Families and Social Policy Graduate Program Concentration

HDFS students who are interested in social policies can follow a recommended curriculum that provides basic knowledge and skills for conducting policy-related research. This program draws from HDFS courses and from courses in other departments, and complements the course work and research that students follow in HDFS. Based on recommendations of their advisers, students would develop a program of study from courses below, as well as including a policy focus in their research.

Content and skills:

The Families and Social Policies Concentration emphasizes the following content areas and skills.

  • Basic information about social policies that influence families – levels of government, expenditures in various areas, major programs and policies, their costs, their effects
  • Policy analysis techniques – needs assessment, cost-benefit analysis, experimental and quasi-experimental strategies
  • Proficiency in programming in SAS or Stata (to be determined)
  • Familiarity with theories from sociology and economics in addition to human development, ability to read and understand empirical work in these fields
  • How to write a policy memo and how this differs from a research report

Suggested courses:

Students would select from the following course, in consultation with their adviser. The joint HPA and HDFS course would be considered a core requirement for anyone seeking a policy emphasis.

  • Joint Course: Intro to Social Policy (HPA 597c and HDFS 597). This course is still in the planning stages.
    • HPA 597c is Introduction to Health Policy and Financing. HDFS students would enroll for 1.5 credits (not the full 3 credits). They would attend the first half of the semester, which addresses basic policy analysis approaches and thinking. Then HDFS students would spend the second half of the semester in a new course to be developed (HDFS 597) or in 1.5 credits of HDFS 545, Families and Socioeconomic Systems, learning basic information about social policies influencing families in the US.
  • HDFS 577: Poverty, Policies, & Child Development (Jayakody)
  • HDFS 597: Melissa Hardy’s class on inequality
  • HDFS 597: US Social Policy in International Comparison: Demographic Changes and Social Choices (Hynes)
  • Standard methods requirements plus additional courses of interest:
  • ECON 490: Introduction to Econometrics
  • PLSC 519: Analysis of Survey Data Or HPA 528: Intro to Health Data Analysis
  • HDFS 506: Evaluation Methods
  • STAT 480 (1) Introduction to SAS

International component

  • HDFS 597: Aging in a Welfare State (Zarit). This course, held in Sweden, explores social and health policies in that country.

Additional course resources on campus

The dual-degree Demography program, with courses on topics including:

  • RURAL SOCIOLOGY 597, Children and Youth in Developing Countries;
  • HEALTH POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION 525, Poverty, Race, Ethnicity and Child Health;
  • SOCIOLOGY 597, Inequality in Child Development;
  • RURAL SOCIOLOGY 530, Sociology and Demography of Poverty;
  • EDTP 545, Inequality in Educational Achievement,
  • AGECON 610: International Economic Development. The demography program can also add important methods courses to a social policy concentration (e.g., Demographic Techniques, Event History Analysis)

Economics courses:

  • ECON 412: Labor Economics & Markets,
  • ECON 429: Public Finance & Fiscal Policy

The Prevention Research Center and prevention faculty across campus. Collaborations with PRC and related faculty could help students:

  • Learn to collect and analyze experimental data
  • Understand the continuum from micro-level prevention programs through systematic prevention programs to social policies adopted by local, state, and national governments
  • Understand the difference between policy-relevant research, policy analysis, and how to influence politics

The Department of Health Policy Administration

  • Two of their courses are listed in the main course selections. There may be other courses of interest and other faculty of interest.

The Center for Health Care and Policy Research

  • Colloquium series that features policy-relevant research.