“Before starting the MSSP program, I had little background in social policy. However, the coursework in the MSSP program, which had a strong focus on applied research methods, helped me to not only hone my research skills, but also to develop a strong interest in research. The courses were engaging and allowed me to discover practical applications of the various methods and demonstrated to me the ways research can have an impact on society.
“The faculty members in the various programs were very approachable and frequently interacted with students. While at Penn, I had the opportunity to work with Professor Ezekiel Dixon-Roman on a quantitative research project which allowed me to further develop my quantitative research skills. The project explored the education inequality among different demographic groups. After examining three national longitudinal datasets, I found that there were huge education gaps between individuals from different demographic groups. This project piqued my curiosity and interest in education policy research. These experiences led me to become a research assistant in an educational organization.
“Later, I decided to pursue a PhD degree in education policy. The sound quantitative skills developed in the MSSP program, and the research experience gained with Professor Dixon-Roman, all became important assets for me during the application process.
“I am extremely appreciative of the great opportunities that these programs have offered and the positive experience and guidance I have received from faculty members.”
Nan Zhou is pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education Policy at the University of Southern California with an expected graduation date of 2017.