Master OF Public Policy and Administration

Combining managerial skills with research analysis, the Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) is designed to provide the essential leadership, decision-making, policy development, analysis, advocacy, and effective communication skills needed for contemporary policy leadership within government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit corporations that engage in government relations. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of policy writing, communication skills, data analysis, public sector management, grant writing, and other competencies from a mixture of full-time educators and career professionals who bridge the gap between academia and real-world application. Grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the curriculum is designed for both existing government and nonprofit employees as well as recent college graduates who want to pursue careers in public service.

This 56-unit master’s program requires 15 months of study and is offered in an online HyFlex modality with an option for in-person attendance. See curriculum.

The first MPPA cohort will begin classes in Fall 2022.

Entrance Requirements

Students are required to have completed a bachelor’s degree. A single undergraduate course in economics, government, public policy, political science, and statistical methods is required; students may take these courses concurrently, if needed. Applicants must provide undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. No standardized tests are required for admission, nor does the program have strict GPA minimums.

The MPPA program builds upon the undergraduate work of many disciplines including political science, public policy, economics, environmental studies, health, medicine, and society, race and ethnic studies, women, gender, and sexuality studies, sociology, and spatial studies. 

Learning Outcomes

By commencement, graduate degree candidates will do the following:

  • Effectively analyze and interpret research findings from the professional public policy literature in a non-partisan, non-ideological manner.
  • Communicate research findings and policy and political issues, concerns, and crises effectively using forms specific to the field of public policy, including white papers, policy memos, legislative histories, issue summaries, verbal presentations, and policy briefs.
  • Effectively communicate public policy research findings to audiences with less formal training in the field.
  • Demonstrate knowledge about best practices in public leadership and decision-making, including mastery of the principles of non-profit management and public budgeting.  

Program Co-Chairs

  • Greg Thorson, Professor, Political Science. Areas of expertise: public policy, education policy, healthcare policy, advanced quantitative methods. (Ph.D. University of California at Riverside)
  • Peter Groff ’85, Principal and Chief Strategist at MCG2 Consulting, LLC; former president of the Colorado Senate; an Appointee in the administration of President Barack Obama. Areas of expertise: public policy; state, local, and national policy; political and policy analysis, public leadership. (J.D. University of Denver)


Full time:

  • Graeme Auton, Professor, Political Science. Areas of expertise: national security, international political economy. (Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Lawrence Gross, Associate Professor, Race & Ethnic Studies. Areas of expertise: Native American policy. (Ph.D. Stanford University)
  • Wendy McIntyre, Professor, Environmental Studies. Areas of expertise: public lands history, policy and management. (Ph.D. University of Virginia)
  • Eric McLaughlin, Associate Professor, Political Science. Areas of expertise: advanced quantitative methodology, electoral institutions, political parties. (Ph.D. University of Indiana)
  • Art Svenson, Professor, Political Science. Areas of expertise: law and policy, federalism. (Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Jennifer Tilton, Associate Professor, Race & Ethnic Studies. Areas of expertise: criminal justice policy, school to prison pipelines. (Ph.D. University of Michigan)
  • Renée Van Vechten, Professor, Political Areas of expertise: California politics and policy, immigration policy, food policy. (Ph.D. University of California, Irvine)
  • Steve Wuhs, Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior International Officer. Areas of expertise: comparative public policy, politics and policy of Mexico, Latin America, Germany. (Ph.D. University of North Carolina)

Practitioners and career professionals:

  • Chris Bohanon ’86, former Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Farmer Mac 
  • Art Horowitz ’76, retired Program Analyst, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Former Brookings Fellow (MPA, University of Southern California)
  • Morgan Kinghorn ‘68, former Chief Financial Officer, Internal Revenue Service (MPA, Maxwell School, Syracuse University)
  • Vonda Mathews ’92, Policy Analyst, Department of Justice (MA, University of Redlands)
  • Sarah Sachs ’18, Finance Director, Member of Congress (MPA, Maxwell School, Syracuse University)
  • Kate Schwartzer ’99, Management and Program Analyst, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (MA in International Affairs, George Washington University)
  • Shelley Thompson ’08, Counsel, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (MPA, JD, Syracuse University)
  • Rebecca Weir ’00, Former Deputy General Counsel, Legal Service Corporation (JD, American University)
  • Molly Wiltshire ’12, Southern California Director of External Affairs, Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom (MPA Cal State, San Bernardino)
  • Jinha Yoon ’13, Policy Advisor, Department of Health and Human Services Intergovernmental and External Affairs (MPP Georgetown University)