Article about CAR in Footnotes - newsletter of the American Sociological Association

  Concentration in Analysis and Research (CAR)    


What is CAR?
The Concentration in Analysis and Research is an elective option within the undergraduate Sociology major designed for students who are interested in research methods and statistics. CAR prepares students for careers in applied social research and/or for graduate study.

CAR students take several courses in research methods and intermediate statistics, social science computing, as well as elective courses. Two integral components of the concentration are an internship in an applied research setting and a research practicum. Both the internship and practicum provide students with a strong set of quantitative research skills. By selecting appropriate electives and internships, students may focus their training on demography, survey research, marketing and communications, criminal justice, health care, education, social services, natural resources, organizations, or personnel and human resources.

Who is CAR for?
CAR is an excellent option for students who:

         a) are interested in using data to address real-world questions.
         b) enjoyed their research methods and introductory statistics classes.
         c) are contemplating going to graduate school in one of the social sciences.
         d) are contemplating a career in market research or any other kind of applied research.

What are the Requirements?
There are four basic sets of requirements to complete the concentration.

  1. At least a B average in Soc. 357 (Research Methods) and Soc. 360 (Introductory Statistics) is required to enter the program.
  2. At least a B average in all CAR courses is required for completion of the concentration.
  3. At least one semester of an internship (15-20 hours of work expected per week)
  4. Completion of courses required for the concentration
    a) Introductory research methods (Soc. 357)
    b) Introductory statistics (Soc. 360 or equivalent)
    c) Statistics II – Regression analysis (Soc. 361 or equivalent)
    d) Statistics III – Intermediate statistics (Soc.362 or equivalent)
    e) Computing in the Social Sciences (Soc. 365 or equivalent)
    f)  Practicum in Research and Analysis (Soc. 693)
    g) Two elective courses

    A complete list of courses is available here (PDF)

What is the internship like?
CAR students typically do their internship in the summer before their senior year or the fall of their senior year. Some start earlier. The internship requirement is a committment of 15-20 hours per week for one semester (summer or fall). Internship experiences vary but the one thing that all students get is hands-on experience working with data. This may include assistance with design of a survey instrument, data collection, data input, data cleaning and consistency checking, and ideally some data analysis and presentation. CAR graduates uniformly report that their internships provided them with skills and experiences of immediate professional relevance. In recent years, students have interned at on-campus institutes such as the Applied Population Laboratory, The UW Survey Center, and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Others have interned off-campus at businesses such as CUNA Mutual, Third Wave Research or for state government offices. Most internships are paid.

What kinds of jobs do CAR students enter?
CAR graduates do extremely well on the job market. Their familiarity with data analytic techniques is far greater than most undergraduates. Although enrolling in the CAR program obviously does not guarantee a job, several aspects of the program greatly facilitate the job search process. Most important is the active mailing list of former CAR students. I regularly receive and pass along job postings from former students – many of these lead to jobs. I also provide information about several companies and research institutes that frequently have entry level job openings. Recent graduates have entered jobs at: Systems Seminar Consultants, Third Wave Research, Phillip Morris, Information Resources Inc., University of Wisconsin Survey Center, and The Urban Institute.

What about Graduate School?
Many CAR graduates go on to graduate school either directly or after working for a few years. In recent years, CAR graduates have gone on to graduate programs in Sociology at UCLA, UC-Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin and urban planning at Columbia.

How do alumni/ae stay involved in the program?
CAR alumni/ae are not only very successful, they are also very generous with their time and many work to make sure the program continues to thrive. One way that CAR graduates stay involved is through the CAR graduate mailing list which allows for exchange of information about current job openings in related fields. Another way is through participation in the CAR graduate panel. One session of Soc. 693 (the CAR practicum) is devoted to discussion with three or more former CAR students. They provide valuable insights and suggestions based on their own experiences after graduation and are very open to answering any questions that many current students have, such as: What are employers looking for? What is the hardest part of the transition from student to the “real world?” CAR graduates who participate in this panel emphasize the importance of the training they received as undergraduates and current CAR students uniformly find this session to be one of the most enlightening and beneficial parts of the program.

How do I find out more about CAR?
Please contact the faculty director, Jim Raymo, by phone, mail, or in person.

Office: 4458 William H. Sewell Social Science Building
Tel: (608) 262-2783
email: jraymo@ssc.wisc.edu