He has a math/science background and wants to transition to social science. Should he get a statistics degree and do social science from there, or should he get a graduate degree in social science or policy?

Someone who graduated from college a couple years ago writes:

My educational background is almost entirely science and math.

However, since graduating and thinking about what I do, I’ve realized that I’ve always found demographics, geography, urban planning more interesting – and I’d like to pursue research in social science. I’m currently applying to MS Statistics programs with the rationale that it is both necessary for my development as a quantitative researcher and general enough so that I can shift to a PhD program in either statistics or a social science – if I want.

My questions for you are:

1) Do you think going for a traditional MS in Statistics with the goal of doing research in social science is advisable or would I be better suited in a graduate program in social science (public policy, demography, sociology, etc.)?

2) As someone with no formal background in social science, how do I get started?

My quick advice is that there seem to be a lot more people with public policy degrees who can do some statistics, than statisticians who can do policy. So if you can do the statistics degree, that could be a good idea.

But maybe I’m completely wrong on this one.

Any thoughts? What do you, the readers, think this person should do? Or, more to the point, what information do you think he should gather to better make his decision? And should he consider other options, such as continuing to work without getting more formal education?

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