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NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan, objective research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. NORC conducts research in five main areas: Economics, Markets, and the Workforce; Education, Training, and Learning; Global Development; Health and Well-Being; and Society, Media, and Public Affairs. Headquartered in downtown Chicago, NORC works in over 40 countries around the world, with additional offices on the University of Chicago campus, the DC metro area, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Albuquerque, and Wichita.
NORC’s long tradition of rigorous, transparent, and objective research has been fostered and reinforced by its long-standing relationship with the University of Chicago. As a result of this this inspired affiliation, the reputations of each institution, as well as the quality of knowledge they produce, has been greatly enhanced.

NORC has pioneered methodological innovations which advance the science of survey research and maintains an active presence in the research and teaching life of the Divisions of the Social Sciences and Biological Sciences, as well as the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, and the School of Social Service Administration.  NORC conducts nationwide surveys that are used as data resources for social scientists and policy analysts throughout the world. It employs a field staff of over 1,000 trained interviewers and conducts more than 30 surveys each year on such topics as the costs and practices of health care, environmental studies, substance abuse, education, labor, family, and the attitudes of Americans. NORC has been conducting the General Social Survey (GSS) since 1972; the GSS is the most frequently used dataset in sociology aside from the U.S. Census.

In addition to its core research areas, NORC also maintains the Academic Research Centers (ARC) which occupy office space in the Harris School building on the University of Chicago campus. The ARC provides a collegial, interdisciplinary environment in which University of Chicago faculty can conduct empirical social science research in collaboration with a team of NORC researchers committed to developing collaborations across departments and divisions at the University. While there are currently four research centers within the ARC, faculty and researchers in this department have developed a wide range of funded research projects that have evolved well beyond the purview of these specific content area centers and now constitute the larger portion of the department’s work. The four centers are:

  • The Aging Action Research Center functions as a substantive hub for research on aging within and outside of NORC, acting as a knowledge broker for the development of design-based research, dissemination to stakeholders, innovation in survey research methods, and management of grant programs. 
  • ​The Center for the Study of Politics and Society focuses on the investigation of societal change. The National Data Program for the Social Sciences is the CSPS’s largest component and its major activity is the regular collection and distribution of the General Social Survey and its allied surveys in the International Social Survey Program.
  • The Early Childhood Research and Practice Collaborative fosters research-practice partnerships that apply rigorous research/evaluation methods and the latest development science to address pressing needs and challenges faced by early childhood educators in formal and informal learning environments, policymakers, and investigators. 
  • The Ogburn-Stouffer Center for the Study of Social Organizations promotes innovative, theoretically-informed, empirical research on population, political attitudes and decision making, community, health, social inequality, and social structure. A core mission is to promote the training of graduate students in the social sciences through involvement in all phases of large-scale survey research from development to execution and analysis.

University students participate in NORC’s activities in several ways. NORC offers a dynamic hands-on summer intern program open to graduate students. NORC has given countless graduate students experience in real-world social science research. More than 100 UChicago students have worked as GRAs (Graduate Research Assistants) during the last six years. UChicago, NORC, and ARC are committed to employing and training university students as a critical part of their professional development. NORC researchers who also hold University faculty positions often become lifelong mentors to these students. Some graduate students receive support through NORC for their own research in the writing of dissertations; many attend conferences and weekly workshops that are sponsored by and held at NORC. NORC employs many University graduates at professional career levels.