Software Description: IBM SPSS Statistics (SPSS) is a popular software package used for statistical analysis, charting, reporting, data management, and data documentation.  The SPSS Statistics package includes IBM SPSS Statistics Base, Advanced Statistics, Bootstrapping, Categories, Complex Samples, Conjoint, Custom Tables, Data Preparation, Decision Trees, Direct Marketing, Exact Tests, Forecasting, Missing Values, Neural Networks, and Regression.

Platform:  Windows, Mac, Linux
Cost: No Charge

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Conditions of License

The academic/teaching version of SPSS is available for download to those who wish to use the software on a personal or university computer.  Administrative use licenses must be obtained separately.  Commercial research use is prohibited; only non-commercial academic research is allowed.  Other methods are available for accessing SPSS on and off campus without the need for installation.

Terms of License

VCU has acquired a site license for SPSS that is restricted to VCU academic teaching/research use only.  Any other use, including administrative use, is prohibited.  If you need SPSS for admin purposes, a special SPSS administrative use license is available.

SPSS products obtained under the VCU Academic Site license are subject to the following conditions:

  • All software installations must be registered.  SPSS obtained via the above DownloadDownload/Renew-Register tab is automatically registered.  If you obtain the SPSS installation files elsewhere, such as from a fellow student or colleague, those SPSS installations must be registered by following the steps listed within the above DownloadDownload/Renew-Register tab.
  • Installation and licensing is limited to computers owned by:
    • VCU or VCUHS
    • Currently enrolled VCU students *
    • Currently employed faculty or staff members of VCU or VCHHS *
  • Usage is limited to currently enrolled VCU students and currently employed faculty or staff members of VCU or VCHHS.
  • Usage is limited to VCU or VCUHS related academic teaching and non-commercial academic research.
  • Any other use, including but not limited to university administration and operations, is strictly prohibited.  In particular, the following are prohibited:
    • VCU or VCUHS administrative use
    • McGuire VA Medical Center use
  • You may not resell this license and/or the products it covers.

* NOTE:  If your VCU enrollment or employment or your computer ownership ends, the SPSS products must immediately be uninstalled.

Non-commercial Academic Research

Non-commercial academic research is research by degree-seeking students and faculty members where (i) the results of such research are not intended primarily for the benefit of a third party; (ii) such results are made available to anyone without restriction on use, copying or further distribution; and (iii) any copy of any such result is furnished for no more than the cost of hosting, reproduction, and shipping.

Administrative Use

Although administrative use of SPSS is prohibited under the VCU site license, individual administrative licenses may be purchased through the VCU education contract at a discounted price.  Please contact the IT Support Center for more information.

Access to SPSS – Teaching & Research only

There are several methods by which students, faculty, and staff may access SPSS for academic teaching and non-commercial academic research.  Some provide access on or off campus without installing the application on your computer. 

  • Register, download, and install a copy of SPSS - A personal copy of SPSS may be installed on your computer.  Please visit the Download/Renew-Register tab above.

  • Login to App2Go Server - If you need quick access to SPSS, the software may be accessed from the App2Go server via a web browser.  App2Go provides you access to SPSS virtually.  SPSS appears to be running on your local computer, and you can open and save files on your computer and print on your local printer.  More information is provided on the App2Go website and how to use the app2Go server.

  • SPSS in the Library - SPSS may be accessed from any of the VCU Libraries computers via the App2Go server.  The library loaner laptops also provide access to SPSS.

Access to SPSS – Administrative Use

If you need to use SPSS for administrative purposes, you must obtain a special "admin" version of SPSS.  It is illegal to use the "academic" version of SPSS (discussed above) for administrative purposes.  Please contact the IT Support Center for assistance if you wish to acquire the administrative software.

Download - Install SPSS (Academic Research & Teaching Only)

  1. Review the IBM SPSS System Requirements.

    Select your desired version and scroll through the list provided to find your operating system.

  2. Select your desired version below to begin the registration and download process.

    You must complete the displayed online registration form to gain access to the SPSS software download link, as described in step 3 below.

  3. In the ensuing screen, complete and submit the online License Registation Form, and then download the software:

    1. Read through the SPSS license requirements in the registration form.
    2. Check all boxes to confirm your agreement with the license terms.  All licensing conditions must be abided by, or the license will be revoked.
    3. Select your Installation Location(s).
    4. Select the number of licenses to be installed/registered.
    5. Press the Continue button.
    6. A registration confirmation screen will appear containing the SPSS download link(s)Download the SPSS installation file.
    7. An email will be sent to your VCU address containing an SPSS authorization code, which you will need for licensing SPSS on your computer.
  4. Install the SPSS software according to these instructions:

  5. After installation, you must license your SPSS software, using the authorization code that was emailed to you — see the "LICENSING INSTRUCTIONS" step below.

Renew - Register SPSS (Academic Research & Teaching Only)

SPSS software expires each June and December.  To renew  your SPSS license, or to register SPSS installations that were previously unregistered, please follow the steps below.  A license authorization code will be emailed to your VCU address, which you can use to license or renew the license of your software.

