University of Southern California

Price School of Public Policy

Graduate Degrees

Master of Public Policy

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) program is designed to prepare students for careers as professional policy analysts. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum and real world experience, students gain an understanding of the policy process, and develop the capacity to formulate, analyze and implement public policy.

The MPP degree is offered at the University Park Campus only.

Requirements for Admission

Candidates for admission must have maintained a minimum B (3.0) average during their undergraduate degree work and attain a score of at least 500 on the verbal and at least 500 on the quantitative sections of the GRE. Exceptions to these requirements are allowed if justified by outstanding work experience, letters of recommendation, or demonstrated improvement in academic performance during undergraduate studies.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have a basic competence in descriptive and inferential statistics. This prerequisite may be met in one of two ways: (1) entering students must have passed an undergraduate inferential statistics class, with a grade of “B” or better, at an approved university within three years of matriculation, and must pass the MPP lab associated with PPD 554 Foundations of Policy Analysis, or (2) take PPD 502x Statistical Foundations for Public Management and Policy and complete with a grade of “B” or better. If students select to take PPD 502x, the units associated with this class may not be used toward the MPP degree.

Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete 48 units of graduate work, with 28 units of core and 20 elective units divided between management, analytic and specialization areas.

Required core courses Units
PPD 500 Intersectoral Leadership 2
PPD 501ab Economics for Policy, Planning and Development 2-2
PPD 554 Foundations of Public Policy Analysis 2
PPD 555 Public Policy Formulation and Implementation 4
PPD 557 Modeling and Operations Research 4
PPD 558 Multivariate Statistical Analysis 4
PPD 560 Methods for Policy Analysis 4
PPD 561ab* Policy Analysis Practicum 1, 3

*During a student’s final semester of the program, the Policy Analysis Practicum is required as a component of the program’s 48 units of course work. The practicum is an opportunity for students to apply their analytic skills to a current problem for an actual client. Admission to the practicum is granted on the approval of the MPP director, and normally requires prior completion of most required courses.


Students complete 4 units of management elective, 4 units of analytic elective and 12 units of specialization elective. These electives typically are selected to support specialization in a substantive policy area (e.g., environment or community economic development).

Management elective (choose 4 units) Units
PPD 516 Financial Accounting for Health Care Organizations 4
PPD 541 Public Financial Management and Budgeting 4
PPD 545 Human Behavior in Public Organizations 4
PPD 654 Information Technology Management in the Public Sector 4
PPD 656 Political Management: Theory and Applied Techniques 4
PPD 661 Intergovernmental Management: Local Perspective 4
PPD 662 Intergovernmental Management: State Perspective 4
PPD 675 Nonprofit Management and Leadership 4
PPD 687 Strategic Managment in the Nonprofit Sector 4
PPD 690 Alternative Dispute Resolution 4
analytic elective (choose 4 units) Units
PPD 542 Policy and Program Evaluation 4
PPD 587 Risk Analysis 4
PPD 617 Urban Demography and Growth 4
PPD 647 Finance of the Public Sector 4

In addition, students take 12 units of additional electives selected by the students with the advice of the academic adviser or director of the MPP program. These electives typically are taken in an area of policy specialization, such as: community economic development, education policy, environmental policy, health, infrastructure, international policy and development, media and communications, philanthropy and nonprofit, and transportation.

Students may not take more than 12 course units outside of the Price School of Public Policy without written consent of the director of the MPP program.