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UChicago's Computational Social Science vs Columbia's QMSS


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Hi everyone! 

I got an offer from both and am trying to decide where to go. I have seen previous posts from people deciding between the two programs, but I would love to hear an update from current students, alumni or anybody. I would like to do a PhD (most likely in political science) afterwards. Which program is better? Does anybody have placement results from the two programs? 

For current students in either program, how do you like the curriculum? What's your opinion about the faculty? Do you think the program prepare you for a PhD study? 

Thank you in advance! 

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One big difference is Chicago's program is two years, whereas QMSS is one year. If you don't have full funding that's something to take into account.

I am a little bit familiar with QMSS (I considered it myself, and I got my PhD at Columbia where we had QMSS students in our lab and in a lot of my classes). Chicago's program I am not familiar with. My impression, based solely on the Chicago website, is that their emphasis is on getting students into PhD programs - they say specifically that they anticipate most graduates to go to funded PhD programs. QMSS placements seem relatively balanced between PhD programs and jobs in industry...but they seemed to lean slightly more on the side of employment in a quantitative social scientist role outside of academia (if you look at their placement page - that's where most of their students are placed). That may be because of the motivations of most of the students when they enter, and I know that if you want to get into a PhD program from QMSS you certainly can.

I know that Columbia is a great place to be a student in the quantitative social sciences. There are so many prominent quantitative social scientists who are actively doing research and teaching courses at Columbia. Andrew Gelman, the founder of the program, is a bigwig in the statistics and social sciences community. The university has several centers and research institutes that revolve around quantitative analysis and statistics. This was the first place I'd ever been that used social science examples in a calculus class, for example. You can take quantitative classes in specific fields, too. There are lots of courses and lots of different ways to customize your degree. If you're interested in exploring some computer science and data science to supplement your education there are classes and expertise in those areas as well.

Columbia also has a top-notch political science program, and lots of political science professors actively participate in the QMSS program since the poli sci department at Columbia tends to be quite quantitative.

Oh, also, when researching this answer I found two articles from students in the MA program in QMSS at Columbia:

Review on Columbia QMSS Program

Things You Should Know

Edited by juilletmercredi
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