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About the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology

Dr. Zhengyuan Zhu, CSSM Director
Dr. Zhengyuan Zhu, CSSM Director

The Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM) began as the Survey Section of the Statistical Laboratory in 1938 as a result of a cooperative agreement between the Statistical Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Initial work under this agreement led to the development of the Master Sample of Agriculture, a national area sample of land which was subsequently utilized in numerous economic surveys of American agriculture. Research was also conducted that provided the foundation for area sampling methods and statistical estimation for sample surveys.


CSSM has continued to develop expertise in the technical and operational aspects of sample surveys.

The current mission of CSSM is:

  1. To conduct research in the area of survey sample design, estimation, and data analysis and to maintain academic leadership through publication, seminars, and academic collaborations in the area of survey sampling.
  2. To teach academic courses in survey sampling and topics related to survey statistics and to produce graduate students (MS and PhD) with expertise in survey sampling theory and practice.
  3. To provide support and operational services for statistical agencies and companies in the areas of design and selection of samples, construction of questionnaires and related forms, data collection, data processing, estimation, and analysis.

History of CSSM

Services, Research & Education

Data Science Services (DSS)

The Data Science Services group, within CSSM, has considerable expertise in conducting natural resource surveys. Since 1956, CSSM has cooperated with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, formerly the Soil Conservation Service) to develop survey methods and provide operational support for the National Resources Inventory, a longitudinal survey of agricultural and other natural resources on nonfederal lands. Results from these surveys are used extensively in the construction of Farm Bills in the U.S.

Survey Research Services (SRS)

Survey Research Services staff provide consulting and direct assistance in all aspects of sample surveys involving human population.  The group provides services such as design and selection of samples, construction of questionnaires and related forms, data collection, data processing, and data summarization.


Faculty, students, and staff are involved in statistical research agreements with a variety of federal agencies, including USDA agencies, the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Science Foundation.


CSSM is one of only a few organizations in the United States that specializes in the research and practice of survey sampling.  In addition to other statistics courses, CSSM faculty teach graduate level and upper level undergraduate students theory and practice in statistical survey sampling.