Data Visualization and Communication


Next Program Entry:

February 4, 2021

4.5 months
Live online class meetings take place Thursdays, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Central Time
Priority Rate: $3895
Standard Registration: $4145
Hours of instruction:

We all face information overload. With the explosion of data that companies gather today, almost every individual handles data in some way. The best data insights are only valuable if they can be clearly communicated. 

That’s where the SMU Data Visualization and Communication Certificate comes in. By combining storytelling techniques with visual representations of data such as charts, diagrams, infographics and dashboards, you can use data to help your audience make informed decisions. This certificate program offers a unique combination of communication and data visualization. Today's most valuable employees must be able to effectively visualize data as well as use storytelling and presentation skills to clearly communicate to customers, executives and investors. Many careers and industries utilize this combination of data visualization and communication skills, including government, finance, marketing, consumer goods, service, education and more. 

The SMU Data Visualization and Communication Certificate program will help you improve your skills through the introduction of key principles and best practices, coupled with hands-on exercises and projects. This certificate also offers an opportunity to gain experience with multiple tools, learn to determine the best visualization for specific types of data and explore fundamentals of presenting data. You’ll learn techniques to pair visualizations with storytelling and communication skills to create compelling presentations tailored to your audience.

Key Benefits

  • Combine data visualization skills with communication and storytelling techniques
  • Learn the best practices of data visualization design
  • Identify different types of charts and when to use them with different data sets
  • Communicate trends, relationships and patterns in multiple formats
  • Improve your presentation skills and tailor your presentation for different audiences
  • Understand the elements of storytelling and why they matter in business 
  • Build your own data visualization toolbox of applications and websites
  • Design different communication formats using data visualizations including presentations, infographics and dashboards
  • Turn data into actionable insights for data-driven business decisions
  • Complete a capstone project to include in your business portfolio  

Who should attend?

Data visualization skills are becoming increasingly necessary across most career types, regardless of the industry. The data visualization and communication skills taught in this certificate program would be applicable to:

  • Managers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Sales & marketing professionals
  • Data analysts
  • Data scientists
  • Product managers
  • Engineers & developers
  • Researchers & designers
  • Accounting & finance professionals
  • Operations & logistics managers
  • PR professionals
  • Any professionals who interpret, present and share data

Where are these courses offered?

This SMU Data Visualization and Communications Certificate is completely online. You will never be required to attend a brick-and-mortar classroom and you can complete your entire course from the comfort of your own home or office.

Students will meet as a class once a week with the instructors for discussions, review of concepts, and to answer questions. Students will also have reading, videos, activities and quizzes to take on their own time in between real-time, online meetings. 

Why Choose SMU?

SMU PRO’s certificate is the only program in Texas that combines data visualization and communication into a single program.

  • Small class sizes allow for meaningful, individual interactions with instructors who are experts on the subject
  • All instructors are seasoned professionals working in the field

Students will have a real-time online meeting once a week for 1.5 hours and approximately 3.5 hours of out-of-class videos, activities and reading, which altogether fulfill a total of 5 hours-per-week committed to the program. 

Download PDF Schedule

Certificate Components

Foundations of Data Visualization

Learn to analyze for data credibility, evaluate data to support insights and choose appropriate types of data visualizations as well as begin building your own data visualization toolbox.

Storytelling in Business

Learn why storytelling is important and how to apply effective storytelling techniques in business situations. 

Applying Design Principles to Data Visualization

Learn to utilize color and design principles to optimize understanding and accessibility of charts. 

Delivering Effective Presentations

Learn how to prepare for an effective presentation. Practice physical and vocal techniques to engage your audience and deliver your content effectively. 

Presenting with Data: Tools and Best Practices

Learn to build presentation slides with optimized text and design that employ the data story arc. 

Infographics: Design and Publishing 

Learn to design, build, and evaluate the success of an infographic. 

Dashboards: Tools and Best Practices

Learn best practices in dashboard design and how to build dashboards using Microsoft Excel and Tableau Public

Final Project

Present data-driven insights in your final video and receive feedback from instructors and classmates. 

Textbooks Required

  • Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design by Randy Krum (ISBN-13:978-1118582305 ISBN-10:1118582306)
  • Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic (ISBN-13:978-1119002253 ISBN-10:1119002257)

Skills and Experience Required

  • Computer literacy, file management skills and basic familiarity with web browsing
  • Some prior experience working with data sets
  • Basic concepts in math and statistics
  • Basic understanding of working with data and creating charts in Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint
  • Some prior experience building and giving presentations with PowerPoint
  • Beginner-level experience delivering presentations to an audience
  • English proficiency. If you're not a native English speaker, you’ll need to have at least basic English language skills to enroll.

Technical Requirements

  • Computer (Windows or Mac) with high-speed internet connection
  • Webcam and microphone for participation in all live class sessions
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (or other PDF reader)
  • Modern web browser (Firefox or Chrome recommended)
  • You need the authority to install applications on your computer

Technical Software Used Throughout the Certificate

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Wordle
  • Tableau
  • Batch Geo
  • Office 365


  • Priority Rate: $3895 (expires two weeks before start date)
  • Standard Registration: $4145
  • Fees include tuition and textbooks

Financing Options

Students may qualify for a Smart Options Continuing Education Student Loan, offered by Sallie Mae. 

