can complement interdisciplinary analyses of complex environmental issues in the emerging field of environmental data science to address societal and research challenges in climate change, water and air pollution, policy analysis, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem management, and biodiversity among others.

The curriculum is designed to be accessible to students with any background, including students with an environmental background and no computer science knowledge as well as students with a computer science background and no environmental knowledge.  Students with undergraduate degrees in computer science, engineering, science or mathematics will acquire the necessary knowledge to analyze environmental data with diverse sources and purposes and can request to replace introductory data science courses with more advanced ones.  Students with undergraduate degrees in environmental studies, biology, Earth sciences, and related sciences will acquire formal and practical data science skills and can request to substitute introductory courses in environmental studies with more advanced ones.  There is no requirement of prior knowledge of programming or computer science, as the curriculum is designed with special introductory courses that are accessible to students with diverse backgrounds.

Students will learn a range of data science skills such as developing scalable data systems, using state-of-the-art software and infrastructure for data science, designing data analyses with statistical methods, and working in multi-disciplinary data science teams. They will also gain a foundation in the central theories, concepts and principles of natural sciences, and how to leverage data to form relevant questions in environment management and sustainability to find actionable insights to understand and protect Earth’s natural resources. At the start of the program, students will be offered specific opportunities in problem-based learning in partnership with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies.

Prospective students can refer to the Dornsife website for more information about the program.