Master's (Sc.M.) Program in Social Analysis and Research

Director of MSAR: David Lindstrom
Associate Director of MSAR:
Carrie Spearin

MSAR Student Handbook

Careers in the 21st century increasingly place a premium on the ability to collect, process, analyze, and interpret large-scale data on human attributes, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors and complex systems of human interactions. Such skills have concrete application and relevance to a wide variety of careers, including market research, program evaluation, policy work, advanced study in the social sciences, and financial analysis. The McKinsey Global Institute, a management consulting group, estimates that by 2018, the US may face a 50-60% gap between the need for individuals who can analyze complex data and the supply of those with the training and skills to do so. The demand for data analysts requires professionals that are not only technically skilled, but also thoughtful about how best to use and interpret data.

The master’s (Sc.M.) program in Social Analysis and Research (MSAR) in the Sociology Department of Brown University trains students in advanced techniques for data collection and analysis. The hallmarks of the program are focused methodological training in both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis, with cores in spatial analysis and market research, classroom instruction by active and internationally renowned researchers, and individualized supervision of applied, hands-on data analytic research on a faculty project or with an off-campus organization.

Through this program, students will develop the pragmatic and logical skills that will prepare them for a career in social research, whether basic research (such as found in academia or research institutions) or applied (such as found in policy and market research). Students will put these newly developed skills to work, as they apply the techniques they learn to the analysis of actual data from the social sciences.

The MSAR is ideal for early-career students who have an existing foundation in basic statistics and social science research and who desire more focused training in order to be not only prepared, but highly competitive, in acquiring careers in market or social research or as analysts at research and policy institutions.

While this degree is based in the Sociology Department, its value extends across disciplines. Many of the MSAR faculty are associates of the Population Studies and Training Center (PSTC) at Brown, an interdisciplinary social science research and graduate training center. The Spatial Analysis courses in this program are taught by experts affiliated with the Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4) Initiative; and several of the courses in market research are taught by staff affiliated with the undergraduate program in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations (BEO).

Completion Requirements
The master’s program in Social Analysis and Research (MSAR) is a terminal degree program designed to be completed within one year. The program requires eight courses including an intensive Research Internship that is attached to a faculty Directed Research Practicum. Those students who enter the program as fifth-year Master’s students are allowed to use up to two undergraduate courses to count towards the eight credit requirements if the courses are among the required or elective courses for the program. All entering students are required to have (1) a one-semester introductory statistics course (SOC 1100 Introductory Statistics for Social Research or an equivalent), (2) a more advanced course in statistics or a course in college calculus (MATH 0050 and 0060, or MATH 0090 or above), and (3) a one-semester course in research methods (SOC 1020 or SOC 1050 or an equivalent).

The Sc.M. degree in Social Analysis and Research consists of a total of 8 courses:

Four Required courses:

  • Multivariate Statistical Methods I (SOC 2010)
  • Multivariate Statistical Methods II (SOC 2020) or Qualitative Methods (SOC 2210)
  • Fields and Methods of Social Research (SOC 2430)
  • Directed Research Practicum (SOC 2982)

Four of any of the following elective advanced analysis courses across three topical areas:

Qualitative Methods of Investigation and Market Research

  • Focus Groups for Market and Social Research (SOC 1117)
  • Context Research for Innovation (SOC 1118)
  • Market and Social Surveys (SOC 1120)
  • Market Research in Public and Private Sectors (SOC 1260)
  • Qualitative Methods (SOC 2210)

Spatial Analysis

  • Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems (SOC 1340)
  • Geographic Analysis of Society (SOC 1871W)
  • Spatial Thinking in the Social Sciences (SOC 2610)
  • Spatial Data Analysis in the Social Sciences (SOC 2612)

Advanced Multivariate Methods for Population Analysis and Behavioral Modeling

  • Multivariate Statistical Methods II (SOC 2020)
  • Techniques of Demographic Analysis (SOC 2230)
  • Event History Analysis (SOC 2240)
  • Statistical Methods for Hierarchical and Panel Data (SOC 2960S)

Research Internship and Directed Research Practicum
A one-semester research internship during the second semester is required. The research internship is designed to provide students with hands-on experience in social research. Students are assigned to an internship with a local organization in the for-profit or not-for-profit sector, or may work on a faculty research project. 

Admission Requirements
Personal Statement: No longer than 2 pages in length outlining professional goals and commitment to pursuing a career in social analysis and research
GRE General: Required
GRE Subject: Not required
Transcripts: Required from all post-secondary institutions of attendance
Letters of Recommendation: Submit 2 letters of recommendation (at least one academic)
TOEFL: Required for any international applicant whose undergraduate curriculum was not taught in English
Application Deadline: March 1st

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