The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Welcome to DACSS!


Storytelling with Data

Stories and data are often depicted as sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum. Stories are gripping narratives told about a single person, organization, or event. Data is quantitative (and sort of boring) evidence scientifically gathered about a large group of observations. Computational analysis helps us bridge this traditional divide between qualitative and quantitative approaches to making sense of the world.  Faculty involved with the Data Analytics and Computational Social Science (DACSS) Program believe that each observation tells a story. Our goal is to teach you how to tell stories with data.

Computational Social Science ≥ Computer Science + Social Science

We think computational social science (CSS), also known as social data science, is greater than the sum of its parts. DACSS trains students to manage complex data and to use a wide range of computational methods, including text analysis, network analysis, geocoding and GIS, agent-based simulations, text scraping, Bayesian statistics, and machine learning for the social sciences. Most social science graduate programs are likely to offer only one or two heavily computational courses taught by social scientists, with perhaps a week here or there on the other topics. The same is true of the growing number of Business Analytics programs. DACSS is committed to providing students with intensive training in advanced data science skills taught from a social science perspective.

DACSS also doesn't fit the mold of a traditional data science program in a computer science department.  Students in a data science master's program rarely give much thought to where data they use come from. They also rarely seek to understand the underlying social, political, and economic processes that generate those data. Social science is fundamentally concerned with understanding and studying how people make decisions that end up being represented in the "big data" used in computational analysis. Data can tell stories, but only if you learn how to listen!

DACSS Fits Your Schedule

Take a few classes in your spare time. Pursue a Master's of Science in person or online. Take 1 course each term, or up to four per term in our accelerated program. Anyone who has completed an undergraduate degree can pursue introductory and advanced training in computational social science.

Drive Your Future With Data

Both private sector business and public sector organizations are searching for professionals with a background in data analytics and computational social science. Job postings for employees with data science skills, a substantive understanding of how those data are generated and collected, and experience in communicating data-driven insights to a general audience take longer to fill than other types of positions (Burning Glass). Whether you are just finishing your undergraduate degree, are looking to change jobs, or hope to enhance a valuable skillset, DACSS can help you prepare for your future.