  1. Select your desired SPSS version for renewal/registration:

  2. In the ensuing screen, complete and submit the online registration form — see details in step 3 above (ignore the download step).
  3. After submitting the form, a registration confirmation screen will appear, and an SPSS authorization code will be sent to your VCU email.
  4. LICENSING INSTRUCTIONS:  Select the desired version to see how to apply the authorization code to license your software:

Learn SPSS

SPSS learning resources are available to all VCU students, faculty and staff.  VCU provides hands-on training on the basics of SPSS.  Online tutorials are available through IBM and Lynda.com.  Written documentation is available in book form and online.

SPSS Courses

Safari Books Online

  • SPSS For Dummies and other SPSS related books may be viewed online for free by VCU students, faculty, and staff, because of VCU Libraries subscription with Safari Books Online.

IBM Manuals, Documents & Tutorials

Older Manuals

  • These two SPSS 21 manuals are listed here because they contain significantly more information than their version 22 and later counterparts, and that information is still accurate for the current version of SPSS.

    SPSS 21 Brief Guide

    SPSS 21 Custom Tables

  • This SPSS 10 manual contains an explanation of how to read data into SPSS from fixed-width (column aligned) text files.  Although this is an old manual, this explanation is still accurate for the current version of SPSS (except for the three exceptions noted below), and, to our knowledge, it is not available elsewhere.  See pages 4-19 through 4-35 in this manual.

    The Basics: SPSS 10 for Windows    (exercise files for this manual)


    • At the bottom of page 4-20 in this SPSS 10 manual, perform the following three steps, instead of the three steps shown in the manual:
      1. From the SPSS menus, select "File / Import Data / Text Data".
      2. From the Encoding drop-down list in the dialog box, select "Local Encoding".
      3. Navigate to and select the "Gss91Sm.dat" data file.  [If you have downloaded and extracted (unzipped) the exercise files, using the above link, "Gss91Sm.dat" will be among those files.]
    • In the dialog box shown on page 4-22 of the manual, in the section entitled "Are variable names included at the top of your file?", be sure to select "No", as shown in the manual   We mention this because in SPSS 25 the default setting is "Yes".
    • This refers to Step 5 of the text import wizard, whose explanation begins on page 4-28.  In that explanation, the manual states that variable names are limited to 8 characters; however in current SPSS versions that limit is 64 characters.  Also, in current SPSS versions the default data format displayed in the wizard dialog box is "Automatic", meaning that the wizard will determine the variable's format, based on the data found in the column.  If desired, you may override that and select a specific format from the drop-down list, such as "Numeric" or "String".

    There are a few other minor differences that you will encounter in these pages, but they should not be a problem.  Note that you can click the Help button in each dialog box to get assistance.

Updates, Support, Using R

Periodic SPSS updates are issued throughout the year.  Technical and consulting support is available to SPSS users.  R programs can be utilized within SPSS.

SPSS Updates / Fix Packs

IBM releases occasional updates, called "fix packs", to correct bugs and other SPSS software issues.  Email notification about these is sent to all registered users, as they become available.

You are strongly encouraged to download and install the fix pack listed below for your version of SPSS.

***  (these contain critical security updates; please apply as soon as possible.)


VCU Technology Services provides support for issues with SPSS installation and licensing.  You may submit a request for assistance through the IT Support Center.

The Department of Statistical Sciences & Operations Research provides free consultation services, including support for research work, statistical advice, and analytical know-how.  These are available by appointment to all current VCU students, faculty, and staff.

The VCU SPSS email listserv provides subscribers timely notification of SPSS upgrades, maintenance fixes, training and learning opportunities, and other related news.  Users who download or renew SPSS from the VCU website are automatically subscribed.  You may also manually subscribe by visiting SPSS Listserv (VCU email address required).

Using R with SPSS

You can run R programs within SPSS to analyze the data files that you have opened in SPSS.  R is a free software environment for statistical analysis, graphics, and more.

To be able to run R programs within SPSS, you must perform these one-time procedures:

  1. First, you must install the correct version of R, which is available at www.r-project.org, for your installed version of SPSS:
    • FOR SPSS 25:  Install R 3.3.x or R 3.5.x.
    • FOR SPSS 24:  Install R 3.2.2.
  2. Then, install the appropriate SPSS auxillary package(s) for your installed version of SPSS:

Running R commands in SPSS:

(You must first perform the one-time procedures noted just above.)

To use R commands within SPSS, open an SPSS Syntax window (from the SPSS menus, select File / New / Syntax).  Then type your R commands, sandwiched between the "BEGIN PROGRAM R." and the "END PROGRAM." commands.  Note that there is a "." period at the end of those two commands (but the R commands obey the usual R syntax rules).  Here is a simple example:


x <- 2 + 5

cat("the value of x is", x)


To then execute those commands, display the "Run" menu in the Syntax window and select "All".  Any resulting output will normally be displayed in your SPSS Viewer window.

You can execute a subset of the commands in the Syntax window by selecting (highlighting) them with the mouse, displaying the "Run" menu, and selecting "Selection" (or clicking the green triangular "Run Selection" toolbar button).  However, you must select and run an entire R "sandwich" (that is, the "BEGIN PROGRAM R." and the "END PROGRAM." commands, and all the R commands in between them).

If desired, you can save the contents of the Syntax window to a file (from the Syntax window menus, select File / Save).  Then, in the future, you can re-use those program commands by re-opening that file in a Syntax window (from the menus of any SPSS window, select File / Open / Syntax, then browse for your file).

Your R commands can read and write data from and to an SPSS data file.  Here are some related articles of interest: