QMSS has created a number of enhanced subject-specific focuses of study. These focuses range from the most open-ended called the Flexible Focus (which has been the traditional track within QMSS) to much more topic-specific focuses in the areas of Data Science, Economics and Experiments, which provide more structured plans of study in specific areas of interest. These focuses are designed to enhance the program's relevance, efficacy, and overall value to its students.
The Flexible Focus is the traditional choice for QMSS students to go through the program. Within this focus, students have the most range of choice over courses, and this focus is designed for students to gain a diverse, interdisciplinary social science degree that focuses on quantitative research techniques and strategies. This focus will help students integrate the perspectives and research methods of many social science disciplines, and provide students with rigorous training in quantitative research, with an emphasis on written and oral communication about research methods and findings. These skills prepare QMSS graduates to enter (or further) an analytical or research career or to continue their education in a Ph.D. program.
For a number of years now, QMSS has been offering a focus that provides students interested in the discipline of Economics with a framework for a comprehensive and rigorous Master's-level course of study. The Economics Focus is integrated with Columbia's world-class Department of Economics. QMSS students focusing on Economics now have a tremendous opportunity to tailor their economics educational experiences to ensure the best fit with their backgrounds, abilities, interests, and goals. More information can be found here.
Data Science Focus
The emerging field of data science has the potential to revolutionize the social sciences as the analysis of "Big Data" using machine learning plays an ever-expanding role in the exploration of the economic, political, and social world. Over the past several years, QMSS has built out a very robust and dynamic curriculum in data science, teaching highly sought-after courses on "Data Mining for Social Science," "Applied Data Science," "Modern Data Structures," "Natural Language Processing for the Social Sciences," "Data Visualization," "Machine Learning for the Social Sciences," and a "Practicum in Large-Scale Data Analysis." These courses are taught in either R or Python, or more frequently, both. A great many of recent QMSS alumni are working as data scientists and they most commonly went through the Data Science Focus. QMSS has a very close working relationship with Columbia's Data Science Institute (DSI) as well. We have developed a number of strategic partnerships and valuable learning opportunities, and being part of the Data Science Focus will certainly help students stay abreast of the latest initiatives and events in this space. More information about that focus and a complete course plan can be found here.
Experimental methods are fundamentally reshaping the social sciences. For students who are interested in harnessing the power of lab and field experiments to understand causal processes, QMSS now offers an Experiments Focus. The focus, drawing on multiple experiments-oriented initiatives across campus, provides courses that train students in the complexities of causal inference and in the design, implementation, and analysis of experiments. This focus is especially suited to students interested in learning how to implement state of the art policy evaluations or in learning how to set up experiments to understand causal processes underlying patterns of political, social, and economic development. More information can be found here.
Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) Module
QMSS students interested in education and/or consulting have the opportunity to apply to the Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) at Columbia University and spend a semester in their interdisciplinary program, while still getting credit towards their MA degree. CPRL's intensive interdisciplinary program in public education policy combines a research and consulting project, an academic seminar on structural change in public education, professional skills development, and networking and job opportunities. CPRL student projects serve school districts, education departments, non-profits and foundations driving transformational change in public education and improved outcomes for all children. More details about this program can be found here. Students can apply for either the Fall or the Spring semesters. Open Houses about the program are held each semester and students are given ample time to develop their applications. For more info on this opportunity, admitted students should reach out to Assistant Director Elena Krumova at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.