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Quantitative Psych Applicants: How do you select your list of schools and faculties

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I am interested in applying to quantitative psychology in Fall 2016. While my honor thesis is on psychometric evaluation and cross-cultural adaptation of an instrument, I still have little clue in terms of selecting faculty members based on their interests. I know little about IRT and psychometrics......some experience with longitudinal data analysis...... But I have zero clue about other things faculties list in their interest. Also, there seem to be no well-known rankings for quant psych. How do you guys choose programs and faculties? 


Thanks a lot! Know that I am commiserating and stressing out with you together!

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Hello there. Well, this is a question that I think has been asked a couple of times and for which, I believe, there are very few resources (aside from first-hand accounts and personal experience). Most online “rankings” in Quant Psych that I’ve found out there on the internetz either blend this subfield with the ranking of the department itself or just provide generic descriptions of what some universities offer (and the university’s ranking). Two things are at play here: (a) this field is quite small compared to other more popular areas (like, say, social or clinical psychology) and (b ) it hasn’t been long since it became independent from other areas of psychology (particularly I/O, Cognitive and Mathematical Psychology). I’d venture to say the first programs sort of started popping up in the late 80s/early 90s.  


Anyhoo, more than rankings of programs themselves I feel like the us, Quant Psychs, know more about each other by our advisors and our advisors’ labs. Again, because we’re such a small group it’s easy to see the same names pop up over and over again in published literature and well-cited papers. For instance, a lot of really good work comes out from UCLA with Dr. Peter Bentler (who I think has either retired now or is about to) and Dr. Li-Cai. The program in UNC Chapel Hill is very-well respected (and quite rigorous in its mathematical formalism) so that’s another good option.


In terms of faculties and research interests there really isn’t much to say there outside from Google is your friend. If you come from a background in mathematics/statistics it’s somewhat easier to disentangle what profs are doing and read their papers. If you feel like you’re lacking the necessary background just take your time, look for a couple of buzzwords like, I don’t know, “structural equation modelling” or “factor analysis” and look those up to see if it’s something that would resonate with you. Ask yourself questions like what would you be more interested in? The development of scales and tests? Working with large, complex datasets? Helping other psychologists test their theories through formal statistical analysis? Focus on computer programming? Stuff like that is probably going to lead you to which specific topics within Quant Psych might be interesting to you. Or you can just choose the stuff that's hot right now and hope it still remains hot before you graduate. That's kind of how I started off :D


Good luck!  

Edited by spunky
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I did think of Spunky up there when you mentioned you were interested in Quant Psych. The only person I know by far (at least on this forum) who is in that field of study and provides excellent responses. Definitely a great person to ask for pointers on that side of the ball!


I'll be responding to your other questions soon!

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  • 2 weeks later...



UCLA with Dr. Peter Bentler (who I think has either retired now or is about to

He retired in about 2012. 


Your best bet is to look thru the APA Quant Psych Taskforce. It has a full census of Quant Psych Programs, but is only current as of 2010 -- http://www.apa.org/research/tools/quantitative/quant-task-force-report.pdf.  Note that this is different from education psych programs. 


What I've been doing in for procrastination, is updating the list on Wikipedia. SO it ought to be more current -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_schools_for_quantitative_psychology.



Also, because the field is so small AND the applicant pool is as well, faculty tend to be very approachable over email. I actually contacted a few folks outside of what I wanted to study to get a sense of whether I was 'Quanty Enough,' and if they had suggestions for who I should think about working with.


As for specific interests, I was unusual -- I had them. Most people don't know what there is to study. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

+1 to everything said here. 


Iowa, Texas, Purdue, UNC-CH, UCLA and Michigan are all well-respected from what I've heard. I did my Master's in Quant at one of these institutions listed and the others were commonly referenced as all being top-tier for Quant. Iowa is kind of the birthplace of Quant Psych according to some, so I'd look there and see where their graduates are currently working. Another way to do it is look at universities/companies that you hope to work for, and trace back their academic path to see which programs they went through.  


I also want to reiterate that Quant folks are usually very approachable and friendly, and as others have mentioned it is a small field so even if one prof is not accepting students, they will likely know some good places to refer you to. 

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  • 2 months later...


I have done some "introspection" and I have found that my interest in quantitative psychology goes into two directions:

One is relevant to clinical psychological assessments for routine use (the idea that we should quantify treatment outcome based on regular data collection in order to justify or calculate the cost-efficiency or the effectiveness of psychotherapy). This one seems to, to my knowledge, involve psychometrics, IRT, longitudinal analysis, growth modeling (for identifying the crucial points e.g., when to alert the therapist that the therapy tactics employed are not working), and potentially CAT (I had a crazy idea of trying to combine CAT into routine assessment in order to achieve similar or better result of doing all generic, diagnosis-specific, idiosyncratic surveys in a more efficient manner)


The other is relevant to more theoretical side of research methodology, which includes formal epistemology (causal inference for example, agent-based modeling for another example), and some interesting facts that people seem to have done, to my knowledge, limited research on (e.g., the selection bias by using psych class subject pool, how exactly does this bias the data, what tactics can we employ to help adjust it; careless response; missing data).

School (Faculty) I have looked at and am sure to apply to are:

UNC-CH (Patrick)

UCLA (Jennifer)

UIUC (Chang)

OSU (Edwards)

Cambridge (Rust; MPhil in social and developmental psych)

CMU (under philosophy department, Logic, Computation, and Methodology)

Some schools I am thinking but have not identified the specific faculty are:

ASU/Notre Dame/U of British Columbia/Boston U

I would really appreciate if you may give me some suggestions on faculties/school based on my identified interests.


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