Master of Public Policy (MPP)
The master's degree program in public policy provides students with the skills and perspectives required to formulate, implement, and evaluate public policies. Our curriculum includes two levels of course work—an analytic foundational curriculum and an advanced professional curriculum. The program can be completed in two years of full-time study or on a flexible part-time basis, with credit given for past course work.
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 foundational curriculum, ordinarily taken in the first year of a two-year full-time program, students also select a course 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. Students entering the MPP program may receive credit toward the foundation requirements for previous equivalent course work (upon approval by the program director), reducing the number of classes and time needed to graduate.
Advanced Professional Training
The professional curriculum, usually taken in the second year, offers students opportunities to augment and deepen their skills through guided practice. Organizational Efficacy trains students to maximize performance in nonprofits and government agencies, and Political Efficacy prepares students for the politics of policy making. For the advanced analytics and research methods requirement, students may choose from among options that develop expertise in qualitative methods, data modeling and simulations, or econometrics. Recognizing the significant impact of local government, we also require in-depth training on local planning and policy making, with opportunities for students to work with organizations in Oakland and the greater San Francisco Bay Area on current community-level issues. Elective courses enable students to build substantive knowledge or to deepen analytical capacity.
Multidisciplinary skill training comes together in the two-semester Integrative Core capstone sequence, in which students apply various analytic frameworks to a series of current public policy challenges, using real-world data and interacting with practicing policy analysts and leaders. 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 experience prepares students to transition into their professional policy careers.
Full-Time or Part-Time—Flexible Schedules for Working Students
Students in the MPP Program are offered the flexibility to take as many or few courses as they like in a way that best meets students' own schedules and needs. Students enrolled in four 3-credit classes each semester generally complete the program in two academic years. Students enrolled in fewer courses per semester will graduate in three or four years. Required MPP courses are generally scheduled in the evenings (after 4:00 pm) or on Fridays, enabling working students to more easily navigate our programs.
- The student will understand that many contextual factors are critical in understanding policy issues. Students will be able to identify which of the following factors are relevant to an issue at hand, and use their understanding of the context to inform their analysis of the policy. Potentially critical contexts include the following: economic systems; intersectoral (public/private/nonprofit) relationships; law; social structures and conditions of inequality (including but not limited to disparities by gender); globalization: cross-national relations and institutions; the history of the policy problem and prior responses to it; and potential impacts of science and technology, including information systems.
- The student will be sensitive to the relevance of social identity categories and other differences—including race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, nationality, language, and culture—to public policy analysis, decision-making, and implementation. The student will also be able to work effectively with and to draw on the perspectives and frameworks of individuals and communities of differing backgrounds, social classes, experiences, and values. The student will understand the relationship between policy, social structures of inequality, and identity dimensions of gender, race, ethnicity, culture and class, and the role of the individual in relation to these larger forces.
- The student will have knowledge of both electoral politics and formal policy-making processes in the United States (including administrative, legislative and judicial procedures) and exposure to international political processes. The student will be able to assess the political ramifications of alternative policy choices, and to work with individuals, institutions, partnerships and networks for policy-making, implementation, and redesign. The student will also be able to engage effectively in political action as necessary and appropriate to effect policy change.
- The student will be aware that in a democratic society, the authority to define the public interest rests with the polity, not the policy professional. The student will also understand that questions of value are central to both public policy decisions and the actions of public policy professionals, whether they be acting in public, nonprofit, private, or multi-sector settings. As a public servant or private professional engaged in civic activity, she will be familiar with different methods of public deliberation and participation, and be prepared to engage in public dialogue, multi-stakeholder conflict resolution, public education on complex issues, and collective problem-solving. When facing a policy and/or management choice over which there is significant disagreement, the student will be able to engage in reasoned dialogue with others to clarify competing values and obligations relevant to the choice, and to give a clear account of the justification for her own action.
- The student will be able to recognize and describe a policy problem (including making estimates of magnitude), gather the best available data needed to inform an analysis, and apply relevant frameworks and analytic techniques—such as economic theory, benefit-cost analysis, statistical tests, quantitative models and simulations, and geographical information systems—to identify and assess the potential impact of alternative policy options. The student will be prepared to approach problems both critically (looking for perspectives that have been ignored) and holistically (applying a variety of analytic frameworks).
- The student will be able to transfer into any policy area, understand the critical issues and apply appropriate analytic methods and to develop substantive expertise in a single policy area within a reasonably short time.
- The student will be able to communicate complex ideas and arguments in a clear, compelling manner to a variety of audiences, from policy-makers and public managers to community groups. The student will be skilled in both oral and written communication, including techniques relevant to teamwork and cross-cultural practice.
- The student will understand interpersonal and group processes, be aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls of teamwork, and be able to work effectively with others. Students will also be reflective about their own capacity, role and behavior, both independently and in a group context.
- The student will be cognizant of the structure, systems, and culture of an organization in or with which s/he is working, and understand how these factors influence individual behavior and organizational performance. Such knowledge will include an understanding of the similarities and differences among organizations in different sectors (public, nonprofit, and private). The student will be able to use this knowledge along with her/his interpersonal and teamwork skills to act effectively within and across organizations, as well as to manage organizations or larger networks of capacity.
