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Master of Public Policy (MPP)

The MPP is a two-year, full-time professional degree program. Constructing the scaffolding for policymaking in a global context is the critical component of the program. It prepares students with the skills needed to compare best practices in the U.S., Latin America, Asia and beyond.

Our faculty are go-to experts for the public, private and intergovernmental sectors, creating design and evaluation methodology of public policy around the globe. The degree combines this social science policy expertise with our campus strengths in STEM and health sciences.

Program Overview

The MPP requires 92 units for completion. All students take eight required core courses in economics, management, political science and quantitative methods training during the first year and a capstone course in the second. Students must choose a minimum of one area of specializations. Although proficiency in a foreign language is not required, 24 units may be counted toward the degree as long as the language matches an elective regional or country specialization.

Core Curriculum

Core Courses
All candidates must complete the following courses with a C- or better. The courses listed below are completed in the first year of study.

Policy Making Processes: This course is designed to teach students how to “read” a country’s political and economic system. The course will examine how the evolution of different institutional frameworks in the countries of the Pacific region influences the way in which political choices are made.

Microeconomics for Policy and Management: This course introduces microeconomics, emphasizing applications to public policy. We examine tools such as marginal analysis and game theory to understand markets, the behavior of individuals and firms, and what role policy plays when markets fail to maximize social welfare.

Market Failures and Policy Interventions: Applies economic reasoning to public issues, policies and programs. It considers incentives and organizations; models of economic behavior, including markets, the absence of markets and interventions; the price system; policy objectives and instruments.

Policy Analysis and Public Welfare: The course explores the political and economic foundations of public policymaking, examining both the processes through which preferences of individuals are converted into public welfare policy and the public's response included are an introduction to the concepts of rationality, individual decision-making, cooperation, collective action and market failures. The course is writing-intensive and includes cases on the U.S.

Public Finance: This course introduces principles of taxation and expenditure analysis, public budgeting and assessment of budget priorities.

Policy Analysis and Decision Theory: This course introduces students to the methods of policy analysis and decision-making theory—methods to assemble panel data to capture the impact of new policy on observable data, decision-making theory, uncertainty, decision criteria, expected utility and risk.

Quantitative Methods I: This course is designed to provide proficiency in quantitative methods that are used for optimization and decision-making. The use of spreadsheets is applied to data analysis and problem-solving. Statistical theory and regression analysis are introduced.

Quantitative Methods II: This course covers elements from statistics that are central to business decision-making under uncertainty. In particular, regression analysis and estimation will be applied to problems of forecasting and optimization.

Public Policy Capstone: The capstone is designed to test the hard skills of policy design and evaluation by using them in the analysis of a real-world policy problem. The course requires a research paper that examines an existing public or nonprofit sector policy or managerial problem.

See the UC San Diego General Catalog. 

Areas of Specialization

Students must complete at least one Area of Specialization of five courses (20 units). Courses taught outside of GPS will require permission for enrollment from the instructor.

American and Comparative Business Regulation

Sample Classes:

  • Accounting and Finance for Policy Makers
  • California Politics and Public Policy
  • Corporate Non-Market Strategies
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Cyber Security
  • Fiscal and Monetary Policy
  • Global Corporate Accountability: Governance, Responsibility, and NGOs
  • Governance, Public Administration and Development
  • Government and Regulation
  • Innovation and the New Economy
  • International Political Economy: Trade and Investments
  • International Trade Agreements
  • Organizational Economics
  • Technology, Trade and Globalization
  • The Political Economy of Authoritarian Regimes
  • Urban Economic Policy
  • Workers and Labor in International Markets

Environmental Policy

Sample Courses:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Economics of Natural Resources
  • Environmental and Regulatory Economics
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Food Security
  • Introduction to Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Marine Science, Economics, and Policy
  • Modeling Environmental Systems
  • Science and Marine Environmental Policy
  • Special Topics in Remote Sensing and Data Analytics - Environmental Policy
  • Special Topics in Remote Sensing and Data Analytics - Urban Policy
  • Sustainable Development
  • The Economics of Nonmarket Valuation
  • The Politics of Energy and Environmental Regulation

Health Policy

Sample Courses:

  • Comparative Social Welfare Policy
  • Environmental and Regulatory Economics
  • International Health Economics
  • Introduction to Health Policy (approved by MPH program)
  • Managing Mission Driven Organizations
  • Social Norms Changes and Development
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
Undergraduate Courses (approved by departments; faculty consent required)
  • Aging: Social Health and Policy Issues
  • Case Studies in Health Care Programs for the Poor and Underserved Populations
  • Economics of Health Producers
  • Economics of Health Consumers
  • Environmental and Preventative Health Issues
  • Essentials of Global Health
  • Global Health and Diversity
  • Global Health Policy
  • Immigrant and Refugee Health
  • The US Health Care System

Inequality and Social Policy

Sample Courses:

  • Comparative Social Welfare Policy
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Economic Development
  • Education Policy Around the World
  • Food Security
  • Human Rights, Public Policy, and International Relations
  • Immigration and Immigration Policy
  • International Health Economics
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • Urban Economic Policy
  • Workers and Labor in International Markets

Peace and Security

Sample Courses:

  • Comparative Grand Strategy and Defense Policy
  • Corruption and Development
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Counterinsurgency and Counter Terrorism
  • Cyber Security
  • Debating US Security Policy
  • Education Policy Around the World
  • Food Security
  • Foundations of Strategic Studies
  • Geopolitics, Insurgency, and Weak States
  • Global Corporate Accountability: Governance, Responsibility, and NGOs
  • Human Rights, Public Policy, and International Relations
  • Humanitarian Interventions
  • Immigration and Immigration Policy
  • International Law and Regulation
  • Policy, Politics, and Markets in Modern Financial Crises
  • Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
  • State Building and Modeling State Capacity
  • The New ‘New’ Civil Wars
  • The Political Economy of Authoritarian Regimes
  • The Political Economy of Foreign Aid
  • The Political Economy of State Capacity
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • U.S. National Security and Decision Making
  • Violence in Latin America

Program Design and Evaluation

Sample Courses:

  • Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing
  • Applied Data Analysis and Statistical Decision Making - QM III
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Designing Field Experiments
  • Evaluating Social Programs
  • Evaluating Technological Innovation
  • GIS and Spatial Data Analysis
  • Integrated Development Practice
  • Making Policy with Data
  • Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Managing Mission Driven Organizations
  • Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Note: Course schedules are published on a quarterly basis and are subject to change without notice. Some elective courses that can be applied to meet career track requirements may not be offered in a given academic quarter or academic year. See the UC San Diego General Catalog. 

Student Profile

Gustavo López

In a Q&A complementing our Flickr tour of a day in the life of Gustavo López, the 2020 MPP candidate reveals what attending GPS looks like today. Read here