Social science is a key component to a wider and more insightful global perspective.

WPI is internationally renowned as a distinguished engineering school that produces innovative thinkers. Courses in the Social Science & Policy Studies (SSPS) department prepare students to think as social scientists who understand the wide-ranging influence technology has on an incredibly diverse and always-changing human world that is full of social challenges. Through our hands-on teaching and research methods, we strive to inspire the development of professionals who have a deep understanding of social impacts of technology and innovation.

The renowned, dedicated, and passionate faculty in our department offer students unique opportunities to make connections between societal concerns and technology through research and project work. Many of our students double major in a technical field and a social science field, finding each complementary to the other. We also offer a variety of minors that can be uniquely paired with any major.

In the spirit of the wider WPI philosophy, our faculty encourages students to pursue the direction that appeals to them most. In our research-intensive environment, we teach students to look at the bigger picture of how to design and implement public policies, the reasons why economic policies are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and how and why human beings interact with technology in varied ways, among other wide-ranging critical topics relating to society.


Our Programs

Degrees & Certificates

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Professor Saeed teaching alt
Professor Saeed teaching

System Dynamics BS/MS Option

The Social Science & Policy Studies Department offers outstanding students the opportunity to earn a BS/MS degree in an accelerated time. The undergraduate degree is in any major and then is combined with a System Dynamics MS or SDIM MS degree program. Interested students are encouraged to apply during junior year.

Media Coverage

WBUR talked to Erin Ottmar, assistant professor of learning sciences and psychology, about the NSF grant she and other WPI researchers received to develop a website that children can use to design and play math games that develop computational thinking skills. "Currently, there's very few K-8 teachers who are trained in computer science, so part of the idea is to bridge that gap and be able to increase computational thinking for our students," Ottmar said.

An article written by Angela Incollingo Rodriguez, assistant professor of social science and policy studies, was published in The Conversation. Rodriguez’s research suggests that nearly two-thirds of pregnant and postpartum women experience some form of weight stigma. In the article she writes, “As a health psychologist studying weight stigma and its consequences, I see pregnancy as an important new avenue for research.”

Vice cited work by Professor Emily Douglas, head of the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies, for this article. The publication cited a 2016 analysis co-authored by Douglas, that found while women are more likely to be injured (or killed) in domestic violence disputes, men and women inflict violence on their intimate partners at roughly the same rate.

The Worcester Business Journal reported on WPI receiving $3 million from the National Science Foundation to study human-robot interaction in the workplace. Eight WPI researchers are involved: Cagdas Onal (principal investigator), Yunus Telliel, Jeanine Skorinko, Winston Soboyejo, Jing Xiao, Pratap Rao, Soussan Djamasbi and Jane Li

Social Justice STEMS from You

From climate change research to closing the socio-economic divide between populations and communities, an increasing number of WPI's students, faculty, and staff are coming together tin their passion to create a more just world through innovative, life-changing STEM solutions.