Master's in Social Research Methods

Apr 06, 2018

Master's degree programs in social research methods are available at several different institutions. Explore these degree programs, some of their standard admissions requirements and typical coursework topics.

Students interested in studying social research methods can most commonly pursue a Master of Science degree in the field through a school's sociology department, but Master of Arts degree programs through education departments and graduate certificate programs in the field are available. These degree programs typically include a research internship and/or practicum component for hands-on learning. Learn more about the degree program and some of its requirements.

Information for Master's Degree Programs in Social Research Methods

Master's degree programs in social research methods may offer additional areas of emphasis, such as applied methods, market research, qualitative methods, evaluation, spatial analysis and more. Although coursework for these programs generally varies based on these areas of emphasis and/or a student's research interests, here we discuss some of the common course topics for these programs.

Qualitative Methods

These programs usually require a course in qualitative methods, but may apply these methods to topics in sociology or education research, depending on the course. In general, these courses examine the theories, styles and techniques of qualitative research and usually begin a discussion about qualitative research design and data analysis. These courses may be lecture-based with class discussions.

Quantitative Methods

Some programs may offer a separate course that is similar to one in qualitative methods, but examines quantitative methods. Students in these courses learn how to analyze categorical data that may be collected through surveys using graphical tools and statistical methods. These courses may also discuss sampling methods, questionnaire construction and research design.


Students in these degree programs typically take multiple courses in statistics that may offer broad overviews of different topics or courses in specific statistical topics. These courses generally allow students to get hands-on experience with statistical software to work on problem sets. Specific topics these courses may cover include multivariate regression models, sample design, model selection, analysis of variance and linear statistical models.

Social Research Methods

These degree programs may include a specific course that is devoted to exploring social research methods. These courses discuss a wide range of topics in conducting research in the social sciences, from formulating interesting questions to investigate to discussing current issues in designing and conducting this research. Students in these courses may work in teams as they read and discuss current research in the field to examine various research methods.

Survey Research

Some degree programs may offer a course on survey research that may focus on survey research in a particular field, such as education or marketing. Students study the theories and techniques in survey research, including interviewing techniques, questionnaire formatting and design and report production. These courses also explore the problems with qualitative and quantitative data and data analysis methods.

Common Entrance Requirements

Like many graduate degree programs, master's degree programs in social research methods usually require their applicants to submit their official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement or cover letter with their application. This personal statement or cover letter usually needs to address why the student is interested in the program and their professional goals. Some degree programs may have a minimum GPA requirement and/or a separate departmental application. Applicants may also be expected to have prior coursework in statistics.

Students can pursue a master's degree in social research methods from the sociological or educational perspectives. These degree programs typically include a lot of coursework in statistics and research methods, but also involve hands-on learning opportunities.

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