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What is the Understanding America Study?

The Understanding America Study (UAS) is a new panel being recruited by the University of Southern California (USC) of approximately 2,000 households representing the entire United States. The study is an 'Internet Panel,' which means that respondents answer our surveys on a computer, tablet, or smart phone, wherever they are and whenever they wish to participate. The majority of the panel members have their own Internet access. The remaining panel members have been provided Internet access by USC through the provision of a tablet and/or an Internet subscription. At this time the UAS only asks surveys of adults aged 18 and over. It is not possible to volunteer for joining the UAS. We randomly select people around the country using postal codes.

What questions do we ask?

In our surveys we ask study participants to anonymously give their opinions on a number of different topics. Some surveys deal with current events, such as elections or big storms. Others deal with health, such as flu outbreaks or health insurance. Still other surveys may ask about money, such as saving or how well households can make ends meet these days.


USC’s respondents have been recruited via Address Based Sampling methods. A random sample was selected across the United States, to whom we sent a pre-notification letter followed by a mail survey. At the end of the survey, respondents were asked if they were interested in participating in the USC panel. They could do so using their own computer or the tablet provided by USC. This eliminates the bias found in many Internet survey panels, which include only computer owners.

In order to make sure we are not missing groups within the United States, we ask a series of background questions, such as which state the respondent resides in, his or her race, gender, and age. Respondents can answer questions in English or Spanish.

Contact us

If you are interested in using the UAS for your research or would like us to host, design, or program your survey, please contact our study manager Tania Gutsche at at 213.821.1819 or email: tgutsche@usc.edu


For a pdf copy of our brochure, click here.

UAS Data

We have just released our data pages. While many of our surveys are still in the field, researchers are able to download preliminary datasets and codebooks from this site. Click here to visit our datapages.
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