As students and faculty return to campus for the beginning of a new academic year, the newest college at UC Berkeley is working to build its student support infrastructure and programs. The College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) was formally approved by the UC Board of Regents in May, putting into effect an array of activity over the summer that will continue into the 2023-24 academic year. 

We recently spoke with Deborah Nolan, associate dean for students at CDSS, on the impact of the college formation on current and future undergraduate majors in computer science, data science and statistics at Berkeley.

Q: How does CDSS becoming a college affect undergraduate students?

A: The biggest impact for students is that – starting in spring 2024, if all goes according to plan – we expect graduating students to be able to receive a bachelor’s degree from the College of Computing, Data Science, and Society. 

There’s nothing that current students enrolled in B.A. programs in computer science, data science and statistics need to do differently to make that happen – they should continue in their area of study, following all policies and degree requirements for the College of Letters & Science (L&S). 

We’ll make sure to keep students informed, and they are encouraged to review an FAQ for students recently posted to the CDSS website that will be regularly updated.

There will always remain opportunities and open avenues for students to come from other colleges into CDSS because we know that students often first learn about data science and related fields when they come to Berkeley. We want to help support that sense of discovery and exploration.

Q: When and how will the Computer Science, Data Science and Statistics undergraduate majors transition from L&S to CDSS?

A: We are prioritizing the necessary steps for transitioning these three undergraduate majors currently in L&S – Computer Science, Data Science and Statistics – to CDSS. As you might imagine, there are many pieces to that transition that CDSS is working with partners across campus to make happen. We’re in the middle of that process, which includes updating campus systems and developing regulations for a new college – the first college that Berkeley has created in more than 50 years. These regulations are being worked on now and into the fall and require careful consideration, review and approval. 

CDSS is also working this fall to build out a college-level advising team that we expect to be in operation by spring 2024. This is an essential office for the new college in order to provide students with information and advice that’s responsive to their individual needs and situations. We’re also developing an undergraduate student advisory committee to make sure that student perspectives and concerns are fully heard and understood.

I think one wonderful benefit for students – once the college is further along in its operation with undergraduate students in the coming year – will be the community that CDSS students will be able to tap into. We’ll have convening spaces, research programs and other supportive opportunities to better serve undergrads with interests in computing, data science and statistics.

Q: What are the impacts of college formation to current Computer Science, Data Science, and Statistics majors?

A: For current students, there will not be changes to major requirements. We expect that current students who meet L&S requirements will be able to graduate with a CDSS degree, starting in spring 2024. They can also choose whether they would like to graduate with a degree from the College of CDSS or L&S – all UC Berkeley degrees!

Once the CDSS degree requirements are approved – potentially by spring 2024 – current students will be able to choose which requirements – either L&S or CDSS – they prefer to meet for the first few years of the transition. 

For the fall 2024 semester and afterwards, we expect that incoming students admitted to Berkeley in the B.A. majors for computer science, data science or statistics will follow CDSS degree requirements. 

We’ll share information on CDSS college regulations with students once they have completed review and are approved. Again, current students should continue in their area of study, subject to their current college’s [L&S] degree requirements and discuss any questions with their major advisor.