MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SOCIAL POLICY +
DATA ANALYTICS FOR SOCIAL POLICY CERTIFICATE
Use data science to actively impact equity, equality, and social justice.
The MSSP Program + Data Analytics for Social Policy Certificate (MSSP+DA) is a STEM-designated degree that empowers you to leverage social policy and data analytics to address economic, educational, and health inequities. Throughout the program, the data analytic material is taught in relationship with the various theories, approaches, and domains of social policy analysis. You’ll learn to use data to help solve disparities of race/ethnicity, gender, and class across systems such as immigration, child welfare, and education.
For students interested in pursuing an MSSP without a data analytics focus, SP2 also offers our Master of Science in Social Policy degree.
Learn more about the MSSP + DA program and the SP2 experience.
Ready to experience SP2? Learn more about the application process.
Join us for an upcoming in-person or virtual event.
Thank you for your interest in the MSSP+DA Program at the University of Pennsylvania!
In a world experiencing seismic political and economic shifts and an increasing reliance on data to inform decisions, we need social justice-oriented policy professionals with a critical eye, especially with respect to data use and analysis. Policymakers are facing rapidly shifting social lives, structural oppression, racial and cultural bias, economic insecurity, and the uncertain shaping of social futures as a result of a global pandemic. Now, more than ever, the world needs critically trained, evidence-informed policy professionals who can address these areas with care and expertise.show more
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 and decision 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, evaluation, and practice. The MSSP + DA provides cutting edge training for the growing and highly needed professionals of data analytics for social policy.
In addition to core policy coursework, the MSSP + DA curriculum also provides students with training and skills in the critical theory and ethics of data analytics, programming of data structures, applications of machine learning and predictive analytics, spatial analytics, and the communication of information via data visualization for broader public audiences.
Throughout the program, the data analytic material is taught in relationship to various theories, approaches, and domains of social policy analysis. The MSSP + DA also provides students with competitive and cutting-edge opportunities for policy internships to gain real-world, practical experience, positioning graduates to work in the fast growing and developing world of data analytics for social policy.
We hope you will consider joining our pursuit of critically-oriented, data-informed policy solutions that actively advance equity, equality, and social justice.
Sara S. Bachman, PhD
Dean and Interim MSSP + DA Program Faculty Director
“The MSSP+DA provides cutting edge training for the growing and highly needed professionals of data analytics for social policy.”
The SP2 Difference
Complete your degree full-time in 3–4 semesters (the MSSP+DA is only offered on a full-time basis; no variation or extension is possible)
Gain hands-on, career-focused experience through policy internships in data analytics
Learn programming languages such as SAS, R, Python, Java, GIS, and ArcGIS
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Engage in practical policy research in the Data for Equitable Justice Lab
Become part of a diverse global alumni network
The MSSP program faculty are here to help you shape your own area of policy expertise, drawing on decades of scholarship, teaching, and experience in areas including education and social policy, homelessness, integrated database systems, the labor market, and technology, ethics, and social policy. The MSSP+DA program faculty are here to help you shape your own area of policy expertise, drawing on decades of scholarship, teaching, and experience. Their expertise spans areas as diverse as ontologies of computational and data analytics, the integration of administrative data for research, and the usage of interactive visual analytics systems.
The MSSP+DA curriculum provides students with core policy courses and 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 programming languages such as SAS, R, Java, Python, GIS, and ArcGIS for the processing, cleaning, and analyzing of digital data for social policy.
You may choose two elective courses to maximize breadth in multiple substantive policy areas or to specialize your degree in an area of social policy analysis and conduct further research.
Elective courses may be identified in any of the 12 graduate schools at Penn. For more information on selecting elective courses, please visit the MSSP Resources page.
The course grid reflects the required 12 course unit course of study for MSSP+DA students to ensure on-time graduation. Any alteration from the plan of study requires approval from an academic advisor.
1st Semester (Fall)
- MSSP 6280: Policy: Analysis of Issues, Strategy and Process (1 CU)
- MSSP 7100: Democratizing Data (1 CU)
- MSSP 6070: Practical Data Science (1 CU)
- MSSP 8970: Applied Linear Modeling (1 CU)
- MSSP 6060: Data for Equitable Justice Lab* (non-credit, 0 CU)
2nd Semester (Spring)
- MSSP 6310: Law and Social Policy (1 CU)
- MSSP/SWRK 7300: Community Mapping (1 CU)
- MSSP 6080: Practical Machine Learning (1 CU)
- Elective (1 CU)
- MSSP 6060: Data for Equitable Justice Lab* (non-credit, 0 CU)
3rd Semester (Fall)
- MSSP 6340: Capstone I: Telling Stories with Data (0.5 CU)
- MSSP 6680: Economics for Social Policy (1 CU)
- MSSP 6290: Research & Evaluation Design (1 CU)
- Elective (1 CU)
4th Semester (Spring)
- MSSP 6350: Capstone II: Internship (0.5 CU)
*MSSP 6060: Data for Equitable Justice Lab is required to be taken for 2 out of 3 semesters.
Data for Equitable Justice Lab
The Data for Equitable Justice Lab gives MSSP+DA students an opportunity to analyze some of today’s most important social issues through data and, with faculty support, create a product for audiences well beyond the classroom and campus.
Social Policy Internship
The MSSP+DA program provides students with competitive and cutting-edge opportunities to complete policy internships in data analytics that emphasize competency development in both policy analysis and data analytics. These parallel competencies position graduates to work in the fast growing and developing world of data analytics for social policy. Credit for internships is incorporated into the MSSP+DA Capstone Seminar, and students most often complete the internship in their final spring semester. The Data Analytics policy internship must consist of a minimum commitment of 150 hours.
Ready to join the MSSP+DA community?
Rebecca McGavin, MSSP+DA’18
“The MSSP+DA program allowed me to study, research, and find a way to combine my passions for data, visualization, and social policy. It was the people: my cohort, professors, and the administration who enabled me to thrive and pursue my passions while developing advanced quantitative and critical methods.”
SP2’s 2023 Commencement highlights need “to improve the well-being of all people”
Themes of joy, humanity, and justice took center stage at the 2023 Commencement of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). In an evening ceremony at the Palestra on Saturday, May 13, graduates and their families and friends heard from SP2 Dean Sara S. Bachman and Commencement Speaker Amber Hikes, MSW’08, before cheering on the presentation of graduates across SP2’s five degree programs.
Eight SP2 students named winners in Green Space Data Challenge
For projects that transform data about green spaces into actionable community indicators, eight students in the Master of Science in Social Policy (MSSP) Program at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) have been named among the winners of the Green Space Data Challenge.
SP2 Social Justice Scholar Skye Horbrook works to effect change through data
From majoring in computer science at a historically Black university, to volunteering on the front lines of disaster relief and digital equity efforts, Skye Horbrook has built a path focused on using technology and data to create social change.
Associate Director, MSSP Program
215 898 8444
Program Coordinator, MSSP Program
215 573 4977