Program Overview: While analytics and data-driven decision-making are playing an ever-larger role in modern politics, very few academic programs prepare individuals to excel at these tasks. To meet that need, the Columbia University School of Professional Studies and the Columbia University Department of Political Science have developed the Master of Science in Political Analytics program to train a new generation of political professional including analysts, consultants, and managers who are uniquely equipped in the substance of politics and quantitative methods to understand and communicate effectively with other professionals and laypeople about political behavior and dynamics. The program provides quantitative skills in an explicitly political context, facilitating crosswalk with nontechnical professionals and decision-makers. Said Troy J. Eggers, dean of the School of Professional Studies, “American electoral and issue promotion campaigns are at a critical turning point. There is a need for political strategists who understand data, theory, and political context and are able to enshrine ethical practices that are consistent with democratic values and help to protect the integrity of U.S. elections.”
Academics: Students undertake a rigorous suite of tailored political science and applied quantitative analytics courses to develop the skills they need to model and analyze political behavior, which in turn prepares them to develop insights and strategies to understand, explain, and influence political action. “Political analysts have traditionally come from political science, law, or quantitative backgrounds. This degree integrates them all. While analytics and data-driven decision-making are playing an ever larger role in modern politics, there are very few academic programs that prepare individuals to excel at these tasks,” said Political Science Professor Greg Wawro, the program’s founder and leader. “One of the key goals of this program is to narrow the gap between substantive political professionals and those involved on the technical analytic side. The program teaches analytics in an explicitly political context, facilitating crosswalk with nontechnical professionals and decision-makers.”
Combining a scholar-practitioner model and a core academic curriculum, students build their understanding of theory and research along with hands-on application in a professional setting. The program also draws from a wealth of graduate-level courses in the Department of Political Science, the School of Professional Studies, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences program, Columbia provides a foundation for both core and elective courses. The program’s structure follows thirty-six credits, which include a set of core courses, selective courses, and a capstone, that all build toward a comprehensive understanding of the foundational, theoretical, analytical, and applied skills needed for professional data-oriented careers in politics.
Study Options: The program is strictly nonpartisan and is open to applicants from any political or professional background. The degree will be offered full-time, with a part-time option for working professionals. The full-time option enables completion of study within one year, and full-time students are expected to complete the degree in three semesters. Part-time students are expected to complete the degree requirements in six semesters.
Admission Requirements: The program is tailored to recent graduates of public administration or political science programs or mid-career working professionals who aspire to or wish to advance in a data-oriented career in all levels of government or NGOs, think tanks, and organizations for research, consulting, or lobbying. Students ideally have a significant understanding of local, state, national, or international politics acquired through professional or academic experience, internships, or volunteer work. U.S. bachelor’s degree or international equivalent is required.
Career Outcomes: The program is designed to fill an important role in the rapidly developing field of data analytics as it is applied to politics and public policy, allowing students who are interested in new approaches to data analytics—such as machine learning—to integrate those interests with a politics or policy focus. Furthermore, it will provide a clearer professional trajectory, by helping students acquire necessary skills and suitable employment after graduation. Post-graduation career pathways may include—but are not limited to—campaign management, consulting, lobbying, issue advocacy, public and governmental affairs, policy analysis, political fundraising, and media. The program also offers students the unique geographical advantage of being located in New York City, a global capital for politics, business, media, and advertising.