Undergraduate Certificate Program on Poverty and Inequality

The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality (CPI) monitors and publicizes trends in poverty and inequality, publishes the country's leading magazine on poverty and inequality (Pathways Magazine), supports research on the causes of poverty and inequality, and examines the effects of public policy on poverty and inequality. The Center carries out these activities with ten research groups addressing the following topics: (1) poverty measurement and trends; (2) educational access and achievement; (3) income inequality; (4) social mobility; (5) safety net use; (6) recession and recovery effects; (7) spatial segregation; (8) racial and ethnic inequality; (9) discrimination, poverty, and the labor market; and (10) Hispanic poverty, inequality, and mobility.

The Stanford Certificate in Poverty and Inequality recognizes undergraduates who have developed expertise in one or more of these research areas. The certificate is conferred as soon as the coursework and research requirements listed below are completed. Although the certificate does not appear on an official University transcript, it provides formal recognition of a rigorous program of study in the field of poverty and inequality.


Applications to the CPI certificate program are available here and may be filed at any time. Admitted students are assigned an advisor who will assist in planning coursework and providing research opportunities within CPI. Please contact CPI (inequality@stanford.edu) with any questions.


The student’s course and research plan, which is submitted with the application, should meet the four requirements listed below.

  1. Core Foundation Course (SOC 140. Introduction to Social Stratification (same as SOC 240.)). This required introductory course examines the causes and consequences of poverty, inequality, and mobility. It is available as both a regular and online course.
  2. Elective Foundation Course. The second foundation course should be selected from among the normative, empirical, and policy courses listed below. These courses examine the principles by which certain types of living conditions may be deemed unjust or impoverished (i.e., "normative analysis"), the social processes and forces by which poverty and inequality are generated and maintained (i.e., "empirical analysis"), and the types of policies and interventions that might reduce or increase poverty and inequality (i.e., "policy analysis").
    The Normative Foundation
    ETHICSOC 136R. Introduction to Global Justice (Same as: INTNLREL 136R, PHIL 76, POLISCI 136R, POLISCI 336.)
    PHIL 171. Justice (Same as: ETHICSOC 171, IPS 208, PHIL 271, POLISCI 3P, POLISCI 136S, POLISCI 336S, PUBLPOL 103C, PUBLPOL 307.)
    The Empirical Foundation
    SOC 141. Controversies about Inequality (same as SOC 241.)
    SOC 144. Inequality and the Workplace (same as SOC 244.)
    The Policy Foundation
    ECON 11N. Understanding the Welfare System
    POLISCI 240J. Why is there no labor party in the US?
    SOC 135. Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy (same as SOC 235)
  3. Research Project. The third requirement is to complete a research paper on poverty or inequality. We invite students to join one of the ten CPI Research Groups and become involved in an ongoing CPI research project that might become the basis for their research paper. It is also acceptable to write an independent research paper rather than joining a CPI Research Group. The research paper may either take the form of a research proposal or an empirical research project based on quantitative or qualitative methods. This paper should be completed while the student is enrolled in Independent Study with a CPI faculty affiliate (go here for a list of CPI faculty affiliates).
  4. Additional Elective. The fourth requirement is to take an “elective course” with a poverty or inequality focus. This requirement may be satisfied by taking an additional foundation course from the list provided above or by taking any of the preapproved elective courses listed below. Additionally, other unlisted courses addressing issues of poverty and inequality may also satisfy this requirement, although such courses require CPI approval (which is requested by submitting our Course Approval Form). It is suggested (but not required) that approval be secured in advance of taking an unlisted course. If a new applicant to the certificate program wishes to count a completed course toward the requirements, that should be indicated on the application form (and, if necessary, the Course Approval Form should be filled out).

List of Preapproved Elective Courses

PUBLPOL 240: Designing the Way Up: Disruptive Solutions to Poverty in America
SOC 135: Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy in the United States (Same as: SOC 235.)
CHEM 24N. Nutrition and History
ECON 11N. Understanding the Welfare System
ECON 106. World Food Economy (Same as: EARTHSYS 106, EESS 106.)

Educational Access and Achievement
ECON 146. Economics of Education
EDUC 102. Examining Social Structure, Power, and Educational Access
EDUC 173: Gender and Higher Education: National and International Perspectives (Same as: EDUC 273, FEMST 173, SOC 173, SOC 273.)
EDUC 181. Multicultural Issues in Higher Education (Same as: EDUC 381.)
EDUC 221A. Policy Analysis in Education
EDUC 232: Culture, Learning, and Poverty
EDUC 253X: Inequality, Society, and Education (Same as: SOC 353X.)
SOC 132. Sociology of Education (Same as: EDUC 110, EDUC 310, SOC 332.)
SOC 134. Education, Gender, and Development (Same as: EDUC 197.)

Income Inequality
AMSTUD 50N. The Literature of Inequality: Have and Have-Nots from the Gilded Age to the Occupy Era (Same as: ENGLISH 50N.)
ECON 21N: Economic Inequality
POLISCI 127P: Economic Inequality and Political Dysfunction
SOC 14N: Inequality in American Society
SOC 117D: Recognizing Inequality
SOC 141. Controversies about Inequality (Same as: SOC 241.)

Social Mobility
CSRE 55R: Race and Upward Mobility in U.S. Cultural Production
ECON 147. Economics of Human Resources
EDUC 102. Examining Social Structure, Power, and Educational Access
SOC 144. Inequality and the Workplace (Same as: SOC 244.)

Safety Net
ECON 11N. Understanding the Welfare System
PUBLPOL 101: Politics and Public Policy (Same as: POLISCI 123, PUBLPOL 201.)
PUBLPOL 240: Designing the Way Up: Disruptive Solutions to Poverty in America

Recession and Recovery
ECON 110: History of Financial Crises
SOC 114D: Sociology of the Great Recession

Spatial Segregation
SOC 149. The Urban Underclass (Same as: SOC 249, URBANST 112.)

Racial and Ethnic Income Inequalities
SOC 45Q. Understanding Race and Ethnicity in American Society (Same as: CSRE 45Q.)
SOC 46N. Race, Ethnic and National Identities: Imagined Communities
SOC 139. American Indians in Contemporary Society (Same as: NATIVEAM 139, SOC 239.)
SOC 145. Race and Ethnic Relations (Same as: CSRE 145, SOC 245.)
SOC 148. Comparative Ethnic Conflict (Same as: SOC 248.)

Discrimination and the Labor Market
ECON 11N. Understanding the Welfare System
ECON 118. Development Economics
ECON 145. Labor Economics
ECON 147. Economics of Human Resources
PSYCH 125. Beyond Stereotype Threat (Same as: CTL 130.)
SOC 142. Sociology of Gender (Same as: SOC 242.)
SOC 144. Inequality and the Workplace (Same as: SOC 244.)

Poverty, Inequality, and Mobility among Hispanics
EDUC 127X: The Wellbeing of Children in Immigrant Families
EDUC 178X: Latino Families, Languages, and Schools
POLISCI 125S: Chicano/Latino Politics (Same as: CHILATST 125S.)
SOC 165: Seminar on the Everyday Lives of Immigrants (Same as: SOC 265.)
SOC 166: Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Chicanos in American Society (Same as: CHILATST 166, SOC 266.)