Showing Our Face on the Student Market: QMSS Summer Informational Meeting

Written by Connor Moore:

The University of Michigan’s new Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences (QMSS) minor represents the intersection of data science and the social sciences. The department hosted an informational session for potential students to learn more about the program and the field. As more people learn of the QMSS minor and its relevance, we hope that the program gains more traction and continues to grow.


Ten interested students attended a QMSS informational meeting held on Tuesday, June 8. Representing a diverse variety of programs and fields, including Economics, Organizational Studies, and Sports Management, some had already declared their QMSS minor, but most were entirely new to the program. The meeting also included the director of the program, faculty members, and two Peer Mentors.

Director Jan Van den Bulck opened the session with an overview of the program and his own personal experience with quantitative methods. In his words, QMSS exists because “we need people who think like social scientists” but also understand data science. Despite the struggle of running a new program with a global pandemic going on, he was proud of the minor’s first year in operation and excited to expand QMSS.

Professor Beth Ann Whitaker ran through the QMSS curriculum, stressing the versatility of the minor and the number of classes that count for the minor. She also confirmed that QMSS 251, a core course in the program, would be re-designated as CMPLXSYS 251 following the Fall semester. In its place is QMSS 301, which will give “training in additional computational skills and methods that leverage ‘Big Data.’”

Peer Mentors Sarah Childs and Lily Kleinknecht introduced themselves as QMSS Peer Mentors. Peer Mentors can give advice on the program and what classes to take, set up social or academic events for students throughout the year, and direct students to more in-depth resources. They also recapped some of the previous events that QMSS had put on, such as the “Quantitative Methods in my Work” speaker series.

Afterwards, the staff opened the floor to attendees, giving interested students an opportunity to ask questions. Director Van den Bulck pointed out that, due to the small size of a program, “we will have a weekly meeting and literally discuss what a single student is dealing with.” Professor Whitaker also clarified that any social sciences class with a major quantitative component can count toward elective credits for the minor, as long as program administrators approve. After half an hour of questions, the meeting concluded with a reminder to join the email list and sign up for more QMSS classes.

Interested students should keep an eye on the official QMSS website for future informational meetings and other QMSS-related information.

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