Certificate Programme Data Science Fundamentals (DSF)

Enhance your Degree with the Certificate in Data Science Fundamentals

This certificate programme provides all HSG students at the Bachelor’s level with the possibility of acquiring skills in data science, so that they can play a successful and responsible role in today’s data-driven world!


Join one of our Trial Lectures to get a first taste!

  • Wednesday, 15. May 2024 at 6:15 - 8:00 pm (room 23-003)
  • Thursday, 23. May 2024 at 6:15 - 8:00 pm (room 23-001)

Slides are available here.

The DSF Programme

Data is the abounding resource in today’s world; but surprisingly few are equipped with the necessary skills to create value out of this resource, and to deal with it responsibly.

In the DSF programme, you are going to be prepared to take a proactive role as mediator between the world of management and that of technically oriented data scientists. You will learn to judge data-driven projects from a variety of different angles, including technical, managerial, and societal. In such a role, you will have a critical impact in allowing all parties concerned with data-driven projects to better connect and realize their collaborative potential.

The programme is specially designed for Bachelor students. The programme language is English.

The programme starts each fall term. Application submission: 1 February to 30 June each year.


«Oliver Meyer, Fall 2021»
If you hear someone talking about how data is the new gold they are either trying to sell you something, repeat what they heard on the news or they might have valuable input. The DSF program will enable you to know which one is which. The program gives you the perfect amount of knowledge to take part in the conversation about data science and get started from there.

The program enabled me to implement the data infrastructure at my own startup that now makes it possible to draw unique insights from the data we have and empower world-leading real estate players to consider our insights in the development of new projects. The perfect mixture of theoretical inputs and practical exercises enables you to actually do something with the knowledge you can learn here. For me, it was the right decision to join the DSF program and I benefit from it up to today.
«Paul Svidrun, Fall 2021»
On the first day of Data Science Fundamentals, Prof. Binswanger showed us how to code a machine learning model that is able to identify different flower types on Excel. This fascination has subsequently permeated numerous facets of both my academic journey and professional endeavors. Despite teaching fancy models ranging from neural networks to random forests and more, the course guided me on how to make use of data and, more importantly, develop an intuition for the models’ results. The learning does not end with the course but DSF establishes the academic foundation to pursue your interest in data science.

