Master of Public Policy Curriculum

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy is a 37-credit program that includes the policy seminar; six core courses; a summer internship; and four electives, two of which must be SPP program electives.

Our One-Year MPP program is open to any applicant who has completed a bachelor's degree, in any field. Our 4+1 MPP program is open to undergraduates at UMass Amherst and the other Five Colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges).

Download the One-Year MPP course timeline.

Download the 4+1 MPP course timeline.

Degree Requirements

  • Policy seminar (3 credits)
  • Six graduate-level core courses (3 credits each, except 1-credit professional development seminar; 16 credits total)
  • Summer internship (3 credits)
  • Two program electives, from any of these three sections: policy, management and methods (3 credits each; 6 credits total)
  • Two additional electives (6 credits total)

The policy seminar brings MPP students together to apply interdisciplinary tools to analyze possible solutions to a broad contemporary challenge in public policy, such as climate change.

Core Courses

Are designed to provide students with a strong analytical foundation, applicable to a wide variety of policy issues. The MPP degree requires the following six core courses:

  • Politics and the Policy Process examines the influence of political factors on the initiation, formulation and implementation of public policy. The goal of the course is to give students the background necessary to devise strategies to develop public policy. (Comparative Public Policy can be taken instead of Politics of the Policy Process to satisfy this requirement.)
     
  • Public Policy Analysis applies economic, political, social, organizational and other skills from previous core courses to actual and hypothetical policy issues. Students complete a client-based project as part of this course.
     
  • Economics and Public Policy provides an introduction to microeconomic theory and analysis. The course examines economic rationales for and against government policy and the economic consequences of public policy.
     
  • Policy Methods provides an introduction to qualitative and quantitative methodologies for analyzing and evaluating public policy. Topics include research methods, participant observation, survey research and questionnaire construction, measurement theory and practice, and framing categories.
     
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods covers the use and interpretation of statistics in policy research. The course investigates such topics as probability theory, statistical methods, descriptive statistics, analysis of tabular data, correlation and regression, and multiple regression analysis. Students interested in acquiring additional methodological skills are encouraged to take advanced courses in qualitative and/or quantitative methods.
     
  • The Professional Development Seminar sharpens students' job-seeking and networking skills. In addition to sessions on writing resumes and cover letters; interviewing; and internships, students get opportunities to meet SPP alumni who are working in a variety of government departments and nonprofit organizations. While this one-credit class is not required, it is highly recommended that MPP students take it in the fall semester of their undergraduate senior year.

Internship

Students in the MPP program are required to complete a three-credit summer internship. The internship will be integrated into the curriculum and will be supervised by a SPP faculty member. Students' interests will guide the internship placement process, and SPP staff and faculty will help students establish internships through our alumni network and through our connections via the Five Colleges.

Electives

SPP's program electives provide students with a deeper understanding of areas that affect professionals in the public and nonprofit sectors. MPP students are required to take two program electives, chosen from two of these three sections: policy, management and methods. Elective offerings change frequently; for current information, check the SPP course schedules for graduate, and undergraduate courses.