Ph.D. training components

An integrated program of multidisciplinary education
and research

Explore problems of poverty, inequality, and mobility through the proseminar doctoral seminar sequence, the Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series, and other program conferences and events.

1. Proseminar sequence and research

The Proseminar in Inequality & Social Policy, a three-term course sequence, serves as the central vehicle for bringing Inequality doctoral fellows from different disciplines together in an intensive and sustained multidisciplinary learning experience. 

The first two semesters of the Proseminar survey central debates in the program’s main substantive research areas. Explicitly multidisciplinary in approach, the course is taught by a team of four faculty members drawn from the disciplines of economics, political science, and sociology. This group in recent years has included economists Amitabh Chandra, David Deming, Richard Freeman, Jeffrey Liebman, and Richard Murnane; political scientists Jennifer Hochschild, Torben Iversen, and Theda Skocpol; and sociologists Lawrence Bobo, Christopher Jencks, Devah Pager, Bruce Western, and William Julius Wilson. The class is expected to meet Wednesdays, 2-4 pm, in both the fall and spring terms in 2017-2018.

A  focus in the first year of the Proseminar is the development of a major piece of publishable research. Students receive extensive feedback over the course of the year from one or more faculty advisers in the program. The Proseminar thus offers participants a uniquely structured setting in which to undertake a significant research project of their own.

The third-term Proseminar, taken in the fall of the succeeding year (Mondays, 2-4 pm), is dedicated to the presentation and advancement to publication of this research paper. Organized as a research workshop, it pairs each student with an invited academic speaker from the Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series .

The invited scholar attends the proseminar class and serves as principal discussant for the student paper. The participation of these faculty visitors, selected by the students themselves for their expertise in the student’s specific research area, affords a rare opportunity for doctoral participants to engage in an extended discussion of their own research with a leading national scholar in their research field.

 II. Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series

Doctoral Scholars also attend the Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series, a public research forum in which leading scholars in their fields share research with the Harvard and greater-Boston Inequality & Social Policy community. 

Meeting weekly over lunch on Mondays from 12:00-1:45 p.m., the seminar offers exposure to a diverse set of research topics and methods. As with the proseminar, the series is explicitly cross-disciplinary in character, drawing liberally from economics, political science, sociology, and other social science fields to illuminate productive areas for cross-fertilization.

The seminar calendar highlights the range of substantive interests and modes of inquiry represented in the seminar. 

III. Special events and conferences 

Doctoral Scholars will also participate in Inequality & Social Policy conferences and events.

Doctoral participants gain many opportunities, both through special events and in the course of the academic year, to meet and interact with the program’s invited national speakers and affiliates throughout the Harvard community.


Key program requirements summarized

Doctoral participants in the Inequality & Social Policy program are expected under the terms of their award to:

• Enroll in three-term Proseminar course sequence, including the completion of an original research project and its presentation in the third-term Proseminar

• Participate in  theweekly Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series

• Participate in special events and conferences organized by the Inequality & Social Policy program