Folklore
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Other Concentrations

Computational Social Science Concentration

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 contribute meaningfully 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.

Degree Requirements (Catalog Year 2016-2017)

Students pursuing this degree must successfully complete 36 credits of graduate course work in one of the concentrations below. Students must submit a curriculum worksheet that has been approved by their faculty adviser and the director. 

Courses applied to the degree are subject to the following restrictions: a maximum of 6 credits may be earned through independent study or directed readings and research courses; a maximum of 6 credits may be taken through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area; a maximum of 15 credits may be transfer credits; a maximum of 6 of the transfer credits may be from other accredited institutions.

Transfer credits include credits taken before first enrolling as an admitted degree-seeking student (at another institution, in another Mason graduate program, or in Mason nondegree status) or credits taken at another institution after admission to the degree program through study abroad or study elsewhere (which requires prior written approval of the director and the dean). Additional information may be found in the Academic Policies section of this catalog.

All students complete their work in the program with a project or thesis. Students are required to take MAIS 796 - MAIS ProSeminar (1 credit), MAIS 797 - Interdisciplinary Studies Proposal (1 credit), and either MAIS 798 - Interdisciplinary Studies Project (1-4 credits) or MAIS 799 - Interdisciplinary Studies Thesis (3-4 credits). Students electing to complete the concentration in community college teaching with a thesis will complete 38 credits.

◊ 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.

One required course of proseminar (1 credit)

MAIS 796 - MAIS ProSeminar

Six core courses (18 credits)

Three required courses (9 credits)

The required CSS courses provide an understanding of the conceptual, technical, and practical foundations of computational social science.

CSS 600 - Introduction to Computational Social Science

CSS 605 - Object-Oriented Modeling in Social Science

CSS 610 - Agent-based Modeling and Simulation

Three elective courses (9 credits) chosen from:

The electives provide an understanding of the technical foundations and current work in at least two subfields of computational social science.

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

One research course (3 credits) chosen from:

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.

CSS 796 - Directed Reading and Research

CSS 898 - Research Colloquium in Computational Social Science

CSS 899 - Colloquium in Computational Social Science

Three to four elective courses (9-12 credits)

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, 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 project or thesis take 9 elective credits. Students who complete a 1-credit project take 12 elective credits.

Proposal (1 credit)

MAIS 797 - Interdisciplinary Studies Proposal

Project (1-4 credits) or thesis (4 credits)

MAIS 798 - Interdisciplinary Studies Project (minimum of 1 credit)

or

MAIS 799 - Interdisciplinary Studies Thesis (take 4 credits)

Total: 36 credits

Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Print Friendly and PDF