Skip to main content

Structural Equation Modeling Short Course

June 19 - 21, 2019, 9am-5pm
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Mann Library B30A

Registration Fee

Current Cornell faculty, staff, and students: $550.00
All other participants: $650.00

Workshop Overview

Structural equation modeling (SEM) is a statistical methodology that is gaining popularity with researchers from a broad range of fields including sociology, psychology, clinical sciences, ecology, and biology. SEM provides a general framework for examining complex relationships between variables that may be either observed (manifest) or unobserved (latent). SEM can be used to investigate direct and indirect effects of manifest and latent variables, model correlated exogenous variables, compare relationships among groups, and analyze longitudinal data. Path analysis and linear models are both special cases of SEMs.

This course will cover the fundamental theory behind SEM and provide attendees with the knowledge and skills necessary to confidently apply these methods to their own research. No previous background in SEM is necessary. Researchers from all fields are welcome.

Specific topics to be covered include:

  • Overview of SEM methods
  • Review of linear models
  • Path analysis
  • Direct and indirect effects
  • Exploratory factor analysis
  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Goodness of fit measures
  • Reliability and validity
  • Regression with latent variables
  • Group analyses
  • Multilevel SEM
  • Modeling non-normal data

Statistical Software

This course will have a substantial hands-on component using R via RStudio. Participants should have a working knowledge of both R and RStudio (e.g., be comfortable importing and manipulating data, performing simple statistical analyses, and fitting linear regression models). Prior to the SEM short course, participants will be given an opportunity to register for a free introduction to R webinar that will cover the material that participants are expected to be familiar with. All sessions will be held in a computer lab with PCs that have the most recent versions of R and RStudio installed. Participants are also welcome to bring their own laptop to use during the course, but please make sure to have the most recent version of both R and RStudio already installed. To download and install R, visit and to download and install RStudio, visit Upon request, Stata code for the exercises we cover in class can also be given.

Comments from our previous SEM short-course

  • "This short course was a great format for learning this material. Information about main topic areas, delivered through lectures and demonstrations, was followed by hands-on examples – both examples we worked through as a group and individually. A whole team of CSCU staff were on hand to respond quickly to questions, both in-person and through a real-time chat/notes log. Though participants have to be closely attentive in order to stay up to speed, several breaks were built into each day to catch up and refresh before the next section. Three full days was the right amount of time – it was enough time that we could go rather deep into certain topics and provided time to practice these skills but didn’t require a very lengthy time commitment. I highly recommend this course, and I look forward to other short course offerings from CSCU!" - Amanda Purington, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University

  • "I really enjoyed my time at the Cornell Statistical Consulting Unit’s workshop on Structural Equation Models (SEMs) at Cornell University. The workshop coordinators did a great job introducing SEMs, what assumptions are made when applying SEMs, and highlighting the importance of incorporating scientific theory into SEM design. Importantly, the instructors provided many hands-on applications of SEMs in R and provided data sets enabling personal data exploration and SEM construction within and outside the workshop. Overall, I left the course feeling comfortable applying SEMs to my own research." - Steven Higgins, Postdoc in Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University

  • "The three-day SEM workshop was a perfect balance between theory and application. While the class focused on application, the instructors did an excellent job explaining the underlying mathematical concepts. After taking this course, I now understand why a researcher would use a structural equation model, how to apply it in my own work, and what to look for when reviewing others’ papers. I have already recommended this class to several other professors and graduate students in my field who conduct quantitative research, but it would be useful for anyone who is looking to improve their quantitative analysis skills. Based on my experience in this class, I will certainly attend future CSCU workshops." - Michael Maffie, Assistant Professor in Labor and Employment Relations, Penn State


There are several options for parking at Cornell University. For more information, please visit:


Below are several suggestions for lodging near the Cornell campus. Please be aware that hotel availability in Ithaca can be limited. We recommend making reservations as early as possible.

If you have any questions about this short-course, please contact us at