MPPA Curriculum

Curriculum Overview 

The Master’s in Public Policy and Administration requires the successful completion of 13 courses to obtain a degree. Students complete nine core courses, three elective courses corresponding to a chosen area of specialization, and a capstone class (498) or independent thesis (590). Current students should refer to curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program.

Public Policy Specialization

Students in this specialization will be able to understand the factors in public decision-making and policy formulation by honing their analytical skills and increasing their theoretical and practical knowledge in the field. Graduates are able to evaluate competing demands and lead toward innovative and transformative public policy solutions. Choose three courses:

MPPA 411 The Legislative Process

Examines the organization of legislatures that make public policy; specifically, how a bill on Capitol Hill becomes the law of the land. Topics include House and Senate procedure, parliamentary maneuvers, committees, structural issues, information issues, re-election concerns, and partisanship.

MPPA 419 The Strategic Policy Environment

The purpose of this course is to provide students an opportunity to study public policy in a holistic fashion while at the same time focusing on development, implementation, and the evaluation of public policy. This is accomplished by critically analyzing public policy theory and practice alongside a case-study driven examination of public policy successes and failures.

MPPA 432 Intergovernmental Relations

This course is designed to develop students’ practical understanding of American intergovernmental relations and intergovernmental management. The course is structured to examine contemporary relationships between U.S. federalism and public policy making processes at the federal, state, and local levels. It will also provide a comparative view of federalism, recognizing differences in the developing world as well as increased international relationships due to globalization. Students will analyze how various theories of intergovernmental relations apply to key areas of public policy making — federalism and the courts, fiscal federalism, and regulatory federalism. Students will engage in action-oriented learning to synthesize theories of intergovernmental relations and institutions to recommend policy programs and appraise future policy reform.

MPPA 430 Behavioral Economics

Why do people not recycle, even when offered monetary incentives? Why has the ‘War on Drugs’ failed? Why don’t people enroll in 401(k) savings plans? Why is the market for knock-off brand-name goods and pirated DVDs/software so large? This class will use behavioral economics to investigate questions related to policy formulation, implementation, framing and failure. With readings from current experts in the field including Ariely, Thaler, Kahneman and Frank, this class will discuss both behavioral economic theory and its application in policy areas such as immigration, the environment, health care, international relations, and (of course) the national economy.

MPPA 435 Regulatory Policy

This is an advanced specialization course in the politics and practice of governmental regulation, designed to give students the tools needed to understand the many facets of regulatory politics. It will cover broad areas of regulatory policy and procedure from communications, to environment, to consumer products. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to understand, articulate, and assess the political debates around regulatory policy and approaches to regulation. Additionally, students will be able develop policy solutions to address various regulatory problems using standard regulatory tools and best practices.

MPPA 490 Special Topics: US and Global Environmental Policy

Climate and environment are among the most complex and consequential arenas of 21st-century public policy. This course will provide an overview of major U.S. environmental laws and the court cases interpreting them, and will also explore initiatives to reach international agree-ment on global environmental threats such as climate change. We will address habitat and natural resource protection, explore the limits of federal power to mediate between private resource extraction and public property rights, and learn the frameworks and standards for protection of U.S. surface waters and air quality. We will address how federalism operates in addressing issues as diverse as land use planning and solid waste disposal, and explore elements and effectiveness of different policy frameworks for environmental protection regimes. We will examine the roles of environmental NGOs in U.S. and international debates over standards and enforcement. We will review case studies of regional cooperation among groups of states and nations. We will study the international climate regime, identifying the primary scientific sources of climate change data, and how they set the parameters for international climate policy, and discuss the future prospects of the Paris climate accord following the 2016 U.S. elections.

