Application Deadlines

Fall – April 1 (February 1 for fellowship consideration)

Spring – October 1

Summer – March 1

Attend an Info Session

Register today!

The GW Department of Philosophy is hosting small, informal webinars for students interested in earning an MA in Philosophy and Social Policy. At these sessions, current faculty members will discuss prerequisites for admission, career opportunities and coursework, and current students will share their own experiences in the program. Ample time will also be reserved for Q&A.  Please e-mail Dr. Saidel with any questions.

MA in Philosophy and Social Policy

Master of Arts in the field of public policy with a concentration in philosophy and social policy

The 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.

Full-time and part-time curriculum are available. Students enter the program from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds.

Graduates go on to policy-related positions within government agencies (e.g., Congressional Research Service and U.S. Department of Labor), "think tanks," lobbying groups and nonprofits. View the Recent MA Graduates section for more information about the successes of our alumni.

The Philosophy and Social Policy Program has been offered continuously since the mid-1970s, when it was titled the MA in Special Studies. 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.

A limited number of partial tuition fellowships and paid assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, with financial aid priority given to those received by February 1. Please contact Dr. Laura Papish,  Director of Graduate Studies, for more information. For further information about the admissions process, visit the CCAS Frequently Asked Questions webpage, or contact an admissions officer at [email protected] and 202-994-6210.


The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

Two options are available at the discretion of the faculty.  Thesis option—30 credits, including 24 credits in required courses and 6 credits in thesis; non-thesis option—36 credits, including 24 credits in required courses and 12 credits in elective courses.

Four of the following:
PHIL 6230Ethical Issues in Policy Arguments
PHIL 6231Seminar: Economic Justice
PHIL 6238Feminist Ethics and Policy Implications
PHIL 6242Philosophy, Law, and Social Policy
PHIL 6250Topics in Health Policy
PHIL 6262Normative Issues in Foreign Policy
PHIL 6281Environmental Philosophy and Policy
One course from each of the following groups:
Group A
PPPA 6010Politics and The Policy Process
PSC 8212Urban Policy Problems
Group B
ECON 6217Survey of Economics I
ECON 6237Economics of the Environment and Natural Resources
ECON 6248Health Economics
Group C
PSC 6103Approaches to Public Policy Analysis
PPPA 6006Policy Analysis
SOC 6248Race and Urban Redevelopment
WGSS 6240Gender and Public Policy
WGSS 6265Women, Welfare, and Poverty
HIST 6011Reading and Research in History and Public Policy
Group D
PPPA 6002Research Methods and Applied Statistics (or substitute as approved by the advisor)
For thesis option:
PHIL 6998Thesis Research
PHIL 6999Thesis Research
Electives may focus on a particular policy area (e.g., biomedical/health care, urban/welfare, or environmental policy), or may explore varied approaches and policy issues.
Other requirements
Successful completion of a master's comprehensive examination.