Certificate Program in Survey Methodology


The Odum Institute’s Certificate in Program Survey Methodology gives graduate students and working professionals the knowledge and skills they need to design and conduct surveys & analyze and report survey results. It introduces students to the vast and growing literature on survey research methods and provides training to pursue employment in a variety of fields where survey research plays an important role. The Certificate is instantly recognized and highly regarded by employers and can be obtained as a companion to a graduate degree or a supplement to a bachelor’s degree.

The program provides well-balanced training at the graduate-level in

  • Survey sampling
  • Survey computing and data analysis
  • Questionnaire design
  • Data collection methods
  • Problem solving skills for complex surveys
  • Real-world, hands-on experience


A Certificate in Survey Methodology is a 17-hour graduate program which includes coursework in sampling, questionnaire design, data collection methods, and computing, as well as hands-on experience working as a survey specialist in a local survey data collection facility. The Program is designed for individuals currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at UNC, and for individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree, are currently working, and may have no immediate plans to pursue a graduate degree.

The Certificate is an attractive addition to a graduate degree in:

  • Social sciences
  • Business
  • Biostatistics
  • Education
  • Statistics
  • Public administration
  • Journalism
  • Epidemiology
  • Many other fields which use survey data

Students may complete the course requirements at their own pace; no maximum time limit is applied. However, the minimum time to complete the Certificate is two academic years, because two of the required courses (Survey Sampling and Case Studies in Survey Research) are only offered in alternate years.

Program Requirements

The Certificate Program requires:

  • Completion of 17 credit hours towards the certificate
  • Required courses — 14 credit hours, including a practicum in a survey data collection facility
  • Electives — 3 credit hours
  • Completion of 32 short course credit hours in survey methodology from:
    • Odum Institute;
    • Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland;
    • Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan; or
    • Other approved short courses in survey methodology

Prerequisites for Admission

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • At least 6 credit hours in quantitative social science, applied statistics, biostatistics, or mathematics

Application Instructions

  • Please download the Application form as either a PDF or a .docx
  • Fill the form out completely
  • Return via email, fax, or regular mail
Paul Biemer                          919-962-2875 (fax)
Paul Biemer, Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina, CB #3355, 228 Davis Library, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3355

Application Deadlines

  • Students wishing to be admitted to the CPSM  may submit their application at any time. However, if you wish to enroll for the Fall semester, your application must be received by Odum before July 10th of the same year. For enrollment in the Spring semester, your application must be received by November 10th of the prior year. Please note: Applying to the program by these deadlines does not guarantee a spot in the classes. Students must register for courses and space is subject to availability.
  • Before registering for semester courses, if you are not already enrolled at UNC, you will need to submit an application to the Friday Center for Continuing Education. Click here to view the online application form, instructions, and deadlines.
  • Note that any Continuing Education application received by the Friday Center after the deadline will incur a late fee of $25 added to the $80 application fee.
  • Visit the Friday Center for more information concerning Part-time Classroom Studies.

Required Semester Courses and Schedule

Below is a list of the required courses for the CPSM. Descriptions of all short courses are also available in the Short Course Catalog. If you have questions, please contact cpsm@unc.edu.

(Spring - Even Numbered Years) SOCI 754 (4 credits) – or - (Spring) BIOS 664 (3 credits)Survey Sampling (Christopher Weisen) – or - Sample Survey Methodology (Dr. Josephine Asafu-Adjei)
(Fall - Every Year) SOCI 760 (3 credits)Data Collection Methods in Survey Research (Doug Currivan)
(Fall - Every Year) SOCI 761 (3 credits)Questionnaire Design (Emilia Peytcheva and Emily Geisen)
(Spring - Odd Numbered Years) SOCI 762 (3 credits)Case Studies in Survey Research (Doug Currivan)
(Fall & Spring) SOCI 905 (1 credit)Practicum in Survey Data Collection (Teresa Edwards)

Elective Courses

These electives are pre-approved. Students may propose alternative courses to the director for elective course credit.