MPPA 490 Special Topics: Demography, Global Health and Policy

Demography is the formal study of population size/structure and factors associated with its change (i.e., fertility, migration, and mortality). Developing a theoretical and technical understanding of demographic tools can provide a better understanding of population dynamics and how this influences national and global health, as well as regional and national policy. This course provides such a framework by drawing upon seminal readings from demography, economics, public health, and sociology. We will examine issues relating to global aging, old-age dependency ratios, and social policy with respect to Italy, Japan, and the U.S. We will explore fertility and family planning polices with respect to Finland and Sweden. We will also discuss fertility by focusing on China and India. The course will also introduce health policy concepts relating to health care systems/access/disparities with respect to the U.S. and developing countries.

Counts toward the Public Policy, Global Policy, and Global Health specializations.

MPPA 490 Special Topics: Administrative Law

This is an introductory master’s level course that focuses on public law generally and administrative law particularly. The course provides students with a thorough grounding in the broad functions of public administrative law with special emphasis on procedural due process and rule-making. Students will learn the genesis of administrative rules and their impact on private and public affairs and the reasons why Congress delegates so much authority to administrative bodies. In addition, students will critically examine the various oversight mechanisms designed to monitor and check administrative abuses. Students will become familiar with the federal register, the scope and power of administrative law judges, the impact of judicial review on agency decisions, and generally understand administrative law “in the context of the American political system.”

Counts toward the Public Administration and Public Policy specializations.

MPPA 580 Global Policy Laboratory

The goal of the class is to provide students with a hands on opportunity to apply core skillsets from the MPPA program, particularly as they relate to an organization facing global, social and economic policy challenges. Students will work for a client organization on a commissioned project supervised by an MPPA faculty member. The goal of the client project is to analyze a specific challenge facing the organization, then develop a set of policy recommendations for the client. Students will work in teams to produce final deliverables. The project will culminate in a live client briefing and a written report (so one site visit by a student team representative may be required). Students should expect to spend 20 hours per week on the course.


American Policy and Politics- The American politics specialization analyzes the dynamic nature of American society and considers the political, economic, and social implications of federal and local policies. It includes the development of skills in building consensus among a variety of constituents affected by the new policy initiatives.

Applied Economic Policy- The economics specialization examines such policies as urban and global issues, the evaluation of law and public policy, regional and metropolitan growth, and the role of government in a market economy.

International Relations and National Security- The international relations and national security specialization traces a new role for U.S. leadership including studies in statesmanship; global alliances; and U.S. relations to such areas as Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe.

Public Policy and Dispute Resolution- The dispute resolution specialization focuses on solving public challenges in collaborative ways, preparing leaders with policy expertise and the skills to work across differences in an era of polarization.

State and Local Policy- The state and local specialization teaches students how regions grow, develop, and can be effectively governed. Today, governors, mayors, and other municipal and business leaders are creating many of the most innovative and effective policy initiatives at local levels.

The International Relations specialty may focus more specifically on one area such as Latin America, the Middle East, or the Pacific Basin depending on interest among the current student cohort.


Is a PhD in Public Policy Worth It?

Oct 20, 2018

Seeking a PhD in public policy will give you a wide understanding of many policy topics. This degree can prepare you for a career in many fields and industries. Below, we’ll look at some of the positions you can find, as well as a program description.Start School SearchOr view Popular Schools »

Deciding whether a PhD in public policy is worth the time and expense really comes down to what you want to do for a career. In this article, we’ll look at a description of the public policy PhD program, as well as some career options.

Careers for a PhD in Public Policy

PositionMedian Salary (2017)Career Outlook (2016-2026)
Political Science Professor$81,43011%
Marketing Manager$132,23010%
Community Service Manager$64,10018%
Political Scientist$115,1103%
Emergency Management Director$72,7608%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options for a PhD in Public Policy

Political Science Professor

As a professor, you’ll find that your tenure allows you to study and research topics that might not be quite so easily researched outside of academia. Along with a variety of course topics, you’ll teach students the skills needed to find work in public policy and political science fields. A PhD is most commonly required from accredited universities for their teachers, specifically in the graduate level courses. Along with lecturing and discussion groups, you may also take on the role of mentor for students or club members.