After finishing the program, I had the opportunity to use the acquired skills during internships and my master’s degree in finance, giving me a valuable advantage in a digitalized world. This is why I recommend every student to apply for the DSF certificate.
«Aurelia Raeber, Fall 2020»
I felt like falling into digital Narnia from the first day of attending this course. Without any prior experience of data science and programing I initially was overwhelmed with receiving information that went beyond my imagination at first. After a short time, however, I was able to experience the steepest learning curve I’ve ever had in my life at that point. The course offers so many mini-challenges and exceptional situations that I also gained a lot of experience beyond the subject matter. Although the workload is intense, it was worth it every minute. Still, especially the two weeks during the break should not be underestimated. However with the opportunities of meeting like-minded people in this course, that brings together a vast variety of personalities, the bootcamp really is a one in a lifetime experience. Despite switching to the online format in the middle of the semester, the team of Professor Binswanger managed the unfortunate situation excellently and once again strengthened the DSF spirit even over Zoom. That's why I can say that DSF fundamentals is more than a course, you really grow together like a huge family. If you are prepared to work hard, are naturally curious and last but not least motivated, don't let your current Data Science illiteracy put you off to join this amazing family.
«Livia Zimmermann, Fall 2020»
Participating in the DSF was not the first thing I had in mind when I enrolled as a law student at the University of St. Gallen. However, when I first heard about the program, my curiosity and ambition were awakened, as I have always strived for a multidisciplinary education throughout my Bachelor’s. The DSF provided me with much more extensive insights into different methods, tools and uses of Data Science than I expected. One might be surprised to hear that Data Science is not only used by math-geniuses but can help to generate fascinating insights in the fields of social sciences, geography, and also politics. Due to the DSF I developed an interest in the field of Legal-Tech and Data-Protection – something I would not have considered before. I could not be happier with my choice to enroll in this program. As the first law student to have ever participated in this, I can strongly encourage every single person to go out of their way and dive deep into this new world. Get surprised!
«Tobias Kühner, Fall 2020»
When I heard about the Data Science Fundamentals program, I immediately started chatting about it with my friends. I felt addressed as I was always enthusiastic about “Big Data” and its applications and I wanted to catch up and go beyond my previous programming experience.
But why would YOU join the Data Science Fundamentals Program? It is only extra work, or is it? Obviously, the program requires you to spend a lot of time getting to know topics like programming languages, algorithms, or neural networks. And the term most mentioned during our boot camp must have been the “steep learning curve.” However, if you put in the effort and are genuinely interested in the topic, it will be not only a challenging learning experience but also one you will thoroughly enjoy. I was fortunate enough to be led by very capable lecturers and work alongside the most competent and motivated student group I met during my studies. The course structure with a gradual increase in application compared to theory will allow you to put your newfound knowledge to the test and to implement your own ideas as a team in the final project.
Whether you want to follow a typical business/economics career path or you, decide to make Data Science your professional future or anything in between, the practical knowledge you gain during the DSF program will undoubtedly go a long way for your future as the data science methods you learn during the program will become ever more important and will influence more and more business processes.
«Ralf Blöchlinger, Fall 2020»
One of my greatest Eureka moments came early on in the DSF bootcamp when we looked at our first simple machine learning algorithm – and I felt overwhelmed. But then we iteratively went through the algorithm, seeing how different values update, the mathematical formula behind it, and even visualising what happens in each step. And for the first time it clicked what machine learning actually is. Obviously, as I know now, this was just the very peak of the iceberg and there are many more powerful and complicated concepts in machine learning, but even for most of those you will generate a great understanding during this course.
“Understanding” is exactly the reason why I started my testimonial with this anecdote. The DSF program uncovered a veil which clouds these topics of machine learning and artificial intelligence when talking from a business perspective. Uncovering the mystique is valuable, in that it allows you to critically think about the possibilities in which one can implement data analytics and machine learning concepts while also showing limitations and dangers (in terms of bad business decisions – not sentient robots taking over the world). Not to mention the transferable skills you acquire such as programming, statistics and even project management. From my perspective, I clearly recommend applying to the DSF program – whether you want to pursue a career in the field of data science or simply gain a better understanding and acquire valuable skills for your career in business.
«Apolline Duclaux, Fall 2020»
A crucial point in my journey as an individual so far has certainly been my participation in the Data Science Fundamentals (DSF) program. I initially wanted to partake in it as I believed it could further my knowledge in mathematics and programming. Yet, the program brought me much more than the aforementioned. Not only did it teach me that hard work and dedication are crucial to building a project, but it also made me discover a very strong interest in working with data and that learning to do so can have incredible consequences for society. A highlight of the boot camp was definitely the group project. It allowed me to apply all that we had seen to a practical case and concretely see how machine learning could be used to serve a business case.
«Olivier Zehnder, Fall 2020»
The DataScienceFundamentals Program is definitely a unique opportunity. If you ever wanted to get better in data science, computer science, or machine Learning, the DSF program is just the right place. Admittedly, the whole course is very challenging and is a lot of work for the 8 credits (which do not count towards your major). Nevertheless, it is worth it very much. Throughout the whole program, you will feel very proud of how much you can do at the end of a session which you were not able to do at the beginning of this session. What I personally appreciated a lot was that Prof. Binswanger and Prof. Ortega were fully aware of the fact that the course is challenging and that they were ready to help whenever possible. Also, the style of the course is unique. The focus of the course is really not on learning-by-heart, passing a test, and forgetting everything again. Instead, the goal of the program is trying to help you to develop valuable skills which will be very useful throughout your whole career. This way, the course creates a familiar learning environment that is not only productive and efficient but also enjoyable. All in all, it is astonishing how much the two professors will teach you in such a short time period.
«Julian Hufnagel, Fall 2020»
