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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Survey Methodology

Survey Methodology

Joint Program in Survey Methodology
University of Maryland
1218 LeFrak Hall
College Park, MD 20742

The undergraduate Minor in Survey Methodology is a cross-disciplinary program offered by the Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM) within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS). Students in the program will explore the theoretical foundations of survey design and survey data collection, together with the practical application of this theoretical material. Completion of the minor will prepare students to enter careers in the Federal statistical system or any of the numerous private sector firms that collect survey data to inform decision-making, as well as for further graduate study in the field of survey methodology. In addition, students aspiring to careers in fields such as marketing, political consulting, economics or the social sciences that rest on the collection and use of survey data will benefit from the understanding of the data collection process that they will acquire.

Student Learning Outcomes

Whether collecting information from survey respondents or making use of data collected by means of such surveys, individuals in many fields require an understanding of the process of designing surveys and collecting survey data. Requisite knowledge areas include the principles of questionnaire design, selecting survey samples to represent populations of interest, modes of data collection, and the use of weights in the analysis of survey data, among other topics.

Upon completion of the proposed curriculum, students will:

  • Have the knowledge needed to construct a new survey questionnaire or evaluate an existing survey questionnaire in accord with the basic principles of questionnaire design;
  • Know how to identify potential sources of error in survey estimates and suggest strategies for minimizing those errors; and
  • Be aware of various features of the design of sample surveys that may affect the analysis and interpretation of the resulting data.

18 credits are required for the minor as outlined below:

Statistics and Research Methods Courses (6 to 8 credits)

The design of survey samples and the analysis of survey data are inherently quantitative exercises. It is, therefore, important that anyone seeking to work in these fields of endeavor have a solid quantitative background. Students enrolled in the minor will be required to take two courses in statistics and research methods. Any of the following courses are appropriate choices for the first of these two courses:

BIOM301 Introduction to Biometrics
CCJS200 Statistics for Criminology and Criminal Justice
ECON321 Economic Statistics
EDMS451 Introduction to Educational Statistics
GVPT422 Quantitative Political Analysis
PSYC200 Statistical Methods in Psychology
SOCY201 Introductory Statistics for Sociology
STAT400 Applied Probability and Statistics I
STAT410 Introduction to Probability Theory

Any of the following courses are appropriate choices for the second of the two courses:

ECON422 Econometrics
SOCY401 Intermediate Statistics for Sociologists
STAT401 Applied Probability and Statistics II
STAT420 Introduction to Statistics

There is enormous demand on campus for many of the courses listed as options for fulfilling the statistics/research methods requirement, especially the courses on the first list, and the number of seats available in these classes may be limited. Majors in the department that offers a course may receive priority for enrollment (e.g., CCJS200) or enrollment in a course may be restricted to majors (e.g., ECON321). In addition, there may be prerequisites associated with a particular course. Several of the courses listed in the first set of options require that the student have taken calculus and some of the courses listed in the second set of options require a particular first course as a prerequisite (e.g., STAT420 requires STAT410 as a prerequisite). The fact that a course is listed as an appropriate option for fulfilling the minor requirements does not imply that students necessarily will be able to enroll in that specific course. Students interested in the minor will be asked to consult with their JPSM Advisor about the best way to complete the two course statistics and research methods requirement given their individual circumstances. Courses covering similar material, including courses offered at other institutions, may be accepted as substitutes for the listed courses.

SOCY201 and SOCY401 are 4-credit rather than 3-credit courses. For students choosing these courses to fulfill the requirements of the minor, the minor will be an 18 credit program. Students admitted to the minor in the spring of their sophomore year who have not yet taken one of the listed statistics/research methods courses ideally will take one in the fall of their junior year and the second in the spring of their junior year.

