Master of Science in Communication Data Science
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 .
All master’s degree candidates in the Annenberg School of Communication are required to complete the Managing Complexity in Diverse Organizations training during their enrollment at USC. This non-credit, professional skills training is offered by USC Annenberg every fall, spring and summer term and is designed to foster students’ ability to create, sustain and thrive within diverse work environments. Modules include: fostering connection and inclusive cultures; managing implicit biases and power; understanding the impact of technology on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA); creating representative and inclusive content; and developing habits and strategies to effect lasting change. To learn more about this training please visit the Managing Complexity in Diverse Organizations website.
Requirements for completion (32 units minimum):