SMU PRO also offers a flexible payment plan this program, so that you don’t have pay in full at the time of registration.

Learn more about payment and financing options.


Where are these courses offered?

This SMU PRO Certificate is designed and taught by seasoned Data Visualization and Storytelling practitioners and is completely online. You will never be required to attend a brick-and-mortar classroom and you can complete your entire course from the comfort of your own home or office.

What skills do online learners need?

Most courses require a basic level of computer skills, including the ability to send and receive email, as well as conduct research on the Internet. You should be comfortable using technology and have some foundation in design elements and principles.

What equipment do I need to enroll?

You must have a computer and a webcam.

How do students interact with instructors?

All courses are taught by instructors who provide support for students through the real-time online class meetings, online office hours, and discussion boards. 

Do I need an email account for my online course?

Yes, all students taking online courses must have an email account. Email accounts may be obtained by signing up for a free account through a free internet service provider, such as Gmail,, Yahoo! Mail or

What kind of certificate do I get when I have completed the course?

Once you have completed your course, a Certificate of Completion will be sent from SMU PRO.

Whom do I contact if I have a problem with my course?

If you encounter any technical difficulties, you should always contact your instructor first, but if that is unsuccessful, you can email


When does registration begin?

Registration opens approximately eight (8) weeks before each quarter begins. Students are encouraged to register early to secure their places in the course(s) of their choice.
Students may register online or via phone at 214-768-2273.

Where do the courses meet?

Online through our Canvas portal and through Zoom.

How long are the courses, and when are they offered?

Students will have a real-time online meeting once a week for 1.5 hours and approximately 3.5 hours of out of class videos, activities, and reading to complete a total of 5 hours/week commitment. 

Class has already started; if I need to cancel, can I get a partial refund?

SMU Global and Online makes every effort to assure a quality learning experience. If you choose to withdraw from the certificate program, please notify us in writing or fax 214-768-1071. SMU Certificate enrollment is final as of three (3) business days prior to first class start date and programs are intended to be successfully completed in full. Once you are enrolled, withdrawal from the program or not completing the program forfeits your tuition costs. We do not provide any prorated refunds or credits for partial certificate program completion. However, students may transfer to another cohort/class, free of charge, provided there is space available and time remaining for them to successfully complete the program.
Failure to attend class does not constitute withdrawal.
All refunds will be made in the form of the original payment. Please allow up to six weeks to receive check refunds.
Full details are available in the certificate terms and conditions provided during the application process. 

What if a class I want to register for is full?

Online courses are capped at 30 students. A student may choose to be added to the waitlist, free of charge, for any course that has already reached its maximum enrollment. If space becomes available in the course, or if a new section of the course is added to the schedule, those on the waitlist will be notified in the order in which they joined the waitlist. Students on the waitlist are not obligated to register if/when a space becomes available. We encourage students to add their names to the waitlist for courses they are interested in, as this can be a factor in whether or not new sections of the course are added to the schedule.

Can I pay when I arrive at the class?

Advance registration is required. Students may register 24 hours/day online, or during business hours by phone at 214-768-2273 or by visiting the SMU Global and Online office. Access to the course is available only to registered, paid students. Instructors are not permitted to accept registration fees at class meetings.

What if I forget my “Account ID” or the password I used for online registration?

Go to the student portal and choose "forgot username" or "forgot password."

General Information

What should I do if I miss class?

If possible, inform your instructor in advance to check on arrangements and find out how absences will affect your grade.

What should I do if I miss an exam?

A student who misses an announced exam with the instructor’s prior permission may be given an opportunity to make up the work at the instructor’s convenience. Notify the instructor as soon as possible. If the instructor gives you permission, you are eligible to take a make-up exam.

Why might a course be cancelled by SMU?

While rare, SMU reserves the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment. Should SMU cancel a course, a full refund will be granted to enrollees. Every effort is made to notify students of a course cancellation in advance. Students are encouraged to register early to secure a place in the course(s) of their choice and to help ensure the course's success.

I am located in a country outside of the United States and would like to register for a course. What do I do?

Anyone is welcome to register for our online courses. Courses are in English. 

Randy Krum

Randy Krum is a data visualization designer, author of the book Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design, Founder and President of InfoNewt (a data visualization design firm), organizer of the Dallas-Fort Worth Data Visualization Meetup group, instructor of Data Visualization Design at Southern Methodist University and manager of the popular website Randy presents talks and workshops at conferences, universities, corporate events and to government agencies about communicating with data, data visualization design, visual content marketing, infographics design and promotion, and the effective use of visual communication.

More information on Randy Krum.

Steve Lee

Steve Lee, APR, is Professor of Practice for Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts and Chairman and Chief Pathfinder of QSI Consulting Group. Steve  is not exactly your normal social media expert. He brings decades of business experience combined with techno understanding to make a vibrant combination. That’s how he helps senior executives wade through the latest interactive and marketing trends to create clearer visions of their business and communications needs.

Did you know?

Up to $33K

average annual salary increase when workers learned new data skills.

Source: Burning Glass Technologies

22 Times

Messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just facts.

Source: Medium


Data Science teams need:

Data Science Translators and Data Storytellers

Source: Medium

Contact Us

Complete the form below to get in touch with a Program Advisor.

Questions? Talk to a Program Advisor at or 214-768-1086.