The continuously increasing amount of data has already started to change the way of running a business fundamentally. Most of the business processes will become data driven in the next years – or actually already are. In my opinion, competences like handling, analysing and interpreting large datasets will become essential management skills in the future and the DSF Workshop is a great opportunity to develop such a skillset. In the group project after this workshop, we were really impressed that we were able work on specific data science related topics on a quite advanced level after just two weeks of lectures and practicing. The Workshop was by far the most demanding but also the most exciting course I had so far at the University of St.Gallen. I can definitely recommend it for everyone who has an interest in statistics or computer science.
«Clémentine Jordan, Fall 2020»
The Data Science Fundamentals program is a wonderful opportunity at the HSG if you desire to discover the world of data science. The program is very demanding and requires a lot of work, but I assure you that you will not regret it.
I did not have much prior experience in programming nor data science. Hence, you do not need to already be an expert in coding to participate. During the two weeks of the bootcamp, you learn the essentials of machine learning and the basics of programming in R that allow you to apply your theoretical knowledge. The competencies you acquire are useful for the main project that follows the break, which is certainly the most gratifying part of the course. Indeed, we built our own project and we learned how to apply a machine learning problem to a concrete business case.
Overall, the workshop gives an excellent overview of data science and is a strong basis to build on in the future. It gave me the motivation to pursue my effort in machine learning and to get more into programming. Therefore, I would strongly recommend the DSF program to all students who want to gain a powerful insight into data science and who like challenges.
«Nicolas Schuler, Fall 2019»
Before I started the Certificate in Data Science Fundamentals, I often heard terms like "machine learning" or "artificial intelligence". So I knew that this existed, but I could neither form concrete ideas about it nor use such methods. In retrospect, the Workshop in Data Science Fundamentals has been probably one of the most enlightening courses that I attended at the university. In addition to theoretical explanations, the course mainly focuses on practical implementations, which means that a lot of methodological knowledge is built up during the classes. After that, working on the group project is a good opportunity to apply this knowledge in a field you are interested in. In short, I definitely encourage my colleagues to apply for the program and recommend it to anyone interested in statistics, computer science, programming, and similar fields. The amount of time and effort spent in it is definitely well worth it, but should not be underestimated, both during and after the break.
«Ernst Ruben, Fall 2019»
Fairly early on in my life, I have begun to discover the immense potential of writing code. Although at that time I was barely able to make a crude rendering of a bug move across the screen, I was transfixed with the idea of using rule based logic to build powerful, computerized tools. The spark ignited in me at a young age began to grow stronger and lead me to look at challenges in business and studies in a more analytical and structured way.
The DSF program seemed to be a unique opportunity to further my skills in this area and the DSF Fundamentals Workshop proved this impression to be correct. Retrospectively, I am astounded by the amount of knowledge as well as highly transferrable skills this course has given me. I experienced the workshop to be a well-balanced mixture of theoretical bases and concepts as well as practical learning applied to a project. I do not want to marginalize the amount of work that goes into the workshop and the project work, but for me, the investment has already paid off and I am convinced, that it will continue to pay off in the future.
Concluding, my main point to give to students considering to enroll in the DSF program is that although it requires significant investment of time and effort, this investment is well worth it and that the program is a unique chance to acquire skills in a field only gaining in importance.
«Marc Blöchlinger, Fall 2019»
The Data Science Fundamentals program ignited a fire that I did not know could even be ignited. Prior to this, the little statistics and data science we discussed during university courses never seemed really interesting to me. But after having spent 2 intense weeks during the bootcamp immersed in this environment, I started to realize what an interesting and deep topic this is. The best part about it, in my opinion, is that you really dive in deep and don’t just superficially scratch the topics. For example, just knowing what a neural network is or having coded one by hand are two fundamentally different levels of understanding. This immensely benefits you as you better understand the possibilities and limits of the different approaches when used in real business cases.
«Christina Borner, Fall 2019»
Data Science Fundamentals program is unique at the HSG and it provides you with an opportunity to learn some data science skills otherwise difficult to acquire. Even as a complete beginner as myself, the course is set up in a way that everybody can profit. Especially the two-week bootcamp in the fall break created a special atmosphere, with the focus entirely on data science and no other school work to distract us, which built a great group feeling.
A highlight of the course was also definitely working on our own projects. By doing so we were able to apply the skills learned in the break directly. Our project, for example, was about predicting the voting behavior for all Swiss municipalities, because we were interested in mixing the fields of political science with data science, but that choice is entirely up to you.
I can only say that the DSF program far exceeded my expectations and I can only recommend it to anybody with an interest in working with data.
«Kim Follonier, Fall 2019»
Starting off, I would like to state that this program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and if you are even the least bit curious about what data science entails, you should consider participating. Personally, I have never learned so much in such few time about a topic that I didn't have previous experience with. The courses give you new insights and the motivated group participating in this program makes for a great learning atmosphere.
One of the main advantages is not only starting to understand the matter, but also to see the many business possibilities that come along with it, which was particularly important to me as a BA-student. Programming and interpreting your first very own machine learning algorithms for a business case is extremely rewarding and opens your eyes to the whole "data-science-world" that is gaining so much importance for the future.
So I would conclude by saying that if you are interested curious about data science, you should take advantage of this challenging yet rewarding opportunity. As learning about this exciting field, that may be unknown to you now, definitely enriches your studies at the HSG.
«Leandra Bräuninger, Fall 2018»
I am personally very interested in technical questions but getting a major in a technical field I would have felt that it lacked the view of the bigger picture. Now studying International Affairs, I appreciate the broad approach it gives me, but I sometimes miss the technical details of the real world.
Therefore, the DSF Program is the perfect addition to my studies and with it I can get the best of both worlds and combine them. It gives me the ability to speak both the technical as well as the business (or in my case International Affairs)-oriented language and solve problems from a unique point of view.
«Ruben Burdin, Fall 2018»
