Social Policy

Academic Year 2023 – 2024

General Information

Robertson Hall

Program Offerings:

  • Joint Degree

Director of Graduate Studies:

Graduate Program Administrator:


The Joint Degree Program (JDP) in Social Policy is a collaborative effort of the School of Public and International Affairs and the Departments of Politics, Psychology, Population Studies, and Sociology.  The Department of Economics also affiliates with the program, but not as a joint degree participant.

The JDP follows a "discipline-plus" structure. The "discipline" means that all students complete a Ph.D. in a basic social science; the "plus" means that they will deeply engage with multidisciplinary perspectives on the problems of economic insecurity and inequality in advanced post-industrial societies and the developing world.

The program is designed to appeal to students who want to pursue academic careers in a traditional discipline but who see themselves as committed to the study of social issues of public importance. The program in social policy addresses some of the most pressing problems we face in the U.S. and other parts of the world where inequality generates conflict, poverty and prejudice; diminishes political participation; and reduces opportunities for social mobility. We seek to bring the most rigorous tools of social science to bear on these important social questions.

JDP students earn doctoral degrees in politics and social policy, psychology and social policy, demography (population studies) and social policy, and sociology and social policy. These titles reflect a fundamental characteristic of the program: students are simultaneously full members of their disciplinary departments and participants in an inter-disciplinary community.

For graduate students in economics, we also offer a special non-degree fellowship to be completed in the third or fourth year of graduate school.

Students in the Joint Degree Program must first be admitted to the University by their home (disciplinary) department, and then by the multidisciplinary social policy faculty. Only those who are admitted by both committees will be eligible to participate in the program, insuring complete integration of the students into their disciplinary departments as well as the social policy community. The application process, outlined below, differs based on the students’ home departments.

Students interested in the joint degree with sociology or population studies have the option of applying to the program at the time of their initial application to the Graduate School.  Otherwise, students may apply to the program after their first or second year of graduate study. Students applying after their first or second year of graduate study must complete the internal application for admission by March 3 and submit to Regina Foglia, program administrator for the joint degree program.

Program Offerings

Program Offering: Joint Degree


Complete 1.5 years of course work, including the year-long course “Issues in Inequality and Social Policy,” followed by the one-semester “Advanced Empirical Workshop.”

General exam

Complete a general exam in social inequality or social policy. (This requirement applies to Sociology and Population Studies students only; students may count one of their home department exams toward this requirement.) 

Additional requirements

Participate in the Monday lecture series, “Dilemmas of Inequality,” held each fall.

Complete an empirical paper for the “Advanced Empirical Workshop.” (Students may count one of their home department papers toward this requirement.) 


  • Associated Faculty

    • Jennifer L. Jennings, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
    • Emily Pronin, Psychology (spring)
    • Andreas B. Wiedemann, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs (fall)

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.