Increase equality. Promote equity. Forge policy change.


The Master of Science in Social Policy Program (MSSP) program is an eleven-month, ten-course program that prepares professionals with knowledge and skills to use policy to increase equality, promote equity, and forge social change. MSSP graduates are prepared for policy leadership positions in government, philanthropic foundations, research institutes, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, and other related settings, through:

  • Understanding the world views, assumptions, and philosophies underlying all policy solutions;
  • Understanding how decisions about social policy issues are made, shaped and influenced at local, state, national and global levels;
  • Formulating a social reform agenda that is evidence-based and aims at improving the equity, effectiveness, and efficiency of policy creation and implementation; and
  • Generating and considering a wide array of policy options to address social problems.

The program is designed for:

  • Early and mid-career professionals engaged in policy work in a wide variety of organizational settings;
  • Bachelor’s degree recipients who wish to develop policy skills; and
  • Students pursuing other advanced degrees at Penn who wish to have a graduate degree in social policy. The MSSP may be combined with the following degrees: Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Public Health (MPH), and Juris Doctor (JD).


The MSSP program + Data Analytics for Social Policy Certificate (MSSP+DA) is a new 12-course, three-to-four-semester offering. MSSP+DA is a STEM-designated degree.

Despite the unquestionable relevance and powerful utility of the social analysis of digital data, there are currently not enough professionals trained in the substantive knowledge and skills of social policy analysis and data analytics. Data analytics developed as the multidisciplinary convergence of computer science, statistics, and cognitive sciences. Adding the discipline of social policy to this convergence, SP2’s Master of Science in Social Policy program plus the Data Analytics for Social Policy Certificate (MSSP + DA) is the first to train students explicitly in the use of data analytics for social policy analysis, research and evaluation. The MSSP + DA provides cutting edge training for the growing and highly needed professionals of data analytics for social policy.

The MSSP + DA curriculum provides students with core policy courses. The MSSP + DA curriculum also provides students with core training and skills in the conceptual foundations of data analytics, programming of data structures, applications of machine learning and predictive analytics, spatial analytics, and the data processing techniques for web scraping and data visualization for a broader public audience. Students will learn program languages such as SAS, R, Java, Python, GIS, and ArcGIS for the processing, cleaning, and analyzing of digital data for social policy.

Throughout the program, the data analytic material is taught in relationship with the various theories, approaches, and domains of social policy analysis. The MSSP + DA also provides students with competitive and cutting-edge opportunities for policy internships in data analytics, positioning graduates to work in the fast growing and developing world of data analytics for social policy.

The full-time course of study will be completed in three to four semesters, providing an intensive and competitive program and comprehensive skill training in data analytics for social policy. No variation or extension in the MSSP + DA is possible.