Core Course in Survey Methodology (3 credits)

The core course of the minor is SURV400 Fundamentals of Survey Design. This is an existing course that is offered each spring and is taught by a regular member of the JPSM teaching faculty. Students in the minor will be given enrollment priority. SURV400 is designed to provide students with an overview of the entire survey process, from the development of survey objectives to the collection and analysis of the survey data. The textbook for the course was authored by leading scholars in the field, all of whom have taught in the JPSM program. SURV400 will be a prerequisite for the two additional 3 credit SURV courses required for the minor and should be taken in the spring of the junior year.

Additional Survey Methodology Courses (6 credits)

Students completing the minor also will be required to take SURV430 Questionnaire Design, a new course developed to serve students in the minor as well as graduate students in other departments on campus. SURV430 will be offered as a stand-alone course each year in the fall semester and students in the minor will be given enrollment priority. We do not currently have the staff resources to offer a separate section of this new class in other semesters. In order to provide students completing the minor with needed scheduling flexibility, SURV430 will be offered jointly with SURV630, an existing course taken by students pursuing the JPSM Masters in Survey Methodology, in the spring and/or summer. Qualified students enrolled in the jointly offered SURV430/SURV630 course may choose, with permission, to register for SURV630. Successful completion of SURV630 will satisfy the minor requirement. Taking SURV630 could be advantageous for students who later apply for the JPSM Masters degree program, as it is a required course for that program.

Students taking the minor also will be required to take one additional 600-leve1 SURV course. The course options and the semesters when these courses are regularly offered are as follows:

SURV623 Data Collection - Fall, Summer
SURV632 Social and Cognitive Foundations of Survey Measurement - Fall
SURV625 Applied Sampling - Spring, Summer

These are existing courses taken primarily by students in the JPSM Masters program. Although these are graduate level courses, we believe they should be accessible to advanced undergraduates with suitable preparation.

Seminar (1 credit)

The final requirement for the minor is that students participate in SURV672 Introduction to the Federal Statistical System and to the Survey Research Profession, another course taken by students in the JPSM Masters program. This is a one-credit pass-fail seminar, taught each fall, in which students consider issues related to the ethics of survey data collection and serving the users of survey data. During the semester, students meet with the heads of a number of the federal statistical agencies, giving them the opportunity to learn about those agencies' work. This seminar is an important part of the professionalization of our students and thus of preparing them for careers that make use of their survey methodology background.

Completion Requirements

In order to complete the minor, students must:

  • Complete all 16-18 required credits;
  • Achieve a minimum grade of "C-" or better in all minor courses;
  • Students must have a minum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses used to satisfy the minor requirements;
  • Apply no more than two courses from the minor to satisfying the requirements of the student's major;
  • Complete no more than two courses for the minor at an institution other than the University of Maryland, College Park.

The minor is designed to be completed during the junior and senior years, but students could apply for admission to the minor as early as the fall of their sophomore year. Courses completed prior to applying for the minor will be accepted to satisfy the minor requirements.

Eligibility and Application Process

Admission to the minor will be limited to no more than 25 students per year, selected through a competitive application process. This limitation on potential enrollments is necessary because of the small size of the JPSM faculty. Successful applicants will have completed at least 30 semester credits and have demonstrated a high level of academic achievement with a minimal GPA requirement of a 3.2. Students who apply to the program are expected to be able to work independently. Students seeking admission to the minor will be asked to complete an application form made available on the JPSM website, submit a letter of support for their application from a faculty member or advisor, submit a half page statement why this minor interests you and provide a copy of their transcript.

The faculty committee responsible for oversight of the minor will evaluate the applications submitted. In selecting students to the program the committee will emphasize academic achievement including, in particular, evidence of successful completion of courses in quantitative subjects.


Interested students should contact JPSM at jpsm-contact@umd.edu . The application form will be posted to the JPSM website at http://jointprogram.umd.edu/ and applications for admission will be reviewed each semester. Once admitted to the program, students will work with the program director or an assigned faculty advisor to plan the courses to be taken to complete the minor. Students will be expected to be in touch with their faculty advisor(s) prior to the start of each semester to ensure that they are continuing on track to complete the minor requirements.

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