Joint Program(s)

During my time at Carnegie Mellon University I participated in two joint programs: the joint Ph.D. program in Statistics and Public Policy, and the Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER). This page gives some details about those programs from the perspective of a statistician who is interested in being useful to social scientists. I hope that this information may be useful to prospective students.

Joint Statistics and Public Policy Ph.D. program

The official joint Statistics and Public Policy Ph.D. program website gives a brief overview of the program. You may find the following useful: 

  • The joint program is only joint in the sense that you write a single thesis. You are held to all other requirements of the two programs separately. Check out the Statistics Ph.D. requirements and the handbook for the Public Policy Ph.D. program to get an idea of what you will need to accomplish here.
  • The course requirements are essentially fixed in Statistics and very fluid in Heinz. All of the statistics courses will double count for Heinz requirements: the minimum “extra” is one economics course and one non-economics social science course.
  • The Advanced Data Analysis project can be combined with your first Heinz paper. Completing the Heinz part gives you an M. Phil. in Public Policy and Management.
  • The second Heinz paper is an extra requirement, but it likely will not be extra work as writing another paper is something you should be doing anyway.

Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER)

If you are interested in making a career in education research, you should check out PIER.  It increases your stipend to $30,000 / year, provides travel funding, and gives you small ($1000 /year) research grants. In exchange you need to do education research. More specifically:

  • You take 3 classes: Scientific Research in Education (Klahr); Educational Goals, Instruction, and Assessment (Carver); and Research Methods in the Learning Sciences (Coordinated by Koedinger, with modules by other faculty).
  • You complete an Integrated, Interdisciplinary Project (IIP) that is intended to “stretch” you. If you are in the Statistics department, this commonly is combined with the ADA. If you are in Heinz, it will be combined with either your first or second Heinz paper.
  • You spend a semester observing in a school as part of a Field Based Experience (FBE) –unless you were a former teacher and choose to write an  essay.
  • You participate in the PIER community by going to Ed Bags, talks by visiting scholars, and proposals/defenses of other PIER students.
  • You write a dissertation that advances education research.

Triple Program: Joint Stats/Heinz + PIER

I was a “triple” in that I was a  joint PhD in Statistics and Public Policy  student who was funded by / participating in PIER. Some notes on that:

  • I combined my ADA, Heinz first paper, and IIP into a single paper.
  • The three PIER courses counted as my non-economics social science requirement for Heinz.
  • I opted to write an essay about my experience in Teach for America instead of observing a classroom for my PIER FBE requirement.
  • You will not be required to TA by either Heinz or Statistics. However, Statistics will encourage you to TA a course or two for training purposes.
  • The Statistics department will pay for basic medical insurance which is not normally covered for CMU grad students.