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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Survey Research Methods

Graduate Credit Certificate Program

Eric Plutzer
322 Pond Lab
Phone: 814-865-6576
Fax: 814-863-8979

The certificate in Survey Research Methods shall provide supplemental tranining to graduate students in social science, health, education, and policy-related graduate programs at Penn State. The collection of data by questionnaire, web surveys, phone or personal structured interviews is a highly specialized technique whose "best practices" and "cutting edge" change frequently. The data collected by surveys typically violate assumptions of random samplying that undergird graduate-level courses in applied statistics. Those earning this certificate will have supplemental training in data collection and take a coherent cluster of courses in applied statistics that will provide them with superior preparation for completion their dissertation, and for employment in the academic, public, and private sectors.

All certificate recipients will be required to complete two core courses, two additional electives at the 500 level, and one hands-on internathip or apprenticeship experience.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must be enrolled in and have completed 18 credits in a graduate degree program at Penn State. A graduate grade-point average of 3.30 or higher shall normally be required. All applicants will be required to submit a letter from their academic adviser or department head that explains how the certificate program will enhance the student's primary course of study.


Required Courses
PL SC 518/SOC 518. Survey Methods I: Survey Design (3)
PL SC 519/SOC 519. Survey Methods II: Analysis of Survey Data (3)
PL SC 595A/SOC 595A. Internship (1)

In addition to the required courses listed above, stuents must select any two additional 3-credit courses in intermediate or advanced applied staistics or interviewing techniques, as approved by the chair of the Survey Research Center (SRC) Faculty Advisory Committee.

There is no specific list of courses because offerings in the social and behavioral sciences change frequently and are most often offered under the 597 rubric. As a general rule, these courses must be at the 500 level, and they must have prerequisites equivalent to two semesters of applied statistics.  For example, offerings in SOC that require prior completion of SOC 574-575 and offerings in PL SC that require prior completion of PL SC 502-503 would normally be eligible.  We will apply comparable criteria for advanced methodology electives in departments such as (but not restricted to) Human Development and Family Studies, Education, and Psychology.  These departments have offered relevant courses on topics such as Hierarchical Modeling, Latent Class Analysis, Item Response Theory, Time Series, Analysis, Survival Analysis, and the Analysis of Missing Data.  In addition, some regularly offered classes, such as HD FS 526, SOC 578, and STAT 506, would satisfy the requirement.

Students accepted into the certificate program will submit a “Planned Program of Study” form annually.  Approval by the Chair of the SRC Faculty Advisory Committee shall constitute formal approval for a course to count in meeting this requirement.  All courses used to meet the requirements of the Certificate may be double-counted towards the student’s doctoral degree program if permitted by the program.

Effective Semester: Spring Semester 2010
Expiration Semester: Summer Semester 2019


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