Rice to launch Master of Social Policy Evaluation program in 2020

With demand for evidence-based social policy growing rapidly at every level of government, Rice University is launching a new full-time Master of Social Policy Evaluation (MSPE) program in fall 2020.

Photo credit: Rice School of Social Sciences.

Photo credit: Rice School of Social Sciences.

Housed in Rice’s School of Social Sciences, the 13-month, 30-credit-hour program will be open to 20 students the first year and will eventually grow to accommodate 30 students. The interdisciplinary program will draw its course content from the fields of psychology, political science, economics and sociology.

Students will learn to conduct independent policy evaluations using various statistical methods. The curriculum will give students the chance to develop and refine their analytical skills by studying different methodological and empirical approaches. They will learn the skills they need to design and conduct policy evaluations personalized for specific situations with varying degrees of available data.

“This professional master’s program adds to the new curricular emphasis on policy evaluation in the school that began with the creation of the Social Policy Analysis undergraduate major in 2018,” said Susan McIntosh, interim dean of the School of Social Sciences. “A goal of both programs is to equip future leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors with the skills to identify evidence-based solutions that improve people’s lives.”

“The MSPE is designed to engage students in unparalleled classroom experiences offered by leading experts and to provide the opportunity to put learned skills into practice,” said Margaret Beier, professor of psychology and the faculty director for the program. “We are confident that our graduates will have the skills needed to positively affect how government works through effective policy evaluation.”

The program will also provide students a unique hands-on experience by drawing upon real-world policy evaluations conducted at the Texas Policy Lab and other research centers at Rice, including the Houston Education Research Consortium and the Local Elections in America Project. Policy study areas will include criminal justice, public health, early childhood development and education, and labor markets, among others.

“The Texas Policy Lab is partnered with various local and state government agencies to provide data-driven solutions to their pressing problems,” said Ekim Cem Muyan, executive director of the Texas Policy Lab. “Students of the MSPE program will engage in (the lab’s) projects and gain firsthand experience as a researcher addressing Texans’ challenges using cutting-edge scientific methods.”

Applicants for the program are encouraged to have a bachelor’s degree, approved scores from the Graduate Record of Examination (GRE) and good communication, writing and critical-thinking skills. A 3.0 undergraduate grade point average or higher is required for admittance.

For more information, visit https://socialpolicy.rice.edu/.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.