Students talking in class.

During the course of the program—in which every full-time student receives tuition and stipend support—PhD candidates focus on a specific concentration that most aligns with their long-term interests.

Students from all five concentrations attend class together to gain a multifaceted perspective on today's—and tomorrow's—most critical social policy issues. In addition to the coursework, they participate in a doctoral seminar, write an integrative comprehensive paper and successfully defend a dissertation within four to six years. 

Heller is a top school of social policy that is also home to ten renowned research centers and institutes that cover social areas ranging from disability policy to asset accumulation. In fact all of our sponsored research (of which we had $19 million in 2015) addresses issues of equity. Students partner with center and institute researchers to dig into critical questions when they select a concentration.
Learn more about our program concentrations

Alumni Outcomes

Freada Kapor Klein, PhD'84

Freada Kapor Klein, PhD’84, Partner at Kapor Capital and founder of the Level Playing Field Institute

“There’s a prevailing mythology in the tech industry that tech, more than any other sector, is a meritocracy. So the concept of hidden bias flies in the face of people who regard themselves as smart and innovative. If you believe you’re a meritocracy, then you don’t have to pay any attention to diversity and inclusion efforts.”

La Verne Reid, PhD'99, professor at North Carolina Central University.

“I talk about my experience at the Heller School a lot with my students because we are very interested in health inequities. Heller exposed me to the language that policymakers use, and it's totally different from that of health inequality. I learned to speak that language and examine those differences.”

Michael Levine, PhD'85

Michael Levine, PhD’85, Founder and Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

“I began my career working for a U.S. senator and the mayor of New York City while I was studying for my PhD at the Heller School…Having the analytical tools and know-how to devise new policies for universal Pre-K, for homeless children, to prevent dropouts and to reform professional development practices was enormously beneficial.”

Our biannual research journal: The Heller Social Policy Impact Report

spring 2017 impact report cover with abstract image of Heller main windows

Spring 2017 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from July 1 to December 31, 2016.

image of fall 2016 impact report with abstract architectural image

Fall 2016 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from January 1 to June 30, 2016.

cover of the spring 2016 impact report with image of snow on a statue

Spring 2016 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from July 1 to December 31, 2015.