QAI Summer Course

QAI Summer Program

The 2021 QAI Summer Program Application is now closed.
About the program: The QAI Summer Program is a free, non-credit, second-level applied statistics and data science course designed for Wellesley students. The program's goal is to introduce advanced data skills while supporting students in their current and future research projects. Topics include statistics fundamentals, such as study design, statistical inference, and tools for handling common complications like missing data or multiple comparisons; practical data handling skills, including data cleaning and the use of complex data sets; and data communication, such as best practices for visualization. All students will become proficient in the statistical software R, which is free, open-source, and field-neutral, and training in other skills such as SQL, webscraping, and interactive graphics will be available as well. The course is also intended to bring together students from a variety of disciplines whose work involves data. 
About the QAI: The QAI was founded in 2013, designed to expand the role of statistics and data science in research, learning, and teaching at Wellesley and beyond. Since its first year, the QAI has run a summer program. The QAI also includes internships during the semester, statistical consulting for research projects, online tutorials, and other resources.
This year's program will run for eight weeks, from Monday, June 7, 2021 until Friday, July 30, 2021.
Before deciding whether to apply, please read the QAI Summer Program details and FAQ below. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. However, the sooner you apply, the higher the chance that we will be able to find enough teaching assistants and arrange lab times that meet your schedule. It is especially helpful to receive early applications from students participating in the science or social science summer research program, so that these students can be given priority. We don't always have the capacity to accept students who apply just before the summer begins.
The QAI Summer Program was adapted in 2020 in response to the pandemic, and the 2021 program will look similar:
  • The program is completely remote. Lectures are delivered via asynchronous, recorded videos. The materials were developed as part of the college’s Andrew W. Mellon Blended Learning Initiative. Labs and office hours will be scheduled at a variety of times, including evening hours, based on the availability of participating students and teaching assistants. We hope to accommodate students from any time zone. Assignments include quizzes and problem sets.
  • The course is taught by the QAI Director, Casey Pattanayak, along with a large team of teaching assistants. The TAs are Wellesley students or recent alumnae who offer support remotely from all around the world.
  • The program is open to all Wellesley students, including spring graduates: the Classes of 2021, 2022, 2023, or 2024. Because the program was originally aimed at students participating in the science or social science summer research programs, such students will be prioritized. Past participants include research assistants from anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, economics, engineering, environmental studies, Italian studies, neuroscience, physics, political science, psychology, the Botanic Gardens, and Wellesley Centers for Women.
  • The prerequisite is any introductory statistics course at Wellesley (STAT 160, STAT 218, ECON 103/SOC 190, PSYC 205, BISC 198, POL 299, or STAT 101). (Prior to 2020, some other QR Overlay courses could be used as prerequisites, but those courses are no longer sufficient prerequisites.) AP Statistics is not a sufficient prerequisite.


  • The program is a non-credit version of STAT 260/QR 260. Students who complete the program earned QAI Certificates. Students who earn certificates can move on to courses that require STAT 260 as a prerequisite, meet the modeling requirement for the statistics minor or data science major, and apply for QAI Internships. (In 2020, we offered a separate six-week track, but that shorter track will not be available this year.


  • If you have taken STAT/QR 260, you should not apply for this program. However, students who have already taken other post-introductory statistics courses, such as STAT 318 or ECON 203, are encouraged to apply.
  • Students spend about ten hours each week (range: 8-15 hours) on the course, for eight weeks. 
  • Students who are participating in the summer research program or any other internship or job, at Wellesley or beyond, should include their advisor or supervisor’s email address in the application. Please discuss the QAI program with your advisor/supervisor before applying. This person must agree that the student can dedicate 10 hours each week to the QAI program. In our experience, the summer does not go well if students attempt to complete the QAI program on top of a full-time position, unless they are released from that work for 10 hours each week. Ten hours is more time than it sounds like. If you are working 35 hours/week, it is 28% of your time! Students with part-time jobs may not need a supervisor’s sign-off to apply for the QAI program. Please explain your summer situation in your application.
  • We will do our best to accept as many as qualified students as possible. In summer 2020, we received 148 applications and were able to accept 80 students. We anticipate that we will be able to accommodate closer to 60 applicants in 2021. Qualified students participating in the Science or Social Science Summer Research Program will be prioritized.
  • All students will need access to the internet and a computer (an iPad or Chromebook is not sufficient). Please let us know on your application if accessing this technology is an obstacle.


Frequently Asked Questions: 
Will the QAI program appear on my transcript? No. Instead, students can list it on their resumes, as a way to signal statistical and data science skills.
Will I earn academic credit for this course? No.
What does the course cost? Nothing.
Will I earn a grade? Because the course is non-credit, you will not earn grades that show up on a transcript. However, we will grade your work and keep track of those scores. We will calculate what your overall final grade would have been at the end of the summer, if the course had been for credit. Students earning the equivalent of a B or higher will earn a certificate. Professor Pattanayak may refer to these unofficial grades if you ask for a letter of recommendation or apply for a QAI internship in the future.
How does the QAI program fit into my statistics minor or data science major?
A QAI Certificate shows that you have completed the equivalent of QR/STAT 260 and meets the modeling requirement for the statistics minor or data science major. However, as a non-credit course, it cannot be counted as one of the five courses toward the minor or one of the twelve courses toward the major. So, if you earn a QAI Certificate, you should work with your major or minor advisor to choose an additional elective to replace your modeling course for your major or minor. This replacement elective should usually be at STAT course.
How can the QAI program help me move forward with my statistics sequence?
After you have earned a QAI Certificate, you can move on to courses that require STAT 260 as a prerequisite, such as STAT 309 or STAT 318. We usually do not have enough seats to accommodate everyone who wants to take STAT 260 (it is offered annually in the fall), so learning this material in the summer is a way to make sure you do not have to wait to move forward with statistics.
How (else) does the QAI program differ from STAT 260?
The summer program syllabus differs from the 260 syllabus in that there are no midterm or final exams. The summer course also has no final project, as many participants are already working on summer research projects alongside the QAI program. STAT 260 usually includes a project, though this project was cut in fall 2020 to accommodate the term system. In the summer, there are no synchronous all-class meetings, and labs are run by teaching assistants. So, students who do not take advantage of office hours will have less contact with Professor Pattanayak than they would if enrolled in 260. That said, all are invited and encouraged to attend Prof. P.'s office hours frequently. The summer program uses the same lecture videos and online materials as the remote version of 260 that was taught in fall 2020. However, the college is currently planning for in-person courses in the fall, including 260.

For more information: Please contact Cassandra Pattanayak at


To see the names of the students and alumnae who have received QAI Certificates in the past, see here.