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Doctorate in Human Development and Social Policy

About the Program

The Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) doctoral program is grounded in the study of relations between public policy and human development. Faculty and students conduct research on how public policy affects human development and well-being, how research on human development across the life span informs policy, and how people affect policy.

Core Themes

Positive Trajectories and Transitions

  • Study of human development and intergenerational issues spanning across children, adolescents, and adults  
  • Promote positive developmental trajectories and transitions across the life span.

Inequality Reduction

  • Understand and reduce economic, education and health inequalities.
  • Recognize and interrogate existing systems of inequality and its impact on communities through our roles and research.

Social Policy Implementation

  • Examine how policies are developed, how they change incentives and infrastructures, and how they interact with contextual factors to influence behavior.
  • Evaluate how people affect policy through public opinion, civic engagement, political participation, policy implementation and research.

Multidisciplinary Research

  • Answer big questions by drawing from multiple disciplines: anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, and more.
  • Employ multiple research methods, combining various quantitative and qualitative approaches to create cutting-edge social science research designs.

Curriculum Overview

Course work in the Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) doctoral program includes a core curriculum and electives.

required courses for students entering with a master’s degree
required courses for students entering without a master’s degree

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Our Students

HDSP students are prepared through course work, participation in a vibrant community of scholars and active engagement in faculty research to conduct multidisciplinary research that combines cutting-edge empirical research methodologies.

Leigh Parise photo

Having experience collaborating and communicating across the different traditional disciplines represented within HDSP was also incredibly valuable as I searched for policy jobs after grad school.”

—Leigh Mesler Parise
Deputy Director of Program Development and Senior Research Associate, MDRC
Co-Founder & Director, Education at Classroom Champions, Human Development and Social Policy PhD program, class of 2011
Average number of enrolled students
Average number of years to complete the program

Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern

Explore the breadth of academic courses offered in the curriculum.

Contact Human Development and Social Policy

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Physical Address:
Walter Annenberg Hall
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208