MPP Curriculum

The Master of Public Policy curriculum is developed and updated to make sure it is reflective of the student body we serve, as well as the challenges they may face as policy analysts and creators. Our core courses, and electives taught within the department, are offered in the evenings in order to accommodate our many students who wish to work full time while pursuing their degree. 

Curriculum Overview

The two-year course of study for the Master of Public Policy includes 42 required credit hours divided among three components: 24 core units, 15 elective units, and 3 units of a capstone project.  The MPP program leadership and faculty members will work with students to find appropriate electives to help develop expertise in the student’s policy area of interest.

Please note that we have listed the semesters in which courses are typically taught to aid in planning, but that these are subject to change at departmental discretion.

Core Courses (24 units)

Courses typically taught in fall semesters:

This course focuses on various theories of how public policy is formulated.

This course is a survey of microeconomic and macroeconomic principles for the public policy scholar. The first half of the semester will cover principles of microeconomic markets from a policy perspective. The second half of the semester will examine core macroeconomic concepts in order to give public policy scholars foundational economic intuition to understand and model complex policy problems.

This course focuses on fiscal issues facing governments at the sub-national level. Included is a survey of state and local fiscal systems in the country and detailed analysis of the major state and local revenue sources (such as income tax, sales tax) and expenditure categories (such as K-12, higher education and welfare), and economic and administrative issues in intergovernmental relations.

This course provides a graduate-level introduction in the application of statistical analysis to decision making in public and nonprofit organizations. The course emphasizes both the practical and theoretical aspects of statistical analysis, as well as instruction in the use of computer software (STATA) for carrying out statistical analysis.

This course is the second semester of a year-long Quantitative Policy Analysis sequence. The course will focus on quantitative tools to empower students to assess the effectiveness and impact of policy. The second semester will build on the first course by introducing additional tools focusing on causal interpretation. Techniques include natural experiments, randomized control trials, and quasi-experimental methods (including difference-in-difference, regression discontinuity, panel data techniques). Similar to the first semester and in addition to our core content, each week students will read an article utilizing a quantitative policy analysis method to understand the approach and critique the model assumptions. Homework assignments will put theory into practice and teach students coding skills using STATA.

Courses typically taught in spring semesters:

This course focuses on techniques for evaluating processes and outcomes of public sector and non-profit programs.

This course begins with the theory of motivations for public policy including market failures, government failures, as well as distributional and other normative goals. The second half of the course will apply theory to real world policy issues. Students will also critically deconstruct and analyze a variety of policy analysis documents. Lastly, students will use economic models to quantitatively analyze policy.

This course will focus on regression analysis as a quantitative tool to assess the effectiveness and impacts of policy. Topics will include Ordinary Least Squares, Hypothesis Testing, Logistic Regressions, Instrumental Variables, and Time Series Methods, as well as specification choice, regression diagnostics, and robustness testing. In addition to the core content, each week students will read an article utilizing a quantitative policy analysis method to understand the approach and critique the model assumptions. Homework assignments will put theory into practice and teach students coding skills using STATA and/or R.

These courses are sequenced and should be completed in the following order:

  1. PA 504 & 552 (both fall courses)
  2. PA 553 & 555 (both spring courses)
  3. PA 554 (fall course)

Elective Courses (15 units)

To help students select courses in areas that may develop career objectives, a list of elective coursework is available and categorized in specified concentrations. Students are welcome to take all elective coursework from one concentration or take elective coursework from multiple concentration areas of interest.

Any coursework taken outside of SGPP will need approval from the Program Director and Graduate Programs Manager prior to enrollment. Additionally, no more than 12 units of elective coursework may be taken outside of the School of Government & Public Policy and must be at the graduate level.

Students are responsible for adhering to this policy even if a course is approved by the department. Please note that not every course will be offered every semester or academic year, and some courses may not be at 3 units each.

See Electives

Capstone Project/Course (3 units)

The MPP Capstone course is completed during the student's final Spring semester and supervised by Dr. Adam Henry.

  • Student should be in good academic standing for capstone enrollment.
  • 6 of 8 core courses should be completed prior to enrollment in the capstone course.
    • Students must complete PA 555 prior to enrollment in capstone.
  • The MPP Capstone project is a solo research project.
  • Students MUST submit a Master's Plan of Study in GradPath and have it approved by all reviewers prior to enrollment in Capstone Course. See the Graduation Checklist webpage for additional details.