Master's Degree Programme in Inequalities, Interventions and New Welfare State

The Master’s Degree Programme in Inequalities, Interventions and New Welfare State is a cross-disciplinary, international study programme. It is located in the INVEST Research Flagship Centre at the Department of Social Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, and utilises its world-class social and behavioural scientists for educating students. This makes the programme unique both in Finland as well as in Europe at large.

During the studies, the students are expected to acquire profound understanding of the key socioeconomic and demographic changes in societies linked with social inequalities and shown in meso-and micro level interaction, the role of welfares state institutions and services in compensating and/or enforcing them in different country contexts, and high level quantitative methodological skills for analysing data on such issues.

The extent of the M.Soc.Sci. degree programme is 120 ECTS credit units and the completion time of the programme is two years. The degree will be compiled of both major studies in the degree programme and minor studies in other programmes and a Master’s thesis. The students will be linked with the research groups of the flagship research Centre. The language of tuition is English.

More information about INVEST – Inequalities, Interventions, and New Welfare State Flagship Project of the Finnish Academy


Programme in brief


The first year of studies will mainly consist of methods and substantive courses together with the initial development of the thesis idea and proposal. Second year studies will centre on thematic seminars and the thesis in the first semester and will also include work-life competences, and internship and exchange studies in the second semester.  The topics of the theses will be provided by the research groups and the theses will be supervised by the research group members.

Detailed course descriptions are published in the electronic Curriculum.


The master thesis is considered an important area of specialization during the studies in the programme. Successful graduates will be awarded a title of Master of Social Sciences from the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Theses can be done within the frame of research themes like comparative research on social inequalities; child and youth development in context; welfare state services, benefits, and policy processes; population and family demographics; child and adolescent epidemiology; prevention and intervention research; and advanced statistical methods related to these topics.

  • (Note) The contents of formally eligible applicants’ previous degrees do not always correspond to the academic level of the programme. Therefore, admitted students can be required to complete additional, Bachelor level studies while studying for the Master’s Degree as quickly as possible and in any case during the first year of the studies. These studies are not part of the Master’s Degree and may extend the targeted study time. The extent and contents of the additional studies are defined individually for each student when a personal study plan is created in the beginning of the studies. The amount of required additional studies cannot exceed 15 ECTS.

The MPINVEST programme educates research and public administration professionals for analysing social inequalities and welfare state institutions as well as developing new policies and intervention methods to reduce disadvantages and improve wellbeing and skill development of children and youth.


The Master’s Degree provides eligibility for scientific postgraduate degree studies and it is expected that all chosen student should acquire researcher’s skills that should also make them eligible for social and behavioural science PhD programmes including lNVEST’s own PhD programme.

Entry requirements


General Requirement

You are an eligible applicant for Master’s studies if

  • you have a nationally recognized first cycle degree – usually a Bachelor’s degree – from an accredited institution of higher education,
  • your degree consists of at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or three years of full-time study,
  • your degree is in a relevant field for the Master’s degree programme that you’re applying to. Please check the section on programme-specific admission requirements for detailed degree requirements.

Language Requirements

Applicants must have excellent English language skills and a certificate that proves those skills. You can indicate your language skills by taking one of the internationally recognized English language tests. 

Applicants must reach the minimum required test results to be considered eligible to be accepted to the University of Turku. No exceptions will be made. Read more about the language requirements, recognized qualifications, required levels and exemptions here. 


Who can apply?

All applicants must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in applicable fields of social and behavioural sciences. The degree must include three years of study. This degree should correspond to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to three years of full-time study. It should be awarded by a nationally accredited institution of higher education.

The content of previous studies should be similar/related to the INVEST project. For example:

  • social inequality
  • comparative social research
  • child and youth development
  • welfare state services, benefits, and policy processes
  • population and family demographics
  • prevention and intervention research and quantitative methodological courses (e.g. STATA skills)  
  • other related studies

NB. Persons who have the Finnish first-cycle polytechnic degree called "ammattikorkeakoulututkinto” and have completed courses on scientific thinking, writing and research methods (esp. quantitative methods) in areas relevant to the programme are also eligible to apply.

Verified proficiency in the English language is needed. See the webpage for recognized qualifications, required levels and exemptions:


Admission Criteria

 An annual minimum number of students for a new cohort to begin their studies is 8. The new students admitted to the programme begin their studies each autumn. The applicants are evaluated and and ranked using the criteria mentioned below. 

The eligible applications will be scored based on their previous studies and work experience (0 to max. 35 points) and the letter of motivation (6 to max. 15 points), with a maximum of 50 points achievable. The following describes the scoring in more detail:

Previous studies 0-30 points

Bachelor’s or higher degree 0-7 points

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree with major in Social and Behavioural sciences (including political sciences, international relations)- 7 points
  • Bachelor’s or higher degree in a related field (for example: computer science; statistics; data science, nursing science)- 5 points

A Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) 0-10 points

  • Cumulative GPA 5: 10 points
  • Cumulative GPA 4: 8 points
  • Cumulative GPA 3: 6 points

If the applicant’s previous studies are not graded on the Finnish grading scale of 1-5, the grading will be converted to a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best).

Grade of a Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis 0-5 points

  • Grade 5: 5 points
  • Grade 4: 4 points
  • Grade 3: 3 points
  • lower grade thesis: 1 point

If the applicant’s previous studies are not graded on the Finnish grading scale of 1-5, the grading will be converted to a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best). There must be an indication of an accepted Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis either on the applicant’s degree certificate or on the Transcript of Records. Applicants who have not written a thesis as part of their previous degree or whose thesis is in progress will earn no points in this section.

Thesis or relevant research paper title and abstract 0-4 points

The applicant should include the title and abstract of a Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis or of a research paper (if applicable) in the application form. Title and abstract will be graded based on the focus, quality, method and relevance. Applicants who have not written a thesis for their previous studies or research paper can submit a prospective thesis title and abstract related to the work they wish to carry out as part of the INVEST project. This will also be graded according to focus, quality, method and relevance.

Contents of previous studies including specialised courses and quantitative research methods in the fields of social and behavioural sciences relevant to the INVEST project 0-4 points

  • research methodology courses especially in quantitative methods
  • specialized courses relevant for the INVEST project
  • 1 point/course up to 4 points

The applicant should indicate these individual courses in the application form. The courses should be part of the applicant’s transcript of records.

Letter of Motivation 0-15 points (an eligible application must achieve minimum 6 points for the Letter of Motivation to be admitted to the programme)

The Letter of Motivation is included in the application form. NOTE: an applicant is expected to answer all six questions indicated.

It is highly recommended to draft the letter in advance as a separate document and copy and paste the text to the application form.

The Letter of Motivation should cover the following:

  • Describe your reasons for applying for the programme.
  • Describe your strengths and capacities.
  • How does the programme relate to your previous studies (e.g. field of specialization, research methodology studied) or work?
  • What is the topic of your research interest? Why and how would you investigate it?
  • How does the topic of the programme contribute to your personal development and to the development of your professional expertise?
  • Two potential supervisors from the INVEST team you would be interested in working with.

References (contact details)

The Letter of Motivation should also include the name and contact information (affiliation, e-mail) of two academic references; for example, the main supervisor of your previous studies.

Note: Referee contact details do not count towards the letter of motivation’s points.

Other relevant work/study related experience included in the applicant’s CV (for example, exchange studies or work experience in other institutions and organisations carrying out similar research) 0-5 points

  • exchange studies in research institutions or other related studies
  • relevant work experience/internships for example in research or policy focused national and international organisations, universities & institutions