About programme

Comparative Social Research

In our globalized world of today a huge variety of nations, cultures and societies comprised of an even bigger variance of political, ethical, religious and other groups, are interconnected and develop in relation with each other. That is why it is of utmost importance to find solutions to contemporary problems and conflicts, which take into account the characteristics and conditions of all societies and social groups concerned. But in order to judge if policies around the globe are successful in solving today's problems, we need to understand and explain, how societies in their plural existence evolve and why they do this in a particular way. To do so is the approach of comparative social research!

Our Programme's Approach

The aim of our programme is to provide the theoretical and methodological instruments in order to shed light on the differences between nations, cultures and other social groups. In the seminars and lectures, our students investigate social problems and issues in today's world from a perspective of interconnectedness between the social activities of individuals at different levels of collectivity, such as, for example, societies and cultures. Our programmes provide in-depth insights into how the individuals approach social reality, using either quantitative methodology for investigating norms and values, or qualitative methodology for accessing the individuals' interpretations of their life-world.

Our Study Plan

Our 2-year study plan is focused on training our students to conduct theory-orientated and methodologically rigorous empirical research in comparative perspective. The first year is dedicated to acquiring advanced and applied knowledge in statistical data analysis as well as in methods of analyzing textual, such as interviews or policies. At the same time, students get educated in comparative sociology, in issues of social inequality and welfare, and in a wide variety of topics which they can choose from according to their interests, such as, for example, social networks, migration processes, care and body practices, or mass communication.

The second year is fully dedicated to exercising research work. Our students will undertake a research internship at one of our many partner institutions in Russia or abroad. They will collect their data and conduct their analysis for their MA thesis under the supervision of international experts, which are involved in our programme through close relations to West-European partner institutions and to the International Laboratory of Comparative Social Research here at the Higher School of Economics.

Our programme is entirely taught in English. The teaching staff comprises of lecturers from all over the world. They either work at HSE or are invited research fellows from your partner universities. Our students benefit greatly from discussions with these international experts and their advice on coursework and MA thesis. Our international lecturers bring about a global atmosphere of learning, which is highly demanding and participatory at the same time.

Our Students

Our students come from a variety of disciplinary background, such as sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, and history. They come from a great variety of cultural backgrounds, e.g. from India, the USA, Pakistan, Chile, Latvia, and, of course, Russia.

Professional Perspectives

Since our programme is strongly research orientated, it prepares students to pursue an academic career in social science. Our graduates are well-prepared to enter a PhD-programme in Western Europe or the US or stay at HSE to do so.

But our graduates are in general experts in the field of applied research analysis, which equips them excellently to have a work for international organizations and companies, or in think tanks and other institutions providing research results for policy development.

Why Studying in Russia?

Comparative sociology requires to come out of your comfort zone and see the world from new and different angles. You have to learn to look beyond your own nose and expand your horizon. Russia and in particular Moscow is a great place to do so, where an immensely rich culture and history meet a great variety of ethnic and social groups exposed to serious social and political challenges.


Our 2-year study plan is focused on training our students to conduct theory-orientated and methodologically rigorous empirical research in comparative perspective. Our curriculum is split into two main parts – course in the 1. year, internship and MA thesis writing in the 2. year.

I. First-year Curriculum:

Our compulsory courses on quantitative methods will give not only deeper insight into descriptive statistics and the use of the software package R, but also convey knowledge about inferential statistics. But students also need to pass courses about qualitative methods of social inquiry. At the same time, our compulsory courses provide a deeper understanding of the concepts and models of comparison in social science. In addition, each year we organize a course on applied comparative sociology with invited guest lectures, for example on social capital in western and post-communist societies.

  • Modern Sociological theory: Comparative Sociology
  • Methodology and Research Methods in Sociology: Quantitative Research methods
  • Methodology and Research Methods in Sociology: Qualitative Research methods
  • Multi-level regression analysis
  • Introduction to Structural Equation Modeling

Our elective courses are assembled each year and offer various topics in methodology and issue-related social science. Students can choose from a pool containing courses on data analysis, such as social network analysis, measurement theory, but also courses on social inequalities, ageing society, comparative public policy, and global political economy – to name just some of them.

Our compulsory research seminar runs throughout the year and provides a platform for students to develop their research questions and project designs. Here we learn and discuss the practical side of academic work from finding suitable research topics to publishing in international peer-reviewed journals.

II. Second-year Curriculum:

During the third semester, our students conduct a research internship in Russia or abroad. The faculty of our programme supports students to find internship place according to their research interests and thesis projects. In doing so, we cooperate with a vast pool of partners at Russian or foreign research institutions or universities and help our students on their search for grants and scholarships. During their internship students collect and analyze data for their MA thesis, but also take an active part in their internship institution's everyday life, learning the rhythm of research work.

The fourth semester is solely dedicated to writing and defending the MA thesis. The MA thesis colloquium is accompanying this process and providing support, constructive criticism and knowledge about research presentation.

Career Opportunities

This Master’s programme prepares students for international scientific and research work. Our graduates are well-prepared to enter a PhD-program in Western Europe or the US or stay at HSE to do so. Our graduates are experts in the field of applied research analysis, which equips them excellently to work for international organizations (potentially WorldBank, International Labor Organization, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UNESCO, UNICEF, etc.), or in think tanks and other institutions providing research results for policy development

Graduates of our programme have obtained the following skills:

  • ability to put domestic social processes into global contexts;
  • ability to translate results from global comparative research into recommendations for domestic politics;
  • development of design research;
  • application of qualitative and quantitative research methods;
  • confident use of packages of statistical processing and data analysis, in particular, the software package R;
  • ability to conduct ethnographic fieldwork and to collect qualitative interview data;
  • analytical skills;
  • a structured, systematic approach to tasks;
  • critical thinking;
  • modern methods of analysis, applicable both to business and large public organizations.


All documents submitted as a part of your application should have English-language translation and preferably converted to PDF or JPEG format. We kindly ask you to merge multiple pages scanned copies into one document.

Each application portfolio should include:

  1. Curriculum Vitae;
  2. Letter of motivation (one-page limit);
  3. Statement of research interests and methods knowledge (one-page limit);
  4. Two short letters of recommendation (at least one should be academic) (two-page limit);
  5. For non-native English speakers, TOEFL, IELTS, or CAE test results must be submitted, less than two years old at the time of the application submission. Native speakers of the English language and students who have completed an entire degree exclusively in English do not need to submit proof of their English ability. All other applicants should submit test results no more than two years old;
  6. Diplomas and/or academic transcript;
  7. GRE results (if available).
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This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
Mar 2020
2 years
290,000 RUB
per year (scholarships available)
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