Population studies programs train students to understand the state of the
world and all six billion people in it. These programs are generally offered
at the graduate level.
Population studies is usually a specialty reserved for graduate or doctoral
programs, says Amy Tsui of the Carolina Population Center at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In fact, Tsui is not aware of a single undergraduate
program specializing in population studies. Her program accepts only those
working toward a doctoral degree.
Your best bet is a four-year bachelor's degree in sociology, geography,
anthropology or economics.
Your undergraduate major will depend on your interests. For example, if
you're interested in how people are affected by the economy, major in economics.
If you're more interested in relationships between different groups in a population,
take sociology or anthropology.
Professor Richard Anderson says his school's geography program offers courses
in introductory population geography and the nature of urban population.
"Students will be expected to use and develop their skills at handling
statistical data. The skills required are not complex, equivalent to the use
of MS Excel or a similar spreadsheet software," he says.
Demographic work is largely qualitative research that uses spreadsheets
to tabulate and draw conclusions. High school students should fine-tune
their computer skills and know how to use software programs, especially
spreadsheet programs. Math skills are also important.
To get into this type of program, Anderson says students should show competence
in social sciences at the high school level. In addition, he recommends computer
Tsui says when applying to graduate programs in population studies, students
must have good grades, letters of reference and sometimes, practical experience
in that field. She also says her program likes students who are passionate
and curious about population studies.
Most population studies classes traditionally focus on the causes and
consequences of fertility, mortality and migration, says Tsui. Other courses
include techniques of demographic analysis, economics of population and
Anderson says textbooks are expensive, especially for introductory courses.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Life, Physical, and Social
Demography and Population Studies
Lots of resources here