USP: Social Policy Focus Area

The Social Policy focus area is designed to provide students with the analytical tools, management skills and knowledge needed to design, implement and evaluate the outcomes of social policies that aim to increase access to economic opportunity in marginalized populations and manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, crime, recidivism, homelessness, sickness, disability, and old age. 

Traditional social service management has expanded to include public-private partnerships, extensive government contracting, and a wide range of civil society initiatives at local, state, national, and supranational levels of governance.  Students interested in this field will study the historical, political, economic, and socio-cultural trends of social policy and the contemporary challenges that stem from the financial crisis and rising inequality; immigration and immigrant integration; growing racial and ethnic tensions; changing gender relations; rising healthcare and education costs; and criminal recidivism.

Students must complete a total of 15 points, with at least 3 points from menu of core courses. 

Please note: 

  • USP short courses (1.5 points) can count towards your elective requirement.
  • A second core course can count towards your elective requirement.
  • Two specialization courses (up to a total of 6 points) can be double counted for elective requirement.

Core Courses

Select one of the following:

PUAF U6228Comparative Social Welfare Policy (*preferred Core option*)3
SOCW T6801Social Welfare Policy 13
Other (requires approval; includes core courses previously listed)

(To register for this course, SIPA students must complete this Form


In addition to the electives listed below, all courses listed under Management in Urban Public Sector or Not-For-Profits and Urban Social Policy will count towards the Social Policy Track

SIPA U6310Nonprofit Financial Management3
ENVP U6250Poverty, Inequality, and the Environment3
ENVP U6275GIS for International Studies3
INAF U6053Creating a Social Enterprise3
INAF U6143Gender, Globalization and Human Rights3
INAF U6175Global Perspectives on Migration3
INAF U6256Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development3
INAF U6368Women and Globalization1.5
INAF U6372Policy and Women's Leadership1.5
INAF U6621Public Policy Challenges in Brazil and Latin America3
INAF U6735Issues in Rural Development3
INAF U6772Global Inequality3
INAF U6898Program Evaluation and Design3
INAF U8161Economics, Law and Public Policy3
INAF U8201The Road to Excellent and Equitable K-12 Public Education: Impediments and Interventions1.5
PUAF U6123Immigration Politics and Policy3
PUAF U8352Comparative Perspectives on Race, Politics and Public Policy3
PUAF U8353Race Policy & American Politics3
EMPA U6510Managing Social and Economic Risk: Comparative Public Policy Approaches3

Courses offered at affiliate Columbia Schools - Enrollment not guaranteed. Please see Cross-Registration instructions. Many courses will require instructor permission.

A&HF 4094 (TC)School and Society3
C&T 4615 (TC)Young Children and Social Policy: Issues and Problems3
CSER UN3490Post 9/11 Immigration Policies (Additional graduate coursework required. Consult USP staff before registering.)4
EDPP 5042 (TC)Urban Politics and Education3
EDPS 4022 (TC)Sociology of Urban Education3
HPMN P6503Introduction to Health Economics3
HPMN P6508Health Policy and the Political System3
HPMN P8513Health Care to Vulnerable Populations1.5
HPMN P8530Seminar on Aging and Health Policy: A Global Perspective1.5
HPMN P8549Interest Group Politics and Health Policy1.5
HPMN P8561Managing Public Health Non-Profits1.5
HPMN P8580Global Health Governance1.5
LAW L6250Immigration Law3
LAW L6252Family Law3
LAW L6357Public Health Law3
LAW L6506Gender Justice3
ORLJ 5340 (TC)Basic Practicum Conflict Resolution3
POPF P8651Water and Sanitation in Complex Emergencies1.5
SOCI G4370Process of Stratification/Inequality3
SOCW T6910The Healthcare System3
SOCW T6970Contemporary Social Issues3
SOCW T7330Intro to Community Organizing3
SOSC P8705Evaluation of Health Programs3
SOSC P8717Urban Space & Health3
SOSC P8737Emerging Topics in Urban & Community Health1
SOSC P8745Social and Economic Determinants of Health3
SOSC P8750Race & Health3
SOSC P8762Chronic Disease, Urban and Community Health3
SOSC P8773Social History of American Public Health3
CSER W3935Historical Anthropology of the US-Mexico Border (Additional graduate coursework required. Consult USP staff before registering.)4
HIST W3523History of Health Inequality in the Modern United States (Additional graduate coursework required. Consult USP staff before registering.)3
POLS W3260 (Additional graduate coursework required. Consult USP staff before registering.)3
SOCI GU4370Processes of Stratification and Inequality3
SOCI UN3900Societal Adaptations to Terrorism (Additional graduate coursework required. Consult USP staff before registering.)4
CSER GU4483Subcitizenship4
LAW L6357Public Health Law2
A&HH 4076 (TC)History of Urban Education3
A&HF 4094 (TC)Languages, Society and Schools3
SOCW T6416Program Evaluation - Social Service3
FINC B8355Impact Investing Seminar1.5

All students are encouraged to discuss their proposed schedule with their advisor.

Year 1
Core: Conceptual Foundations (MIA) Politics of Policy Making (MPA)14SIPA U4201 or U640113
 SIPA U65003
 Concentration Elective Course 3
 Concentration Elective Course3
 Specialization Course 1 3
Other (requires concentration director approval)
SIPA U40400.5 
SIPA U4200 or U640013 
Core: Management Course or Financial Management Course3 
Concentration Core Course (choose one):3 
 13.5 15
Year 2
Elective 3Concentration Elective Course3
Concentration Elective Course3Internship Registration (Optional) 3
Core: Management Course or Financial Management Course3Specialization Course 31.5, 3
Specialization Course 2 3Core: Capstone Workshop3
Elective 3Elective3
 15 13.5-15
Total Points: 57-58.5

 Courses must be taken in the semester listed.

Year 1

Foreign Language - For MIA students and EPD concentrators who need to take language courses to fulfill the degree/concentration requirement, your schedule may need to be adjusted accordingly.

Year 2

Core- MIA students are required to take one Interstate Relations course.