MSP Curriculum

The Master of Social Policy (MSP) degree is completed in conjunction with another master’s degree program, either concurrently or following completion of the other degree. 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.

The MSP is a yearlong, 31-credit program. Twelve credit hours earned in your primary degree program are applied toward the completion of the MSP degree, resulting in 43 credit hour MSP program. 

MSP Program Pathways

Students will pursue the one-year MSP program through one of the following pathways:  

  • MSP Dual-Degree pathway: students will pursue the MSP concurrently with the Brown School’s Master of Social Work or Master of Public Health, or the Juris Doctor with Washington University’s School of Law. 
  • MSP Global Partner Program pathway: students in designated graduate programs at select global partner universities will come to the U.S. to pursue the MSP in conjunction with their current degree program. A list of MSP global partner universities can be found here.  
  • MSP Paired-Degree pathway: students who have a previously conferred graduate-level degree from an accredited U.S. college or university are eligible to pursue the MSP through our unique paired-degree program.  

Applicants will be required to select which MSP program pathway applies in the application for admission.

For more information, see our MSP handbook or contact to receive MSP updates or with any questions regarding the program and application process.

Additional MSW application information can be found here.

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

The MSP degree also includes four credits of short courses. These one to two credit classes focus on various aspects of the policy ecosystem and integrate topics such as analysis, comparative governance, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship to allow for brief and in-depth study on specific topics designed to enhance students’ knowledge of policy development and implementation. Students will select courses based on availability and their unique interests within the MSP program.

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.