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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.

Managerial Economics: Survey of basic tools of economics. Included will be such topics as real trade theory, international movements of capital, the effects of trade and capital flows on domestic economies, and policies toward trade and foreign investment.

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 and Political Decision Making in the U.S.: This course studies the structure of American government and the political dimensions of policy problems. Emphasis will be on the study of institutions and the influences of constraints on decision making, interaction between branches of government, government and society, and the international context in which policymakers must work.

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 highly applied team project that examines an existing public or nonprofit sector policy or managerial problem.

Areas of Specialization

Students must complete at least one Area of Specialization, choosing four courses (16 units). Courses taught outside of GPS will require permission for enrollment from the instructor.

American Policy in a Global Context

Supplies students with an understanding of how U.S. domestic and foreign policy is made and enacted within a comparative global framework.

Sample Classes:

  • Government and Regulation
  • International Law and Regulation
  • Human Rights, Public Policy, and International Relations
  • Immigration and Immigration Policy
  • Government and Regulation
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • Workers and Labor in International Markets
  • The Political Economy of Foreign Aid
  • Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
  • Managing Distributive Politics for Public Policy

Business, Government and Regulation

Designed for students interested in the intersection of business and government, trade policy and business economics.

Sample courses:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • International Law and Regulation
  • The Politics of Energy and Environmental Regulation
  • Government and Regulation
  • Organizational Economics
  • Applied Financial Accounting
  • Environmental and Regulatory Economics
  • Corruption and Development
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • Accountability and Governance in International Organizations, Corporations, and NGOs
  • The Political Economy of Authoritarian Regimes
  • International Political Economy: Trade and Investment
  • Governance, Public Administration and Development
  • Multi-National Corporations
  • Workers and Labor in International Markets

Energy and Environmental Policy

Designed for students who are interested in making or analyzing energy and/or environmental policies in specific regions of the world or globally.

Sample Courses:

  • The Politics of Energy and Environmental Regulation
  • Sustainable Development
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Political Economy of Energy in Asia
  • Energy Policy in Latin America
  • Food Security
  • Environmental and Regulatory Economics
  • The Economics of Nonmarket Valuation
  • Energy Policy in Japan
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Microeconomics of the Environment and Development

Health Policy

Combining GPS’ expertise in policy with UC San Diego’s strong health and medical programs, students in the Health Policy track take classes at GPS and through the Public Health department at the School of Medicine.

Sample Courses:

  • International Health Economics
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • Managing Mission Driven Organizations
  • Public Health Lecture Series (Requires consent of the instructor)
  • Cultural Perceptions of Health and Disease (Requires consent of the Instructor)
  • Health Policy and Health Behaviors in the US (Requires consent of the Instructor)
  • Women’s Health (Requires a course in Epidemiology or consent of the Instructor)
  • Gender Inequity and Global Health (Requires consent of the Instructor)

Program Design and Evaluation

Students in this specialization learn how to design and evaluate policies using advanced quantitative analysis

Sample Courses:

  • GIS and Spatial Design Analysis
  • Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing
  • Applied Data Analysis and Statistical Decision Making (QM III)
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Program Design and Evaluation
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Designing Field Experiments
  • Integrated Development Practice
  • Managing Mission Driven Organizations

Security Policy

Provides theoretical and practical skills and knowledge to analyze complex international security issues from cyber security to civil wars, insurgencies, human rights and foreign policy.

Sample Courses:

  • Korean Security
  • Geopolitics, Insurgency, and Weak States
  • Human Rights
  • Debating US Security Policy
  • Humanitarian Interventions
  • Strategic Studies
  • Comparative Grand Strategy and Defense Policy
  • Cyber Security
  • The New ‘New’ Civil Wars
  • International Relations and National Security of China
  • Drugs and Violence in Latin America
  • Chinese Security, Technology, & Innovation

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.

Student Profile

Shadi Matar

In a Q&A complementing our Storify tour of a day in the life of Shadi Matar, the 2018 MPP candidate paints a picture of what attending GPS looks like today. Read here