Frequently Asked Questions

Graph from Lencer Ogutu

A visual graph from research performed by Lencer Ogutu '20. 

I'm a rising junior history major interested in participating in the CSML program. However, I am not sure how feasible it is to include data analysis into my independent work. Can I work around this requirement or supplement it with something else?

No. Unfortunately, you have to use statistics and/or machine learning in your independent work. However, the breadth of these methods have expanded beyond the sciences. For example, the digital humanities makes heavy use of data analysis methods.

To what extent would I need to use statistics and/or machine learning? Would I need to develop my own study/methodology?

Statistics and/or machine learning must play a major role in your independent work. You do not necessarily have to develop new methods but you must apply statistical and/or machine learning methods to your question of interest. The independent work is a culmination of your education at Princeton: you need to demonstrate that you can apply methods you've learned in order to answer research questions. We will also have a poster session where you will be presenting your work to SML faculty.

Would taking a more advanced course than those listed in the "Fundamentals of Statistics" or "Fundamentals of Machine Learning" category fulfill the requirement?

Yes, that is possible but students must obtain permission of the certificate director. In addition, students are required to take a total of 5 courses in order to be qualified for the SML certificate.

If students are only allowed to take 2 courses from one concentration, then is the example path for CS student's incorrect?

So long as students are not using more than two courses towards another degree program (i.e., departmental major or another certificate program), they are allowed to count these courses towards the SML certificate.

Is PDF acceptable for courses?

No. Students must take 5 courses and earn at least a grade of B- for each course.

Can I present at the poster session during my junior year?

Yes, as long as you have fulfilled the independent work requirement and submitted the work to the faculty committee by the appropriate deadline.

I would like to do a joint presentation at the poster session with another SML certificate student, is this allowed?

No. Unfortunately, your independent work or thesis needs to be done and presented independently to receive credit toward your certificate.

Can I submit an independent work during my senior year that is not my senior thesis?


How can I propose a different course for the certificate (for instance, if I am studying abroad and would like a course from the institution abroad to count towards the certificate requirements)?

You must submit a PDF copy of the official course syllabus to the Academic Program Coordinator and the Director of the Certificate Program. The syllabus must include information about the course materials and assignments.

I got a 5 on the AP Statistics exam. Can this count for credit towards the certificate, or at least exempt me from the statistics requirement?

No, we do not give credit or exemptions for AP exams. 

Can I count multiple courses from the Foundations of Statistics course list towards my certificate? For instance, I want to use POL 345 for the Foundations of Statistics requirement and ORF 245 as an elective.

We will not count multiple courses in the Fundamentals for Statistics category towards the certificate.

Can I use my JP or senior thesis from another department for my CSML IW?

Yes, you can.  As long as the project has a substantial machine learning or statistics component to it, you may submit work that was done for another program.

I’m working with a graduate student in a lab on a collaborative project. Can I use that project for my CSML IW?

Yes, you can use such a project as the basis of your CSML IW.  However, you should report on your own work in support of the project, and what you did yourself should have a substantial machine learning or statistics component to it.

Can I use my work in SML 310 as part of my undergraduate thesis?

With permission from their thesis advisor and/or their undergraduate department, students can incorporate work they did in SML 310 into their thesis.

Students should indicate in their thesis which parts of the work were completed as part of SML 310.

Can I use my work in SML 310 to fulfill the CSML Certificate’s Independent Work requirement?

That is in principle possible if the scope of your SML 310 project is sufficiently large and the write-up is sufficiently comprehensive. However, many SML 310 students would need to expand their SML 310 project in order to fulfill the IW requirement. 

Can I use work that I did for an earlier project (e.g. for my JP) as my project in SML 310?

You cannot resubmit work that you already have completed elsewhere. You can build on work that you had done previously. Your write-up must clearly indicate what part of the work was done as part of SML 310, and what part of the work was done earlier.