Data 8: Foundations of Data Science

Foundations of Data Science course photo

Foundations of Data Science: A Data Science Course for Everyone

What is it?

Foundations of Data Science (listed as COMPSCI/STAT/INFO C8 and commonly called “Data 8”) is a course that gives you a new lens through which to explore the issues and problems that you care about in the world. You will learn the core concepts of inference and computing, while working hands-on with real data including economic data, geographic data and social networks.

Who is it for?

The course is designed for entry-level students from any major. It is designed specifically for students who have not previously taken statistics or computer science courses.

Does it satisfy requirements?

Yes, it satisfies the L&S Quantitative Reasoning requirement, as well as the statistics requirement in most departments that require it. But unlike other statistics courses, it also introduces you to computer programming. Unlike other computer science courses, it gives you a chance to work hands-on with real data and tackle real-world issues.

What are the prerequisites?


Why should I take this course?

In a world in which we’re surrounded by data, this course enables you to combine that data with Python programming skills to ask questions and explore problems that you encounter in any field of study, in a future job, and even in everyday life.Data science lab for Foundations of Data Science course at UC Berkeley

What kind of support is available if I need help?

Lots of support and tutoring are available. In weekly labs, you’ll get hands-on practice. Small-group tutoring sessions are also available, and course staff strongly encourage you to take advantage of their office hours. The Data Scholars program provides community and support to underrepresented and nontraditional students.

What is the format?

The course includes lectures, a required weekly lab, homework, and projects in which you’ll tackle real-life issues using real data. Connector courses connect Data 8 to many areas, if you want to take one at the same time or later.

What does it cover?

The course teaches you all the key ideas of an introductory statistics class, in a new, modern, hands-on way. It weaves in contextual issues like data privacy and bias. At the same time, it gives you a powerful understanding of key ideas in computing.

Data 8 is a great class if you want to understand data in the world around us, or use these tools in your own major. It's also the best foundation for going on in data science.

What do students say about it?

"It's very hands-on -- I was able to go through the data myself, and ask questions I was curious about. It really cemented the idea for me that data tells a story and can shed light on things that I never considered before.”

“Taking data science really sets you apart and makes you more valuable. It lets you ask questions and find answers in a way that most other students can’t. Data helps you communicate, no matter whether your field is technical or non-technical.”

“One of the things I most enjoy about data science is the diversity -- my classmates range from English majors to bio majors to fellow computer science majors -- all looking at data from our different perspectives.”

“I truly came out of this class loving statistics, and I intend to explore more of the world of data science. As someone who is majoring in the social sciences (Political Science) I'm grateful to you and the staff for making this course accessible to all majors across campus.”

“I enjoy that you learn by doing -- you look at the data yourself, analyze it, ask questions, and draw conclusions.”

How can I get more information?

All the course materials are online. Just visit

Data 8 FAQs

Is Data 8(link is external) a computer science class, a statistics class, or something else?

  • Both, and more. Data 8 lets students get a fundamental understanding of key computational and statistical concepts and practices by working hands-on with real data. It weaves together these disciplines and their implications in a powerful and interesting way. More of the topics come from statistics than from computer science. Some of these topics are quite different from what appears in a typical introductory course from either discipline.

Who takes Data 8? Who does well in it?

  • Students from a wide range of majors in every College. It’s not just for “technical” or “non-technical” people.

Does Data 8 have prerequisites?

  • No. The course is designed for students who are new to statistics and programming, although students with experience in one or the other definitely still say they learn a lot.

Does Data 8 depend on any previous background in statistics?

  • No. Data 8 teaches statistics differently from most high school or college courses.

Does Data 8 depend on any previous experience with computer programming?

  • No. About half the students in Data 8 typically say they have no or very limited programming skills.

What programming language is Data 8 taught in?

  • Python.

If I want more background in programming, can I take another course as well?

  • Yes, you can also take CS 10, CS 61A, or programming courses elsewhere or online. We’re sometimes able to offer a summer course CS/STAT C8R that may help students who want additional time and practice before Data 8.

Who designed Data 8? Who teaches it?

  • Data 8 was designed by a multidisciplinary team of Berkeley faculty. It is taught by different faculty in different semesters.

How can I learn more about Data 8?

Data 8 Logistics

Is there any difference between COMPSCI C8, INFO C8, and STAT C8?

  • No, they’re all the same class.

All three classes show up in Cal Central. Which one should I enroll in?

  • All the seats in each semester are associated with one department. Enroll in whichever one has seats that semester. 

How many seats are available in Data 8?

  • The class is now a regular offering. We aim to offer it every semester, and we are trying to meet student demand. For the first time in Spring 2018, we may have to limit the course to ~1000 students. We hope to be able to offer more seats in future semesters. 

If there are seats in the Data 8 lecture, but no lab sections open for enrollment, how do I enroll in a lab section?

  • In some semesters, lab section enrollment is decided at the start of the semester. In those semesters, there will be a 999 section. In that case, sign up for the 999 section.

Are seats reserved for particular categories of students?

  • Freshmen and sophomores have priority to start. As soon all undergraduates have had their Phase II appointments, no seats will continue to be held for particular categories of students, and the waitlist will be processed in order.

I'm interested in doing the EdX course, Data 8X, online. Does this count to satisfy Data 8?

  • No, unfortunately, Data 8X doesn't have all the content of Data 8, and does not transfer academic credit.

Can graduate students enroll?

  • Yes, they can enroll like juniors and seniors.

Which majors’ statistics/quantitative or computing requirements does Data 8 satisfy?

Does Data 8 satisfy the L&S Quantitative Reasoning requirement?

  • Yes.

Can I receive credit for both Data 8 and CS 61A?

  • Yes.

Can I receive credit for both Data 8 and Stat 2/20/21?

  • Yes, but this path is not recommended.

How does Data 8 set me up for courses in other areas of study that draw on introductory statistics as found in Stat 2 or Stat 20/21?

  • For students planning to pursue other areas of study, the Statistics Department recommends Data 8 for all areas where students have historically taken Stat 2, and Data 8 plus the Stat 88 connector for areas where students have historically taken Stat 20/21.