Courses for the onsite programs may not be taken online. Onsite courses include those for JPSM MS and PhD programs.

The Ph.D. in Survey Methodology is designed for students seeking a career in research or university teaching requiring knowledge of theories and applications in one or more key disciplines. It will equip its graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to create methodologies for the collection and analysis of quantitative data suitable for statistical inference to large populations. The core Ph.D. seminars provide students with exposure to cutting edge research issues in the field. The courses of study designed by the student and the advisory committee will create intellectual bridges between survey methodology and more traditional disciplines with a focus on seeking knowledge to improve surveys. This is a designated STEM program.

Two specialty areas are available to choose from:

  • Statistical Science
  • Social Science

The statistical science area is designed for students who wish to specialize in topics such as sample design, estimation associated with data from complex samples, variance estimation, and statistical adjustments for missing data.

The key components of the Ph.D. program are:

  • An advisory committee that will assist the student in tailoring a program of study permitting the student to demonstrate both theoretical and applied knowledge and skills in the conduct of research in an area of survey methodology.
  • A set of doctoral courses in key areas of survey methodology and statistics as well as in a basic discipline from which survey methodology draws.
  • A qualifying examination in theory and methods of survey methodology.
  • A comprehensive examination to assess whether a student has sufficient knowledge and creativity to complete a dissertation.
  • Completion of a dissertation to demonstrate research skills.

Note: online courses may be used as electives in the JPSM MS and PhD degree programs.  Required courses for those degrees may not be taken online

Qualifier Exam Policy

Comprehensive Exam Policy

2021 Social Data Science Center - Ph.D Studentships:

We are pleased to announce fully funded PhD student positions in The Social Data Science Center (SoDa) at the University of Maryland from August 2021.  SoDa engages in applied research in support of social science and related areas including public health, economics, transportation, and education. As part of its mission, SoDa actively collaborates with other universities as well as corporates like Facebook.

The Survey Methodology PhD program positions will be integrated into SoDa’s ongoing research activities in survey methods, measurement, information management, visualization, and analytics. As an interdisciplinary program, we welcome students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in SoDa's research areas.

The awards will include tuition fees plus a stipend for living expenses and health care coverage under available university plans.

As a PhD student, you will be part of an intellectually stimulating interdisciplinary research team. Your dissertation project may relate to at least one of SoDa’s research projects, initiatives, or activities. Example areas of work include:

  1. Examining the use of smartphone applications for data collection. The project will measure public transportation experiences among Baltimore City residents, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods that rely on bus and light rail systems. The research will focus on the impact of app design decisions on the quality of information collected.
  2. Designing and deploying creative multimodal data collection solutions combining mobile, wearable, and embedded devices to capture a variety of self-tracking and labeling data from diverse groups such as older adults and children to understand and enhance their physical activity and health literacy.
  3. Dividing lengthy surveys up into shorter parts (modular design) to potentially reduce respondent burden.
  4. Measuring food purchases and acquisitions using new and emerging technologies.
  5. Content analysis and survey research on legal, sociotechnical, and data factors that contribute todecision-maker and broader social trust in AI-based decisions.
  6. Analysis of how ethics and politics are taught in data science, and
    how that teaching impacts data science practice.

How to apply for this studentship:

First, apply for the PhD program by January 15, 2021. For information on how to apply, please go to…

Second, submit a separate statement of interest (of no more than 1,000 words) for SoDa studentship funding by January 8, 2021. Your statement should describe a particular topic of interest and highlight why you want to pursue that research area. The project should relate to at least one current research project, research initiative, and/or activities at SoDa. Please submit to: socialdatascience [at] umd [dot] edu 



The Ph.D. student's advisor is free to shape a schedule of courses tailored to the educational needs and research goals of the student. Courses can be classified in several categories.

All Ph.D. students will be required to take four semesters of the Ph.D. seminar. The Ph.D. seminar will taught by at least two faculty members, one from the statistical science and one from the social science group of the JPSM faculty.

First Year Seminar

This is a two term, six credit introduction to the integration of social science and statistical science approaches to the design, collection, and analysis of surveys. The seminar will focus on six to eight areas of the statistical and methodological literature that have benefited from alternative approaches. Students will demonstrate mastery of those literatures through critical review papers, ideas for extensions of the literature, and empirical projects related to the research reviewed.

Second Year Seminar

This is a two term, six credit seminar designed to develop and hone skills involved in the identification of research problems, specification of hypothesis/theorems to extend current understanding of the field, and planning for original research. A common set of readings in advanced research activities of JPSM faculty will be studied, with the faculty engaged in the research discussing areas of potential innovation. There will be four to six such topics, with students completing technical proposals for future research in each. Students will present the proposals in both written and oral form, and critique proposals.

Advanced Research Seminars

JPSM will also offer doctoral seminars focusing on topics such as longitudinal design, collection, and, analysis, advanced topics in survey statistics, and advanced topics in the social and cognitive foundations of survey measurement.

Courses in Other Departments

Students will also take courses in another department (or in some cases, other departments), as specified by their advisory committee. The departments (e.g., Economics, Psychology, Sociology, and Mathematics) will represent disciplines from which survey statistics and methodology draw. For some students two full years of courses will be required; for others, somewhat less.

Course List

Admission Deadline

Applications must be received by January 7, 2022.

Admission Criteria

Applicants for admission to the Ph.D. program should hold a Masters degree with a minimum grade point average of 3.75. Provisional admission status may be granted to candidates with a undergraduate degree with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and other evidence of outstanding potential.

Qualifying Exam

Qualifying examinations will be given to all students seeking the Ph.D. These will generally be taken by the end of the first year of the student's enrollment in the program. The goal of the examination is to assure that all Ph.D. students share a basic foundation of the interdisciplinary knowledge important to survey methodology. The Ph.D. advisor assigned to the student will provide counsel on what preparations are needed for the individual student prior to taking the qualifying examination.

The qualifying examination will cover the material treated in courses required of both the statistical and social science concentrations of the M.S. in Survey Methodology. In addition, it will cover two specialty content areas: one on statistical theory and methods for those Ph.D. students seeking to specialize in statistical science; one on statistical methods and data analysis for those seeking to specialize in the social sciences.

No course work is required prior to taking the qualifying examinations, although many students may choose to take courses to fill gaps in their backgrounds.

Graduation Requirements

Comprehensive Examination

When the student has completed the planned course of study, the Examination Committee will craft a comprehensive examination tailored to the student's particular course of study. The examination will be a thorough measurement of the student's knowledge in the theories and methods of the chosen area of study.


After successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student with the ongoing guidance of the dissertation committee, will propose and conduct dissertation research, leading to an original scholarly contribution. At least twelve credit hours of dissertation research are required. The dissertation will involve the creation of new knowledge in the field of survey methodology, demonstrating that the student has mastered the research skills necessary for a career in advanced research.

Residency Requirement

All PhD students at JPSM must fulfill a residency requirement. This consists of spending at least two days per week at JPSM for a period of three semesters after the student has passed the qualifying exam.

Additional Documents