General questions

Q: What is special about the QSS curriculum?

A: We believe in combining strong methodological training with social
science. The QSS curriculum is methods first, substance second. If a
student completes a major in QSS, he or she will have a background in
modern research techniques that will be applicable in all areas of
social inquiry.

Q: What is the difference between a QSS major and a QSS minor?

A: The philosophies behind the minor and major in QSS are the same:
methodological training combined with social science. The major
requires roughly twice as much coursework compared to the minor and
requires completion of senior honors thesis. The minor has only a one
quarter research requirement. In addition, the QSS major contains an
independent social science component, which is not part of the minor.

Q: Why does QSS require independent research in both its minor and major?

A: We believe that teaching students how to produce new knowledge
should be the goal of every university educational program. The best
way to develop a facility with this is to conduct research.

Q: Why does QSS allow a student to choose his or her own area of interest in social science?

A: QSS allows students to choose the social science area in which they
want to focus because we believe that students should follow the
social science questions that most interest them. The social science
component of the QSS major does not need to include classes from only
one Dartmouth department or program. What is important is that the
social science classes taken by a QSS major touch on a common theme.

Q: Beyond student-centered projects, do QSS students work with faculty members?

A: Yes. QSS is a hands-on program that facilities joint
student-professor projects. QSS students have presented projects at
conferences and have co-authored papers with QSS faculty members.

Q: Is QSS part of the liberal arts?

A: Absolutely. QSS teaches students how to learn about the world. It
is perhaps distinct from traditional liberal arts, which are grounded
in reading more than they are grounded in computation and statistics.
At QSS, we believe that asking important, social science questions and
bringing quantitative and computational tools to bear on them is an
important component of a liberal education.

Q: I am intersted in pursuing a QSS major with a social science concentration in an area not represented among QSS-affiliated faculty. Can I do this?

A: Yes.  QSS allows each major in the program to construct a social
science focus that suits him or her.  If this focus extends beyond the
areas covered by QSS-affiliated faculty, this means that the student
will need a faculty thesis advisor who is not formally in QSS.  This
is a typical situation.  The QSS Director of Undergraduate Research
guides all QSS research projects, regardless of whether primary
faculty advisors are affiliated with QSS or not.

Q: Will a degree in QSS help a student get a job after graduation?

A: Having facility with data and computational methods is very useful
for those seeking employment in the contemporary labor market.
Moreover, because QSS students work in social science, they are forced
to engage broad questions and scholarship in a way that teaches them
how to work with evidence, make arguments, and draw reliable
conclusions.