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Quantitative Methods

Program overview

Faculty in the Quantitative Methods (QM) program train students in state-of-the-art statistical methods and engage in research that develops and applies such methods. Students in the QM doctoral program develop expertise in the principles of research design and in the theoretical foundations and application of advanced statistical models for human behavior. Students work closely on research projects with a faculty mentor throughout their graduate career, and often collaborate with other faculty and students. QM faculty collectively have expertise in factor analysis and structural equation modeling; measurement and item response theory; exploratory data analysis; mediation and moderation; longitudinal methods; multilevel modeling; mixture modeling; categorical data analysis; and generalized linear models. Quantitative faculty approach the study of these topics from a variety of angles, such as: developing computational tools to promote the use of new or existing methods; evaluating the performance of such methods under real-world conditions; and applying these methods in novel and sophisticated ways to solve substantive problems. Several QM faculty have substantive specializations in, for example, individual differences, adolescent health, mental health, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, or learning sciences, which facilitate intensive investigation of analytic approaches critical to those substantive domains. Students may pursue greater or lesser degrees of substantive psychological training, in addition to quantitative training, depending on their and their advisors' interests.

Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt consists of two departments, one in Peabody College (Psychology and Human Development) and the other in the College of Arts and Sciences (Psychology). The graduate curriculum for Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt is the same for both departments, and all graduate students enroll in a first year seminar together. The QM program is housed within the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Peabody College-- the number one ranked school of education nationally for five of the past six years. However, QM consists of faculty from both departments. This unique context exposes QM students to a variety of applications, methods, and statistical problems that arise in psychological and educational research, as well as the social sciences more generally.

Courses

QM faculty teach courses on a broad variety of fundamental and advanced topics in design and data analysis. These courses are attended by students from a variety of social science disciplines, as well as by QM students. QM students are encouraged to tailor their curriculum to maximize relevancy for their particular research interests, background, and career goals. Within the QM program, course offerings include correlation and regression; analysis of variance; psychological and educational measurement; multivariate analysis; psychological, field, and clinical research methods; item response theory (basic and advanced); exploratory/graphical data analysis; structural equation modeling; factor analysis; latent curve modeling; behavior genetics methods; categorical data analysis; multilevel modeling; mixture modeling; nonparametric statistics; individual differences; causal analysis in field experiments and quasi-experiments; and meta-analysis. Students may take courses in the Biostatistics Department, in Scientific Computing, and/or may take courses in other areas of psychology and education. Several research centers on campus also provide QM students with training opportunities. The Center for Evaluation and Program Development involves QM students in ongoing research projects. Also, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center maintains a statistics and methodology core which provides a methodology lecture series as well as statistical consulting training and resources. The Peabody Research Institute provides a lecture series and opportunities for student involvement in meta-analysis research. Additionally, students gain presentation and research skills by participating in the Quantitative Methods Forum (schedule below).

Faculty

More information about individual faculty's research programs can be obtained from their websites by clicking on their names. Alternately, a list of QM faculty is available here. Prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty with shared interests to ask questions about the program.

  • Sun-Joo Cho* (item response theory; generalized latent variable modeling; test development and validation)
  • David Cole (structural equation modeling; mediation analysis; longitudinal methods; developmental psychopathology)
  • David Lubinski* (measurement; assessment; individual differences; intellectual talent development)
  • Kristopher Preacher (structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, mediation and moderation)
  • Joseph Rodgers* (general multivariate methods; exploratory/graphical data analysis; multidimensional scaling and measurement; behavior genetics; adolescent development)
  • James Steiger (structural equation modeling; factor analysis; statistical computing; statistical inference and power)
  • Sonya Sterba (latent variable models; longitudinal methods; mixture models; developmental psychopathology)
  • Andrew Tomarken (categorical data analysis; generalized linear models; longitudinal methods; clinical psychology)

     (* designates interest in recruiting a student to start in academic year 2014/2015)

Facilities

The program maintains its own quantitative computer  lab, and additionally individual faculty have labs and computing resources that support their research programs. There are also computing labs in the department and elsewhere in Peabody College that are supplied with statistical software often used for classroom teaching.  Special funds for research-related software and computing equipment, as well as external workshop and conference travel, are available to QM students.

Information for Prospective QM Applicants

QM doctoral program graduates are prepared for faculty positions in academic settings, methodology positions in basic or applied research centers, or methodology positions in industry. Students work together with their advisor and advisory committee to refine their career goals, and tailor their research, coursework, and teaching experiences accordingly. The American Psychological Association reports that there are far more jobs for doctoral students trained in quantitative methods in psychology than there are applicants. Further information can be found here, here, and here.

