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 credits) can count towards your elective requirement.
  • A second core course can count towards your elective requirement.  3) Two specialization courses can be double counted for elective requirement.

Core Courses

Select one of the following:

PUAF U6228Comparative Social Welfare Policy (*preferred Core option*)3
INAF U6475Social Policy and Inclusive Development3
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
PUAF U6123Immigration Politics and Policy3
INAF U6898Program Evaluation and Design3
INAF U6143Gender, Globalization and Human Rights3
INAF U6053Creating a Social Enterprise3
INAF U6256Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development3
INAF U6621Public Policy Challenges in Brazil and Latin America3
INAF U6772Global Inequality3
INAF U8161Economics, Law and Public Policy3
INAF U6735Issues in Rural Development3
INAF U6368Women and Globalization1.5
INAF U6372Policy and Women's Leadership1.5
EMPA U6510Managing Social and Economic Risk: Comparative Public Policy Approaches3
INAF U6175Global Perspectives on Migration3
PUAF U8352Comparative Perspectives on Race, Politics and Public Policy3
PUAF U8353Race Policy & American Politics3

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 W3490 (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
SOCI W3900Societal Adaptation to Terrorism (Additional graduate coursework required. Consult USP staff before registering.)3
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 Border4
HIST W3523History of Health Inequality in the Modern United States3
POLS W3260The Latino Political Experience3
POLS W3921 4
SOCI G4370 3
SOCI W3900 4
CSER W4483 4
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.

USP - Social Policy Track Courses

INAF U6475 Social Policy and Inclusive Development. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Social, USP:Urban, USP, USP:Social
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This course will explore the comparative and global political economy of contemporary systems of social and labor protection in developing (including post-socialist) countries, known as "welfare regimes." Economic globalization, struggles over democratization, shifting and competing policy paradigms at the international level, and the assistance strategies of international financial institution and non-governmental donors will all be discussed as important contextual, and at times decisive, influences.

SIPA U6310 Nonprofit Financial Management. 3 Points.

Category: MIA, MPA, MIA/MPA Core: Financial Management, USP, USP:Urban, USP:Social

There are more than one million nonprofit organizations in the United States and hundreds of thousands more internationally and the number is growing.  The nonprofit sector includes an enormous diversity of organizations, ranging from complex health care systems, to education and arts institutions, to small community-based human service organizations.  This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of how to conduct the financial management of a nonprofit entity. Through the use of readings, case studies, a class project and lecture, we will study financial statements, financial analysis, and accounting for non-profit organizations and international NGOs.  We will examine how the principles of financial management assist the nonprofit and NGO manager in making operating, budgeting, capital, and long-term financial planning decisions.  We will also explore contemporary ethical, accountability, and mission issues facing national and international organizations.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2017 001 11198 Sarah Holloway W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
413 International Affairs Bldg
Fall 2017 R01 13200 Th F 1:00pm - 2:00pm
407 International Affairs Bldg
Spring 2018 001 23546 Sarah Holloway T 11:00am - 12:50pm
407 International Affairs Bldg
Spring 2018 R01 27280 W Th 1:00pm - 2:00pm
404 International Affairs Bldg

ENVP U6250 Poverty, Inequality, and the Environment. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Sustainable, EE: GEMP, EE, EE: EPM, USP:Social, USP
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Progress and Poverty (1879), by the American economist and philosopher Henry George, was a worldwide bestseller and major impetus to reform movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. George argued that owners of land and other natural resources--a small fraction of the population--gain most of the benefits of economic growth. They also withhold high quality resources from use, driving down wages and forcing economic activity to sprawl out onto marginal land. His remedy: "We must make land common property," not by nationalizing it, but by collecting the surplus (economic rent) by taxation, using the revenue for public benefit. See ( Today, George's ideas powerfully influence both the field of ecological economics and the commons movement. (See In this course we will read Progress and Poverty, examining how well George's ideas have stood the test of time. We will read excerpts from predecessors and contemporaries of George, including Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen. We will also read modern authors, including economist Mason Gaffney and commons movement founder Peter Barnes. Topics we will cover include: Poverty, its definition and measurement. Inequality of wealth and income, and the relationship of inequality to poverty, wage levels, health, environmental destruction and "sustainability". Population size, age structure and geographic distribution. Economics of common resources. Economic rent and property rights. Economics of cooperation and competition. Inequality, trade and global sprawl. Growth and the boom and bust cycle. Economics of time--how do and should we make decisions about the future? Tax and other policy options.

ENVP U6275 GIS for International Studies. 3 Points.

