Getting started with SAS On Demand for Academics

Steve Simon


Teaching a class in SAS is tricky because some students do not have easy access to the SAS software. SAS is a commercial product and the price that you would have to pay is way beyond the budget of most students.

In the past, I have provided access several different ways.

All of these have been problematic for reasons that are difficult to explain. There is a new way, however, that you can access SAS for teaching purposes and it looks like it avoids many of the problems of the solutions listed above.

SAS On Demand for Academics

You can now run SAS from the cloud, using a system called SAS OnDemand for Academics. SAS uses the cute acronym SODA for this system.

“The cloud” is a generic term for a computer system that runs remotely and is accessed using standard web browsing software or other fairly simple and commonly used systems. The software is free, but has certain limitations. In particular, it can only be used to teaching, and not for research.

SODA is quite popular in academia, as you can see from web pages at at many universities.

There is at least one person who has complaints about SODA. I have not had enough experience yet to validate or contradict this complaint.

SAS wants to classify you into one of three categories: independent learner, student, or instructor. The instructions are slightly different for how to register with SAS and how to use SODA.

Everyone needs to start on the login page. You may already have a profile with SAS, especially if you’ve used their website regularly. If you don’t have a profile, you can set one up with the link at the bottom of the page. A profile is not enough. You also have to visit a registration page where you set up a home region. SAS has a detailed handout in pdf format about how to register for SODA.

Then, if you are the teacher, you set up one or more individual courses. These have to be real courses offered at an accredited university, though it is not clear how carefully SAS checks this. Please don’t abuse their goodwill and try to use SAS OnDemand for Academics for non-teaching purposes.

It is easy to upload data for your own individual use. If you are an instructor and want to upload data for all your students, follow these instructions instead. SAS has a nice suggested email that you can send to your students to help them get started with your class.