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5 Online Social Justice MA Programs

Master of Science – Social Justice and Community Action

University of Edinburgh, Scotland

An online counterpart to the University of Edinburgh’s respected Global Justice Academy, this Master’s program allows for flexible distance learning at an interdisciplinary and international hub for global justice research. Courses are a combination of lecture, group activity, and independent study and make use of all manner of digital technology, including podcasts, Skype tutorial sessions, blogging, and the creation of digital artifacts. Students also get a personal tutor to help them adjust to the specific demands of online education. The program is designed for working professionals with experience in social justice research, policy, or grassroots practice as well as recent graduates looking to gain an edge in the job market.

Students attend this online program part-time and can vary their course load according to their schedule. In lieu of the full Master’s degree in Social Justice (2-6 years of study) students can elect a post-graduate diploma (2-4 years of study) or post-graduate certification (1-2 years of study) option. To achieve the certification, students must take courses in theory and politics, community action, and policy analysis. Diploma students add additional courses in activist social research, and Masters student’s must complete those requirements with the addition of a dissertation or applied research project. Optional courses include learning for democracy, organizational management, digital education, international development, climate change, and health inequities.

Master of Arts – Global Development and Social Justice

St. Johns University, Queens, NY

This social justice and development program has a distinctly global perspective on the causes of poverty and social injustice around the world. While almost all of the two-year program can be completed online, students take two hybrid-online courses at St. John’s University’s Rome Campus. This degree program also reflects St. John’s University’s human rights mission that is founded in the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. For this reason, St. John’s offers opportunities for financial aid and scholarships even to those who attend online.

Online classes feature virtual lectures, electronic course management, document sharing, discussion boards, and take-home exams. Students also gain access to library collections, career services, mentoring, and other academic resources. Courses include Catholic social thought, economics of development, sustainable food systems, migration and refugees, project management, and global health. In addition, students must complete a capstone project in which they identify strategic solutions to a global development issue or perform in-depth analysis into the strategies and policies of an NGO. This program is well-suited for international development professionals, social service providers, or anyone who wishes to enter the field.

Master of Arts – Social Justice & Community Organizing

Prescott College, Arizona

Prescott College is a small liberal arts university founded in the 1960’s with a commitment to liberal arts, the environment, and social justice. It makes special effort to serve students of all ages and backgrounds and has a robust online degree program to complement its on-campus classes. All of its programs reflect this institutional mission of activism, equality, and global citizenship.

This unique social justice and community organizing Master’s program combines theory and practice by focusing on both critical social justice frameworks as well as on-the-ground organizing and mobilizing actions. Courses include globalization, radical pedagogy, leadership development, strategic media and communications, and a capstone project. This program is an excellent fit for those with interests in labor, human rights, and environmental organizing across the globe and can be completed in as little as 12 months.

Master of Arts – Justice Studies

Royal Roads University, British Columbia

This interdisciplinary program teaches a collaborative, problem-focused approach to justice. Courses include intercultural competence, environmental conflict management, policy and practice, risk and crisis communication, and transdisciplinary justice. All students take the same courses during their first year and there are three different options available for second-year completion. Students can pursue additional elective courses, combine elective courses with an internship, or complete a research-based thesis. This program is ideal for students who want to work in government, policing, immigration, non-profit organizations, and international development organizations.

This Master’s degree takes two years to complete (a one-year graduate diploma is also offered). Courses are nine weeks in length with a two-week break in between courses. Most of the program can be completed online with the use of a web-based platform to access readings, communicate with instructors and classmates, and collaborate and complete assignments. In addition, there are two, two-week-long on-campus residencies where students can meet instructors, attend classes, and collaborate with their classmates.

Master of Arts – Social and Public Policy 

University of York, UK

This policy-focused degree takes a broader view of the governmental, political, and structural forces that impact social justice around the world. It is designed to help those already working in social or public policy develop their research skills and take their careers to the next level. Courses explore how social policies are made in nation states, how global concerns impact local policies, how policy shapes society, and the best ways to research and evaluate policy. This program brings together students from around the world and offers lower-cost tuition to those from developing countries.

This two-year, part-time program allows students to read, discuss, and complete all assignments on their own schedule, averaging approximately 15 hours per week. Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are also offered over a shorter timeframe. The Master’s degree is organized around a series of modules. In the first year, students take foundational courses in social policy analysis, globalization, and evidenced-based policy research. The second year includes research methods and dissertation workshops as well as courses in one of three specializations – comparative social policy; housing and social justice; and work, welfare, and citizenship. To complete the degree students must write an 18,000-word dissertation, including literature review and original research.

About the author

Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) aims to help human rights students, recent graduates and young professionals to pursue a career in the highly competitive field of human rights.