Computational Social Science Concentration

Merging social science with computer programming and modeling


Computational Social Science (CSS) is an interdisciplinary field in which social science questions are investigated with modern computational tools. Mason’s program was the first CSS MA in the world and continues to advance the study of social science through computational methods (e.g., agent-based modeling, social network analysis, and big data). The greatest strength of the CSS program lies in its ability to foster and promote interdisciplinary research that crosses traditional domain boundaries. Students use computationally intensive methods to solve current problems.

Who's in the Program 

The CSS program is for students who seek a master's degree that integrates knowledge from several disciplines. While some computer knowledge is useful, students in the CSS program are not expected to be programmers. 

The accelerated MAIS concentration in computational social science is appropriate for students in a variety of majors. Ideally applicants will have undergraduate backgrounds in both computer science/computational data science and the social sciences or humanities. Applicants pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science/computational data science should have completed at least one upper-division course in communications, conflict analysis and resolution, criminology, economics, geography, government, history, psychology, or sociology. Applicants pursuing undergraduate degrees in these or other majors should have completed at least one upper-division computer science or computational data science course.

Career Paths

Graduates have gone on to pursue doctorates at Mason and top research universities. Others have pursued careers in government or the private sector, in organizations such as the U.S. Army, MapR Technologies, CACI, Logistics Management Institute, DARPA, and Ninja Analytics, Inc.

Why Mason

Besides taking introductory classes in theories and practices of social, geo-social, economic, and network modeling, you will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty on your project or thesis of interest. Additionally, Mason’s proximity to the Washington, D.C., area provides an excellent opportunity to attend seminars offered by NGOs, visiting professors, and government employees.

Faculty and Research 

The faculty and students within the program have a diverse set of interests focused around complex social systems, computational modeling and related techniques. Research areas include design science, economics, geography, geographical information systems (GIS), public policy, political science, network science, cognitive science, international relations and anthropology. Our faculty members are internationally recognized for their pioneering work in CSS, including authoring the first textbook in the field, and have written numerous books and articles on topics such as growing artificial societies, modeling geographical systems, and sustainability. Research in the program has been funded by the National Science Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and NASA.

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