The MPP professional degree program includes two levels of requirements: the foundation courses and the advanced professional curriculum. Optionally, MPP students may select a concentration in one of three policy specializations, including Nonprofit Management, Innovation and Impact, and Education Policy.
The first half of the MPP Program consists of the "foundational" curriculum, with all the intellectual building blocks necessary to move into advanced analytic and elective course work in our program. It includes seven required courses and one elective addressing dimensions of diversity in public policy. At the discretion of the Public Policy Program Director, previous course work may be applied to the foundation requirements, reducing the number of classes and time needed to graduate; this includes courses completed at other institutions prior to enrollment in the MPP Program, or by Mills undergraduates through the BA/MPP accelerated degree program. The following eight courses (24 semester course credits) comprise the foundational curriculum:
|PPOL 210||Public Policy and Economic Analysis||3|
|MGMT 209||Economics for Managers||3|
|or ECON 204||Essentials of Economics|
|MGMT 263||Quantitative Methods||3|
|or PPOL 201||Introduction to Statistics|
|PPOL 241||Law and Public Policy||3|
|PPOL 200||Methods of Policy Analysis||3|
|PPOL 215||Public Sector Economics: The Economics of Government||3|
|PPOL 217||Ethical Reasoning in Politics and Public Policy||3|
|Elective (various options available): Dimensions of Diversity in Public Policy||3|
The professional curriculum consists of five required courses (15 credits) and at least 9 credits of elective courses that offer students opportunities to augment and deepen their skills through practical application.
|PPOL 220||Organizational Efficacy||3|
|PPOL 221||Political Efficacy||3|
|PPOL 227||Local and Community Policy Making, Planning, and Management||3|
|PPOL 230||Integrative Core I: Application/Integration of Policy Analysis Frameworks||3|
|PPOL 231||Integrative Core II: Application/Integration of Policy Analysis Frameworks||3|
|Advanced Analytics and Research Methods Elective|
|Select one of the following:||3-4|
|Modeling and Data Analysis|
|Econometrics and Business Forecasting|
|Qualitative Methods in Policy Research|
or EDUC 413
|Simulation in the Social and Policy Sciences|
|Policy Issue or Methods Electives|
|Select at least 6 credits (two 3-credit courses, or the equivalent) from available offerings at the 100- and 200-level at Mills or through cross-registration.|
Electives should be selected to deepen the student's knowledge of either analytic methods or a policy area of concentration and must be approved by the program director or advisor. Electives may be taken in other departments at Mills, subject to the advisor's approval. In addition to taking classes on campus, Mills students can expand their academic experience by cross-registering for courses at institutions such as UC Berkeley. Students should be aware that graduate-level courses in a substantive policy area or advanced methods may have prerequisites.
For full-time students in the two-year track, the minimum residency is three (3) semesters. For full-time accelerated degree program students, the minimum residency is two (2) semesters. For part-time students in either track, residency requirements are pro-rated.
The following concentrations, listed below, are available to MPP students who wish to specialize in one of the following areas of policy and management. To fulfill a concentration, students will choose three courses, and, in addition, may choose a subject matter or client for their Master’s Policy Report in PPOL 231 Integrative Core II: Application/Integration of Policy Analysis Frameworks that aligns with the selected concentration. Concentration courses will take the place of two policy electives and, with the advisor’s approval, should fulfill either the advanced analytics and research methods professional curriculum requirement or the dimensions of diversity foundation requirement. In addition to the courses listed below, students may select additional concentration-relevant courses with the advanced approval of the student’s advisor.
Nonprofit Management Concentration
This concentration is valuable to students who hope to work in, lead, start, serve as policy analysts or advocates for, or volunteer in the nonprofit sector. Course work will expose students to how nonprofit strategies are developed, how nonprofit organizations operate, raise money, and seek to generate and scale social impact.
|MGMT 270||Nonprofit Management||3|
|Select two from the following:||6-7|
|Governmental Accounting and Nonprofit Accounting 1|
|Management & Organizational Development|
|Funding Social Impact|
|MGMT 275||Social Entrepreneurship||3|
Prerequisite: MGMT 214 Financial Accounting
Education Policy Concentration
Offered in collaboration with the Mills School of Education, this policy concentration is designed to introduce students to the critical policy issues facing schools, students and families, teachers, educational leaders, and policymakers today.
|Select three of the following:||12|
|Public Policy: Children, Youth, and Family Issues|
|Issues of Race and Ethnicity in Education|
Innovation and Impact Concentration
Impact and innovation—especially in the social and environmental arena—is a relatively new field focused on applying management skills and innovation capabilities to develop solutions around some of society’s unmet needs and policy challenges. This concentration is designed for students who wish to acquire skills in the field of impact and innovation, regardless of policy area.
|MGMT 274||Innovation in Business, Social, and Government Organizations||3-3|
|Select two of the following:||6|
|Funding Social Impact|
|Socially Responsible Business|
|Environmental Policy Analysis|