MA Program in Philosophy and Social Policy

BrainThe interdisciplinary MA Program in Philosophy and Social Policy offers students some specially-focused coursework in philosophy while helping them learn to apply insights from philosophy to problems of public policy. (This distinguishes us from most policy programs, which usually prepare their students mainly to be quantitative analysts.)

The MA Program consists of:

  • Four courses from a set of courses in philosophy and social policy
  • Four courses from a core of policy-analytic courses, including economics, political science, statistics, and various approaches to public policy.
  • Four elective courses (often in a specific field of public policy, or sometimes in methodology)
  • A comprehensive exam or petitioning to write a thesis, taking six hours of thesis research, and defending a thesis proposal.

Some students are studying full-time and working part-time, and some studying part-time while working full-time. They come in with varied preparation in the arts and sciences. A small number have been undergraduate philosophy majors. A very small number already have graduate degrees in law or medicine.

MA graduates' experience in the job-market has been excellent. Most graduates find policy-related jobs with government agencies (e.g., Congressional Research Service, Labor Department), "think tanks" or policy institutes, associations/lobbies, or foundations. View the Recent MA Graduates for more information.

The Program in Philosophy and Social Policy has been offered continuously since the mid-1970s. At that time, students earned an MA in Special Studies, which was later converted into an MA in Public Policy with a concentration in Philosophy and Social Policy. The Program is administered by a Program Committee within the Department of Philosophy. While we cooperate closely with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, we maintain our autonomy on curricular and admissions decisions.

For information about Program requirements, consult the Graduate Bulletin and the Guide for Students in Philosophy and Social Policy (pdf).

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