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Social Policy, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 60 months
Cambridge, MA, United States
If you want to combine the disciplinary depth of a PhD in political science or sociology with the multidisciplinary study of social policy issues, the PhD in Social Policy is for you.
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  • The PhD Program in Social Policy is a collaboration between the government and sociology departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the social policy faculty at Harvard Kennedy School leading to a PhD in government and social policy or a PhD in sociology and social policy. The program is designed for students whose research interests engage questions of economic inequality, neighborhoods and spatial segregation, poverty, changing family structures, race and ethnicity, immigration, educational access and quality, political inequalities and participation, and comparative and institutional studies of social policy, particularly in the US and Western Europe.
  • In the course of their PhD training, students acquire the analytical tools to connect scholarship in their disciplinary field to problems of social policy, bringing the combined insights of economics, political science, public policy, and sociology to bear on social issues that defy disciplinary compartmentalization. The “discipline-plus” structure of the program means that students complete all the normal requirements for a PhD in government or sociology, plus an intensive program of study in social policy. In this way, they are fully trained in the theory, methods, and substantive concerns of a traditional academic discipline, building a strong foundation for extending inquiry in social policy to other disciplinary domains.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 60 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

As a joint venture between the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’  government and sociology departments with Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Policy faculty members, the program is designed for you to focus your research on issues including:

  • Changing family structures
  • Comparative and institutional studies of social policy
  • Economic inequality
  • Educational access and quality
  • Immigration
  • Neighborhoods and spatial segregation
  • Political inequalities and participation
  • Poverty
  • Race and ethnicity.

Depending on your preferred track, you graduate from the program with either a PhD in government and social policy, or a PhD in sociology and social policy.

English Language Requirements

You need the following TOEFL iBT ® score:

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120.

General Requirements

  • A statement of purpose (1,000 words)
  • A CV or resumé (1-2 pages).
  • A writing sample that best illustrates the applicant's analytic and research abilities (strongly recommended). This may be single-spaced to meet the recommended 20-page limit.
  • A list of courses previously taken in your intended field of study and grades received, plus transcripts from all universities and colleges attended.
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should come from faculty members in most cases. (If in doubt about whom to select, applicants may submit up to four letters).
  • GRE scores (required).

Tuition Fee

  • International

    44816 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44816 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
  • National

    44816 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44816 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Full Tuition— required first two years of study: $44,816

Reduced Tuition—required third and fourth years of study:  11,654.

Living costs for Cambridge

  • 1814 - 3760 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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