Carnegie Mellon University

QSSS Program

The Quantitative Social Science Scholars Program (QSSS) is designed to help students navigate the gap that exists in the social sciences between the increasingly sophisticated use of mathematical models and quantitative data analysis in frontier research and graduate education, and the limited treatment of this material in traditional undergraduate curricula.

It does so by laying out a structured program of training in advanced modelling and quantitative techniques that can be broadly applied across a range of social science disciplines and topics.

Students combine this methodological training with more traditional coursework in the social science major of their choice. This approach dramatically enhances the ability of undergraduate students to learn from and appreciate frontier scholarship in their own and related disciplines. The program equips students to undertake sophisticated analysis of their own, and features an integrative senior thesis project that applies their methodological training to a research question of their own choosing. The program provides students with a strong preparation for further study in leading graduate programs.


QSSS is explicitly designed to appeal to able undergraduates who possess both a strong quantitative orientation and deep intellectual interests in social science questions. While some departments already offer a pathway through which students can pursue a more quantitative approach to their own discipline, QSSS broadens these opportunities to embrace a much wider range of social sciences at CMU. The program seeks to attract outstanding students by offering them a unique and notable experience that does not exist at most peer institutions.

As the social sciences become increasingly quantitative, adoption of common methodologies is beginning to erode the traditional boundaries between some established disciplines. Recognizing this, QSSS is explicitly interdisciplinary. It aims to provide an educational pathway that combines solid training in modern research techniques with the with the pursuit of a wide range of undergraduate social science majors. The program explicitly seeks to recruit students from a range of disciplines and create a cohesive interdisciplinary learning community among its students.

Program Benefits

Students in our program combine methodological training applicable across a range of social science disciplines and topics with more traditional coursework in the social science major of their choice. We believe that the combination of skills imparted by this program will make students very attractive to private sector organizations like consulting firms and to public sector organizations with strong analytic capabilities. The program will also provide students with strong preparation for further study at top masters and Ph.D. programs, should they choose to pursue that path.

QSSS students will also participate in a focused seminar series that invites speakers to campus to help students in the program see how the skills they are developing get applied both in frontier research and in practice. CMU star faculty and talented practitioners from consulting firms, tech firms (e.g., Google or Facebook), hedge funds and government agencies with strong analytical capability are invited to demonstrate how these techniques are applied in scientific research, public policy and industry. This will also help connect our students with potential advisors and internship employers.