University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Letters of Specialization

A letter of specialization is an academic credential designed to help you explore a particular area of interest and utilizes a specific course list for class selection. Please note that a specialization does not appear on a student's transcript. However, upon graduation you will receive a formal letter from the director of the program which can be cited as a credential on resumes, personal statements, and in letters of recommendation. 

Data Analytics for Politics, Policy, and Legal Studies (DAPPLS)

Students who complete the letter will have a strong foundation in the basics of designing social and political research, as well as more extensive training in at least two techniques for collecting and analyzing data. Students will additionally have the opportunity to apply these technical skills in substantive coursework and in a hands-on research setting. Students will be well qualified to serve in positions where they work actively with specialists to design research to answer specific questions and to translate research for practitioners and other non-specialist audiences. Some students may want to combine the letter of specialization with an accelerated master’s program to build greater expertise in data analytic skills that are likely to be highly attractive for positions across the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

Requirements: Complete 12 credits of coursework and 3 credits of research experience. Coursework must consist of five classes from the DAPPLS course list and include one Research Design class, two Technical classes, and one Substantive classes. Each course must carry at least 3 credits and be taken for a letter grade. Students must maintain a cumulative average GPA of 2.0 across the five courses.

To request approval for a class that is not on the course list, please email Dr. Justin Gross (for Political Science) or Dr. Doug Rice (for Legal Studies) with course title and syllabus. If approved, please upload documentation to the declaration form. 

Declaration Form can be completed when last class is in progress.

Complete Course List: For current semester offerings, please consult the Directory of Courses spreadsheet.

Research Design 
LEGAL 393E S-Empirical Legal Studies
POLISCI 328 Research Methods/Poli & Soc Sci
POLISCI 750 Research Design 

Research Experience
LEGAL 398R Research Practicum
POLISCI 398R Research Practicum  

LEGAL 228 Weighing the Evidence
POLISCI 228 Weighing the Evidence
POLISCI 229 Experiments
POLISCI 453 Political Network Analysis
POLISCI 499C Honors Seminar
POLISCI 753 Political Network Analysis
POLISCI 755 Introduction to Quantitative Analysis
POLISCI 797BA ST-Topics/BayesianAnlysis&Stat
POLISCI 797ML Machine Learning for the Social Sciences
POLISCI 797SR Survey Research Methods
POLISCI 797TA Text as Data 

LEGAL 342 ST- Machine Bias and Law (formerly LEGAL 397BD)
LEGAL 361 Law & Public Policy
LEGAL 394AI Law & Social Activism
LEGAL 394JI Judges and Judging
POLISCI 305 Congress and the Legislative Process
POLISCI 308 Public Opinion in Politics
POLISCI 320 Public Administration
POLISCI 329 Political Psychology
POLISCI 391FPH S-Framing Pub Pol & the News 
POLISCI 391PC Immigration: Politics & Policy
POLISCI 393M S-Media in American Politics
POLISCI 394AI Modern Islamic Poli Thought
POLISCI 397AP ST-Polarization/American Pol
POLISCI 791PP Political Psychology