Why did I join the DSF programme? As soon as I saw the DSF content presentation on the university's website, I immediately realized that this would be an unequaled opportunity to acquire new skills and to make the difference. Everybody is conscious that the world is changing and that technology and Data Science form nowadays an integral part of the management practice. Leaders qualified in technology are more than ever a scarce resource for companies and integrating the DSF right from the third semester of the bachelor is by far one of the most valuable asset one could achieve at the HSG. The DSF programme is an all-in-one package to learn and understand the basics of Data Science with an eye on the business perspective. Coding, applied mathematics and guest lectures during the workshop will prepare you to make the most of your group project and the following courses that make up the certificate. Last but not least, the DSF is a highly selective programme that gathers the most motivated students of the HSG sharing an interest for Data Science to build new skills and network, this is also what makes this experience exceptional. I am really satisfied with my experience until now, and I can only recommend to apply for this innovative programme.
«Andreas Camenisch, Fall 2018»
The DSF workshop helped me get an overview of the basic ideas and concepts of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Through various guest lectures by practitioners and theorists, we saw the relevance, possibilities and limitations of data science and got a feeling of the big part that it is without a doubt going to play in our future society. I now understand how some important machine learning algorithms work and why a specific algorithm is chosen for a certain task. This is an important quality for members of the business world who want to collaborate with technical specialists from the field of data science.
«Lukas Neuhauser, Fall 2018»
Fundamentals of Data Science is an exceptional course, not only due to the steep learning curve I experienced but also because I enjoyed challenging myself in a community of like-minded people. In terms of content, the focus on a deep conceptual understanding empowered me to stay involved and pursue the development of expertise in this area. This course clearly demonstrates that the future belongs not only to data scientists; it is also the responsibility of economists and other societal actors to reflect on analytics-based solutions.
«Jonas Röser, Fall 2018»
The data science fundamentals programme allowed me to develop a well-founded understanding of the most central machine learning and artificial intelligence concepts. Centred around a two-week bootcamp with subsequent project work, the programme connected me with like-minded students eager to dive deep into mathematics and data handling in the face of machine learning. Especially during the highly intensive project phase I was able to improve my coding skills and replace superficial misconceptions present in the general public with actual knowledge by applying machine learning instead of talking about it. My key take-away from this programme is an intuition that allows me to sense machine learning value in projects and in daily life. Highly engaged and involved, the people in charge really care for a programme that is gaining more and more relevance in an increasingly data-driven world.
«Michael Tsesmelis, Fall 2018»
The DSF Bootcamp is the ideal opportunity to kickstart your entry into the world of data. Over a period of two weeks, you are introduced to countless conceptual and technical aspects of Data Science. As it takes place over ten entire days, your mind is allowed a complete dive into the subject, without any distraction. Only this way can you progress in what is arguably the most important discipline of the coming decade.
Week 1, taught by Professor Binswanger, introduces you to Programming, Maths in Data Science and Machine Learning. What is particularly underpinned in this first phase is the way machines learn. Gradient Descent is perhaps the most salient tool that is presented.
A data scientist’s job is to use the trio of instruments mentioned above to analyse data and produce meaningful results. This is the subject of Week 2, taught by Professor Ortega. Here, intelligent algorithms such as Naïve Bayes Classifiers and Neural Networks help solve more complex problems with real-world applications.
Overall, the DSF Bootcamp will help any attentive student make tremendous strides towards understanding what Data Science is and how it is used. The theory, interspersed with interesting exercises, gradually builds up your skillset. This affords you a solid basis for any further step you might take in this discipline.
«Ira Welz, Fall 2018»
This course is truly amazing. You feel like entering digital Narnia: A whole new world of thinking differently. Structured like a programmer, rational like a statistician and abstract like a mathematician. It is you who is entering the entrepreneurial spirit. You are creating something truly not everyone can do: Your own, first machine learning algorithm. The course is hard and demanding, but definitely worth your time. Gather institutional perspectives for personal growth while obtaining a powerful toolset. What for? To become an ambassador of the upcoming era of data analytics. There’s much to explore no one has done before in this young field, and DSF offers you a treasure here: The entry ticket, or wardrobe door to digital Narnia.
«Aline Zimmermann, Fall 2018»
When I first heard about the DSF program, I was rather intimidated because I did not have any experience in programming and data handling. But I was aware that the topic would gain importance in the years to come. Therefore, it appeared to me as a “must do”. Moreover, I came to the conclusion, that this program is unique in that it offers skills and techniques which I hardly could acquire anywhere else. I therefore was overly happy that I got accepted. The program turned out to be a massive experience. The two weeks workshop during the break was intense. The first challenge was a day-long assignment where we had to write a code to analyse a set of data. The second challenge was a project following the workshop: Our group decided to code an algorithm which forecasts flight delays. The collaboration and the exchange with the team members of the program was a rewarding experience. The great team spirit and the excellent motivation of the participants were very supportive in tackling the various problems the program offered. Hands-on programming is one pillar of the DSF program, the theoretical foundation on data interpretation is a second pillar. We coded mainly in the programming language R, but we had as well an introduction into the Python programming language as well as into Latex, which is useful to format papers with mathematical syntax. I am happy about this experience, particularly because I learnt elementary techniques regarding the handling of large volumes of data as well as key algorithms of machine learning. I am eager to learn more during the upcoming courses. As a bachelor student in Economics I am using R now frequently mainly for calculations or visualization of data. I strongly encourage you to participate in the DSF program.
«Julian Leopold, Fall 2017»
The Swiss Data Science Conference 2018 left me with the impression, that there is a real need to bridge the gap between the world of business and data science. Studying at a business school with the DSF certificate to complement, I learn to do exactly this.
The certificate program begins with the boot camp. Within two weeks we received a solid data science foundation ranging from basic programming skills over stats and probability to artificial intelligence.
More valuable still, the course enabled us to study more advanced concepts and stay in touch with current technological developments by understanding them on an intuitive level. The study of data science as the digital element of the HSGs integrative approach empowered me to recognize unseen opportunities and realize new ideas through the application of data science in a business context.

