Why two U-M grad students believe the University of Michigan has the best master’s in data science and survey science.
A Master’s Degree That Gives You Career Options
You have a lot of choices when it comes to pursuing a master’s degree. But the University of Michigan is one of the few institutions in the world to offer a survey and data science master’s degree program.
Our graduate program in survey and data science teaches you how to harness the power of survey data and new, non-designed data to gain insights, understand the public’s opinions, behaviors, and beliefs in order to inform policy. It’s the kind of graduate education that will help you innovate in socially valuable work over the course of your career.
Without survey and data science master’s program rankings, it can be a challenge to find the right degree. Learn more from two of our students and see why they chose Michigan.
Comparing top data science graduate programs requires more than survey methods
For Chendi Zhao, a native of Beijing, China, a recommendation from a faculty member led her to U-M’s survey and data science master’s program.
“My professor thought the program would offer the best training and fit my academic goals,” said Zhao. “As I checked out the program, I was impressed by the great teachers, students with different backgrounds, and cutting-edge research programs.”
Curtiss Engstrom, of Iron River, Wisconsin, looked beyond the lack of survey and data science master’s program rankings. After considering both high-rated public institutions and private, Ivy League schools, he knew U-M’s graduate program would position him well to pursue a career educating the next generation of survey researchers.
“I wanted a graduate program that not only focused on survey methodology and data science but also emphasized applications in the field,” said Engstrom. “The survey and data science master’s degree at U-M really felt right to me.”
So, what exactly makes the U-M program one of the best master’s in data science and survey science programs? Let’s take a closer look.
1. You will be hard pressed to find a master’s program that gives you the best of both worlds — jobs in survey methods and data science.
You might have discovered top data science graduate programs. Or you might be looking at master’s degrees that focus on social research methods. But at Michigan, you are trained to work with both kinds of data in one program that marries the two fields. While our master’s program has three concentrations — data science, social and psychological science, and survey statistics — graduate students gain a broad spectrum of skills and knowledge.
“One aspect I love about the Michigan Program in Survey and Data Science is that everyone is required to take graduate courses within the other two tracks, so we don’t focus solely on one aspect of the subject matter,” says Zhao. “Instead, you gain a more comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the field.”
U-M realizes it’s important to provide graduate students with knowledge and expertise in survey methodology and its intersection with data science. Engstrom, who is now pursuing Michigan’s PhD program in survey and data science, says U-M takes a unique approach when it comes to defining data science.
“Michigan’s program stands out because of their emphasis on applications of data science into the survey world,” says Engstrom. “They teach us not only what data science is, but also how it changes based upon how we collect data.”
2. Other programs are too big to know your name. At U-M, you will have personalized, graduate-level support during your studies.
Students like Engstrom say size is one of the top reasons to pursue the University of Michigan’s graduate degree in survey and data science. Sure, the university is big, but the program is small enough to offer opportunities for meaningful and valuable discussions with instructors both in and outside the classroom.
“Michigan’s master’s program is smaller than some others that I looked into, including Princeton, North Carolina, and others. The faculty not only get to know you, but they work with you and help you on any project — even if you’re not in one of their classes or labs,” said Engstrom. “The faculty and staff care if you succeed and are available to answer questions.”
In fact, Michigan’s survey and data science master’s program rarely has classes of more than 20 students. This means you will have more access to some of the best master’s in data science and survey methodology faculty members.
For Zhao, who researched many of the top data science graduate programs, especially with a focus on survey methodology, Michigan stood out because of the personalized environment. It didn’t matter that there aren’t survey and data science master’s program rankings.
“I wanted a graduate program that had small cohorts of students, so everyone can get the best training,” said Zhao.
Small classes also mean that our faculty members have the time to mentor you and help you grow as a leader. For example, they may offer valuable feedback on your resume or CV, help you prepare for job interviews, or connect you with potential employers and career opportunities after graduating from one of the best master’s in data science and survey science programs in the country.
3. What other survey and data science master’s program has our name recognition? At U-M, your master’s degree will be well-respected by future employers.
You already know that survey and data science master’s program rankings aren’t available, but the University of Michigan is the No. 3 public university in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. It’s a ranking that carries a lot of weight in general and especially in the survey and data science industry. Zhao says that Michigan’s top-tier status played an influential role in her decision-making process.
“Michigan is one of the most highly ranked schools in the world, with excellent graduate school programs,” said Zhao. “It’s a place where people can fully focus on their academics and experience a thriving and energetic campus culture at the same time.”
When Zhao graduates from the University of Michigan, she will also benefit from one of the largest and most successful alumni networks in the world at more than 600,000 strong. She expects a master’s degree from one of the top data science graduate programs that focuses on survey methods to open doors to success.
“I hope to gain the knowledge and practical skills to be prepared for my future career,” said Zhao, whose goal is to work in an academic survey center. “I want to apply my sociology and survey methodology background in a fulfilling way.”
4. You won’t find a master’s program with more research opportunities in one location.
No academic institution does more survey and data science research than the University of Michigan. Through the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), which is the world’s oldest academic survey research organization, our graduate students can pursue research projects that interest them. With over 300 research scientists in more than 20 academic disciplines, the ISR offers ample opportunities to study and practice survey methods and to apply them to and with data science.
Through ISR, Engstrom has been able to pursue his passions in graduate research at the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Substance, and Health (DASH) in the U-M School of Nursing. He’s worked on research of sexual and gender minorities and measurement differences in surveys, how measurement differences can affect estimates of health outcomes, and the use of agree/disagree questions in questionnaire design.
“I’ve learned patience and cooperation but more importantly how imperative collaboration is in research,” says Engstrom. “I am not going to know everything about a certain topic. That’s why discussing uncertainty with others about a topic is key to making research as great as possible.”
As a result, students like Engstrom gain experience and expertise that will help them stand out in the competitive field of survey and data science.
You, too, can stand out to future employers by pursuing a master’s degree in survey and data science from the University of Michigan.
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