Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) Program Policies
Please also review the Honor Code of the University of San Francisco and Student Resources for Maintaining Academic Integrity.
This document contains seven separate policies that apply to all students who are currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program at the University of San Francisco. Detailed here are the program's policies concerning (a) failing grades in courses; (b) low cumulative grade point averages and academic probation; (c) confidentiality of data obtained from our practicum partners; (d) the practicum and outside employment; (e) electing to take a leave of absence or withdrawing from the university; (f) periodic use or distribution of your name, photograph, likeness, or resume; and (g) the university's honor code. By signing below, you acknowledge that you have read and that you understand each of the following policies.
The MSDS curriculum is developed around a comprehensive sequence of courses that build on each other. The boot camp courses (MSDS 501, MSDS 502, MSDS 504 and MSDS 691) serve as prerequisites for the first module of the program. Successful completion of the three boot camp courses you are assigned to is required in order to continue in the program. Mastery of course material is required before a student may move on to subsequent courses, since each course builds upon previous courses. A grade of F in any regular MSDS course will prevent a student from moving forward in the program. Any student whose enrollment in the MSDS program is disqualified due to a failing course grade may apply for readmission to the program in the following academic year.
- A grade of F in any boot camp course (e.g., MSDS 501, MSDS 502, MSDS 504 or MSDS 691) will result in termination of an MSDS student's enrollment in the program shortly after the end of the summer semester (i.e., by approximately mid-August).
- A grade of F in any other post-bootcamp MSDS course will result in termination of that student's enrollment in the program. The date on which the student's enrollment will be terminated will be at the end of the module in which the student received the grade of F.
- Faculty grade assignments are subject to the appeals process as described in the university's student handbook.
- If a student violates academic standards of conduct as defined in the USF Honor Code (e.g. cheating, plagiarism, etc.), that student receives a zero on that particular task (e.g., assignment, project, quiz, etc.). The program director and program staff are informed of the incident and maintain a record of the student's academic performance and conduct. The student’s standing in the MSDS program is jeopardized and may be terminated.
- By violating the USF Honor Code, the student also forfeits any program scholarship awards for the remainder of their enrollment in the program. For example, if a cheating incident occurs in the first summer semester boot camp, the student will no longer be eligible to receive MSDS program scholarship funds in the subsequent fall and spring semesters.
- If the receipt of a zero on a particular assignment due to violation of standards of conduct causes a student to receive an F in a course, the student's enrollment in the MSDS program is terminated shortly after the end of the then-current module.
- If a student violates standards of conduct a second time in the program, that student receives an F in the course in which the violation occurs. The student's enrollment in the MSDS program will then be terminated and the incident will be reported to the University Academic Honesty Committee for further action.
- A student whose enrollment in the MSDS program is terminated due to a failing grade in a course may reapply to the program for the following academic year. Readmission to the MSDS program is not guaranteed.
Students are required to maintain a particular level of academic excellence, as quantified by cumulative grade point average, to remain enrolled in the MSDS program and to graduate from the MSDS program.
- In order to earn the Master of Science in Data Science, a student must have a final cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
- If, at any point during the program, a student's then-current cumulative grade point average falls below a 3.0, that student will be placed on academic probation. The student will be notified in writing about their probation status.
- A student on academic probation has one additional module to lift his or her then- current cumulative grade point average above a 3.0. Upon successfully doing so, the academic probation will be lifted and the student will be informed in writing.
- If, after an additional module has passed, the student's then-current cumulative grade point average remains below 3.0, the student is subject to immediate removal from the program.
- If, at any time, it can be determined that a student on academic probation cannot, under any set of circumstances, bring his or her final cumulative grade point average above a 3.0, that student will be immediately removed from the program.
- If, at any time, a student's then-current cumulative grade point average is less than or equal to a 2.5, the MSDS program director has the option (per university policy) of dismissing the student without any additional period of academic probation.
Practicum Confidentiality, Data Management and Responsibilities
The relationship between the MSDS program and its practicum partners is of vital importance to the program. A key feature of that relationship is the professional, responsible treatment of data, models, work assignments, etc. associated with each practicum company.
As part of the practicum courses, you will have access to proprietary information and data that is confidential to the companies with which you are working.
- At no time will you use the data or information for purposes other than for practicum work without the explicit and written permission of the practicum company.
- Without explicit, written permission from the practicum company, you may not use company data for other courses in the MSDS program.
- You will follow the terms of any non-disclosure agreement you sign as part of the practicum component of this academic program.
- You will not discuss confidential data or aspects of your practicum projects with other students who are not also on the same practicum team.
- You may only discuss practicum projects with MSDS faculty members that have signed your practicum company's non-disclosure agreement.
- You are responsible for taking all reasonable measures to protect confidential client company data by, for example, using anti-virus software, strong passwords, two-factor authentication, a strict firewall, encryption, not emailing confidential data, sanitizing your data storage devices before disposing of them, securing data backup devices, and physically protecting your laptop computer from theft. This list is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.
- You are expected to work 15 hours per week per student during your practicum. This is an average number of hours that will vary from week to week based on other course load requirements. Do not log travel time to and from your practicum company as working time.
