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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 computational social science.

How do I receive advising?

Advisors are available to answer your questions via the Virtual Advising Center (VAC)

15 minute drop-in advising sessions are available to students in real-time to discuss basic inquiries related to the CSS minor requirements, the degree audit, current or upcoming quarter planning, etc. 

Drop-In Advising is currently being handled in-person and via Zoom. Please click here to view our advising hours

During the posted Drop-In Advising hours, sign in to your Virtual Advising Center (VAC), select "Meet with Advisor," scroll to "Computational Social Sciecne" and you will be placed in the advisors' queue.

Note: advising hours availability is subject to change. 

How do I submit petitions? How do I receive signatures on other forms?

Petition Form

Course pre-approval and petitions (for classes to count toward minor requirements)

  • The CSS petition site is currently under maintenance during Summer 2024. If you would like to petition a course for your CSS minor requirements, please email for guidance. 

What if I took courses toward the CSS minor for the Pass/No Pass grading option during Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021 & Spring 2021?

You could have taken classes for your CSS minor for the Pass/No Pass option during Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Spring 2021. Classes taken for the Pass/No Pass grading option during these quarters do not count toward the maximum Pass/No Pass courses for the CSS minor. This exception is only for Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Spring 2021 due to the extenuating circumstances related to the pandemic and remote instruction.

Students should still carefully consider their grading options before taking a course Pass/No Pass. This includes but is not limited to taking additional units, retaking a course, applying to postgraduate study, financial aid and meeting satisfactory academic progress. If you are unsure about taking a CSS course Pass/No Pass, we encourage you to speak to an advisor to discuss your specific needs.

About Computational Social Science

Who might consider a CSS minor?

  • Social science majors interested in technical skills and learning programming
    • e.g., A Political Science major interested in learning to use programming techniques to analyze historical political trends.
  • Computer science, data science, and related majors looking for social science applications
    • e.g., A Data Science major looking to understand potential biases associated with large-scale human data

Why should I consider a minor in CSS?

Society needs trained social scientists with the skills and experience to analyze data relevant to societal issues!

In particular, a minor in CSS at UC San Diego will allow you to:

  • Demonstrate applied skills
  • Gain interdisciplinary experience
  • Create work products for a portfolio
  • Use data to address social science questions
  • Inform social science theories
  • Pursue personalized interests through flexible electives

What can I do with a minor in CSS?

Computational social science provides students with the tools necessary to analyze big data in relation to topics in social science.

Examples of potential jobs include:

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

Sample employers include the following:

  • Tech companies (Google, Facebook)
  • Consulting firms (Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Government agencies (NSA, CIA)
  • Start-ups (Sorter)
  • Educational Institutions (UC San Diego, University of Chicago, Stanford)
  • Analytics firms (Gallup, People Analytics)
  • Non-profits (Environmental Defense Fund, Unify Project)
As with other majors/minors, there are many possibilities out there: your experiences will help to guide the types of careers you can pursue with your major and a minor in CSS. We highly encourage you to meet with UC San Diego's Career Center to explore your aspirations further.

What is the difference between computational social science and data science?

  • A minor in CSS has fewer math prerequisites and requirements than Data Science.
  • CSS focuses on questions related to the social sciences.
    • This is important for students who might be interested in exploring big data and data analysis techniques as it relates to a particular social science topic.
  • CSS uses (and feeds back into) formal social science theories
  • One focus of CSS is causation – understanding why, based on these models, the findings are what they are.
  • Students are not expected to have pre-existing programming or math experience (though as with Data Science, you must be eager to learn both!)

What are some examples of research that can be done using computational social science?

Some research topics include:
  • During COVID-19, how can we find the areas that lack testing and need it the most?
  • How does social media influence voter turnout?
  • How can we reduce crime while respecting privacy?
  • How does the existence of potholes impact the economic viability of a community?
  • How do microaggressions relate to consumer behavior?
  • How does gender bias play a role in sports journalism?
  • How can we reduce misinformation in social media during crisis events?

Of course there are many other research questions out there!  The goal of CSS is to give you the tools to help come up with answers to the questions that you are passionate about.

I do not have any computer programming experience. Can I still minor in CSS?

Absolutely! Students are not expected to have prior computer programming experience; however, they should be eager to learn!

How do I receive OSD Accommodations for my CSS courses?

Students are asked to submit their AFA letter(s) to the their instructors and CSS advising ( for their CSS courses as soon as they receive them from OSD at the start of each quarter (by Friday of Week 2). 

About the CSS Minor & CSS Courses

What is the minor code for CSS?

The minor code for CSS is M083.

