Master of Social Policy Curriculum | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
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Master of Social Policy Curriculum

The Master of Social Policy is a yearlong, 31-credit program. Twelve credit hours earned in your primary degree program (e.g. MSW or MPH) are applied toward the completion of the MSP degree, resulting in 43 credit hour MSP program. 

The program provides a strong groundwork in the skills necessary for a variety of policy-related careers, with the flexibility to allow students to pursue their own interests and goals.

Foundation Courses: 15 Credits, 5 Courses in 5 Foundation Areas 

Students must complete the minimum requirement course in each foundation area, unless it has already been completed as part of their additional master's program. 


Minimum requirement: Economics of Social Welfare 

Additional courses available, if minimum requirement is already complete:

  • Benefit-Cost Analysis for Social and Public Policy Evaluation
  • Public and Applied Economics
  • Health Economics
  • Economic Realities of the American Dream 
Policy Analysis

Minimum requirement: Social Policy Analysis and Evaluation 

Additional courses available, if minimum requirement is already complete:

  • Policy Impact Assessment
  • Policy Design Lab
Politics of Policy 

Minimum requirement (Select one of the four below):

  • Policy and Advocacy in the Three Branches of Government
  • Influencing Policy Implementation
  • Domestic Social and Economic Development
  • International Social and Economic Development Policy

Minimum requirement: Public Administration, Finance and Government Budgeting OR Management and Leadership in Organizations

Additional courses available, if minimum requirement is already complete:

  • Managing People
  • Other courses as approved

Minimum Requirement: Biostatistics 

   Additional courses available, if minimum requirement is already complete:
  • Applied Linear Modeling

SHORT INTENSIVES: 4 credits; Select 1 or 2-credit courses

Example courses: 

  • A Practical Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Using Python
  • Authentic Advocacy: Relationships, Environment, and Self
  • Environmental Justice & Community Collaboration in Policy and Date
  • Comparative Education Policy (Global)
  • HIV Policy: How Advocacy Has the Power to Save Lives
  • Social Entrepreneurship Policy in Asia (Global)

Electives: 9 credits

You can use your electives to tailor your degree to the area you are most interested in, such as aging, refugees, health, children and youth, poverty, statistical analysis, etc. Select from courses in areas including Current Issues and Policy Topics; Skills & Analysis; Program and Policy Development; Economic and Business Development; Leadership and Management; and Skill Lab Courses.

INTERNSHIP: 3 Credits (360 Hours) 

Following their time in the classroom, students complete a full-time, 3-credit-hour internship (typically May through August), selecting placements from a variety of leading non-profit organizations, government agencies, policy think tanks or legislative offices. Through real-world experience, students put knowledge into action through significant  opportunities for policy analysis, implementation, and/or practice. 

The MSP program, in close partnership with the Office of Field Education, engages with policy partner organizations and affiliated sites. Students research, apply for, and finalize their placement with support from field education faculty and program advisors. Students have completed their internships in St. Louis, Washington D.C., around the U.S. and globally. Internship placements range in policy issue areas (healthcare, housing, education, disability, criminal justice, etc.) and the policy skills and capacities that students can expect to apply and grow during their experience: analysis and evaluation, drafting legislation, advocacy, research, media and communications, community organizing, strategy and leadership, grant writing and development, statistics, and data analysis.

Curriculum and required credit hours are subject to change.