The QM program is designed to lead to a Ph.D. degree within 5 years. In the first two years, students take a series of fundamental methods courses and begin working on research with their advisor. To build students' oral presentation skills, students present their research to the program on a yearly basis. Students who did not enter with a full year of calculus also complete such coursework in the Mathematics Department during this time. Students take an exam at the end of their second year that is based on reading lists related to content in courses they have taken up until that point. In their third year, students complete their masters thesis and continue research in collaboration with their advisor and others, while furthering their expertise with an individualized set of advanced coursework. In their fourth and fifth years students finish their coursework and conduct a dissertation project under the guidance of their advisor and other committee members, while building additional independent research and/or teaching skills relevant to their particular career goals.

Doctoral applicants admitted to the QM program receive a guaranteed 5 years of stipend and tuition support, which usually takes the form of a combination of research assistantships, teaching assistantships in quantitative courses (for instance, the introductory graduate statistics sequence), and/or fellowships. Senior students routinely obtain other kinds of stipends as statistical analysts or consultants for various research projects and grants on campus; these opportunities serve as valuable supplementary training experiences. Some students also serve as teaching instructors for their own section of an undergraduate statistics course or undergraduate measurement course in order to deepen their teaching credentials.  Application instructions are available here.

QM Masters Program

In Spring 2014, the QM program launched a terminal M.Ed. in Quantitative Methods. This program is distinct from our longstanding research-focused Ph.D. program. More information about the goals and expectations for applicants to our M.Ed. program can be found here.

Graduate QM Minor

Doctoral students outside the QM program may elect to minor in quantitative methods. This formal minor involves taking four advanced methods courses from the QM program beyond the first year required graduate statistics sequence. The minor requires a 3.5 average GPA (for all 6 minor courses), with no grade below a B. The minor provides students with exceptional training in the application of complex psychometric and statistical procedures and provides students with skills that can enhance the quality of their research program over the course of their career. Many students find that the credential of a graduate minor in quantitative methods is a valuable asset in the pursuit of research-oriented academic positions after graduation. Detailed information on minor requirements can be obtained from the Psychological Sciences graduate student handbook. For more information, contact Kris Preacher.

Undergraduate QM Minor

The QM program offers an 18-credit undergraduate minor in quantitative methodology. For information on our new undergraduate QM minor, please click here.

Quantitative Methods Colloquium Series

The QM program offers a biweekly colloquium series, featuring talks on various aspects of methodology. Speakers include faculty and graduate students within the QM program and from across the university, as well as occasional invited speakers from other institutions. For information on the QM Colloquium please visit the Colloquium schedule.

Fall 2014 QM Course Offerings

Graduate

  • PSY-GS 310-01: Statistical Inference. TR 1:10p - 2:25p Steiger
  • PSY-GS 314-01: Structural Equation Modeling. MW 12:45p - 2:00p Cole
  • PSY-GS 313-01 / PSY-PC 2580-01: Correlation and Regression MW 8:45a - 10:00a Rodgers
  • PSY-GS 318-01: Individual Differences. T 1:10p - 4:00p Lubinski
  • PSY-GS 321-01: Multilevel Modeling. T 1:10p - 4:00p Preacher
  • PSY-GS 323-01 / PSY-PC 2560-01: Applied Latent Class and Mixture Modeling. W 1:10p - 4:00p Sterba
  • PSY-GS 326-01 / PSY-PC 2590-01: Introduction to Item Response Theory. R 9:00a - 12:00p Cho
  • PSY 310-01: Research Methods in Clinical Psychology. T 5:00p - 7:30p Tomarken

Undergraduate

  • PSY-PC 2530-01: Psychometric Methods. WF 11:10a - 12:25p Cho
  • PSY-PC 2101-01: Introduction to Statistical Analysis. TR 9:35a - 10:50a Preacher
  • PSY-PC 2101-08: Introduction to Statistical Analysis. TR 4:00p - 5:15p Novick
  • PSY-PC 2101-09: Introduction to Statistical Analysis. MWF 8:10a - 9:00a McFadyen-Ketchum
  • PSY-PC 2101-10: Introduction to Statistical Analysis. TR 11:00a - 12:15p Staff
  • PSY-PC 2102-01: Statistical Analysis. MW 11:10a - 12:25p Sterba
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