How do I declare a CSS minor?

To declare or change your minor, use the online Major/Minor tool on TritonLink.

You are not required to finish your minor as declared; you are only demonstrating your basic knowledge of minor requirements and will not be held to the classes listed.

When completing the CSS minor application, be sure to list exactly 7 courses (and only 7) or else your application will be denied.

Can I take any of the courses for the minor Pass/Not Pass?

CSS Core courses (CSS 1, CSS 2, and CSS 100) must be taken for a letter grade.

No more than 1 Upper-Division CSS Elective course may be taken for Pass/Not Pass.

Do I have to take the core courses in order?

Yes, CSS 2 builds off of CSS 1, and CSS 100 builds off of both courses; therefore, you must take the courses in order.

I am interested in taking an elective course that has prerequisites that I have not taken. How can I enroll in the course?

It is up to the home department's discretion to waive or consider alternatives to any prerequisites for elective courses. Students are welcome to petition courses that they have taken (including CSS courses) to count toward the prerequisites for elective courses; however, it is not a guarantee that prerequisites will be waived.  Please contact the advising office for the respective department with questions about specific course prerequisites.

I am a double major. How will this impact the courses I can take for the CSS minor?

For the purposes of the minor, students must take at least 2 elective courses from outside of their home department.  For students who are double majors, their home department will be considered both departments. 

As an example, if a student is a double major with Psychology and Economics and is interested in declaring a CSS minor, 2 of their minor electives must come from outside of both Psychology and Economics.  The reason is that the minor is intended to be interdisciplinary across the social sciences; therefore, we want to make sure that our students are taking additional courses outside of their home department(s).

I am a Joint Mathematics & Economics major under the Math department (MA33). Can I take all ECON courses to satisfy the electives for a CSS minor?

For the purposes of the minor, students must take at least 2 elective courses from outside of their home department.  For students who are joint majors, their home department will be considered both departments of their joint major.  For this example, Mathematics & Economics will both be considered the student's home departments; therefore, even though the student is declared under the Mathematics Department, they still can only take a maximum of 2 ECON courses for the CSS minor.

This remains true for similar joint majors such as Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN), which can be taken under the Cognitive Science Department or the Psychology Department.  A CBN major would need to have at least 2 of their courses for a CSS minor be from outside of both Psychology and Cognitive Science.  The reason is that the minor is intended to be interdisciplinary across the social sciences; therefore, we want to make sure that our students are taking additional courses outside of their home department(s).

When are the CSS courses offered?

Currently, we are planning on offering CSS courses during the following quarters:

(Subject to Change - Updated 7/10/24)

  • Fall 2024: CSS 1
  • Winter 2024: CSS 2
  • Spring 2025: CSS 1, CSS 100 & CSS 120


I have completed courses for the CSS minor that aren't showing up on my degree audit. What do I do?

Please send the CSS Advising Team a message through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC) and we will review the issue and update your degree audit accordingly.  Be sure to include the course code (e.g. PSYC 193) and the quarter that you took the course.

About Petitioning Courses and Course Substitutions

How do I petition courses for the CSS minor?

The CSS petition site is currently under construction in Summer 2024. Please email for guidance. 

I have taken an Introduction to Python programming course already. Do I still have to take CSS 1?

Petitions may be considered for the following UC San Diego courses:

  • COGS 18 Introduction to Python (4)
  • CSE 6R Introduction to Computer Science and Object-Oriented Programming: Python (4) 
  • CSE 8A Introduction to Programming and Computational Problem-Solving I (4)
  • DSC 10 Principles of Data Science (4)
  • PSYC 193 Introduction to Data Analysis in Python (4)*
    • *This course only counts for CSS 1 if taken with Professor John Serences

If you have taken an introduction to Python course at another institution, you may submit a petition to request for it to substitute CSS 1. We do not have a list of course equivalencies at this time.

I have taken a statistics course that is not listed as a pre-approved prerequisite for CSS 2. How can I enroll in the course?

You will need to submit a request through the EASy system:

  • If you have taken ECON 120A or MATH 180A, we will authorize you to enroll in the course as long as you have completed CSS 1.
  • For all other statistics courses, these will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

I am interested in studying abroad. Can I take courses for the CSS minor abroad?

We encourage our students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities if they are able to!  Students are encouraged to attend CSS undergraduate advising to discuss courses they are interested in taking abroad, and which may be relevant to petition towards the CSS minor. 

In terms of courses to take abroad, the best choice for courses to take abroad will be courses to satisfy CSS electives rather than the core courses.

Have a question not listed above? Please send us a message through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC) so that we can assist you.