SAS vs. SPSS: Know the Key Differences

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Data analysis is an important part of the technological revolution that the world is currently going through. Hence, now every data you collect as a part of an organization is cleaned, transformed, and modeled before it is stored. However, you cannot perform this statistical analysis alone; certain tools help in this task. Out of them, SPSS and SAS are the most popular ones. In case, you are confused about what statistical analysis tool to use in your organization or learn as a beginner, then read this blog. Here, you will get a comparison of SAS vs. SPSS that will help you in making a better choice.

SAS vs. SPSS: Concept

If you want to compare SAS vs. SPSS, you must first have a clear idea of the concept of the programs.

What is SPSS?

SPSS is the acronym for “Statistical Package for Social Science”, the oldest statistical software on earth. It was created by IBM in 1968. It can deal with a large volume of datasets quite effectively and at ease. Additionally, SPSS is quite flexible. Hence, researchers, who need to examine various types of data for statistical analysis, prefer to use SPSS.

The other feature of SPSS that makes the tool well-liked among all consumers is its client-friendly user interface. Moreover, developing reports, tables, and charts is quite easy in SPSS. For this reason, SPSS is commonly used for the following purposes:

  • Market research
  • Health research
  • Government administration
  • Survey businesses
  • Data mining

What is SAS?

Statistical Analysis System or SAS is one of the finest programming languages. SAS Inc based at the North Carolina University created this program between 1966 and 1976 with the primary objective of examining statistical data. The best part of SAS is its compatibility with almost all operating programs. Therefore, using it as a programming language and a graphic user interface does not create many problems.

However, personalizing content on SAS is quite difficult. If you draw a comparison of SAS vs. SPSS, you will notice that SAS is more robust than SPSS. It is because they don’t share the same interface. Moreover, you cannot copy-paste charts and tables in SAS. As a result, if you want to personalize any program through SAS, you must have in-depth coding knowledge.

Nonetheless, unlike any other programming language, SAS offers more control over data modeling, because of its strong coding editor. Due to all these features, SAS is primarily used for the following purposes:

  • Advanced analytics
  • Data management
  • Business intelligence
  • Predictive analysis

Also read: Learn and Understand About Sequel Programming Languages

SAS vs. SPSS: Advantages

Another essential thing that you must consider while you compare SAS vs. SPSS is the perks of the programs

Pros of SPSS

Following are the perks of SPSS

Invisible Graphic User Interface

SPSS has one of the finest Graphic User interfaces; the GUI is invisible. Therefore, it is easy to use. Even you can perform complex tasks with minimum coding.

SPSS offers in-depth data analysis with faster and more accurate results of data. Hence, it is one of the most popular statistical software.

Faster and efficient

SPSS tracks the movement and location of the variables and data objects.  As a result, users can administer the model. It leads to faster and more efficient data analysis.

Gives more control to users

Users can have more control over the data they analyze in SPSS. SPSS’s inbuilt data management system gives users this leverage.

Easy to learn

SPSS is quick and easy software to learn and work on

Pros of SAS

If you use SAS, you can enjoy the following benefits:

High security

SAS uses encrypted algorithms to deal with data. Therefore, whether you build a program with SAS or conduct a statistical analysis, your information remains secured in SAS. For this reason, it is a trusted name in the enterprise industry.

Supports all data formats

SAS supports almost all types of data formats. As a result, you can bring in data in the form of SPSS, Stata, Excel, or a similar format convert it to SAS, and work on the file.

Strong support center

SAS’s support center is very helpful. Hence, if you have come across an error in the program, regarding its installation or while executing any task, you can easily get it solved through the SAS program’s help center.

Highly customizable

You can personalize graphs like plots, scatter plots, and bar charts in SAS.

SAS vs. SPSS: Disadvantages

Here are the differences in the disadvantages of SAS and SPS.

Cons of SPSS

Though SPSS has multiple advantages, it has some drawbacks as well. Here are a few significant ones:


SPSS is expensive. Therefore, small industries cannot afford to use it for their regular data requirements.

Low storage capacity

SPSS has a low data storage facility. Hence, you cannot process large datasets in this program.

