Program Director: Yolanda Gil, PhD
Program Co-Director: Jessica Neff, PhD

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.

There are many career opportunities for students completing the Master of Science in Communication Data Science degree. 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.

For admission requirements, refer to Viterbi Graduate Degrees and Requirements at USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Requirements for completion (32 units minimum):

Foundations (20 units, 5 Courses)

  • COMM 502 Theoretical Approaches to Multidisciplinary Design Projects (4 units)
  • COMM 557 Data Science for Communication and Social Networks (4 units)
  • DSCI 510 Principles of Programming for Data Science (4 units)
  • DSCI 549 Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science (4 units)
  • DSCI 550 Data Science at Scale (4 units)

Data Science Core (4 units, 1 course)

  • DSCI 529 Security and Privacy (4 units)
  • DSCI 552 Machine Learning for Data Science (4 units) 
  • DSCI 553 Foundations and Applications of Data Mining (4 units)
  • DSCI 554 Data Visualization (4 units)
  • DSCI 560 Data Science Professional Practicum (4 units)
  • DSCI 564 Probability and Statistics for Data Science (4 units)
  • DSCI 599 Special Topics (Units: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 — with adviser approval)

Communication Core (8 Units, 2 Courses)

  • CMGT 507 Information Management (4 units)
  • CMGT 510 Communication, Values, Attitudes and Behavior Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 515 Innovation and the Information Economy Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 528 Web Strategies for Organizations Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 530 Social Dynamics of Communication Technologies Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 537 The Industry, Science and Culture of Video Games Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 541 Integrated Communication Strategies Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 555 Online Marketing Communication Development and Analysis Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 568 Influencer Strategies Units (4 units)
  • CMGT 587 Audience Analysis Units (4 units)

This page is based on the current 2022-2023 USC Catalogue. The 2023-2024 USC Catalogue will be published in Summer 2023.

An additional requirement for Communication Data Science (MS) students will be to take the Managing Complexity in Diverse Organizations program during their time at USC Annenberg. MCDO is a professional skills-building program that addresses the ability to create, sustain and thrive within diverse work environments. More information here