Data Science Upskilling (DSU) Program

Key points

  • The Data Science Upskilling (DSU) program strengthens skills in data science, analytics, modeling, and informatics and advances the workforce at CDC.
  • DSU supports CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative by improving data science capacity and capabilities of the CDC workforce.
abstract graphic representing data and science


The Data Science Upskilling (DSU) program helps CDC employees build foundational data science skills and access the tools to create and share modern, integrated, and high-quality information that protects the nation's health.

CDC staff and fellows learn and apply skills through this 10-month team-and project-based training opportunity. DSU strengthens skills in data science, analytics, modeling, and informatics and advances the development of a state-of-the-art workforce at CDC.

How DSU Works

First year CDC Public Health Informatics Fellowship Program fellows are automatically enrolled in the DSU program.

CDC employees and fellows self-form teams to apply for participation in DSU and receive technical support on projects. Each team applies by submitting a proposed data science project that is important to their work and aligned with CDC priorities (e.g., CDC's Data Modernization Initiative, emergency response-related events). Teams accepted into DSU learn directly from data science experts, receive support from peers and a learning community, and use curated online learning resources.

Program activities include:

  1. Skill-building training and curriculum,
  2. Team project-based learning, and
  3. Technical advising within a learning community.

DSU is designed to apply adult learning principles to maximize learning. Learners bring their center, institute, or office (CIO) projects to DSU so they can apply their data science training directly to their work. This experiential learning and knowledge sharing approach has an immediate benefit for DSU learners, their CIOs, and the agency as a whole.

Impact on Data Modernization

The DSU program supports CDC's Public Health Data Modernization Initiative by improving the data science capacity and capabilities of the CDC workforce.

The program grew 176% from 13 teams in 2019 (when the program started) to 36 teams 2022. Over these 4 years, DSU upskilled more than 360 individual learners in data science. The expected long-term impact of DSU is advancement of CDC's mission by supporting rapid identification and mitigation of emerging health threats and collecting and analyzing trusted data to promote evidence-based behaviors, interventions, and solutions to protect health, and preparing the CDC workforce to face the public health challenges of the future.

Although DSU has existed for 5 years, the program has more than exceeded its goals. It has trained diverse talent throughout CDC, including epidemiologists, behavioral scientists, medical officers, laboratorians, and fellows. Annual evaluation results indicate a high level of engagement; teams reported that DSU improved their data science knowledge and skills and their confidence in making data science decisions. A majority of DSU alumni reported continued use of acquired skills after program completion.

Advancing Data Science in the Federal Public Health Workforce‎

Learn more on how DSU is Bolstering Data Science Expertise at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Journal of Public Health Mangement and Practice, March/April 2024.

DSU in the News

The Emergence of Citizen Data Scientists: A New Frontier in Business Analytics

The rise of the citizen data scientist ― employees who have been trained to handle data tasks in-house ― addresses the shortage of trained data scientists and the need for affordable business analytics. With advancing technology, there is a growing demand for citizen data scientists who can use advanced analytic tools effectively. Initiatives like CDC's Data Science Upskilling program demonstrate successful efforts to train people in technical and non-technical data literacy skills, which are critical in today's data-driven world.

Breaking News Network

February 1, 2024

Who to contact

For more information on the DSU program, please send an email to