Psychology to survey methodology

Carolyn Lau Picture

Name: Carolyn Lau ’15

Position: Research associate, Monmouth University Polling Institute

Academic focus: psychology major, statistics minor

Internships: Center for the Experimental Study of Politics and Psychology, Rutgers University; National Agricultural Statistics Service, United States Department of Agriculture

Advanced degree: M.S. in survey methodology, University of Michigan

I came to Mount Holyoke knowing I wanted to major in psychology, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the degree. Through my coursework I discovered that I also enjoyed statistics, and I got an internship with a federal statistical agency through the Joint Program in Survey Methodology Junior Fellows Program.

This program introduced me to the field of survey methodology, which studies the survey process from questionnaire design and pretesting to data collection and analysis. I decided to apply to survey methodology graduate programs because the field combines my interests in psychology and statistics. 

I received my master’s degree from the Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Michigan. The lab courses that I had taken as a psychology major at Mount Holyoke gave me a leg up in graduate school because I already had experience conducting research from start to finish and writing research papers. The work I did coding interview transcripts for Francine Deutsch, professor emerita of psychology and education, also came in handy while working on a large coding project during my two years at Michigan.

I currently work in the field of public opinion research at Monmouth University. Part of my job involves working on political polls, and it’s always interesting to see what people think about big topics in the news and what their vote is for upcoming elections. The other side of my job involves assisting faculty and students with their survey research. I provide advice on their survey design and help them use Qualtrics, an online survey tool. I enjoy being able to interact with students, many of whom are conducting research as part of their psychology theses.