A Master of Public Policy (MPP) is an advanced professional degree in the field of public service. If you’re interested in having an impact on domestic and international public welfare, an MPP could be the next step towards your career goals. Graduates of MPP programs are qualified to pursue careers in a variety of public service capacities in several different arenas, including local, state and federal government, nonprofits, international organizations and the private sector. Working as managers, leaders and analysts, public policy professionals have the education and training needed to systematically analyze, evaluate and develop solutions to policy issues.
The curriculum for a Master of Public Policy program typically includes core courses as well as electives in a chosen area of specialization. The core curriculum encompasses elements of a variety of social science fields, including sociology, economics, statistics, political economy, policy analysis, program evaluation, public management and ethics. Some areas of specialization offered by MPP programs include health care, education, environment, urban affairs, transportation, criminal justice and economic development. Different schools offer different specializations, so prospective MPP students select a program that fits their interests.
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a related graduate degree that also prepares graduates for a career in public service. MPA programs concentrate on public service management, providing the skills needed to implement programs that address the public good. Over the past two decades, the line between MPA and MPP degrees has begun to blur. Many MPP programs now address policy implementation while MPA programs are addressing policy management issues. Students should focus on programs that align with their career goals when deciding whether to pursue an MPP or MPA degree.
Accredited MPP programs are available in several formats, allowing each student to select a program that aligns with his or her personal and professional situation. These include:
A full-time MPP program typically requires two years to complete. During the first year, students concentrate on core courses. The second year includes elective courses that are related to a student’s area of specialization. Many MPP programs require a summer internship to be complete between the first and second years. For students with time constraints, some universities offer intensive programs that allow a full-time MPP to be earned in one year.
MPP programs that are offered online are designed to accommodate the geographic and schedule restrictions facing many working professionals. They provide an interactive online environment that can be accessed at any time and from any location. The learning experience includes the same coursework as traditional programs, access to faculty instructors and a shared virtual classroom experience with other students. Some online MPP programs allow students to complete the degree on a part-time basis while continuing to work full time, while others require a full-time commitment.
Mid-career professionals with several years of experience who are seeking an MPP for career advancement may be interested in the flexibility afforded by Executive MPP programs. Executive MPP programs have flexible schedules that include evenings and weekends, allowing professionals to continue working while completing their degree. These part-time programs focus on leadership and management, allowing professionals to learn together and network.
The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) is a membership organization for schools with programs in public policy and public administration. The organization is the U.S. accreditor for master’s programs. More than 250 NASPAA member schools throughout the world offer MPP and MPA degrees as well as other graduate degrees related to public affairs. The NASPAA website provides a search capability that helps students find schools based on criteria such as location, specialization and format (full time, online or executive).