Carnegie Mellon University

Core Curriculum

The Quantitative Social Science Scholars program is an honors program, undertaken in conjunction with a separate major within Dietrich College.

The QSSS portion of a students’ coursework is divided into the following three segments:

  • Two cohort semesters, taken in the fall and spring semester of a student's sophomore year.
  • A set of 3–4 courses in a concentration area.
  • A senior capstone research seminar.

The QSSS cohort seminars give students a rapid introduction to the quantitative techniques used in a range of social sciences. Both seminars use a combination of case studies, along with guest lectures from CMU researchers to introduce students to work in each of the primary QSSS concentration areas.

The seminars, taught by the QSSS Director, prepare students to select a concentration for further study, and provide students an early opportunity to begin research relationships with faculty at CMU.

The first seminar, taken in the first fall semester by first-year students, fulfills the College Freshman Seminar requirement as a part of Dietrich’s GenEd. Access to QSSS seminars is restricted to students in the program.

The second seminar, taken in the spring semester by second-year students, emphasizes faculty guest lectures, and prepares students for independent research.

Students must identify and satisfy the requirements in one of the following six concentration areas, and are welcome to "double-count" courses that fulfill major requirements.

1. Statistics and Regression:

  • 36-225 Probability
  • 36-226 Math Stat
  • 36-401 Regression
  • 36-402 Advanced Data Analysis, or 36-46x (any of the special topics courses)

2. Econometrics:

  • 36-226 Probability
  • 73-274 Econometrics I
  • 73-374 Econometrics II

3. Choice Modeling:

  • 88-223 Decision Analysis
  • 88-302 Behavioral Decision Modeling
  • 80-305 Choices, Decisions, and Games
  • 80-405 Game Theory or 73-347 Game Theory for Economists

4. Quantitative Policy Analysis

  • Foundations: 
    • 73-230 Intermediate Microeconomics
    • 88-230 Policy Analysis I and 88-221 Policy Analysis II
  • Additional courses (students can take any two):
    • 88-411 / 90-752 The Rise of the Asian Economies
    • 88-367 Behavioral Economics in the Wild
    • 90-768 Energy and the Environment
    • 90-860 Policy in a Global Economy
    • 90-816 Introduction to Immigration Policy
    • 90-822 Immigration Research: Interpretation and Critique

5. Computational Modeling

  • 15-112 Computer Science: Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science
  • 36-350 Statistics: Statistical Computing
  • Simulation in Social Science

6. Psychometrics and Measurement

  • 80-222 Measurement and Methodology
  • 85-340 Research Methods in Social Psychology
  • Pitt PsyEd – 3475 Psychometric Theory OR Latent Variable Modeling
  • Latent Variable Modeling

Students may also, with the permission of the QSSS Director and Steering Committee, design their own concentration area.

As a capstone project, senior students complete a thesis in which they apply a quantitative method to a question in social science. Students will work with faculty advisors and participate in a full year senior research seminar in which they present preliminary findings to each other and to the second-year QSSS cohort seminar.

Learn more about past thesis projects

Students must maintain an adjusted core-QSSS QPA at or above 3.0.

Good Standing

To remain in good standing in the QSSS program, students must:

  • Select a major in Dietrich College;
  • Make progress toward completion of the core-QSSS curriculum;
  • Maintain an adjusted core-QSSS QPA at or above 3.0
  • By the end of junior year identify a faculty advisor and declare a project topic for their senior thesis, and by the end of senior year complete a senior thesis approved by their thesis advisor and the QSSS Senior Thesis Seminar instructor.