The Applied Political Analytics Program (APAN) was launched in the 2021-22 academic year to offer promising students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in the high-demand and still-growing modern data science industry. The program is delivered as a standalone degree and a combined 4+1 BA/MS. Admitted students will complete 36 credit hours at the graduate level, with classes from the Government & Politics (GVPT) and Survey Methodology (SURV) departments. Graduates of the APAN program will be well-suited and prepared well above average for data-oriented political careers in the private sector, research organizations, NGOs, and government agencies of all levels.
Employers across the government, private, and non-profit sectors increasingly rely on data to help them reach their organization’s goals. In a 2017 report from LinkedIn, data-related jobs were prominent among the top 10 fastest-growing careers and that data scientist positions have shown a 650% growth rate, paired with a significant shortage of qualified applicants. In 2021, Data Science Specialists were still among the fastest growing careers in Digital Transformation industries, expected to add more than 150 million positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data scientists earned a median annual wage of $136,620 in 2022. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS estimates a 22% growth in job opportunities in the data science industry. In the campaign world alone, the last several election cycles have seen a proliferation of new companies specializing in data analytics and existing firms adding capacity in this emerging area.
Whether it understands which message to use to encourage a citizen to register to vote or what services are needed to support programs to reduce radicalization among at-risk youth, data-driven strategies are crucial to success. To be most effective, the workforce needs more than just technical skills. With a firm theoretical and empirical research foundation, the most successful researchers can communicate more effectively with clients and adapt to new questions and issues as they arise. The MS in Political Analytics program is designed to provide students with this foundation.
Standalone MS and 4+1 Options
Currently enrolled UMD students with junior standing can apply for the APAN combined 4+1 program. On this track, admitted students will complete 150 credit hours total -- 114 credits at the undergraduate level and 36 at the graduate level. Nine graduate credits (3 courses) taken during the senior year (4th year) will double-count for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. There is no additional cost for these three graduate courses, as they are covered by existing undergraduate tuition. After completing the undergraduate degree, the remaining 27 credits (9 courses) will be taken in a 5th year, over two semesters and a short winter course. These 9 courses will be billed at the graduate rate per credit hour.
Those who have passed junior standing can also apply for APAN’s standalone MS degree track. These students will already have secured their baccalaureate degree (either at UMD or elsewhere) and will take all 36 credit hours billed at the graduate rate.