Marketing Manager

With a public policy PhD, you may increase your chances for a leadership position, such as becoming a marketing manager. Through the skills you have gained from your education, you’ll be able to recognize trends and develop strategies, both in pricing and demographics, on products and services. You’ll be able to recognize issues with customer satisfaction, and you may even be a part of the advertising and marketing plans for future products. You should also be able to plan market research to better estimate the demand for products.

Community Service Manager

As a public policy graduate, if you are interested in helping specific demographics and groups, you can get involved with community service organizations to create programs and fight for better funding and policies. Though a master’s degree is acceptable, a PhD will give you the background knowledge in research and leadership that can help you as a manager. You’ll collect statistics to show how a program is or isn’t working, and research ways to improve programs already in place. You will also work with budgeting and write reports to seek more funding from the government or donors.

Political Scientist

Political scientists do a lot of research, which is why most organizations look for those with a PhD. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 48% of political scientists work in the federal government. As a political scientist, you’ll monitor trends, current events, policies, and political theories to see how they are accepted by the people and you’ll also research and analyze a lot of data, such as public opinion surveys. Finally, you can also move into a policy analyst position, which looks specifically at public policies in the country.

Emergency Management Director

It’s important to note that an emergency manager need only a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. However, a post-graduate degree, like the PhD in public policy, will give you the management skills needed to lead teams, as well as the research and writing skills needed to create emergency plans and easy-to-understand procedures. As a director, you’ll be at the top position of a team, reviewing local emergency operations, and assessing the possibility of emergency situations. Once a disaster strikes, you’ll run command centers to manage emergency operations and obtain supplies for the community where necessary.

PhD in Public Policy Program Description

PhD programs typically take an additional two years on top of your master’s degree. Whether or not that time spent is worth it may be weighed against these program points.


It’s important to note that many of the public policy programs have concentrations on which you can narrow your focus. As mentioned before, public policy provides a wide knowledge base, so these concentrations give you the opportunity to focus your studies in the area you’d like to pursue for a career. Some concentration areas can include health policy, emergency management, homeland security, terrorism & mediation, public management, and nonprofit leadership.


PhDs culminate in a capstone project called a dissertation. These dissertations give you the chance to apply research methodologies learned throughout your studies. You’ll research on a topic or theory that could greatly affect your field. These dissertations are often hundreds of pages long, so you need to be prepared for the challenge of semesters of research and hours of writing.


Since you’ll find that PhD programs tend to be run through graduate schools or public policy-specific schools (within a university), tuition costs will be much higher than undergraduate costs. You will typically find that colleges provide a per-credit cost rather than a semester’s tuition. This is likely because graduate students do not need to follow the same full-time/part-time credits requirements that undergraduates must. This allows students a more flexible schedule.

Salary Difference

When considering whether or not a PhD program is worth it, you may want to look at the salary difference in general. For instance, according to, in 2018, those with a master’s degree in public policy earned an average salary of $64,000. In comparison, PhD holders in the same area and year earned an average salary of $70,000. So, when considering the amount of student loans and time it will take for you to earn your PhD, consider whether the average salary difference makes it worth it to you.

Looking at the public policy PhD program description can allow you to see whether or not you think that the time and effort put into the program is worth it to you personally. There are many different careers that a public policy PhD holder can get you into, most specifically in leadership and academia. Next: Start School Search Or View Popular Schools »


Published by: Eaugrads

Evangelical Alumni Foundation seeks to fulfill "The Great Commandment and The Great Commission" to GOD's great economy. Each of us has great purpose as Sons of God. We are many in one body. Together, we are firmly planted by streams of water to bear fruits in all seasons. We shall not lack no good thing. Deuteronomy 1:11 God's Spiritual Billionaire's! Brief about our founder of Eaugrads: "JESUS"... "His pursuit of us is Relentless, His desire to Fight on our behalf is never ending; Despite the day to day distractions, designed to stop us from reaching our destinies, we can be sure of this... what God starts; He Finishes." Amen! Ministered By Tanya Harris, LLD

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