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Rice University: Spearheading social sciences solutions for global challenges

The year 2024 presents a world in flux. There’s the looming threat of climate change, rapid advancements in technology and shifting geopolitical alliances. And these are just the big issues. Then there is the urgent matter of finding solutions to poverty, inequality, and healthcare access, to name just three.

To navigate this complex reality, experts with advanced knowledge and skills are needed.

Enter Rice University, a top-ranked institution in southwest central Houston, Texas. The US state is the “energy capital of the world” and home to the third largest consular corps in the US, a fitting location for anyone seeking rich opportunities, the kind that only the nation’s fourth largest and most culturally diverse city can offer.

Rice has a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling close mentorship and personalised learning. This blend of academic rigour and vibrant community life has earned Rice high rankings for quality of life and value among private universities. In fact, Rice University is ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by US News & World Report.

At the heart of this university lies the School of Social Sciences, a community dedicated to tackling society’s most pressing challenges with innovative solutions. Driven by a shared mission to create a better future, the seven departments within the school — Anthropology, Economics, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Sport Management — equip students with the critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills necessary to make a positive impact on the world.

The school offers a range of professional master’s programmes in Energy Economics, Global Affairs, Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction, Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Social Policy Evaluation — all designed to equip you with specialised knowledge and skills for specific career paths.

Seeking global answers to global challenges? Consider the Master of Global Affairs (MGA), a two-year professional programme co-sponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. This programme leverages Houston’s unique position as a global energy hub, offering students access to internships with energy companies, Fortune 500 firms, local and federal government entities, and international nonprofits.

Rice University’s School of Social Sciences offer programmes that provide specialised knowledge and skills necessary for today's global workplace. Source: Rice University

Rice University’s School of Social Sciences offer programmes that provide specialised knowledge and skills necessary for today’s global workplace. Source: Rice University

In the first year, you’ll focus on core courses like “Global Systems, Institutions and Development” and “Quantitative Applications in Global Affairs.” Specialisation areas like “International Political Development” and “International Security” follow in year two, allowing you to tailor your studies based on your interests. An eight-week internship then provides real-world experience and a second-year research project delves into the policy aspects of your chosen topic.

The Master of Social Policy Evaluation (MSPE) is an intensive one-year programme designed to equip students with the quantitative skills and hands-on experience needed to evaluate the effectiveness of social policies. Collaborating with the Texas Policy Lab, you’ll explore critical areas like criminal and juvenile justice, public health, early childhood development and education, and labour markets. The programme culminates in a practicum where you tackle a real-world policy challenge. Working with a partner organisation, you can apply your skills to analyse data, create reports, and present your findings. This allows you to see firsthand the impact that social science research can have on shaping policy decisions.

The Master of Energy Economics (MEECON) programme develops future leaders and strategic thinkers in this dynamic field. This 12-month programme equips you with the analytical skills and industry knowledge to navigate energy markets and make impactful decisions. Offered by Rice University’s Economics Department and the Baker Institute’s Centre for Energy Studies, MEECON bridges the gap between academics and business.  Through in-person courses, you’ll gain the expertise to guide business development, strategic planning, and capital investments, all while building a network with fellow energy professionals.

Regardless of your chosen programme, you’ll learn from a faculty at the forefront of developing evidence-based solutions to our world’s challenges. Recognising the potential of their research to improve lives, these award-winning faculty members forge partnerships with government agencies, public schools, and local hospitals. The professors are passionate about their fields and dedicated to helping students succeed, as evidenced by their consistent recognition through teaching awards.

The Centre for Career Development (CCD) further empowers students to translate their academic achievements into successful careers. For instance, the MGA programme provides assistance with career counselling, employer visits, and networking events throughout the academic year. Students benefit from personalised career counselling, workshops on resume writing and interview skills, and access to valuable alumni networks, ensuring a smooth transition from university to professional success.

By fusing academic excellence with real-world application, the school transforms students to become leaders who can shape a better future. Whether you’re passionate about tackling global challenges, evaluating social policies, or shaping the energy sector of tomorrow, Rice University’s School of Social Sciences has a programme designed to help you achieve your goals.

Learn more about the School of Social Sciences’s master’s programmes.

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