The joint PhD Programs in Social Policy combine the disciplinary depth of a PhD in political science or sociology with multidisciplinary perspectives and problem-driven research on questions of social policy.

As a joint venture between the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' Government and Sociology departments and Harvard Kennedy School, the program is designed for students like you who have broad interests in social policy problems and solutions, spanning topics such as:

  • Economic inequality
  • Wealth distribution (including high-end wealth accumulation)
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Poverty and social mobility
  • Gender
  • Family dynamics
  • Workplace inequities
  • Health disparities
  • Crime and criminal punishment
  • Immigration
  • Local politics, neighborhoods, and segregation
  • Educational access and inequality
  • Political participation and political inequality

The “discipline-plus” model

The PhD Programs in Social Policy are grounded by a “discipline-plus” structure. You will build a strong foundation in either political science or sociology before embarking on a sequence of multidisciplinary seminars and advanced research in social policy—all of which will focus primarily on the United States and Western Europe.

Research at the core

The joint PhD Programs in Social Policy are targeted toward producing scholars whose research puts them at the forefront of studying key problems in social policy. The skills and cross-disciplinary insights you develop will allow you to identify important unanswered questions and create research strategies that improve our understanding of social problems.

Graduates of the joint PhD Programs in Social Policy leave the program well equipped to pursue careers in leading political science or sociology departments, public policy schools, law schools, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, and in the public sector.