ANTH 725Quantitative Methods in Anthropology
BIOS 545Principles of Experimental Analysis
BIOS 665Analysis of Categorical Data
BIOS 667Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis
BIOS 668Design of Public Health Studies
BIOS 670Demographic Technique 1
BIOS 764Advanced Survey Sampling Methods
BUSI 808Applied Research Methods 1
BUSI 887Quantitative Methods in Finance
EDUC 785Program Evaluation in Education
EDUC 817Introduction to Educational Research
EDUC 824Fundamentals of Education Research
EDUC 830Field Techniques in Educational Research
EPID 726Epidemiologic Research Methods
HBEH 852Scale Development Methods
HBEH 860Research Proposal Development
INLS 509Information Retrieval
MHCH 700MHCH Planning and Evaluation
MHCH 713Research Methods in Maternal and Child Health
PLCY 801Design of Policy-Oriented Research
POLI 880Design & Analysis of Experiments and Surveys
SOCI 707Measurement and Data Collection

Current Short Course Schedule


Paul Biemer

Director for the Certificate Program in Survey Methodology and Associate Director for Survey Research, Odum Institute
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Teresa headshot

Teresa Edwards

Odum Instructor and Assistant Director for Survey Research, Odum Institute
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Doug Currivan

Odum Instructor and Survey Methodologist, RTI International
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Emilia Peytcheva

Odum Instructor and Research Survey Methodologist, RTI International
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Chris Wiesen

Odum Instructor and Statistical Consultant, Odum Institute
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Brady T. West

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Research Associate Professor, University of Michigan and Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland
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Mick Couper

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Research Professor, University of Michigan and Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland
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Don Dillman

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Professor in the Department of Sociology and Deputy Director for Research in the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center,Washington State University
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Charles Lau

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Research Survey Methodologist, RTI, PhD Sociology
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Joe Murphy

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Senior Survey Methodologist, MA Applied Demography
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Lisa Pearce

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Gordon Willis

Adjunct Odum Instructor and Cognitive Psychologist, National Cancer Institute
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Emily McFarlene Geisen

Odum Instructor and Survey Methodologist, RTI International
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Headshot of Trent Buskirk

Trent Buskirk

Adjunct Odum Instructor
Director, Center for Survey Research
Professor, Department of Management Science and Information Systems
University of Massachusetts Boston
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Headshot of Jerry Reiter

Jerry Reiter

Adjunct Odum Instructor
Professor of Statistical Science, Duke University
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Eligibility and Application Process

Short Courses

Semester Courses, including Registration Help

Course Credits and Substitutions


Eligibility and Application Process

What is the procedure for applying for the Certificate? Complete an application form and send it to Paul Biemer at the Odum Institute. You will be notified of your acceptance into the program. We recommend setting up an appointment with Dr. Biemer to discuss your plan for completing the requirements for the Certificate.


What are the prerequisites for applying for the Certificate?

  • Baccalaureate  degree from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • GPA of 3.0 or better
  • At least 3 credit hours in graduate-level statistical methods


Do I have to enroll in the UNC graduate school to be accepted to the Certificate program? No. You can enroll in courses through the UNC Continuing Education Program located in the Friday Center. It is not necessary to enroll in UNC graduate school or take the GRE or other graduate school exam for admittance.


What is the cost to complete the program? There is no cost to apply or be accepted into the CPSM program. The only costs are tuition for the semester courses and short course registration fees.

If you are not currently enrolled in UNC, you will need to submit an application to the Friday Center Part-time Classroom Studies program in order to enroll in semester courses. The application fee is $80. Tuition and fees are then charged according to the UNC Tuition and Fee Schedule at the “Part-Time Classroom Studies – Graduate” rate. (For example, tuition and fees for one three hour course during the 2017-2018 academic year for a Part-Time Classroom Studies Graduate student would total $2486 for a NC resident or $6789 for a nonresident.) At 2017-2018 tuition rates, the minimum total tuition and fees to complete the Certificate would be about $9944 for a NC resident. Many NC residents incur total tuition and fee costs over $10,000.

Full-time UNC graduate students register and pay for CPSM semester courses in the same way and at the same rate as their other coursework.

UNC employees who are permanent and work a minimum of 30 hours per week are eligible for a tuition and fee waiver. See Employee Tuition Waiver Policy.

Short course registration fees vary depending on the courses you select, but once admitted to the CPSM, you receive the discounted CPSM student rate for as long as you are also taking semester courses toward completion of the Certificate. The 32 credit hour requirement can typically be met for a total of $200, but many students choose to take additional short courses. (As a bonus, once you successfully complete the Certificate, you continue to receive the CPSM student rate indefinitely for Odum short courses on survey methodology topics.)


Short Courses

How do I find information about the CPSM short courses, such as when and where they will be offered? All of the upcoming Odum short courses are listed on our website under Short Courses. All short courses require advanced registration. Please check our listing for more information, including how to register, registration openings, course descriptions, etc. Also, courses in the JPSM and University of Michigan Summer Institute can be viewed at their Web sites.


Do I have to be a UNC student, faculty or staff member to register for the Survey Research short courses? No. Our short courses are open to the public.


