The master's degree program in public policy provides students with the skills and perspectives required to formulate, implement, and evaluate public policies (government actions to address social problems). Our curriculum includes two levels of course work—an analytic foundation and an advanced professional curriculum. Previous course work (at Mills or elsewhere) may be applied to the first-year requirements, reducing the number of classes and time needed to graduate.
Policy professionals must draw on skills and concepts from multiple disciplines, so our analytic foundation courses provide training in economics, statistics, law, and ethics—along with methods of policy analysis. As part of the foundation curriculum, students also select a course (from among multiple options) relating to diversity and public policy, with the aim of understanding current and historical dimensions of diversity and inequality along social identity dimensions such as class, race, ethnicity, and gender.
Advanced Professional Training
The six second-year core courses offer students opportunities to augment and deepen their skills through guided practice. Our courses in organizational and political efficacy prepare students to understand and work effectively in various political and organizational contexts. For the advanced analytics and research methods requirement, students may choose among three options that develop expertise in qualitative methods, computer modeling and simulations, or econometrics. We also include in-depth training on local policy making, with opportunities for students to work with local organizations on current community-level issues. Two elective courses can also be used to build substantive knowledge or alternatively, to deepen analytical capacity in areas such as statistics or economics.
Multidisciplinary skill training comes together in the two-semester Integrative Core, in which students apply various analytic frameworks to a series of current policy problems, using real-world data and interacting with practicing policy analysts and managers. The Integrative Core culminates in the student's own policy analysis (the Master’s Policy Report) conducted for an external client. With faculty assistance, students select the MPR topic and client, using the project as an opportunity to develop substantive expertise in a particular policy area such as education, the environment, or health. The MPR serves as a reference for students entering the job market, and the project experience prepares students to transition into their professional policy careers.
Full-Time or Part-Time
Students enrolled in three or more classes each semester are considered full-time and generally complete the program in two years. Students enrolled in fewer than three courses per semester are considered part-time and earn their MPP in three to five years. Full-time and part-time MPP students enroll in the same courses and have access to the same outstanding faculty.