DSF Programme in SHSG prisma



  • Solid hands-on work with data requires programming skills. Only when you have worked with data yourself can you relate to and adopt the perspective of a technical data scientist. Only then you can bridge the gap between the world of management, on the one hand, and the world of technical data scientists, on the other.
  • In the words of Steve Jobs: “Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.” Learning the logic of computer programming enhancesyour general problem-solving skills.
The Programme is comprehensive and integrates three main perspectives
  • Technical perspective (programming, data management)
  • Analytical perspective (generate insights and value from data)
  • Decision-makers’ perspective (data-driven decisions and business models, data-driven societal policies, risks of data-driven solutions)
  • The programme is open to all HSG Bachelor students. For law students a special evaluation is required.
  • You must be a currently registered student of the University of St.Gallen and you must have completed your assessment year before start of the fall semester.  You may have already started your Major.
  • Start: fall semester. A start during the 3rd semester is strongly recommend. Also possible during the 5th semester (but see next point).
  • The mandatory workshop and the mandatory course on multidisciplinary perspectives have to be completed in one year.
  • If you start in your 5th semester, no exchange is possible neither in your 5th nor in your 6th semester.
Trial lectures

On Campus, open to all interested students.
Please register via email to

  • Wednesday, 15. May 2024 at 6:15 - 8:00 pm (room 23-003)
  • Thursday, 23. May 2024 at 6:15 - 8:00 pm (room 23-001)
Info Event: "Women in Data Science"

Women currently participating in the DSF programme present theior experiences to prospective DSF students. For women only!
Please register via email to

  • Date: tba, 2024
  • Time: tba
  • Application deadline is June 30th each year
  • All applicants undergo a selection process based on the submitted application documents:
    • A motivation letter (in free format)
    • Your grades (as many as available from assessment year and potentially from your Major)
  • Additionally, students will have to accept (using compass) access to their grades from the spring semester upon their availability (end of August), i.e. after the deadline
  • The programme committee makes admissions decisions by the end of the second week in September
  • The time of application has no influence on the assessment process
  • Applcations need to be submitted via Compass
    • Log on to Compass and switch from the “Dashboard” to “Requests” and select “Additional Qualification Programmes”.
    • Here you may click on “Go to request” and pick “Certificate in Data Science Fundamentals” before being asked to upload your CV, motivation letter and your latest grade transcript.
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Data Science Fundamentals @HSG

Johannes Binswanger, the Academic Director of the Certificate Programme in Data Science Fundamentals (DSF) at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) explains the benefits of this programme.


Johannes Binswanger

Prof. Dr.

Akademischer Programmleiter

Bodanstrasse 8
9000 St. Gallen

Sebastian Plappert


Administrative Programmleiter

Büro 52-5068
Müller-Friedberg-Strasse 6/8
9000 St. Gallen