Description of Master’s in Public Policy Program:
As a professional degree, the Master of Public Policy emphasizes analyzing and evaluating information to solve policy problems. The MPP degree usually lasts two years and provides training in program evaluation at public policy schools, and allows you the opportunity to serve in the public sector or public service fields, non-profits, private sector, and in all levels of government at the international, national, sub-national, and local levels. As policy analysts, thinkers, and researchers, MPP graduates work with quantitative and qualitative information and data to develop, assess, and evaluate alternative approaches to current and emerging issues and challenges. Focusing on systematic analysis of issues related to public policy and the decision processes associate with them, these programs train you in understanding the role of economic and political factors in public decision-making and policy formulation, microeconomic analysis of policy options and issues, resource allocation and decision modeling, cost/benefit analysis, statistical methods, and various applications to specific public policy topics.
Master’s degrees in public policy are very similar to Master of Public Administration programs (MPA), although MPAs provide more coursework in program implementation, whereas MPP programs place more emphasis on implementation of public policies and the design of effective programs and projects to achieve public policy goals. Occasionally different schools offer an MPPA degree, which is a combination of an MPA and MPP. It’s important to become familiar with different school’s online MPP programs to know exactly what they’re offering and what you desire to do with the degree upon graduating.
Coursework Material for a Master’s in Public Policy
The coursework will vary depending on the MPP program you choose. Overall though, MPP programs have become much more interdisciplinary over the years, drawing from economics, sociology, anthropology, politics, and regional planning. A typical MPP program includes required core courses and a concentration or specialization that is determined by the student and what they wish their career to be in. Coursework is designed to equip MPP graduates with skills and knowledge in advanced economic analysis, political analysis, ethical analysis, data analysis, management and leadership.
Generally a core curriculum of an MPP program includes:
- Public finance
- Research methods
- Statistics and advanced data analysis
- Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
- Qualitative research
- Population methods
- Politics of policy process
- Policy analysis
- Public policy
- Concepts and behaviors
- Public management and organization
- Urban policy and GIS
- Program evaluation
- Research design
- Program evaluation
According to GoPublicService.org, classes within MPP degree programs usually fall into one of three fields of study:
- Policy analysis: Gathering and processing information to inform efforts to solve new policy problems. Persons who seek careers in policy analysis enjoy working with quantitative and qualitative information to develop and assess alternatives for solving these problems.
- Management: Using scarce resources to achieve policy and management objectives. Persons who seek management careers enjoy building the solutions to problems using raw materials such as financial and human resources.
- Leadership: Taking individual responsibility for the top-level decisions about which policy and management problems an organization should address. Persons who seek leadership careers enjoy being held accountable for decisions in return for the authority to choose problems and select alternative solutions.
As mentioned before, MPP students must choose a concentration or specialization within different policy areas. When searching for a public policy program you should know your interest and desire of concentration so you can select a program that contains your specialization. This should be the most exciting part of your MPP program, as you get to select the courses and classes that interest you and reflect exactly where you want to be in your future career. Some of these different concentrations offered by NASPAA programs are:
- Urban policy
- Global policy
- Social policy
- Health policy
- Non-profit management
- Economic development
- Information technology (IT)
- Population research
- International Development
- Urban affairs
- Criminal justice
In addition to selecting a specialization, you’ll also be able to study communications, teamwork and leadership. All these courses are designed to help students solve complicated and unfamiliar challenges—by asking the right questions, determining the nature and dimensions of the problem at hand, exploring the range of possible solutions, and assessing the capacity of public institutions to implement one or more of these solutions.
Master’s in Public Policy Distinguished Role Models:
- Ann M. Veneman: In May 2005, Ann Veneman was appointed Executive Director of UNICEF. She now oversees an agency of over 10,000 staff members worldwide with a budget exceeding $2 billion. In her position as UNICEF Director, Veneman has championed efforts to prevent child starvation and malnutrition and to improve the delivery of social services and medical treatment to the world’s children. Prior to joining UNICEF, Veneman served as the 27th Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. She has directed major programs to improve nutritional education and to promote agriculture productivity during her tenure.
- Robert Zoellick: Zoellick became the World Bank President in 2007. He previously served as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State. Prior to joining the State Department, Zoellick was U.S. Trade Representative in the Bush Administration and has also served in various other positions in the U.S. Department of the Treasury and in the private sector.
- Cheryl Dorsey: Dr. Cheryl Dorsey is the President of the Echoing Green Foundation. Before her position she received an Echoing Green Fellowship to launch The Family Van, a community based mobile health unit. From 1997-1998 Dorsey served as a White House Fellow Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Labor and was later named Special Assistant to the Director of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Labor Department. Most recently she served as the first Director of Public Health Initiatives at Danya International, Inc. Dorsey has received the Pfizer Roerig History of Medicine Award, the Robert Kennedy Distinguished Public Service Award and the Manuel C. Carballo Memorial Prize. Cheryl currently serves as a board member of CORO, a leadership development organization.
- Elizabeth Hill: Elizabeth Hill commenced a career in state government in 1976, joining California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office as a program analyst focusing on criminal justice. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee appointed her California Legislative Analyst in 1986 where she serves as a nonpartisan fiscal advisor to both houses of the California Legislature, and oversees the preparation of annual fiscal and policy analyses of the State of California’s $126 billion budget and its various programs. Her office is also charged with the responsibility of preparing impartial analyses for all initiatives and constitutional measures qualifying for the state’s ballot.
- Kevin J. Martin: Martin was nominated as the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by President George Bush in April 2001, and was sworn in that July. He was designated chairman by President Bush in March 2005, and was nominated for a second term in 2006. Martin previously served as a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and was on the staff of the National Economic Council. He also served as the official U.S. government representative to the G-8’s Digital Opportunity Task Force.
Available Resources for Master of Public Policy Students:
- Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management: The APPAM is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis and education. With over 1,500 academic, practitioner, organizational and institutional members, APPAM promotes its mission through the research conferences, with the association’s journal “Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM)”, several award programs and various activities including international and national conferences and workshops.
MPA/MPP Information for Prospective Students Video: The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, based in Washington D.C., produced this YouTube video for prospective students considering an MPP degree. It provides helpful information about the degree and career opportunities after obtaining the degree.
Public Sector Job Site: This website is a nonprofit site for those who are seeking jobs in public sector. It’s not only helpful if you’re seeking a job, but it also gives you a wide listing of what kind of jobs are available for MPP graduates.
Graduate Degrees for Professional Public Service YouTube Channel: This is a channel with videos for prospective and current graduate students of MPP programs. It covers subjects such as, “Why should you consider an MPP degree” and answers career questions.