Certificate in Public Opinion & Survey Research

The Graduate Certificate in Public Opinion and Survey Research offers professional training to provide students with the skills to:

  • design and conduct surveys
  • statistically analyze survey results
  • write reports
  • make public presentations of survey findings

The Certificate program enables students to pursue employment in a variety of fields involving survey research.

The Certificate program is both a free standing graduate program for those who are interested in adding survey research skills to their present complement of professional capabilities, and as a supplement to the School of Public and International Affairs's Master Degree program. Graduate students equipped with both an MA in Political Science and a Graduate Certificate in Public Opinion & Survey Research will be well qualified for employment in both the public and private sectors.

The Certificate program would also be an attractive addition to graduate students who are looking to enhance their skills with survey research design and analysis capabilities while pursuing degree programs such as:

  • Communications
  • Journalism
  • Sociology
  • Social Psychology
  • Marketing Research
  • Community Planning
  • Public Health

Although, at this time, the Certificate Program is oriented to students who are able to take classes during the day, in-career students are also welcome. The Certificate program can be a valuable means to upgrade existing skills and job market competitiveness.

The curriculum is designed so that it may be completed within one year. The courses for the Certificate are part of the School of Public and International Affairs's regular graduate course offerings. For those who wish to pursue a Master's degree concurrently with the Certificate program, courses are counted towards the 30 semester credits of course work required for the Master of Arts in Political Science degree. The schools's Master's program is designed to be completed within two years, and combining these two programs will not lengthen this time.


The Certificate requires 15 semester credits, with the following course work:

POL 7054, Pro-seminar in Survey Research (4 credits) Principles, methods, and techniques for designing, conducting, and analyzing surveys; sampling procedures; questionnaire construction; data collection, processing and analysis; ethics of polls.

One graduate course on public opinion, typically either POL 6015 or POL 7015 (4 credits). Formation, distribution, and properties of public opinion and its linkage to governmental process in America.

One graduate-level course on data analysis using statistical software such as SPSS (3 or 4 credits). Students may satisfy this requirement with POL 7051 (Statistics for Political Science 1) or another statistics course.

POL 8055: Practicum in Survey Research (3 or 4 credits) Application of survey methods: sampling, questionnaire design, data collection, and analysis.

For information on applying, please visit the Application Information page.

Alumni Spotlight

Alexis Straka

Dissertation Title: Muslim Americans and Electoral Democracy in the Trump Era

Alexis currently works as a Consultant for a market research company, Numerator.  In this role Alexis analyzes data to apply and explain complex methodologies to clients in the consumer packaged goods industry.  Her abilities to quickly understand the needs of her clients and translate complex data into meaningful business decisions are skills she honed while working on her PhD.  Alexis enjoys building relationships with her clients and working in a fast-paced industry where her unique educational background is valued.  

Leah M. Dean

Dissertation Title: Overcoming Health Care Polarization with Interaction: Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Public Opinion in Kentucky

Leah Dean has been a survey scientist in RTI International’s Survey Research Division since April 2020. She provides project management and leadership for federal clients such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Her current work is on the Primary Care First Patient Experience of Care Survey, which is part of a payment model designed to improve outcomes and decrease hospitalizations. Prior to joining RTI, Leah worked for the University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Policy Research (IPR) for five years. Her focus at IPR was working with clients on surveys of community and regional health and health policy. Leah has a Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Bachelor’s Degree in French Language and Literature from Transylvania University.