The Heller School was founded in 1959 to answer a pioneering question: how can we use policy to work towards the well-being of all members of society? Through graduate education, the pursuit of applied interdisciplinary research and active public engagement, we have a long history of responding to the changing needs of vulnerable populations.

When the Heller School was founded, it offered a small, pioneering doctoral program whose graduates would break a barrier by using social science disciplines and the most advanced research methods toward building a more equitable nation. Heller’s academic scope has since expanded to include numerous master’s degrees in both domestic and international policy, with a common focus on assessing and managing relevant social issues. Today, Heller is consistently ranked among the top schools of social policy and is recognized as a leading research institution shaped by the social justice roots it shares with Brandeis University.

Students talking to one another.Our faculty, staff, students and alumni are making a difference on critical social issues, ranging from: health; mental health; substance use disorders; children, youth, and families; aging; international and community development; developmental disabilities; philanthropy; and economic and racial equity.

We are dedicated researchers, applying social, economic and political science to solve pressing domestic and global problems. We are also steadfast idealists, working toward a better world through the knowledge we generate, the leaders we educate and the communities we engage with globally. Our motto, "Knowledge Advancing Social Justice," is more than words: we believe it's imperative to move our evidence-based ideas into action.


The Heller School drives positive social change through research, education and public engagement that inform policies and programs designed to address disparities in well-being and social inclusion in a sustainable way.

By the Numbers

Academics and Students

  • 7 core academic programs (1 PhD, 6 master's)
  • Total students: 417
  • Countries represented: 62
  • International students: 31%
  • Domestic students of color: 40%


There are over 5,200 Heller alumni, with 80 percent living in the United States and 20 percent living abroad. Heller alumni hold positions in social policy and management all over the world, making a significant difference in their communities.

Faculty and Research Staff

  • 42 Professors, Associate, Assistant, Professors of the Practice and Research Professors
  • 26 Lecturers and Senior Lecturers
  • 32 Scientists and Fellows
  • 12 Professors Emeriti

Research Centers and Institutes (FY 2022)

  • research centers and institutes
  • 175 active grants
  • Over $19 million of sponsored research from corporations, foundations and agencies such as the US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers from Disease Control, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, US Department of Justice, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Heller Publications

Cover of Summer 2023 Heller Magazine with image of Joseph Assan and Laurence Simon

Heller Magazine

The stories in Heller Magazine show the breadth and depth of our community, their work and the issues they care about.

Heller Magazine Archives

Cover of Fall 2023 Heller Social Policy Impact Report

Heller Social Policy Impact Report

This report showcases a selection of high-impact research and public engagement from the faculty, researchers and students of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management from July 2022 through June 2023.

Download an accessible PDF of the Impact Report

Impact Report Archives

Cover of Heller viewbook, with students standing and sitting around a circular table

Heller Viewbook

One mission. A million motivations. The Heller viewbook outlines those graduate degree programs in which you'll develop the broad knowledge and focused skills to serve the communities you care deeply about and have a positive impact on our society.

Download an accessible PDF of the viewbook