The Population Research Center

The Population Research Center at NORC and the University of Chicago, now in its 34th year, is an interdisciplinary research center designed to facilitate high-quality population research conducted by its researchers. Since the Population Research Center was revitalized in 1983, the staff has grown from twelve to over 40. This growth has come from researchers in economics, psychology, business, public policy, medicine, and social services administration. This diversification in part reflects a broadening in all population centers and reflects a consistent trend at Chicago. The PRC has always worked at the margins of what was considered to be traditional demography, helping to expand the domain of the field. The PRC has placed less emphasis on the demographic methods featured in other population centers than on statistical methods adopted from the field of labor economics, including event-history analysis, and stresses the importance of understanding selection bias and censoring. Researchers at the PRC also explore the determinants of fertility decisions and their dynamics, timing, and spacing rather than more traditional fertility analyses. 

The Director of the Population Research Center, Professor Katherine Cagne’s work examines neighborhood effects and health, urban social processes, race and ethnic differences in access to health care/long-term care, demography of aging, life course approaches to research in health, and health status assessment.  The Advisory Board for the Center is comprised of faculty from the Schools of Sociology, Public Policy, Economics, Social Services Administration, and Medicine. 

The National Opinion Reaserch Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago  serves the public interest and improves lives through objective social science research that supports informed decision making. NORC and the University share a commitment to academic excellence and scientific rigor. Through the years, their collaboration has helped generate important methodological and technological advances, as well as new bodies of knowledge for public policy debate. In addition to assisting the University of Chicago on key initiatives in the social science and health studies arenas, NORC has helped faculty there understand and apply new survey research techniques and enriched graduate student experience through hands-on exposure to research projects.

NORC’s Academic Research Center and its wider relationship with the University of Chicago are mutually beneficia; NORC provides university faculty with help in applying for and administering research grants, a collegial and supportive work environment for faculty, and on-the-job training for graduate students. NORC’S seven Academic Research Centers exemplify NORC’s commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence and research innovation, and to applying renowned scholarship to practical social science problems. NORC’s core capabilities support faculty research, and NORC’s newly renovated, environmentally sensitive offices provide university staff with an open, collaborative working environment.

As part of a learning culture, intergenerational project teams enrich learning, scholarship, and discovery. In particular, graduate research assistants at NORC have the tremendous opportunity to apply what they have learned in practical settings. As the next generation of social scientists, they work with experts in various fields and disciplines to conduct world-class empirical research, and NORC benefits from their fresh perspectives, energy, and insights. NORC is an independent 501 ( c ) 3 research corporation and is not a part of the University. 

Learn more about working at NORC here.

Pathways into Program

The Population Research Center is not a school within the University of Chicago and does not offer a specific degree program. Students interested in working with the PRC or NORC should consider applying to a graduate program at the University of Chicago.

For more information about the many Graduate Programs available at the University of Chicago, follow the links below.

The Office of Admissions, Division of the Social Sciences
For questions specific to the MAPSS Program, please contact

The Office of Admissions, Harris School of Public Policy

The Department of Sociology

The Department of Economics

The School of Social Service Administration

For additional information about the Graduate Programs and the Social Science Division at the University of Chicago, please see the Graduate Admissions page.