About the Specialization

In the U.S., social policy accounts for two-thirds of government spending. Knowing how policies are constructed, what values underlie them, and how they succeed or fail makes everyone more effective at work or in their civic role. This specialization includes an HONORS track in which learners will complete a professional social policy analysis.

Teachers, health care workers, police, and social workers interact with policy daily, but all of us should care about the impact and effectiveness of these programs. Health and mental health programs, education, housing and income supports, pensions, criminal justice services, veterans’ programs, child protective services, and immigration services create a support system all Americans will draw upon. They also reveal Americans’ ethics and values, indicating how we regard and care for our most vulnerable.

This specialization will explore the size, structure, and outcomes of U.S. social policy by

  • comparing it with the approaches of other developed nations.
  • examining the history of our efforts and probing population effects that shape policy.
  • looking deeply into support for families in general, poor families, people with disabilities, and the elderly.
  • mapping out existing policies for housing, education, healthcare, immigration and child welfare.
  • addressing issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy.

By the end of the course the learner will be at home working in, utilizing, and voting in the U.S. welfare system.

There are five courses in the Specialization:

What Is the Welfare State? A Cross-National Comparison
The Welfare State: Where Did It Come From?
Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy
Income Transfer Policies for Families, People with Disabilities, and the Aging Population
Health, Housing, and Educational Services

About the Columbia School of Social Work

Columbia School of Social Work has been a leader in social work education and research since 1898. It joins rigorous academic theory with real-world practice to enhance the welfare of citizens and communities in New York City, the nation and around the world.