MSc in Social Sciences in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies


Program Description

For students starting in 2019, both Danish and English language proficiency is required. If applying from a Nordic country, proficiency in a Nordic language (Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, or Finnish) will satisfy the Danish requirement.

The welfare state in the 21st century

Why are some societies more equal than others?

How can we explain soaring unemployment and budget deficits? Why do women participate in the labor market as much as men in some countries but less in others? Why do healthcare, childcare, and other public services differ in their quality across developed societies – and how do these differences matter? Answers to all these questions relate to the welfare state – more specifically, to public policies and welfare studies.

The development of the modern welfare state profoundly transformed societies in the 20th century. In the Western world, the welfare state laid the foundation for peace and stability and helped to establish fundamental principles such as gender equality and social mobility. More recently, Asian and Latin American countries have embraced the concept and developed ambitious welfare state programs.

At the same time as welfare states fundamentally shape the functioning of societies all over the world, they are also subject to intense political conflict and to multiple pressures for change. This helps explain why there are different types of welfare states across advanced societies.

Understanding the development and reform of the modern welfare states, as well as their effects and main challenges, is essential for people interested in the future of our societies. This is the knowledge we provide our students with – students who want to have a say in shaping the world of tomorrow as policy advisors, consultants, decision-makers, civil servants, or scholars.

flags, europe, eu

Program structure

The Master's program includes four semesters over a two-year period. In the first two semesters, you will enroll in mandatory courses, while in the third semester you can choose courses according to your interest.  In the first two semesters, you take 60 ECTS in compulsory courses. First semester courses give a broad overview of the evolution, challenges, and perspectives on public policies and welfare studies, addressing classical topics as well as contemporary issues. Second-semester courses focus on specific issues related to the formulation and implementation of welfare-related policies.

The courses in the first two semesters are organized in such a way as to offer you two specializations to choose from right from the start of your studies. This allows you to build skills for your future career. One specialization emphasizes the politics side of welfare state policies, and the other emphasizes processes of social change and their consequences for welfare provision. 

The two specializations have in common the courses “Quantitative methods for public policy”, “Research Design”, “The Nordic model of governance”, “Public policy/Offentlig politik ” and “Economics for policy evaluation” – which provide you with essential tools to understand and analyze public policies.  

You can choose the desired specialization by opting for the following courses:

  • Specialization “Social Justice”: courses “Social policy: Challenges and solutions” (sem 1) and “Ethics and public policy” (sem 2).
  • Specialization “Social Change”: courses “Science, technology and society” (sem 1) and “Global issues and development” (sem 2).

The two specializations are not mutually exclusive: Students following one specialization can take courses from the other specialization as electives. You will receive more information on the selection of courses upon accepting a place in the program. 

In the third semester, you have the opportunity to continue your specialization by choosing between courses (in Denmark or abroad) or internships, while in the fourth semester you write your Master thesis on a topic of your choice.

Learning outcomes

The MSc in Social Sciences in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies aims to provide you with competences, knowledge, and skills in order to contribute to the work of public agencies (supranational, national, regional, and local levels) and of international organizations and interest organizations (including NGOs). 

You will contribute to preventing large-scale problems related, for example, to aging populations. You will also be able to tackle existing challenges, as well as to assess current policies and efforts. The knowledge, skills, and competencies you will acquire are listed in the table below. 




You will have knowledge based on the highest international research in the following areas:

  • Comparative politics: history and political development of the welfare state; contemporary reforms of welfare states and labor markets.
  • Comparative policy: public policy analysis, labor economics, social policy.
  • Crafting analysis: social science methodology about concepts, ideal types, measurement, indicators, and various comparative methods; various types of cross-national data.

You will be able to understand and, on a scientific basis, reflect upon policy solutions in the fields of public policy and welfare studies.

You will master various specific scientific methodologies that are relevant for policy analysis and cross-national comparisons of public policy and welfare studies.

You will be able to assess and relevant scientific theories and methodologies for the particular issue you are interested in analyzing.

You will be able to Communicate research-based knowledge and to discuss professional and scientific issues with both academic peers and non-specialists.

You will be able to manage work and development situations that are complex, unpredictable, and require new solutions.

You will be able to independently initiate and implement professional and interdisciplinary co-operation and take on professional responsibility.

You will be able to independently take responsibility for your own professional development and specialization.

Simulation Game: The Danish Parliament

The Political Simulation Game is one of the things our students are doing during their Master in Social Sciences in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies.

Watch the video of the simulation Game we had on April 15, where 25 students are acting the Danish Parliament.

Career opportunities

The MSc in Social Sciences in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies provides the skills and knowledge to pursue various careers in the area of public policy analysis, advice, and development. 

These include job in:

  • International organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, the International Labour Organisation, the OECD, and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
  • INGOs and NGOs that are active in the social policy area, such as the fight against poverty, active inclusion, and anti-discrimination.
  • International and national interest organizations, including trade unions and business organizations.
  • International and national consultancy companies and statistical agencies.
  • National, regional and local ministries, departments, and institutions dealing with labor market and social policy.

Some of our students have chosen to do a period of internship during the Master in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies.

Entry requirements

To apply for the Master's program in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies you need a relevant Bachelor's degree. You can apply if you hold a university bachelor degree in:

  • All social sciences
  • Political Science
  • Social Work
  • History
  • Areas studies
  • International Negotiation - Economics, language and culture

You can also apply if you hold a university bachelor's degree within Humanities if your degree includes a minimum of 20 ECTS points of courses belonging to the following areas:

  • Comparative politics, comparative policies
  • International relations, European studies
  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Research methods
  • Contemporary history

Applicants who do not have the required basis for admission, but who, on the basis of a University College-level education, are assessed as possessing the necessary preconditions for being able to complete the program, may apply to the University for admission. Admission may be conditional on the passing of one or more supplementary examinations.

Language requirements

The program requires proficiency in English as well as Danish.


  • If you apply on grounds of a Danish Bachelor's program instructed in Danish, there is no need for further documentation of your proficiency in Danish.
  • If your Bachelor's degree isn't from Denmark, you must submit proof of your proficiency in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, or Icelandic. This applies to Danish citizens as well.


All applicants are required to prove their proficiency in English.

Selection criteria

There is a limited number of study places in the program.

If there are more qualified applicants than study places, applicants are selected based on the grade point average of the qualifying degree. If the degree is not completed at the time of application, the grade point average is calculated based on the courses passed at the time of application.

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

University of Southern Denmark has created an institution of higher research and education which provides first-class educational opportunities and is cooperation partner for both public and private b ... Read More

University of Southern Denmark has created an institution of higher research and education which provides first-class educational opportunities and is cooperation partner for both public and private businesses and organisations for providing qualified labour. Read less
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