Category: EE: GEMP, EE, EE: EPM, USP:Urban, USP, USP:Social

This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and remote sensing technologies as they are used in a variety of social and environmental science applications. Through a mixture of lectures, readings, focused discussions, and hands-on exercises, students will acquire an understanding of the variety and structure of spatial data and databases, gain a knowledge of the principles behind raster and vector based spatial analysis, learn basic cartographic principles for producing maps that effectively communicate a message, and develop sound practices for GIS project design and management. The class will focus on the application of GIS to assist in the development, implementation and analysis of environmental and social policy and practices at the global and regional scale.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2017 001 91796 Gregory Yetman Th 11:00am - 12:50pm
510a International Affairs Bldg

PUAF U6123 Immigration Politics and Policy. 3 Points.

Category: MIA Core: Interstate Relations, USP, USP:Social, USP:Urban
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

The course emphasizes theories of migration, migration and development, transnational Citizenship, European responses to immigration, U. S. responses to immigration, immigrant Incorporation, refugee policy.

INAF U6898 Program Evaluation and Design. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Economic, EPD:Political, EPD:Social, EPD:Sustainable, USP:Urban, USP, USP:Social, Management

In this course, students will: (1) become familiar with the concepts, methods, and applications of evaluation research; (2) learn how to assess the context for evaluation; (3) learn how to read evaluation research critically; and (4) be able to propose an appropriate evaluation plan.  The course will center on a Group Project where teams of students (no more than 5 students) will work together to develop an evaluation plan for a program. In the process, students will learn to assess evaluation needs, how to map a program theory, link outcomes to metrics, and plan to ‘conduct' an evaluation. At the end of the course, students will be required to present their group evaluation plan in class and to submit an individual final paper, based on your group's proposal for the program evaluation plan.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2017 001 61151 Julie Poncelet M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
501b International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6374 Mainstreaming Gender in Global Affairs. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Social, HRHP, GPP, Management

This course introduces students to gender mainstreaming, gender analysis and intersectionality as theory and method, as well as the associated set of strategies, tools and skills applicable to international and public policy contexts. Through a combination of empirical research, structural theorizing, social critique, and case studies, students will become acquainted with the global dimensions of feminist organizing and policy-making necessary for working in a variety of specialty policy fields such as education, public health, international finance, sustainable development, peace and security, organizational management and economic development.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2017 001 88147 Kristy Kelly Th 11:00am - 12:50pm
324 International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6375 Gender and Livelihoods: From Displacement to Early Recovery. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Social, GPP

This course will address the effects of conflict on livelihoods, how livelihoods can be re-vitalized during population displacement, how promoting economic self-reliance underpins all other humanitarian work, the impact on the protection of women and men, and how these programs are prerequisite for and can be linked with post-conflict recovery and development. The impact of conflict, displacement and livelihoods on gender, gender norms, and gender power relations will be addressed throughout.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2017 001 91698 Dale Buscher Th 6:10pm - 8:00pm
501b International Affairs Bldg

INAF U8785 Gender, Politics, and Development. 3 Points.

Category: EPD, EPD:Political, EPD:Social, HRHP, GPP, IO, USP, USP:Social

Gender equality, and women’s and girls’ empowerment, are now widely accepted as development goals in their own right, and essential to inclusive and sustainable development. But despite progress in many areas, gender gaps and discrimination persist. How did gender equality move from the periphery to the center of development discourse, and what difference has this made? Is gender equality a human right, an essential aspect of human development, or “smart economics”? What are the implications of a gender equality agenda for men and boys, and for broader understandings of gender identities and sexualities? What policies, strategies and practices have been effective – or ineffective – in narrowing gender gaps and improving outcomes for both women and men in particular development settings? In this course, we approach gender, politics and development in terms of theory, policy and practice. We apply a critical gender lens to a wide range of development sectors and issue areas, including economic development, political participation, education and health, environment and climate change, and conflict and displacement. We also consider current debates and approaches related to gender mainstreaming and gender metrics in development practice. Students engage with the course material through class discussion, exercises and case studies, and the development of a gender-related project proposal.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2018 001 21246 Maxine Weisgrau, Eugenia McGill M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
801 International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6370 Women & Global Leadership. 1.5 Point.

Category: Management
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This practicum will explore the progress of women's leadership on a global scale. We will look at women's leadership in both the public and the private sphere. In addition to understanding the current status of women's leadership around the globe, we will examine the competitive advantages successful integration of women brings about for a country or a company. Finally, we will look to understand the obstacles which have inhibited women's further progress in both of these arenas. The course will be taught in an interactive seminar format.

INAF U6143 Gender, Globalization and Human Rights. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Social, HRHP, USP:Social, USP, GPP

Prerequisites: Students who have not taken either International Human Rights Law or International Law must obtain instructor permission to enroll

From the ‘feminization of migration' to labor market effects of trade agreements, from the recognition of rape as a war crime to the emergence of transnational advocacy movements focused on women's and LGBTQ rights, globalization is being shaped by and reshaping gender relations. Human rights norms are directly implicated in these processes. The development of global and regional institutions increases the likelihood that national policies affecting gender relations will be subject to international scrutiny. At the same time, local activists redefine international norms in terms of their own cultural and political frameworks with effects that impact general understandings. What ‘human rights' can women claim, where, how and from whom? What human rights can LGBT people claim? How can we craft effective and fair policies on the basis of the existing human rights framework?

