Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why a master’s in political analytics?
While analytics and data-driven decision-making are playing an ever-larger role in political and other campaigns, few academic programs prepare individuals to excel in related professions. The Master of Science in Political Analytics provides quantitative analytical skills in an explicitly political context, facilitating collaboration among nontechnical professionals and decision-makers. One of the key goals of this program is to train professionals to use data in an ethical and responsible way to inform campaigns, to narrow the gap between substantive political knowledge and quantitative methods.
2. Why Columbia?
The Master of Science in Political Analytics is the first of its kind in the Ivy League and is the result of a partnership between the Columbia University Department of Political Science and the School of Professional Studies. This graduate-level, interdisciplinary curriculum has been designed by Columbia’s foremost experts in political science, public policy, statistics, mathematical modeling, and applied analytics. Students learn directly from world-class academic leaders from the Columbia Department of Political Science, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the School of Professional Studies. The curriculum—which consists of rigorous core courses, elective courses, and a capstone project—equips graduates with the advanced political acumen and quantitative dexterity needed to predict and drive action with unparalleled precision.
3. Should I go to law school for this program?
No, this program will offer you the necessary statistical, analytical, and legal preparation to be a legal analyst, and no law degree is required.
4. How can I use this degree in my career?
Because of the high-touch nature of the program, graduates leave Columbia poised to excel in a range of careers including, but not limited to, campaign management, consulting, lobbying, public and governmental affairs, policy analysis, political fundraising, and media.
This program offers a unique opportunity to develop essential skills as well as a specialty. Students may take elective courses in one of three areas of study: political science quantitative methods; social science quantitative methods; and special topics in public policy. Examples of elective courses include: Fundraising Analytics & Campaign Finance; Python for Data Analysis; Data Visualization; and Governing the Twenty-First Century City.
5. How long will it take to complete the program?
The program is available on a part-time and full-time basis. The full-time option is intended to take approximately three terms to complete. Full-time students should expect to take twelve credits per term and spend thirty to forty hours per week, engaging in both in-class and independent learning. The core courses are offered in seven-week modules, taught online to provide flexibility for working professionals. The elective courses are offered in-person and online.
The part-time option is intended to take approximately six terms to complete. Part-time students should expect to take six credits per term and spend fifteen to thirty hours per week engaging in both in-class and independent learning. The core courses are offered in seven-week modules, taught online to provide flexibility for working professionals.
6. Is there a part-time option for this program? May I continue to work full-time while enrolled in this program?
Yes. This program is available on a full-time and part-time basis. To accommodate working professionals, most classes are scheduled from 6:10 to 8:00 p.m. or 8:10 to 10:00 p.m. ET, on a weekday schedule to be determined. In addition, many courses are available online, ideal for professionals outside the New York City area.
All admitted students will enjoy access to Columbia University’s robust offering of courses, faculty, guest speakers, events, resources, and networks. Resources include more than seventy professional associations and student organizations; skills-based workshops; drop-in spaces across Columbia’s expansive campus locations; networking receptions; and an exclusive career training and job listings through the SPS Career Design Lab; and a vibrant calendar of co-curricular and social activities hosted by the SPS Office of Student Life.
7. What’s the time commitment?
Full-time students should expect to take twelve credits per term and spend thirty to forty hours per week engaging in both in-class and independent learning. Part-time students should expect to take six credits per term and spend fifteen to thirty hours per week engaging in both in-class and independent learning. Most classes are scheduled from 6:10 to 8:00 p.m. or 8:10 to 10:00 p.m. ET on weekdays. As students advance through their program and their course loads lighten, they often opt to take one or more elective courses and complete an internship simultaneously.
8. Do I need to be affiliated with a political party or work in politics?
No. This is a nonpartisan graduate degree program open to applicants from any political or professional background. Successful applicants, however, will demonstrate a significant understanding of local, state, national, and/or international politics. Applicants will be asked to clearly articulate how they plan to use the skills developed in the program to advance their careers in the field of political analytics. Visit Admissions for a full list of qualifications, application requirements, and deadlines.
9. Who should apply?
Individuals who aspire to administer precise, effective, and ethical strategies to achieve desired political and other campaign objectives should apply. Post-graduation career pathways may include—but are not limited to—campaign management, consulting, lobbying, public and governmental affairs, policy analysis, political fundraising, and media.
Successful applicants will demonstrate a strong record of academic performance at the undergraduate level in a related field such as political science or public policy as well as a significant understanding of politics through professional experience, internships, or volunteer work.
To be eligible for admission, applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution by the date on which they enroll in the program. Students whose native language is not English must include proof of English proficiency assessed through a TOEFL or IELTS examination. However, due to the structure of the curriculum, the program is unfortunately not student-visa eligible.
Visit Admissions for a full list of qualifications, application requirements, and deadlines.
10. Are scholarships or financial aid available?
Applicants may apply for a limited quantity of partial, merit-based fellowships. To apply for a fellowship, an individual must first be admitted to the M.S. in Political Analytics program. All admitted students will receive a link to apply to available fellowships, but each admitted student should review the eligibility requirements stated on the fellowship application. Graduate students may apply for financial aid; learn more at Student Financial Services.
Active military members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces play an integral part in the student life, academic endeavors, and intellectual accomplishments of Columbia University. Learn more about the services and policies available to veterans and service members.
11. How much does it cost to attend?
Tuition is based on how many credits/points you register for in a given term, as well as many other contributing factors. Please visit the Tuition and Financing page to see the per-credit/point tuition rate for this program as well as related fees. Full-time students take twelve or more credits/points per term; part-time students take fewer than twelve credits/points per term.
Prospective students should consider other factors, such as their place of residence and transportation. Full-time degree-seeking students may be eligible for housing provided by Columbia Residential. Columbia’s close proximity to mass-transit bus, railway, and subway stations makes it accessible to students living throughout the NYC metropolitan area. Visit Columbia Transportation to learn about how to take advantage of the ADA-accessible Intercampus Shuttle, George Washington Bridge/Fort Lee Shuttle, and Manhattanville Loop Shuttle, and to sign up for commuter discounts.
12. What is the difference between the M.A. program in Political Science in the Department of Political Science and the M.S. program in Political Analytics at the School of Professional Studies?
The School of Professional Studies offers a program in Political Analytics in partnership with the Department of Political Science that aims to train individuals for “careers in politics who are uniquely equipped in the substance of politics and quantitative methods to understand the data that drives decision-making […] The program provides quantitative skills in an explicitly political context, facilitating crosswalk with nontechnical professionals and decision-makers—and empowers students to become decision-makers themselves.” (see more at SPS overview)
The M.A. program in Political Science embedded in the Department of Political Science aims to train students in a well-rounded understanding of both the methods (quantitative and qualitative ones) and theories used and discussed in political science. The courses cover a variety of topics and approaches—from International Relations to Political Theory, from Comparative Politics to American Politics. The students have the opportunity to tailor the curriculum around their research interests. The program prepares for careers both in academia and in other sectors such as consulting, media, government, international organizations, and think tanks (see the Political Science alumni page here).
Applicants for M.S. in Political Analytics at SPS are expected to have a “significant understanding of politics through professional experience, internships, or volunteer work” (see SPS admission FAQs).
Read additional frequently asked questions about the master’s application process. The Master of Science in Political Analytics is a partnership between the Columbia University Department of Political Science and the School of Professional Studies.