Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy

The Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy program draws students who are committed to social change who want to address some of the most pressing issues of our time.  Through coursework that allows you to develop your areas of concentration, you will acquire the practical skills to broaden your experience and learn how to make meaningful changes to help solve some of today's most urgent policymaking challenges. You will also develop transferable skills to prepare you for advanced careers within government and nongovernmental settings, including the not-for-profit sector, involving public policy, advocacy, health care, human services, philanthropy, policy research and analysis, policy implementation, and community work. You will be able to learn to create, evaluate, and communicate public policy to the people who need it most.

Our students can specialize in various areas, including Child and Family Policy, Community Advocacy, Housing and Social Policy, Health Policy, Educational Policy, and Race, Policy, and Society.  This degree is offered through a flexible online format, and it incorporates electives that enable you to tailor your education to meet your career goals.

Program Design

Social and Public Policy is a 30-credit master’s degree program with ten 3-credit courses. There are four core courses, four elective courses, and two research-related courses that conclude with a final project.

Required Courses

  • PPOL 6007 - Policy Process
  • PPOL 6010 - History and Social Context of American Policy
  • PPOL 6015 - Policy Implementation
  • PPOL 6021 - Methods for Policy Research (preferred course) or PPOL 6020 - Research Methods (if you intend to pursue doctoral studies)
  • PPOL 6030 - Public Policy Analysis
  • Four 3-credit Electives
  • PPOL 7010 - Final Project: Social and Public Policy


Electives reflect individual interests and reinforce the focus of the degree. Many students choose to incorporate one of the School for Graduate Studies advanced certificates into their master’s degree. We recommend students look at the Community Advocacy or the Child and Family Advocacy certificates.

Final Project

The final project focuses on a topic of your interest that draws upon your prior coursework and allows for a meaningful contribution to your professional area. This is done through a professional project in the form of a policy memorandum.

For more information about this program and its course sequencing and descriptions, visit the Empire State University's Academic Catalog.

* Photo Credit: Filippo Bacci, iStock by Getty Images.