The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science

The Data Analytics and Computational Social Science (DACSS) program offers two types of graduate certificates designed for working professionals, recent undergraduates, and current graduate students who want to build a solid foundation in conducting statistical analysis using R and develop their ability to confidently understand and apply a range of social science research methods.

Our online graduate certificates allow students to explore the field of Data Analytics and Computational Social Science without committing to a complete master’s degree. Coursework will expose students to data management, research design, and quantitative analysis skills that serve as a foundation for more advanced technical courses offered in the DACSS master’s program.

The 3-course basic certificate, which consists of the core courses below, is intended to develop a foundational understanding of data analytics and computational social sciences. The 5-course advanced certificate extends the basic certificate by providing students with additional training in one or two additional social science methods, such as text analysis, network analysis, survey design and analysis, or machine learning. Students without an existing background in social science are strongly encouraged to take a substantive social science course to better understand the application of the methods.

Connect with a program specialist to learn more

Course Requirements

DACSS 601 Data Science Fundamentals - This course will introduce and reinforce fundamental data science concepts while providing students with hands-on experience with the DACSS data science/R workflow. Students with no prior experience will have access to efficient guided tutorials to help them get up to speed in R. For students with more programming experience, the flipped classroom approach will allow you to tackle challenging, complex data sets and practice more demanding data science skills in a supportive environment and with feedback geared towards refining coding skills and workflow habits. All students will achieve a solid grounding in general data management, data wrangling skills, and data best practices that are required in all advanced DACSS technical courses. Additionally, you will be able to meet and work with peers in the same cohort; students who will be with you throughout the program. We highly recommend taking this course. 

DACSS 602 Research Design for Social Scientists - This course is a sophisticated and intensive review of a wide range of data collection and analysis methods used in social research (e.g., experiments, interviews, surveys, ethnography, text analysis, single case process tracing.) The course emphasizes how each method can make a valid contribution to our understanding of social, political, and economic life. Students will learn how to design and interpret social scientific studies using different methods of data collection and analysis that are increasingly likely to be encountered in business and policy settings. (Prior exposure to a research design or research methods course at the college-level is helpful, but not required.)

DACSS 603 Introduction to Quantitative Analysis This course will provide students with an introduction to quantitative analysis in the social sciences, often referred to as econometrics or statistical analysis. The course will introduce students to statistical techniques including ordinary least squares (OLS), limited dependent variable analysis, and other quantitative analysis models. (Requires DACSS 601 or prior experience using R. Introductory-level.) 

For the advanced certificate, two additional courses are required:

Technical Electives: Choose one or two technical courses such as survey research, text as data, advanced quantitative methods in anthropology, geospatial analysis, modeling emergence and social simulation, experimental economics, panel data econometrics, social and political network analysis, and applied time series econometrics. Information on technical electives can be found here.

Substantive Electives: Choose no more than one course featuring a substantive social science topic. Any graduate courses offered by a department in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) can be used to fulfill this requirement with the consent of the instructor and approval of the DACSS Program Director. Information on substantive electives can be found here.

Tuition Fee

The estimated total tuition of the online certificate program is $5400 and the online advanced certificate program is $9000.

Certificate:($600 per credit hour) x (3 credits per course) x (3 courses) = $5400

Advanced Certificate: ($600 per credit hour) x (3 credits per course) x (5 courses) = $9000

Additional Fees: There is a $50 registration fee per semester, plus the cost of books and materials. 

Eligibility

Anyone may pursue either of the DACSS certificates by enrolling as a non-degree graduate student through UMass University Without Walls. These certificate programs are designed as transitional certificates that are compatible with requirements for the master’s degree. Online certificate recipients who are accepted into the full M.S. degree program through the normal application process will be able to apply all certificate courses towards completion of the full 30-credit master's degree.

Additionally, all students enrolled in a UMass graduate degree program in-person or online are eligible to take courses leading to the DACSS graduate certificate. Please consult with your degree advisors to determine whether or not DACSS certificate courses may be applied towards the requirements of the degree you are currently enrolled in.

All PhD students in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences have the opportunity to take the coursework that is the equivalent of the DACSS graduate certificate (although without formal certificate credit). Please consult with your department GPD for more information.

Bear in mind that certificate courses are only regularly offered and widely available online through University Without Walls. Not all certificate courses are regularly offered on campus. When they are offered, on-campus DACSS courses (or their SBS departmental equivalents) may have capacity or program-based restrictions on enrollment. Note that GEO contract tuition remission does not apply to UWW courses, although a 50% tuition reduction is available.

If You Intend to Pursue the Certificate

If you intend to pursue the Certificate in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science, please let us know. While you are not required to inform us in advance of your intention to complete the certificate program, it will help us stay in touch with you to let you know about possible internship or career opportunities, changes to course availability, and events online and on-campus that may be of interest.

Completion of the Certificate

Students who have completed the certificate requirements should submit a certificate eligibility form found here, to the Graduate Programs Office. The graduation eligibility deadlines can be found here for obtaining your certificate in the mail. Email the form to dacss@umass.edu.

Note that students may pursue either the 3-course basic certificate or the 5-course advanced certificate, but may not be awarded both certificates. If you have completed the basic certificate and then continue to pursue the advanced certificate by taking the two additional required courses, only the advanced certificate will appear on your transcript.

For More Information

For more information about the Certificate in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science, please email us at dacss@umass.edu.

Learn more about the Data Analytics and Computational Social Science program here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to take the courses in a specific order?

We recommend taking courses in the indicated order, although it is possible to take Research Design at any time or in parallel with either of the other two courses. Data Science Fundamentals (or similar experience with R) is a pre-requisite for taking Introduction to Quantitative Analysis.

What background is needed for this certificate?

The Certificate in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science is a Master's-level certificate, suitable for students who have completed or will soon complete an undergraduate degree.

How many courses are required?

The certificate requires three courses (9 credits). These courses will provide students with a solid grounding in social science data collection, programming and data management, and statistical data analysis.

What if I want to learn more about data analytics and computational social science?

Students who are interested in careers that rely heavily on framing, developing, and presenting data for evidence-based decision-making and communication may want to consider the Master’s of Science Degree in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science. Our M.S. provides students with advanced training in methods commonly used in political analysis, marketing analysis, financial analysis, economic planning and development, product or project management, strategic planning and consulting, demographic analysis, social media analysis, strategic communication, and reputation management.

Note that this certificate program is compatible with requirements for the Master’s degree; any certificate recipient wishing to transition into the Master’s degree program will be able to do so through the normal application process.

Can I complete this certificate online?

Graduate matriculated students or post-graduate non-degree students (including Continuing and Professional Education students registering through UMass University without Walls) can enroll in the required courses for the Data Analytics and Computational Social Science.