Joint Program in Survey Methodology: Launching in Fall: New Opportunities for Contemporary Survey Methodologist
Jody Derezinski Williams
The Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM)—with faculty from the University of Maryland, University of Michigan, and Westat—is introducing new programs to respond to the ever-increasing use of Big Data and the corresponding need for methods of analysis and inference. Whether one is seeking a graduate degree in survey methodology or additional training through professional development programs, JPSM offers the necessary tools to address the fast-paced changes in survey research.
Onsite Degree-Seeking Program – New Data Science Track
The JPSM onsite graduate degree program at the University of Maryland comprises both a PhD and master’s degree program. In addition to the existing emphases in survey statistics and social science, students can choose a third emphasis in data science starting in fall 2017. This new track includes computational aspects of survey methodology, data visualization, management and analysis of large and complex data sets, human-computer interaction in survey research, and machine learning algorithms.
Online For-Credit Program – New MPS Degree
In 2015, JPSM started offering training online. Graduate certificates in both survey methodology and survey statistics can now be earned entirely online. In fall 2017, a master’s degree in professional studies in survey and data science will be added to the online offerings. This new 30-credit degree program has an applied focus and will offer shorter, modular courses in a web-based learning environment, providing the necessary flexibility for working professionals.
Professional Development – New Data Analytics Training Program
In a collaborative effort, JPSM and the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy have created a first-of-its-kind nondegree training program in applied data analytics. This program provides professionals the opportunity to develop key computer science and data science skill sets to advance public policy. The goals of this include the following:
- Provide training in rigorous and modern computational data analysis methods and tools for decision making
- Develop new data products for government agencies
- Create new integrated data to address cross-agency challenges
- Establish new networks across agencies and geographies to address shared problems
For those who may be interested in taking one or two courses to boost their survey research understanding, nondegree-seeking options are also available. These short courses are taught by JPSM faculty and alumni, senior professionals in the field, members of the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, and a range of professors from international partner universities.
Future Generations of Survey Methodologists
This past summer, JPSM was a sponsor of the first-ever Data Detectives Summer Camp, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. This one-week STEM commuter day camp was designed for rising 6th–8th-grade students from DC-area middle schools, providing them the opportunity to learn about statistics through a variety of engaging, hands-on activities. This collaborative effort was supported by the American Statistical Association, University of Maryland School of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Disease Detectives Camp. With more than 200 applications for 30 spots, there are plans to continue offering this camp every summer.
In the spring of 2017, the third annual ASA DataFest will be held at Summit Headquarters in Washington, DC, and organized by JPSM and Summit Consulting. ASA DataFest is a data analytics competition for teams of undergraduate students from area colleges and universities. Over the course of a weekend, teams attack a large, complex, and surprise data set from a well-known company. The competition provides students the opportunity to develop and improve upon analysis and critical thinking skills with hands-on, applied experience. Past participants have found the event to have a direct effect on their success in landing jobs after graduation.
JPSM encourages undergraduates to consider survey methodology and survey statistics in various ways. Celebrating its 19th year, the JPSM Junior Fellows Program continues to be a highly competitive and sought-after summer internship opportunity. This national competition offers students a paid research assistantship in a federal statistical agency in the Washington, DC, area supplemented by a weekly seminar.
In addition, JPSM offers an undergraduate minor in survey methodology, which draws on students from across the University of Maryland campus. Upon graduation, many have found the skills acquired through this minor program have given them a competitive edge in both employment opportunities and graduate school applications.
Frauke Kreuter, director of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, during her remarks at the 2016 JPSM commencement ceremony, said, “Just last week, the City of New York and Facebook asked if we (JPSM) had any recent graduates that could be hired. I am asked this question every year right around graduation by different agencies, and every year, my reply is the same … ‘Sorry, they have already been spoken for.’”