Master's & PhD Programs in Poverty Studies

Whether you enjoy working at a structural level changing laws or at an individual level mentoring individuals, there are graduate degree programs in poverty studies that can help you channel your passion for poverty reduction into meaningful action.

Comparing Graduate Degree Programs in Poverty Studies

M.A. in Development with a Specialization in Poverty Studies

In this program students learn how to design, implement and assess national and international policy reduction efforts. Alongside core classes in poverty and development theory, students can choose to focus on aid and poverty, climate change and development, city development, health and development, or another specialty tied to a student's unique research interests. After 1 year of full-time study (or 2 years part time) graduates can find work as government officials, leaders of NGOs, or policy advisors for international organizations like the United Nations.

M.A. in Public Policy with a Specialization in Poverty Alleviation

In this program students develop the skills to analyze and write policy for social change. The concentration in poverty alleviation includes classes about the history of social welfare, public finance and budgeting, economic theory, research methods and statistical analysis. Students conduct a capstone project wherein they have the chance to analyze policy and make a formal assessment and recommendation. After 2 years of full-time study, graduates are qualified to assess, write and implement public policy. Graduates find jobs developing policy for local, state, national or international government agencies, working in lobbying or public relations for a private company, or developing policy recommendations for a non-governmental organization (NGO).

M.S. in Nonprofit Management

Whether you desire to work in sustainable housing, affordable healthcare, emergency aid, education equality or another field connected to poverty studies, learning to manage and run nonprofits can prepare you to make a big impact. In the nonprofit management M.A. program students take classes in organizational behavior, fundraising, and financial management for nonprofit organizations. In addition, students can take electives of their choice and develop expertise in poverty studies. Within this 2-year program, students complete internships in a nonprofit organization to compliment their academic studies. Graduates can find work directing, managing or founding nonprofits.

M.A. in Social Work

If you prefer working with people to researching policy, consider channeling your passion for social equality into a degree in social work. A master's in social work prepares graduates to counsel underprivileged persons in schools, the foster care system, and the healthcare system. Rather than pursue change at the structural level, social workers have the opportunity to help individuals break out of situations stemming from poverty. Students take classes in human behavior and the social environment, the science of social work, policy and advocacy, and social work practice. Graduates can work as licensed social workers in schools, community centers, hospitals or other government organizations.

PhD in Inequality and Social Policy

There are quite a few top--ranked universities with centers for social policy, poverty studies and development. These centers offer funded research programs for students who have demonstrated passion and commitment to the field of poverty studies. PhD students in social policy develop an understanding of the complex causes and consequences of social and economic inequality as well as theories for inequality reduction.To apply students need a record of academic success in their bachelor's and master's studies as well as fieldwork experience (internships, professional experience or previous research). Graduates can find work in policy advising, higher education teaching, and program planning.

Degree Program Program Length Program Requirements Related Careers
M.A. in Development with a Specialization in Poverty Studies 1-2 years Bachelor's Degree Policy advisor\Director at a nonprofit\Director of development
M.A. in Public Policy with a Specialization in Poverty Alleviation 2 years Bachelor's degree Policy advisor
Lobbyist
Government official
M.S. in Nonprofit Management 2 years Bachelor's degree Program director
Chief executive officer
Fundraising manager
M.A. in Social Work 2 years Bachelor's Degree Child Welfare Case Worker
Medical Social Worker
School Social Worker
PhD in Inequality and Social Policy 4-7 years Master's degreeProfessor
Policy Advisor

Getting into a Graduate Program in Poverty Studies

To apply for graduate school in poverty studies students need their bachelor's degree transcripts, GRE test scores (not more than 5 years old), letters of recommendation and a personal essay explaining your interest in poverty studies. Some programs will also require professional or volunteer experience in public policy or nonprofit work. Most programs do not require a specific bachelor's degree, however, some programs require college-level class credit in statistics.

Poverty studies is a growing field of study with a wide range of applications in research, mentorship and policy-making. If you are passionate about sparking social change, these programs can help you design a career fighting poverty.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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