Is there a fee for the Survey Research short courses? Short courses are discounted for CPSM students and graduates (certificate holders). Light refreshments will be provided at all courses; lunch is included for full day courses held at the Friday Center. Charges are listed on short course descriptions.
CPSM students who are not currently enrolled in a CPSM semester (core or elective) course and who have not enrolled in such a course for the previous two semesters are no longer eligible for the CPSM student discounted rates for our short courses.
CPSM students who do not qualify for the discounted rate should register for short courses at either the UNC student or Other rate, as appropriate. Students who register inappropriately will receive an email, prompting them to re-register under the appropriate rate category.


Semester Courses, including Registration Help

What semesters will the core courses be offered? A schedule of the CPSM offerings is available under the “Course List” tab above.


How do I sign up for semester courses? If you are already enrolled in a degree program at UNC, you need only register as normal when registration begins. If you are not currently enrolled at UNC, you must also apply to Part-Time Classroom Studies in order to be added to the UNC system, obtain a PIN# and register. For information about deadlines, tuition and instructions on how to apply, please go to the Friday Center’s website Part-time Classroom Studies.


How do I find out what my PID# is? Your PID# is automatically assigned once you have been accepted in any UNC department. Visit the UNC PID Office to look up your PID #.


What is an “Onyen” and how do I create mine? Onyen is the name for UNC’s campus-wide identifier that you can use to gain access to various electronic resources on campus. To create an Onyen, please go visit Onyen Services


I tried to register for a semester course and received an error message. What should I do? This can be a result of several factors listed below:

  • You may have a financial hold on your account. Please contact the Cashier’s office to make sure you do not have any financial holds on your account. For contact information, please go to Student Account Services.
  • You are trying to register for a course which requires instructor permission only. Some courses may require instructor approval for registration. If you would encounter this issue, please email cpsm@unc.edu in order to be considered for the course in question.
  • You are not active in the UNC system: This could be either because you need to apply to the Friday Center Part-Time Classroom Studies or you need to submit a re-admit application. To find out what your current status is, please contact the Friday Center at the following number: toll free (800) 862-5669 local (919) 962-1134.


Course Credits and Substitutions

Can I take courses in the program and apply for the certificate program later? Yes, you may take up to six semester credit hours in the Program without enrolling in the Program. These courses will still count toward the Certificate. However, we recommend enrolling in the Certificate Program as soon as possible to take advantage of the information shared with Program participants and other special Program activities. Please note that short course credit is only granted to those enrolled in the program.


How do I know how many hours a short course is worth toward the short course requirement? Credit hours will be assigned to each short course according to the length of the course and noted on the short course listing on the website. Usually, 1 hour of class time is equivalent to 1 credit hour. To receive credit for a short course, the student must be present in the classroom at least 75% of the instruction time for the course. No partial credit will be given. A total of 32 credit hours must be accumulated to satisfy the short course requirement. Please note: Not all Odum short courses will qualify for CPSM credit. See Upcoming Short Courses for a complete listing.
Can core courses be substituted? What is the process for getting that approved? Yes, under certain circumstances a course which is very similar to one of our core courses but taken at another University can be substituted. This is at the discretion of the CPSM Program Director. However, no more than six credit hours of coursework can transfer and count as credit toward the Certificate.


What is the process for petitioning that an elective course not listed for the program be accepted for credit towards the Certificate? Your request should be submitted to the CPSM Program Director. Provide the details of the course: course title and number; syllabus; description; and department.

The Certificate Program in Survey Methodology (CPSM) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was founded by the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. Kenneth Bollen, the director of the Odum Institute, and Paul Biemer, the director of the Survey Group at the Odum Institute and Distinguished Fellow at RTI International, constructed the core curriculum in 2002 and petitioned to create the new courses in January, 2003. At about the same time, they petitioned to transform this curriculum into a Certificate Program. The CPSM received official approval from UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall semester of 2003. In the spring of 2004, five new courses were established in the Department of Sociology to form the core of the Program. Our first cohort to complete the CPSM training and to receive the Certificate was a group of five recipients in the spring semester of 2006.

The CPSM would not be the success it is today without our valuable partnerships with other organizations. The CPSM at the Odum Institute has closely collaborated with RTI since its origins. In addition to having staff members enrolled in the CPSM, RTI has provided senior staff as course instructors and has cosponsored speakers and provided student practicum opportunities and administrative support. Furthermore, the Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM) at the Universities of Maryland (College Park) and Michigan (Ann Arbor) has been a partner in teaching courses and sharing knowledge. The Departments of Sociology and Biostatistics at UNC have also made important contributions of faculty time and courses and student practicum opportunities in support of the program.

For more information, contact: