The Social Science Summer Research Program at Columbia University is a non-degree program providing students with an understanding of the principles and skills to design and conduct social research. It encourages students to critically evaluate the methods, strategies and data used by social scientists and provides training in analyzing a range of qualitative and quantitative methods. The program is structured for highly motivated students with interest in the social sciences and the research process, though no prior experiences or knowledge are required. Students will work closely with Columbia University faculty in daily seminars. The two-week program culminates with a series of presentations of group research proposals, in which students will collaborate with each other and Columbia University faculty, PhD students and staff to lay the groundwork for a larger research project. Each year’s program focuses on a substantive area of social science research as a launching point for training in research methods. Past years’ substantive research areas have included gentrification and adolescence. Summer 2019 focused on immigration.


Program Features

  • Two-weeks of instruction by Columbia University faculty and staff that introduces students to essential social science research techniques.  

  • An interactive, collaborative research project and various in-session programming activities, such as public lectures and a conceptual scavenger hunt where students travel throughout a New York City neighborhood to collect data. 

  • Two-week stay in University housing in the dynamic Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City, itself a laboratory for social science research.

  • Access to research facilities at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics and the libraries of Columbia University. 

  • Various activities to introduce students to Columbia University and the United States university system in general, including a Question and Answer session with college students and tours of the campus and main library. 


By the completion of this program, students will: 

  • Understand a diverse set of theories and methods that underpin social science research.

  • Comprehend the comparative strengths and weaknesses of several research methods.

  • Evaluate, analyze and interpret qualitative data and apply this understanding to a given research problem.

  • Identify statistical methods for basic analysis of quantitative data and apply those to a given research problem.

  • Collaboratively prepare a research proposal—including an abstract, literature review, design, and discussion—drawing on knowledge of various research methods.

  • Produce and present a summary of a proposed research project to a group of colleagues and Columbia University faculty. 

Sample Schedule

2019 Schedule

2019 Winning Proposals

The Relationship Between U.S. Education and Political Involvement Among First-Generation Immigrants in NYC
What Shapes New Yorkers’ Perceptions of Undocumented Immigrants?

More Sample Capstone Papers by Program Alumni


For a list of faculty (subject to change), please see Our Team.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.