Computational Social Science Concentration

Merging social science with computer programming and modeling

Catalog Year: 2022-2023


Green Leaf

The MAIS in interdisciplinary studies is for students who seek a master's degree that integrates knowledge from several disciplines. It addresses the rapidly evolving demand for unique graduate study by promoting advanced scholarship that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. Students can pursue one of the following structured interdisciplinary concentrations and also have the opportunity to design an individualized concentration to meet the special needs of their careers.

The MAIS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Energy and Sustainability is a Green Leaf program

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 36

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Students pursuing this degree must successfully complete 36 credits of graduate coursework in a concentration. Students must submit a curriculum worksheet that has been approved by their concentration head and the director. All students complete their work in the program with a project or thesis.

Concentration in Computational Social Science (CSS)

Computational social science (CSS) is a relatively new interdisciplinary science in which social science questions are investigated with modern computational tools. Computational social scientists investigate complex social phenomena such as economic markets, traffic control, and political systems by simulating the interactions of the many actors in such systems on computers. They hope to gain insights which will lead to better management of the behavior of the larger social systems, i.e., prevention of market crashes, smoothed traffic flow, or maintenance of political stability. The intractability of many social problems calls for the new approaches provided by computational social science.

CSS is a highly interdisciplinary field that requires teams to plan and complete projects, be they undertaken by government, industry, or non-profit entities. Project managers of such teams, overseeing all elements of project design and execution, tend to hold PhDs. The MAIS concentration will train students to be members of these project teams, able to meaningfully contribute to background research and to project design, execution, and communication.

Prior background should include a bachelor’s degree in one of the social sciences, in computer science, in engineering, or in a relevant discipline, as well as undergraduate courses in these and related areas. Bachelor’s degrees in other areas are also eligible, but the student may be required to take additional courses in social science, mathematics, or computer science as prerequisites to admission.

Required Course of Proseminar
MAIS 696 MAIS ProSeminar 1
Total Credits 1
Core Courses
Required Courses 1  
CSS 600 Introduction to Computational Social Science 3
CSS 605 Object-Oriented Modeling in Social Science 3
CSS 610 Agent-based Modeling and Simulation 3
Electives 2  
Select three electives from the following: 9
CSS 620
Origins of Social Complexity  
CSS 625
Complexity Theory in the Social Sciences  
CSS 645
Spatial Agent-Based Models of Human-Environment Interactions  
CSS 692
Social Network Analysis  
CSS 739
Topics in Computational Social Science  
Total Credits 18
Research Course

The research course provides students with exposure to the most current ongoing research in the field and allows them to further develop their computational research expertise.

Select one from the following: 3
CSS 796
Directed Reading and Research  
CSS 898
Research Colloquium in Computational Social Science  
CSS 899
Colloquium in Computational Social Science  
Total Credits 3

The electives allow students to acquire a substantive specialization as well as additional training in social and computational science. Because of the broad spectrum of social science phenomena, methodologies, and student backgrounds, there is a large pool of potential courses. Electives may include any Mason master's-level course in computational social science, social science, computer science, computational science and informatics, statistics, or other quantitative methods such as data visualization, information technology, and geographic information science. Electives should be selected in conjunction with and approval of the student's advisor and the Director of CSS Graduate Studies. If the student does not have prior coursework in multivariate statistical analysis, the electives should include at least one such course relevant for the student's chosen specialization.

Students who elect to complete a 4-credit thesis take 9 elective credits. Students who complete a 1-credit project take 12 elective credits.

MAIS 797 Interdisciplinary Studies Proposal 1
Total Credits 1
Project or Thesis
Nine to twelve credits of electives 9-12
Select one from the following: 1-4
Interdisciplinary Studies Project (take 1 credit)  
Interdisciplinary Studies Thesis (take 4 credits)  
Total Credits 13