Social Science Analytics Certificate

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Why get a Social Science Analytics Certificate?

This certificate program teaches students 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. Students 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 focuses 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 makes 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 benefits 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 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.


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The undergraduate Certificate in Social Science Analytics requires a minimum of 18 s.h. Students complete requirements in five different component areas for a total of at least six courses. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in work for the certificate. They may count a maximum of 6 s.h. completed for a major, a minor, or another certificate offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences toward the Certificate in Social Science Analytics.

The certificate may be earned by any student admitted to the University of Iowa who is not concurrently enrolled in a UI graduate or professional degree program.

Some of the certificate courses have prerequisites not included in the certificate requirements. Students should select courses for which they have met the prerequisites.

The Certificate in Social Science Analytics requires the following course work.


Introduction to Data and the Social Sciences

  • POLI:1050 Big Ideas: Introduction to Information and Society, 3 s.h.


Science Research Design and Data Analysis (Choose one)

  • POLI:2000 Designing Political Research, 3 s.h.
  • SOC:2170 Research Methods, 3 s.h. 


Core Statistics (Choose two)
May not use both STAT: 1020 and SOC:2160 to complete requirement

  • POLI:3000 Analyzing Political Data, 3 s.h.
  • SOC:2160 Applied Statistics for Social Scientists, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:1020 Elementary Statistics and Inference, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:3120 Probability and Statistics, 4 s.h.
  • STAT:3200 Applied Linear Regression, 3 s.h. 
  • STAT:4143 Introduction to Statistical Methods, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:6513 Intermediate Statistical Methods, 4 s.h.


Building Skills and Data Science (Choose one)

  • CS:1210 Computer Science I: Fundamentals, 4 s.h.
  • CS:2110 Programming for Informatics, 4 s.h.
  • CS:2520 Human-Computer Interaction, 3 s.h.
  • CS:3980 Topics in Computer Science I, 3 s.h.
  • ECON:4800 Introduction to Econometrics, 3  s.h.
  • GEOG:1050 Foundations of GIS, 3 s.h.
  • GEOG:1065 Introduction to Spatial Analysis: Patterns and Processes, 3 s.h.
  • GEOG:3540 Introduction to Geographic Visualization, 3 s.h.
  • GEOG:4150 Health and Environment: GIS Applications, 3 s.h.
  • GEOG:4580 Introduction to Geographic Databases, 3 s.h.
  • GEOG:4870 Applied Geostatistics, 3 s.h.
  • MSCI:3200 Database Management (CS:2110 or MSCI:3005), 3 s.h.
  • MSCI:3250 Analyzing Data for Business Intelligence (MSCI:3200), 3 s.h.
  • MSCI:3500 Data Mining (STAT:2020 with a minimum grade of B or ECON:2800 or STAT:4101 or ECON:4800), 3 s.h.
  • POLI:3050 Problems in Methods, 3-4 s.h.
  • SOC:3880 The Sociology of Networks, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:4520 Bayesian Statistics, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:4540 Statistical Learning, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:6510 Applied Generalized Regression, 3 s.h.
  • STAT:6560 Applied Time Series Analysis, 3 s.h.


Applied Research Experience (At least 3 s.h. from these)

  • GEOG:4030 Senior Project Seminar, 3 s.h.
  • GHS:3010 Identifying and Developing a Global Health Project ,2-3 s.h.
  • POLI:3001 Hawkeye Poll, 3 s.h.
  • POLI:3127 Legislative Policy Seminar, 3 s.h.
  • POLI:4600 Honors Research Project, 3 s.h.
  • POLI:4702 Senior Research Project/Paper, 3 s.h.
  • SOC:4998 Honors Research, arr.
  • STAT:6220 Statistical Consulting, 3 s.h.

 **Students may count no more than 6 s.h. toward both a major and this certificate


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 drawing from affiliated faculty who will meet regularly with students to help them through the certificate as best fits their interests.