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2018 001 67396 Yasmine Ergas W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
801 International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6003 Coding for Development and Social Change. 1 Point.

Category: Management
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

In this 3-day workshop, students will learn design thinking and basic coding. This course is an introduction to technology and analytics for social good. At the end of the workshop, students will have the resources and knowledge to build/develop a framework.

INAF U6053 Creating a Social Enterprise. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Economic, EPD:Social, USP:Urban, USP, USP:Social, Management

The course will focus primarily on the knowledge and skills required to launch a social enterprise.  The class will include an overview of Social Enterprises around the globe and will look at various enterprise models (for profit, non-profit) and their role in the broader market economy.  Class time will focus on the analysis of Case Studies and the vetting of real social enterprise business plans.  The course will center on a Group Project where teams of three (3) will work together to build a plan for launching their own, new Social Enterprise. In the process, students will learn how to define, design, market, sustain and scale their concept.  At the end of the course, students will submit a formal business plan and budget and will present their plan to a panel of experts in the field.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2017 001 61150 Sarah Holloway W 11:00am - 12:50pm
Room TBA
Spring 2018 001 22596 Sarah Holloway W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
324 International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6256 Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Economic, EPD:Social, EPD:Sustainable, USP:Social, USP, Management
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

The purpose of this course is to introduce, critically analyze and experiment with cutting-edge ideas in social entrepreneurship from the "North" (US, Europe) and the "South" (Africa and Asia) with a special focus on initiatives and enterprises focused on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Making markets work for the poor requires an understanding of social entrepreneurship and social enterprises in the developing world as strategies and untapped opportunities to add value to society by harnessing market forces that blend human, financial and social capital resources to achieve replicability and scale in every development domain, such as mobile health technologies, microfinance, renewable energy, water, education, fair trade, and agriculture. This course adopts both theoretical and applied cases, team-based field experiments and distinguished guest speakers in the teaching process to ensure that students gain an understanding of their roles as change makers and social entrepreneurs, and feel equipped to handle the complexities involved in designing hybrid models for efficient service delivery to the world's poor (i.e., through public spending, development assistance, philanthropy and private or social sector "impact" investments).

INAF U8620 Colonialism and Post-colonialism: Discourse and Material Condition. 3 Points.

Category: USP, USP:Social, USP:Urban
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Colonialism and post-colonialism are conditions common to most of the Third World, including nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The history of colonialism and the present state of post-colonialism have influenced much of the development of Third World nations. This seminar allows students to engage some of the theoretical writings that inform our understanding of colonialism and post-colonialism, including their origins and natures.

INAF U8161 Economics, Law and Public Policy. 3 Points.

Category: EPD, EPD:Economic, APEA, USP, USP:Urban

As Adam Smith noted long ago, economic development cannot occur in the absence of a stable legal system. The purpose of this course is two-fold. First, the course reviews some of the modern developments in economics that are relevant for the study of institutions. Second, it uses these tools to explore the structure of the law, and its impact upon economic performance. The goal is to provide a foundation for the understanding of legal institutions that goes beyond national boundaries, and can help better understand the challenges that rapid economic growth and globalization pose for policy makers.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2018 001 63697 W. Bentley MacLeod Th 9:00am - 10:50am
801 International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6772 Global Inequality. 3 Points.

Category: EPD:Economic, EPD:Political, IFEP: Economic Policy Track, IFEP, USP:Social, USP

This course examines persistence and change in the global distribution of income, both within and across countries. We will consider philosophical arguments about inequality and whether or not it is a problem. Then we will review and discuss the measurement and positive economics of inequality. Finally, we will discuss political consequences of and policy responses to increases in inequality.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2018 001 79031 Suresh Naidu Th 11:00am - 12:50pm
409 International Affairs Bldg

INAF U6621 Public Policy Challenges in Brazil and Latin America. 3 Points.

This course will familiarize students with some of the key public and social policy challenges facing Latin America today. The course focuses on six main topics: inequality, education, informality, crime, health, and aging. Though several of these topics are interconnected, each has its particularities and has been the object of specifically designed public policies and of intense debate. The connecting thread running through the course is the idea that inequality and social exclusion permeate most of the main public policy challenges in the region. The class provides conceptual and historical backgrounds for the remainder of the course. It discusses the different economic rationales for government intervention and public policy evaluation and gives an overview of the historical origins of institutional development and inclusive public goods provision.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2018 001 92446 Rodrigo Reis Soares T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
501b International Affairs Bldg