A new Quantitative Social Sciences (QSS) major integrating research and statistical analysis with fields like political science and economics will launch next fall.

Students in the new major, which is being developed by the Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods (QTM) will act as researchers in fields of interest. This approach is similar to the research-oriented education used in graduate level studies, Director of the Institute for QTM Clifford Carrubba said.

“It’s going to have this vocational component,” he said, adding that the major could help prepare students interested in pursuing Ph.Ds in different areas. “It’s going to develop skills that are applicable in the real world.”

The first seven required courses for the major are on a quantitative track and will include a research methods class, a math class and a year-long sequence for probability and regression analysis, which is used to make predictions of variables from the values of other variables.

The second half of the major depends on what the student is interested in, Carrubba said. Students will apply the skills from previous courses to upper-level classes in departments ranging from political science to economics. The major will be particularly advantageous for students interested in pursuing data-heavy areas of academia, Carrubba said.

Carrubba said social sciences are beginning to emphasize statistical analysis and data collection, which means students should learn how to discern what is good research from what is not and “to draw well-reasoned inferences from data,” he said.

Phillip Wolff, associate professor of psychology, described how the QSS major can apply to the evolving field of psychology, which is also becoming increasingly dependant on quantitative data.

“It’s not just about statistics anymore – it’s modeling, it’s programming,” he said. “It’s not just psychology. All the social sciences are moving in this direction.”

Faculty for the major will include existing Emory professors in the social sciences as well as new hires from numerous departments.

Carrubba said he eventually wants to set up experiential learning partnerships with International Business Machines (IBM), a technology and consulting corporation where upperclassmen can work as consultants for the technology corporation by analyzing data and presenting the information and providing recommendations to clients.

Interested students can attend an event in the Winship Ballroom on Sept. 25 that will feature representatives from various companies such as Adobe, Ernst & Young and several non-profit organizations who will explain how the major is applicable to their companies, according to Carrubba.

Before students can officially start taking classes in fall of 2014, they must take Calculus I – the math prerequisite class.

Similar programs include Northwestern University’s Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and Carnegie Mellon University’s Quantitative Social Science Scholars Program. Emory’s program is unique, Carrubba said, in that those programs have a heavier focus on higher-level math than Emory’s program.

“They tend to be very much majors that are designed to be mathematical first and substantive field of interest second. [They have] very intense modeling requirements,” Carrubba said. “The goal is for students to have enough math background that they can understand how to apply the tools they’ve been taught intelligently.”

– By Rupsha Basu