Poverty Studies Graduate Programs

This article covers graduate degree possibilities for those interested in poverty studies. Areas directly related to the study of poverty include social work, public policy and the management of nonprofit organizations.

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Poverty studies programs are generally interdisciplinary undergraduate minors. Students who have been through such a program and are looking to continue their education at the postgraduate level, or who are looking for a graduate degree that similarly focuses on poverty issues, might consider these related graduate programs. Each of these programs involves working to address poverty issues in some way, whether it be through leadership roles in social services or the development and implementation of public policy.

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Graduate Programs in Poverty Studies

Master's in Social Work / Social Welfare

Some universities offer a master's degree program or a PhD in social work or social welfare. A master's degree in social work qualifies students for leadership positions in social work careers, while a doctoral degree focuses on preparation for doing original research in an academic setting. Expect a master's program to take about two years, and a PhD program to take at least three. Social work programs generally cover the practice and science of social work, policy and advocacy concerns and handling various crisis situations.

Master's in Public Policy / Administration

A master's degree in public policy (or public administration) qualifies students for leadership and policy creation positions at nonprofit organizations, government agencies and consulting firms. Coursework in these programs can include labor and development economics, classes examining the causes of poverty and homelessness, management and ethics. Expect these programs to take about two years to complete. It is also possible to find PhD programs in public policy, which prepare students for a career in academia teaching and doing research on different types of policy related to poverty.

Master's in Nonprofit Management

A master's in nonprofit management is a good choice for students who want to oversee the daily operations of a nonprofit and raise funds. Classes that may be found in the curriculum include management and leadership, theories of philanthropy, sources of funding, policy evaluation and board governance. Some schools also offer Master's of Business Administration degree programs that allow you to select nonprofit management as a concentration. As with most master's programs, anticipate the coursework will take about two years to complete. PhD programs in nonprofit management are also available and put a particular focus on classes covering leadership and research methods.

General Admission Requirements

Graduate degree programs often require at least a bachelor's degree, and some may require that the undergraduate degree be directly related to the graduate program. Some programs may also have GPA, volunteer or human services work, or GMAT / GRE score requirements. While programs don't always require a specific bachelor's degree, they may require some amount of credits in certain disciplines, such as mathematics or the social sciences. International students should also be prepared for an English proficiency test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Some programs may also require one or two academic or professional letters of reference, and/or ask you to submit a personal essay.

The programs described here enable students to spend their careers studying and addressing poverty issues. This could be through the research or implementation of policy, or through leadership and management of organizations that attempt to alleviate poverty. Graduate degrees in social work, public policy and nonprofit management are all viable options of this nature.

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