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Work in Social Research and Analysis Speaks Volumes

Program’s first degree recipients are prepared to tackle the world of consumer data

Posted in: Homepage News and Events, Sociology

Graduate students in Montclair State’s Social Research and Analysis program meet over Zoom.
Graduate students in Montclair State’s Social Research and Analysis program, including Sara Johnston ’20 MA (top left), meet over Zoom.

If you’ve ever listened to Audible audiobooks to improve the way you live and work, you just may have Sara Johnston ’20 MA to thank. Johnston – among the first degree recipients in The Graduate School’s Social Research and Analysis program – has focused her research on finding the self-help content consumers are most interested in.

It’s the type of market research attracting graduate students like Johnston to Montclair State and its Social Research and Analysis program. For Johnston, who first earned the University’s graduate certificate in Data Collection and Management, the master’s program was a natural next step when it was introduced in fall 2019.

Johnston is customer insight senior manager at Audible, a position that includes research and consumer surveys to help the Newark, New Jersey-based seller and producer of audiobooks better understand its audience and trends. Her expertise is in the popular self-help genre that covers everything from career development and leadership to meditation and quick lists, including the top 10 things you can do to reduce stress.

“Having the course background means I bring more to the table,” says Johnston, who earned a promotion at Audible while completing her graduate degree. “It builds confidence and elevates me at work.”

Christopher Donoghue, associate professor of Sociology and coordinator of the MA in Social Research and Analysis program, says, “There’s so much interest in data right now, and it’s not just analytics. It’s gathering data, using surveys, conducting interviews and focus groups. It’s become popular with most companies that want to make evidence-based decisions.”

The graduate program consists of students with career interests in social policy research, data analytics, higher education, government and market research. Among the first 11 degree recipients, for instance, Tamara Ogle is conducting qualitative research on the goals of second generation immigrants. Adriana Cruz has been working on learning the social media interests of prospective graduate students.

“The future of decision-making in business, government and social policy is from evidence,” Donoghue says. “We believe that using quantitative and qualitative strategies to gather data that informs the best decisions is really important for the success of companies and organizations.”

Learn more about the  MA in Social Research and Analysis and all of The Graduate School’s degree programs at the virtual spring open house on February 21 and the School’s website.

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren

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