Certificate in Applied Social Science Research

Full program details are available in the Calendar and the Overview of the Certificate in Applied Social Science Research
Students who plan to complete CASSR, must:
  1. Fill out the Intention to Complete Google form PRIOR to completion of either SOC 415 or other Capstone course, or by Fall of your intended year of graduation, whichever comes first.
  2. Submit the Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Student Services office 'Declaration or Change of Certificate(s)' on-line google form. This step is necessary to have the Certificate awarded at the time of graduation.  This should be done as early as possible, but no later than the last term of your program.
What is the Certificate in Applied Social Science Research (CASSR)?
This interdisciplinary embedded Certificate is aimed at developing students' research skills in the social sciences through a combination of course work and hands-on research experience. The Certificate is open to undergraduate students across Faculties, but is primarily geared towards those enrolled in the Faculty of Arts. Completion of the Certificate provides students with marketable skills and experiences in applied social research and strong preparation for graduate study in the social sciences or other employment pathways.
Why add this Certificate to your degree?
Through a combination of coursework and experiential learning, this Certificate will provide a strong methodological background for students seeking further education in the social sciences or health sciences. The Certificate's experiential component also provides hands-on learning experiences through which students can develop practical research and critical thinking skills that are in demand among employers and policymakers.
What do I need to do to obtain this Certificate?

A) Students must complete *15 of course work that includes the following:

*3 One introductory statistics course 
*3 One introductory overview course in social science methodology course
*6 Two advanced methods or statistics courses
*3 Completion of SOC 415: Applied Research Internship OR other approved Capstone course involving either a research based project or internship

B) Presentation

All students completing the Certificate, whether via SOC 415 or other Capstone course, must publicly present their project at a venue (e.g. a conference) approved by the Certificate Advisor. Students who take SOC 415 will meet this requirement through completion of the presentation component in the course.

Full program details are available in the Calendar and the Overview of the Certificate in Applied Social Science Research
What’s the difference between basic and applied social science research?

Basic and applied research are much more similar than they are different. We can actually think of these types of research as falling on a continuum. Both incorporate social science research methods. Both are important. On one end of the continuum, basic research focuses on creating new knowledge, building theory, and learning about how fundamental processes work. This type of research is most often driven by researcher interests in academia. On the other end, applied research focuses more on practical issues. It uses scientific methods to help address societal problems, and it tends to be driven by community and organizational interests.

What are the benefits of completing a Certificate in Applied Social Science Research?
CASSR helps students to develop research skills in the social sciences through a combination of course work and hands-on research experience. The overarching goal is to teach students how to conduct rigorous social science research in applied settings. Research skills and experience will help to prepare you for a variety of careers (just do a quick search for research and data analysis jobs and you’ll see) and graduate studies in the social sciences.
What forms do I need to submit to register for the Certificate?
You will need to submit the Intention to Complete form and the the Declaration of Change of Certificate form
When do I need to submit the Intention to Complete Form?
We recommend submitting the form once you have a plan for completing the required courses (i.e., you have completed most of the coursework and have registered for the final needed courses) AND a plan for completing the capstone requirement (i.e., you have a project and supervisor if you will be completing an independent project, or you have registered in SOC 415). Regardless, the Intention to Complete Form should be submitted prior to your final semester before graduating.
Can I get credit for courses not listed in the CASSR overview?

Yes, we can approve additional courses for credit toward the Certificate. If you would like to have a course considered, please send the CASSR director (cassr@ualberta.ca) an email with details about the course, an explanation as to why you think it should count toward the Certificate, and a copy of the syllabus.

Can you tell me more about SOC 415?

In SOC 415, students team up with a local non-profit, social service organization, or government agency to complete a semester-long guided research project. We've partnered with local organizations like Civida, the City of Edmonton, the Ribbon Rouge Foundation, and Action for Healthy Communities. Projects involve a wide-range of methods. Sometimes they include quantitative data like surveys or administrative data. Other times we conducting qualitative research using interviews or focus groups.

Over the course of the semester, we go through research project steps as a group where students get to conduct background research; collect, clean, organize, and analyze different types of data; and summarize findings in a report and final presentation to the organization. During each step, we work with our partners to obtain feedback and discuss the research as we go.

Beyond SOC 415, how else can I complete the capstone requirement?
SOC 415 is one great way to complete the capstone, but there are others. You can also complete it through an independent study that involves empirical social science research (e.g., SOC 404, PSYCO 398, HECOL 490); an honors thesis that involves empirical social science research (e.g., SOC 407/408, LING 502, NS 498); or work on a faculty member's project. Please note, that you must also present this research at a public venue (e.g., undergraduate research conference).
I’m really interested in completing the Independent Empirical Research Project course (SOC 404). What steps should I take to develop it?

SOC 404 is a great way to complete the Capstone requirement for the Certificate. Here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Narrow down your areas of research and your interests
  • Think about specific topics that you might be interested in and how you could go about researching them
  •  It’s often useful to build on work from previous courses to turn your interests into a project.
  1. Find a faculty advisor
  •  You will need a faculty advisor for the project. This person should have research interests that align with your topic.
  •  Stumped? Ask the CASSR advisor for some suggestions.
  1. Develop a project plan with your advisor
  • Once you have an advisor, you’ll need to develop a plan for your project.
  • Submit form for the course
  1. Conduct the research
  • This is the exciting part! Once you have a plan together, you’ll complete the research as part of an independent research course with graded assignments.
  1. Write-up and present the research
  • To count toward the Certificate, projects must be presented to an audience. Presentations may be part of an on-campus conference (e.g., FURCA or SCURC), a larger conference (e.g., CSA), or to a specific organization or group. It’s often a good idea to check with the CASSR director once you have a presentation plan together.
How do I complete the presentation requirement for the Certificate
The Certificate requires a public presentation in order to help students develop important skills around public speaking and research presentation. There are many options for presenting research. At the UofA, annual conferences like FURCA, SCURC, and the Royce Harder conference are great options. You’re also welcome to look for more general conferences beyond the UofA or find specific organizations or groups to present your work to. It’s often a good idea to check with the CASSR director once you have a presentation plan together.

See all Faculty of Arts Certificates, including the:

Community Engagement Service-Learning Certificate

The Community Service-Learning (CSL) program started as a pilot program in Sociology in 2003 and has since supported courses in fifteen departments. Faculty and instructors in the Sociology Department have continued to play an active role in actively adapting a variety of courses to include a CSL component.

Community service-learning is a pedagogy that integrates volunteer and social action work into academic courses. Typically, students in CSL-designated courses dedicate about twenty hours each into community-based projects or activities that have been intentionally designed to match the goals of the course. When effectively adopted as a key element of a course, CSL not only enlivens course material but also develops critical thinking and engages students in questions of social change.

The Community Engagement Service-Learning Certificate allows students to demonstrate that they have significantly integrated community service-learning (CSL) into their postsecondary education. The knowledge and experience students gain through service-learning are relevant and applicable to a wide range of careers, including those in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the volunteer sector, business and government, and academic institutions. Students enrolled in any undergraduate program at the University of Alberta are eligible for the Certificate, which is received upon graduation and noted on the student transcript.

CASSR students