Limited features

The features and syntax available in SPSS are quite limited.

Cons of SAS

Here are a few disadvantages of SAS:


SAS is an expensive program. You need a license to use this program. Therefore, small-scale businesses cannot afford to use this program.

Limited graphical capabilities

The features for graphical visualizations are quite limited in SAS.

Limited features

The general features of SAS are also limited.

SAS vs. SPSS: Usability

There are some prominent differences between SAS and SPSS. Let’s take a look:

Uses of SPSS

You do not need to be a statistician to use SPSS. Just make use of the user-friendly interface. It has a drag-and-drop menu to make your work easy, which you can use in many fields, especially in social science.

Operations of SAS

This commercial analytics software has large qualities and quantities of production data. Therefore, you can also utilize the SAS programming language for multiple purposes. Moreover, it is a well-tested program that releases updates in a controlled environment.

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SAS vs. SPSS: Data Processing

Here is the comparison of data processing in SAS vs. SPSS:

Data processing in SPSS

SPSS cannot work with large data. Hence, you can rely on this programming language when the data you handle is below 100 MB.

Data processing in SAS

SAS can process bulk data sets of data for various facilities like sorting or splicing

SAS vs. SPSS: Ease of Learning

Here is a comparison of SPSS vs. SAS on the ease of learning.

The simplicity of learning SPSS

SPSS has one of the finest user interfaces. Therefore, it is not mandatory to learn coding to use SPSS. Hence, the program is accessible to all. Additionally, the program automatically develops functions and the syntax for steps carried out in the user interface. The features like drop-down, and paste help to perform it.

Ease of learning SAS

To use the programming language SAS, you must have a deep knowledge of the concepts and practices of SQL. This is because the basic procedure of SAS is developed on Proc SQL.

SAS vs. SPSS: Decision tree

When you compare SPSS vs. SAS, the former programming language has an edge over the latter. Here’s how.

Decision tree in SPSS

A decision tree is already pre-programmed in SPSS. You can use it to spot groups, find out relationships between the groups, and predict their future events.

Decision tree in SAS

SAS is not pre-programmed with a decision tree. If you want to implement decision tree functions in SAS you have to purchase a data mining suite. It is an additional cost to the already expensive SAS program.

SAS vs. SPSS: Data Management

While drawing a comparison of SAS vs. SPSS, you can observe that SAS has an advantage over SPSS. Let’s find out:

Data Management in SPSS

If you compare the data management function of SPSS with any other programming language apart from SAS, you will find that SPSS is quite powerful. However, its vigor fails when compared to SAS.

Data Management in SAS

SAS has a powerful data management system.

SAS vs. SPSS: A Comparison Table

Point of difference SPSS SAS
Concept It is a statistical software built for the analysis of statistical data SAS is a programming language developed to perform advanced analytical functions, productive analysis, and work related to business intelligence.
Graphic capabilities It has a seamless Graphic user interface Graphic visualizations are quite limited
Popularity SPSS offers in-depth data analysis with faster and more accurate results of data. Therefore, it is more popular. SAS is not as popular among programmers and statisticians as SPSS.
Features It is feature-enriched software. In-built features are quite limited in SAS.
Uses Primarily used in social science Used in a wide range of industries
Data processing Cannot work with data beyond 100 MB It can easily work with large data sets
Ease of learning You can learn to use SPSS even without basic knowledge of Coding Requires basic knowledge of SQL to use the programming language
Decision tree It is pre-installed in SPSS Have to purchase a data mining suite to create a decision tree
Support for data format Does not support all forms of data You can put data in the form  of SPSS, Stata, Excel, or a similar format and convert it to SAS to work with this programming language
Data Management The data management system in SPSS is quite poor SAS has an excellent data management system


It’s time to wrap up. By now, you will have gained a better comprehension of the comparison between SAS and SPSS. If you need statistical software that is best for both beginners and experienced professionals, then SPSS is the perfect choice. In case, you have good coding skills and wish to perform advanced statistical operations, you can go with SAS. Both SAS and SPSS have their own set of pros and cons. However, it is up to you to select which suits the best for your requirements.

Jacob Smith Education Reading Time: 9 minutes

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