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Frequently Asked Questions

Please click through the drawers below to see answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Computational Social Science Master's Program. 


Are GRE scores required?

No, as of 2022, applicants are no longer required to submit scores for the GRE. Applicants can optionally submit scores for the GRE General Test (verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections), but applicants submitting scores will be given no specific preference or consideration during the admissions process relative to applications without GRE scores.

How many students are accepted to the CSS M.S. program?

We anticipate increasing the number of students each year, until we reach 35 students per year.

How much math and programming are students expected to have for admission?

There are no formal math or computer programming prerequisites for the program. The summer bootcamp is designed to provide the foundational skills needed in statistics, linear algebra, calculus, and computer programming. When students bring their eagerness to learn, we are focused on supporting their success every step of the way.

Is it appropriate for a recommendation letter to be from a CSS faculty member?

If an applicant has had substantive interaction with a CSS faculty member, yes, it would be appropriate for a recommendation letter to be from this professor.  Recommendation letters will be considered holistically within the context of the student’s complete application.

Is it appropriate for us to contact CSS faculty prior to applying so we can integrate research of our interest in the essay?

It is not expected that applicants will contact CSS faculty to describe the research fit for the CSS M.S. program.  As this is a one-year program with a broader, applied focus, the emphasis is on the student’s interest rather than on fit with pre-existing faculty interests.  For this reason, the application for the program does not request information about prospective advisors.

To apply, would we need to have completed our undergraduate degree, or would we apply in our final year of undergraduate?

Students in progress towards completion of their undergraduate degree are encouraged to apply. Any offer of admission would be provisional on the basis of the degree being awarded prior to the start of the program.

Students who have already completed their undergraduate degree are likewise eligible and encouraged to apply.


What kind of jobs can you get with this degree?

Here are some examples of roles that graduates from our program have gone on to:

  • Technical Information Specialist at the Library of Congress
  • Product Specialist at OneUp (startup)
  • Ph.D Student in Psychology Department at UC San Diego
  • Data Scientist at a San Diego County Credit Union 
  • Business Intelligence Developer at Gilead Sciences (Research and Development Division 
  • Co-founder of Babylon Leads: expanded services to include machine learning

Graduates from our program would be well-qualified for jobs such as:

  • Computational/Quantitative Social Scientist
  • Computational Behavioral Scientist
  • Social Science Analyst
  • Quantitative Social Science Consultant
  • Research Scientist
  • Recruitment Research Manager
  • Data Scientist
  • Quantitative User Experience Researcher
  • Experimentation and Analytics Researcher

 Students with a master’s degree in computational social science may find employment opportunities in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • Tech companies (e.g., Google, Facebook, Leidos, Ntrepid)
  • Consulting firms (e.g., Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Government agencies (e.g., CIA, NSA)
  • Start-ups (e.g., Sorter)
  • Educational Institutions (e.g., UC San Diego, University of Chicago, Stanford, etc.)
  • Analytics Firms (e.g., Gallup, PeopleAnayltics)
  • Non-profits (e.g., Environmental Defense Fund, Unify Project)


How far in advance will we know the dates and times of classes?

The CSS 201S and CSS 202S classes offered as the “summer bootcamp” are expected to occur in July 2024, final dates TBD.

The schedule of classes for Fall, Winter and Spring is typically available by week 5 of the preceding academic quarter. This corresponds to early May for Fall quarter, early November for Winter quarter and mid-February for Spring quarter. Note that the schedule for the CSS 296 capstone project will need to be coordinated with the capstone mentor.

 Dates of instruction for the academic quarters can be found on the Academic and Administrative Calendar.

What portfolio pieces will students have after graduating from the program?

All students will complete a multi-quarter capstone project, working hands-on with real data to solve impactful problems. The capstone will be completed under the supervision of a UC San Diego faculty member. These projects will represent useful portfolio pieces for the job market after graduation. In addition, classes may also include project-based work that can contribute to a more robust and diverse portfolio.

When are the CSS M.S. Program courses going to be offered?

Summer Fall



CSS 201S. Principles of Computational Social Science (8)

 CSS 202S. Computational Social Science Technical Bootcamp (8)

CSS 204. Statistical Computing and Inference from Data I  (6)

CSS 209. Computational Social Science Research Seminar (1)

 CSS 296. Research in Computational Social Science (2)

 Elective (4)

CSS 205. Statistical Computing and Inference from Data II  (4)

CSS 209. Computational Social Science Research Seminar (1)

CSS 296. Research in Computational Social Science (4)

 Elective (4)


CSS 206. Machine Learning for Social Sciences (4)

 CSS 209. Computational Social Science Research Seminar (1)

 CSS 296. Research in Computational Social Science (4)

 Elective (4)


Available electives will be specified at the time of enrollment each quarter. 

International Student


Is it possible to take any of the courses while we are completing our undergraduate degree at UC San Diego?

Because this is not a contiguous B.S./M.S. program, all courses towards completion of the CSS M.S. degree must be taken while you are at the graduate student level.

Is it possible to work full-time while completing the program?

