Degree Type

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

  • Personal Statement: Required. No longer than two (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 two (2) letters of recommendation (at least one academic)
  • TOEFL: Required for any international applicant whose undergraduate curriculum was not taught in English
  • Current Brown undergraduates pursuing the 5th–year MSAR option do not have to take the GRE or TOEFL. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis but must be received before completion of the undergraduate degree requirements, but preference will be given to candidates who apply before April 15. In addition, the application fee will be waived.

Application Deadline: March 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: Janet Blume

Directors of Graduate Studies: David Lindstrom
Carrie Spearin