- If working with a group of students on a practicum, all group members are expected to contribute equitably. A lack of equitable contribution by an MSDS student is grounds for censure and/or receiving a failing grade in the practicum. Breach of any standard of conduct related to practicum confidentiality or data management may result in a grade of F for the then-current practicum course or removal from the MSDS program, subject to the appeals process set forth in the university's student handbook. Depending on the nature of a particular breach of confidentiality, that breach may be regarded as academic misconduct and it may be reported to the Academic Honesty Committee for further action.
Practicum Work, Outside Employment, Program Engagement
International students are obligated to respect all United States labor laws while engaged in practicum work. Separately, all students in the MSDS program are forbidden from taking paid or unpaid employment outside of the practicum program. The MSDS program is an intense, 12-month program and students historically report needing 40-70 hours per week to attend to academic and practicum responsibilities. Outside employment is not compatible with those responsibilities. You are expected to be available for both scheduled and unplanned MSDS activities on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.; attendance at Friday seminars is mandatory. Periodic events may be scheduled outside of those hours which may also be mandatory.
- All international students must attend a mandatory International Student Orientation at the beginning of the MSDS program at which topics like United States labor laws, optional practical training (OPT), and curricular practical training (CPT) will be discussed. This orientation will be administered by the university's Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
- All international students will register for curricular practical training in connection with each and every practicum company to which they are assigned for the duration of the program.
- International students must respect all United States labor laws while in the United States on an academic visa. If you have doubts, questions, or concerns about your rights and responsibilities as an international student in the United States, contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at 415-422-2654.
- The program director will not issue letters in support of either curricular practical training or optional practical training unless the international student in question is in good academic standing and is expected to graduate from the program.
- All students, both domestic and international, will inform the practicum director and the program director in writing (e.g., email) when their practicum assignment entails, or comes to entail, remuneration (i.e., payment) of any kind.
- All students, both domestic and international, are enjoined from taking paid or unpaid employment outside of the practicum program unless permission has been granted in writing by the program director.
- All students are expected to be available for MSDS curricular or co-curricular activities from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. every weekday, and acknowledge that attendance may occasionally be required at program activities on the weekends and outside of these hours.
- Attendance at the MSDS Friday Seminar Series is mandatory and permission to be excused from a seminar must be granted in writing by the MSDS program director.
Leave of Absence
- Students in good academic and financial standing who wish to leave the University temporarily must notify the program director and submit a Leave of Absence form to One Stop. Forms are available online at https://myusf.usfca.edu/onestop/registration/forms.
- It is the students responsibility to contact the program director and/or program staff to understand the full implications of their Leave of Absence, including a plan for a reintegration into their academic program before submitting the Leave of Absence form to One Stop.
- All decisions regarding a student's ability to complete coursework, continue with the program and/or take a Leave of Absence will be made by the program director in consultation with the associate dean. Every reasonable accommodation in support of a student remaining enrolled in classes or taking a Leave of Absence will be made, and the extent of the accommodations made is up to the discretion of the program director and the associate dean based on the nature and requirements of the course(s) in question.
- A Leave of Absence may be exercised for up to one academic year while enrolled in a degree program. Students who do not return for the semester specified on the Leave of Absence Form are considered to have withdrawn from the University. Students who choose to absent themselves from the university without filing a Leave of Absence form will be withdrawn for lack of attendance during the first semester of absence. In this case, when a student returns and wishes to re-enroll in courses, he or she must reapply to the University.
- Students who take a Leave of Absence will receive a full tuition refund if their Leave of Absence is submitted by 5:00 p.m. on the census date. No refund of tuition will be made to students who request a Leave of Absence after the census date.
- Students who exercise a Leave of Absence while on Academic Probation must complete their probationary semester once they return to the University.
- Students who are receiving financial aid should contact the USF Office of Financial Aid to discuss the potential impact of their withdrawal on their aid and/or their repayment schedule. Students borrowing from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program and/or receiving federal grant assistance are subject to the terms and conditions of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998. Additional information is included in the section Financial Aid and Leave of Absence or Withdraw.
Withdrawal from the University
- Students planning to withdraw from the University are highly encouraged to meet with the program director and/or program staff to discuss the consequences of withdrawal upon your academic future at USF and/or other universities. Petition to Withdraw forms are available online at https://myusf.usfca.edu/onestop/registration/forms.
- The withdrawal becomes final only when the completed form or an intention to withdraw has been filed with the One Stop Enrollment and Financial Services Office. Completed withdrawal forms must be received by One Stop before 5:00 p.m. on the census date. No refund of tuition will be made to students who withdraw after the census date.
- Students who simply absent themselves from class without providing appropriate notice of intention to withdraw will have failing grades (F) posted to their records. Ceasing to attend classes or informing your instructor does not constitute an official withdrawal. Instructors cannot award grades of W.
- Students who have withdrawn from the program and who wish to return to USF to complete their degree will be required to apply for readmission.
Your Name, Likeness, and Resume
For marketing purposes, the MSDS program will occasionally need to disseminate photographs, videos, names, or other personally-identifiable information on its web site, in brochures, or other program materials. Additionally, in order to successfully place students into practicum projects at companies, or to assist with securing student employment, we require permission to send students' resumes to prospective employers and industry contacts.