This is a full-time program, with most classes offered during daytime hours on weekdays.  It may be possible to work with a flexible employer to maintain partial employment during the program, however the workload of the program is substantial in order to deliver the necessary skills and training during a 12-month period.

 There is not a part-time option to the CSS M.S. program at this time, and the core courses are only planned to be offered once per year.

What housing arrangements are available?

UC San Diego has one of the largest residential communities for graduate and professional students in the nation. Computational Social Science M.S. students are eligible for graduate housing - some options have immediate availability based on current approximate wait times. Living on campus has the benefit of lower rates compared to the surrounding area as well as shuttles to campus which reduce parking and gas expenses.

San Diego also has vibrant communities outside of campus - off-campus housing services provide listings, and other resources.

What is life like at UC San Diego?

UC San Diego is the perfect environment to make a big impact. Tritons combine the thirst for knowledge with a vibrant campus and off-campus setting to build the future, and build memories at the same time. The ethos on campus is to continue the non-tradition - to be upstarts, to think differently about the world and our place within it and to work together to reimagine possibilities. See what makes our campus great here.

In addition to working hard, UC San Diego respects and celebrates the diversity of our students.  Campus Community Centers, Cultural Organizations, and Student Resource Centers provide a place of belonging for each student. 

See for yourself through virtual tours - on video, or live.


What is the Master’s in Computational Social Science?

This one-year M.S. program combines skills and techniques of large-scale data analysis, visualization, and modeling with social science questions and theories to ask, evaluate, and answer questions about society.

The curriculum provides foundational training in programming, statistical inference, and techniques for handling large datasets combined with the ethical training to apply these techniques appropriately to real-world data. The result is the ability to advance the fields themselves and to investigate and produce actionable insights related to areas such as housing affordability, educational outcomes and healthful behaviors across and within populations. This program provides not just the skills but also hands-on project-based opportunities to apply learning to real-world projects to make an impact before and after graduation.

Does the program give hands-on research to prep for Ph.D. programs?

Yes! This program would provide a solid foundation for applications to a Ph.D. program in a Social Science field. Hands-on experience runs throughout the program - typically in designing ways to test and expand theories using available naturalistic data.  This experience will occur in the context of foundational and elective classes, as well as through capstone mentorship with a campus-based or external partner.

Is the CSS M.S. Program considered a STEM program?

Yes, the CSS MS Program is considered a STEM program.  As a STEM program, international students in the CSS program are eligible for up to three years of optional practical training in the United States after completing the program without a change to visa status.

What is the benefit of a master’s in CSS over a minor in CSS?

The master’s program is designed to provide broader and deeper knowledge of Computational Social Science for students irrespective of where they completed their undergraduate degree; the undergraduate minor is available only to UC San Diego undergraduates.  In addition, the master’s program is focused on providing students with portfolio-worthy work-products that will kickstart their industry experience and outlook.  Finally, many job opportunities in the Computational Social Science fields expect the experience and credential of a master’s-level professional to join their ranks.

Who will the partners for the capstone project be and how will students be matched with partners?

The CSS program partners with local industry, government, non-profit partners to host capstone projects each year. In addition, affiliated faculty supervise capstone projects with a more academic focus. We invite our partners to submit proposals for each academic year. You can view the capstone projects available for each academic year below:

Computational Social Science Community at UC San Diego

Computational Social Science at UC San Diego is a collaboration across the School of Social Sciences, comprising eleven departments:  Anthropology, Cognitive Science, Communication, Economics, Education Studies, Ethnic Studies, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Urban Studies and Planning. In addition, Computational Social Science at UCSD benefits from the larger community of social and computationally-minded scholars and educators from units including the Halicioğlu Data Science Institute, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the Institute for Neural Computation the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, Design Lab, and the Institute for Practical Ethics.  In this thriving community of faculty, researchers, scholars, and students at all levels, connections are made, mentorships flourish, and the frontiers of knowledge expand.

As one centerpiece of interaction around CSS topics, the CSS Research Seminar (CSS 209) brings speakers from educational, research, and business institutions to discuss their research and the techniques and trends of this varied and innovative field.

International Students

We welcome students from all backgrounds and national origins into our Computational Social Science master’s program. To solve the world’s problems requires a diversity of thought and background, and our program reflects that diversity. We look for promising international students who have both Social Science and computation, math, or engineering backgrounds to bring their unique skills, talents, and perspectives to our program and to train and learn alongside our global community of scholars. 


Our graduate students are paired with two mentors - a Ph.D. student mentor and a faculty mentor. The Ph.D. student mentor can provide guidance on course selection, norms of academia, building community and career preparedness. The faculty mentor provides oversight on the capstone research project, guidance on specific techniques and research question and general academic mentorship. In addition to these twin supports, other master’s students, who are engaged in much of the same coursework, may become quite close and provide support for one another. These supportive mentorship and community-building experiences serve to build and reinforce the message that all students belong and all can succeed and to provide the tools and resources necessary for this success.

Non-Native English Speakers

The university’s English language proficiency requirements can be found here. For those looking to further improve their English, many programs are available and have been collected by our Teaching + Learning Commons.