Demography and Population Studies  Program Description


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dotPopulation 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 classes.

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 population theory.

Anderson says textbooks are expensive, especially for introductory courses.


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Demography and Population Studies
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