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Social Analysis and Research

The STEM–designated master's program in Social Analysis and Research (MSAR) in the Department of Sociology at Brown trains students in advanced techniques for data collection and analysis.

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 U.S. may face a 50-60 percent 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 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).

Admission Requirements

  • GRE General: Required, but can be waived for COVID-19 related reasons. Those who experience difficulty in securing a GRE exam for COVID-19 reasons may request a waiver by completing the appropriate form in the application.
  • GRE Subject: Not required
  • Personal Statement: 1000-1500 word personal statement that gives your reasons to pursue graduate work in the field of your study. The statement should include examples of your past work in your chosen field, your plans for study at Brown, issues and problems you'd like to address in your field and your professional goals.
  • Recommendations: Three (3) recommendations required
  • Resume: Required
  • TOEFL/IELTS: Required for any non-native English speaker who does not have a degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction or from a University in the following countries: Australia, Bahamas, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada (except Quebec), Ethiopia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Gambia, Uganda, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales), West Indies, Zambia).

    The TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and the IELTS Indicator exam are accepted. Students from mainland China may submit the TOEFL ITP Plus exam.

If you have any questions regarding the application process for this program, please email [email protected].

Application Deadline: Applications to this program are open through Feb 1. Brown undergraduates may apply as a Fifth-Year Master’s student through May 1.

Sc.M. 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).

Department of Sociology
Brown University
Box 1916
[email protected]

Visit the Department of Sociology


Department Chair: Sandra Barnes

Director of Graduate Studies: David Lindstrom

Associate Director: Carrie Spearin