The Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods (QTM) at Emory has caught the attention of top colleges such as Vanderbilt University (Tenn.) and Dartmouth College (N.H.), which are creating similar departments in an effort to better prepare students for the workforce.
Created in 2011, the QTM Department at Emory teaches students quantitative analysis across disciplines, according to its website. The curriculum aims to provide students technical skills and substantive knowledge in a specific field such as law or politics, according to QTM Director and Professor of Political Science and Law by Courtesy Clifford Carrubba.
“One of our goals is to demonstrate that in fact liberal arts education and vocational skills are complements not substitutes, and that the best education does both,” Carrubba said.
Looking to Emory as a model, Vanderbilt is designing a similar program for students to develop a strong foundation in mathematics and quantitative analysis in addition to a substantive area of expertise, said Vanderbilt Professor of Law Alan Wiseman, who chairs a committee tasked with launching the program.
“The curriculum draws on the programmatic design of Emory’s quantitative sciences, and, similar to Emory’s program, students are required to take core math and programming courses,” Wiseman said.
The Vanderbilt committee is still in the process of developing its curriculum and receiving approval, but it hopes to establish the quantitative social sciences (QSS) major by Fall 2018.
Emory based its own QTM department on the mathematical methods and social sciences program at Northwestern University (Ill.), according to Carrubba.
In 2011, then-College Dean Robin Forman wanted to create an institute to promote quantitative sciences at Emory, according to Carrubba. Carrubba expanded on Northwestern’s program by composing an undergraduate curriculum that included natural sciences and humanities in addition to social sciences.
Professor of Government Michael Herron worked on creating a similar program at Dartmouth, which formerly had small and outdated mathematical social sciences (MSS) program, according to Herron.
In 2014, Herron began creating a QSS program to replace the MSS program. The QSS program replaced the MSS program at Dartmouth July 2015.
“It is essentially a combination of ideas from the programs at Northwestern, Emory and the old MSS program at Dartmouth,” Herron said.
The median salary for statisticians and related occupations in 2016 was about $80,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Choosing (quantitative sciences) as my major was one of the best decisions I have made at Emory,” Ryan Joye (18C) said. “Big data and data-driven decision making has become important in almost every industry and academic discipline.”
Emory’s QTM department currently offers two undergraduate degrees: quantitative sciences (QSS) and applied mathematics and statistics (AMS). The AMS major is offered in partnership with the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, according to Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Chair Vaidy Sunderam. A QSS minor and a public policy analysis (PPA) major are being developed, Carrubba said. PPA will be offered Spring 2018, according to the website.
Emory QSS majors choose a “track” to specialize in while taking core statistics classes and classes in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. There are 16 tracks currently offered, including biology, economics and English.
Although many students coming in to Emory may not be familiar with the QSS major, some are introduced to it through Emory’s introduction to statistics class, QTM 100. QTM 100 is not required for the QSS or AMS major, but it is a required course for other majors at Emory, including political science, biology and psychology.
Young Hye Lee (20C) said she decided she wanted to major in QSS after taking QTM 100.
“I loved the class and felt that majoring in QSS would be most useful for me, no matter what path I take for the future,” Lee said.
CORRECTION (9/21/18 at 11:36 a.m.): The article was changed to reflect that the AMS major is offered by the QTM department in partnership with the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and that math classes that QTM majors take are within the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.