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Social Science Analytics Certificate

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Why get a Social Science Analytics Certificate?

The certificate will help students learn how to collect, analyze, and interpret social science data. With the rise of so-called “Big Data”, the ability to employ a broad variety of data and data analysis techniques to make informed decisions has become ever more important. The certificate provides students with a course of study to learn the basics of quantitative social science research fused with a variety of techniques to develop more advanced skills, such as:

  1. Geo-spatial data (geographic databases, maps, spatial dependence);
  2. Network data (social networks, social media, connections between states);
  3. Text analysis (social media data, political speeches, newspaper stories);
  4. Statistical and computer programming (web scraping, data collection, data manipulation);
  5. Visualization (graphs, presentations, maps, networks).

The certificate will focus on developing appropriate technical training in combination with an understanding of the social processes and theories that highlight the substantive nuances and context of the data at hand.

Learning these skills will help make students with a social science background more competitive for jobs with political campaigns, consulting, policy analysis, public opinion firms, government agencies, and local communities or for more advanced studies.

Further, the certificate will benefit students outside the social sciences by affording many opportunities to interact and collaborate with research-minded social science students. Such opportunities to work directly with peers from different, non-mathematical sciences disciplines represent an invaluable component of an undergraduate statistic student’s education.

What is a Certificate?

A Certificate is an official University credential indicating that you have specific gained expertise by engaging in focused studies in a specific area, usually related to your major. It provides clear evidence of this focused strength to potential employers or graduate schools.

Social Science Analytics is an undergraduate Certificate offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and is supported by the departments of Geography and Sustainability Sciences, Political Science, Sociology, and Statistics and Actuarial Sciences. Its academic home is the Department of Political Science.

The University of Iowa offers a number of Certificates in a wide range of areas.

Description of the Certificate

The certificate requires 18 semester hours as described below. Students must complete requirements in each of four different components of the certificate, requiring 6 courses total. No more than 6 semester hours of course work towards a major may be counted towards the certificate.

Core Statistics Sequence (Choose two)

  • STAT:3120 Probability and Statistics
  • STAT:6513 Intermediate Statistical Methods
  • STAT:3200 Applied Linear Regression

Social Science Research Design and Data  Analysis (Choose one)

  • POLI:3000 Understanding Political Research
  • SOC:2170 Research Methods

Building Skills and Data Science (Choose two)

  • POLI:3050 Topics in Research Methods
  • STAT:4520 Bayesian Statistics
  • STAT:6510 Applied Generalized Regression
  • CS:2210 Discrete Structures
  • CS:2110 Programming for Informatics
  • CS:2420 Human-Computer Interaction
  • CS:3980 Topics in Computer Science I: Visual Analytics
  • SOC:3880 Social Networks
  • ECON:4800 Introduction to Econometrics
  • GEOG:1050 Foundations of GIS
  • GEOG:3540 Introduction to Geographic Visualization
  • GEOG:4580 Introduction to Geographic Databases
  • GEOG:4150 Health and Environment: GIS Applications
  • GEOG:4870 Applied Geostatistics

Applied Research Experience (Choose 1)

  • STAT:6220 Statistical Consulting
  • POLI:3001 Hawkeye Poll
  • POLI:4600 Honors Research Project
  • POLI:4702 Senior Research Project/Paper
  • POLI:3127 Legislative Policy Seminar
  • GEOG:4030 Senior Project Seminar

Advisory Board

  • Frederick J. Boehmke (Political Science), Chair and Coordinator
  • Juan Pablo Hourcade (Computer Science)
  • Joseph Lang (Statistics and Actuarial Sciences)
  • Freda Lynn (Sociology)
  • Mary Noonan (Sociology)
  • Rene Rocha (Political Science)
  • Heather Sander (Geographical and Sustainability Sciences)


Students will be assigned a faculty mentor system drawing from affiliated faculty who will meet regularly with students to help them through the certificate as best fits their interests and also to ensure that their studies have sufficient focus and they are able to synthesize the material from possibly many fields into a coherent understanding of social science analytics.