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: Is there a GPA requirement for QSS Majors?

A: Yes.  QSS requires that all of its students write theses, and the College requires that all students writing theses have at least a GPA of 3.0 at the start of senior year. See the Honors Program page in the ORC for details. A student who, at the start of his or her senior year, does not have at least a 3.0 in general and a 3.0 in QSS courses will not be able to write a thesis in QSS and must leave the program.

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.