Master’s Degree in Science, Technology & Society (STS)
Students in Drexel’s Science, Technology & Society master’s degree program investigate the co-production of science and society; that is, the many ways cultural, economic, historical, and political contexts influence science, technology and medicine, and how science, technology and medicine influence these contexts. Questioning the taken-for-granted, students hone their skills in humanities and social science research methods to examine the interactions among science, technology, identities, relationships, and how these are rooted in larger structural relationships. Through this program, graduate students explore the impact of new technologies and scientific knowledge, as well as their many social, ethical and legal implications.
A Diversity of Perspectives
STS at Drexel takes on some of our most important questions in contemporary science, technology and medicine with a multidisciplinary toolkit. Faculty in anthropology, criminal justice, history, information sciences, philosophy, political science, public health and sociology contribute to a curriculum that features a broad set of perspectives, all grounded in a foundation of critical thinking, strong research methods expertise, and clear writing and presentation skills.
The program emphasizes three interrelated areas:
Environment and Sustainability
Cities and regions around the world are looking for ways to increase energy independence and create built environments that support human and animal life. We are also investigating solutions to the ways climate change will affect critical interdependent urban infrastructure, and how to mitigate risks to our communities by redesigning these systems for sustainability and resilience. Cultural contexts add a layer of complexity to how we think about and react to issues such as climate risks, debates about new and old energy technologies, disasters and questions about biodiversity and pollution. One's community and networks can influence the way members prepare for disasters. For example, national political ideologies can slow or speed investment in “green” technologies. Faculty affiliated with the STS center research topics such as food access, the use of science and technology in disaster response, the relationship between new modes of transportation and the environment, the transnational production of citrus fruits, the social dimensions of new energy sources, and ways to address the effects of climate change.
Health and Medicine
Medicine is central to people's lived experience. People interact with medicine in a range of roles: as patients, as caregivers, as clinicians, as regulators, as insurers, as participants in human-subjects medical research, as consumers, and more. Moreover, medical technologies from bioinformatics to pharmaceuticals are crucial to the social shaping of health and illness. An STS approach to health and medicine investigates issues such as when and why certain priorities in medical research and service delivery are favored over others; who and what drives ongoing policy debates in nations whose health system stakeholders grapple with issues like cost, accessibility and professional training; the cultural contexts that shape participation in health care professions and systems; the role marketing plays in medicine; and how definitions of disease and diagnostic categories change over time. Faculty affiliated with the STS center research topics such as the rise of self-diagnosis questionnaires and their impact on healthcare, ideas about the use of MRI technology, the ethics and history of public health, the use of animals in health research, and how and why the Buteyko method is being implemented in asthma care.
Information, Identities and Networks
Computing technology reaches into nearly every corner of life. Realms of human experience like security, privacy, health and wellness, assembling information and sharing knowledge, creativity, commerce and mobility are just a few examples of how human life intersects daily with information and computing technologies. The large-scale systems that infuse everyday life in cities—utility infrastructure, traffic regulation, emergency services—are a web of interdependencies whose operations rely on highly complex and sometimes vulnerable information structures. Moreover, classification schemes, categorical infrastructures and taxonomies are social products that require critical analysis. Faculty affiliated with the STS center research topics such as the ethics of big data and algorithms, the relation between nanotechnology and a changing workforce, the relation between computers and the construction of identity, and policies that promote civic engagement with computing technologies.
Working with a primary advisor, graduate students develop an individualized plan of study that allows them to pursue their interests in depth.
STS students are independent, creative thinkers who are dedicated to understanding the social dimensions of science, medicine and technology. While Drexel’s STS students vary widely in their professional and educational backgrounds and career ambitions, they share a common commitment to a rigorous critical approach to our world’s most pressing technoscientific challenges.
STS applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to graduate studies at Drexel University. The application also requires a personal statement (up to 500 words) describing the prospective student’s interest in STS. Entering students typically begin study during the fall quarter with a required introductory course. Students are able, though, to start the program during any quarter.
The MS in Science, Technology and Society requires 45 credits. The degree can be pursued either full-time or part-time. Soon after matriculation, the student completes a plan of study with the graduate advisor to outline his or her specific program. Students can complete the degree solely through coursework or combine coursework with a master's project or a master's thesis. For more information on master's projects or master's theses, please consult the STS Graduate Student Handbook.
The non-thesis option is solely course-based.
The thesis option requires completion of coursework, as well as an original research project mentored by a STS-affiliated faculty member. Students wishing to pursue PhD programs are encouraged to elect the MS with thesis. To choose the MS thesis option, formal acceptance by a faculty advisor must first be obtained. After all other requirements are completed, the MS student defends the thesis at a final oral examination.
Download the STS Thesis Guidelines (PDF) »
The career opportunities for STS graduates are as diverse as the students. The STS program's emphasis on critical thinking, research methods and writing gives students the tools they need for careers as analysts in the private sector, nonprofit organizations or educational settings. STS graduates can also prepare for careers inside the major systems they study: healthcare and medicine, computing and information systems, urban infrastructure design and oversight, environmental regulation, advocacy, urban planning and risk management. An STS degree can help engineers, scientists and medical professionals step into policy work by providing essential training in the social influences and consequences of scientific and technical initiatives. For students from a social sciences, humanities and/or liberal arts background, a STS degree opens the door to professional advancement in technology or science-oriented organizations and settings. STS students also use the master's degree as a jumping-off point to further graduate studies in a range of fields including, but not limited to, science and technology studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, policy, law and medicine. You can read more about Drexel’s STS alumni here.
Requirements for Admission (STS)
Degree Requirements: MS in Science, Technology & Society
Science, Technology & Society Course Descriptions
Office of Graduate Studies
For more information, please contact:
Kelly Joyce, PhD
STS Program Director
3600 Market Street, Room 730
3600 Market Street, Room 726