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Individual Concentration

Center For Statistics And The Social Sciences

The Individual Concentration in Social Statistics is offered through the Center for Statistics and the Social Scientists (CSSS). The Concentration is open to PhD students in social science programs and PhD students doing research that is primarily social science, provided that the student’s home program does not have a similar CSSS-sponsored offering (track, minor, field, or concentration). A list of these programs is given below.


The Individual Concentration in Social Statistics enables PhD students to develop expertise in applied statistical methods and training in specialized statistical tools for carrying out quantitative research in the social sciences. The Concentration is built around a curriculum developed by the CSSS (course code: CS&SS). Students who complete the Individual Concentration will have undertaken a coherent sequence of courses with advanced training in social statistics that is relevant to their research.

The CSSS awards a Letter of Recognition to students who successfully complete a Concentration.

Concentration Requirements

Students must develop an individual program that consists of four courses in social statistics. Ideally, the courses will fulfill the student’s research needs and will provide a methodological specialization for the student. The courses must be in addition to any courses required by the student’s Ph.D. program. Each course must be taken and passed with a grade of 3.3 or above. Additionally, a minimum of two quarters of the CSSS seminar, CS&SS 590 must be completed.

Advanced courses offered by CSSS qualify for the Concentration (a list is given below). CSSS offers courses in topics like generalized linear models, hierarchical models, Bayesian methods, event history analysis, game theory, simulation methods, and analysis of network data. At least three of the four courses in the Concentration must be CSSS 500-level courses from the list below.

One numerically graded advanced course in Anthropology, Economics, Psychology, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health, Sociology, Statistics, or other department may be considered as part of the program, as long as the course helps meet the goals of the student’s individual program and is approved by the CSSS Graduate Committee. A current syllabus for any non-CS&SS course must be submitted with the proposal for the Individual Concentration.

Prior to taking a course in the Concentration, a student must complete any preparatory courses that provide statistical and mathematical background necessary to succeed in the course. The required skills and knowledge is specific to each course and instructor, but will always include algebra, elementary probability theory, and basic statistics. Some courses require additional background in differential calculus, integral calculus, matrix algebra, or advanced probability theory. Knowledge of the R statistical programming language is helpful or required for many CS&SS courses.

Developing An Individual Concentration

A PhD student interested in developing and completing an Individual Concentration should meet with the chair of the CSSS Graduate Committee as a first step in developing an individual program. This meeting should take place as early in the program as possible.

Following the meeting, the student will develop a one to two page Individual Concentration plan that includes:

  • The student’s contact information
  • The student’s PhD program, advisor, and progress in the program
  • The student’s research focus and goals for completing the Concentration
  • The student’s quantitative and social science background, including grades in preparatory quantitative courses, and grades in any courses already taken in the Concentration
  • The proposed courses to taken in fulfillment of the Concentration
  • A statement on how the set of courses address the goals
  • A timeframe for completing the Concentration

The final plan will be submitted to the CSSS Graduate Committee for approval.

Changes to the Concentration plan may be made at any time by notifying the Committee and providing a written rationale for the change.

Final Evaluation Of The Individual Concentration

After completing the course requirements, the student will submit a packet to CSSS Graduate Committee (e-mail that includes:

  • A transcript showing Concentration courses taken and the grades received
  • A copy of final papers or projects from courses taken in the Concentration

List Of Approved Courses

  • CS&SS 510 (POL S 510) Maximum Likelihood Methods for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 526 (SOC 529) Structural Equation Models for Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 527 Survey Research Methods
  • CS&SS 529 (BIOST 529/STAT 529) Sample Survey Techniques
  • CS&SS 536 Analysis of Categorical and Count Data
  • CS&SS 544 Event History Analysis for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 560 Hierarchical Modeling for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 564 Bayesian Statistics for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 566 Causal Modeling
  • CS&SS 567 Statistical Analysis of Social Networks
  • CS&SS 568 Game Theory for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 569 Visualizing Data
  • CS&SS 589 (SOC WL 589) Multivariate Data Analysis for the Social Sciences

Concentrations In Other Programs

Other programs offer CSSS-sponsored concentrations that are similar to the Individual Concentration in Social Statistics offered through CSSS. Students must undertake the concentration through their home program if a program exists.

  • Anthropology: Statistical Concentration in Anthropology
  • Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs: Statistics Concentration
  • Geography: Concentration in Social Statistics
  • Nursing: Concentration in Nursing Science Statistics
  • Political Science: Political Methodology Field
  • Social Work: Statistics Track in the Social Welfare
  • Sociology: Minor in Social Statistics
  • Statistics: Ph.D. Track for Statistics in the Social Sciences
  • Urban Design and Planning: Statistics Track

Additional Information

Proper preparation is essential for success in CSSS courses. Students are encouraged to contact course instructors and the Graduate Chair in order to ascertain the mathematical, statistical, and programming language background necessary for a course.

Basic preparation in concepts of mathematics and probability is provided by Math Camp, an intensive one-week introduction offered in September.

Other CSSS one-credit preparatory courses are:

  • CS&SS 505 Review of Mathematics for Social Scientists
  • CS&SS 508 Introduction to R for Social Scientists

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