Master of Public Policy

University of California-San Diego
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Master's programs

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 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.

Microeconomics for Policy and Management: 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 Analysis and Public Welfare: The course explores the political and economic foundations of public policymaking, examining both the processes through which preferences of individuals are converted into public welfare policy and the public's response included are an introduction to the concepts of rationality, individual decision-making, cooperation, collective action and market failures. The course is writing-intensive and includes cases on the U.S.

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 research paper that examines an existing public or nonprofit sector policy or managerial problem.

American and Comparative Business Regulation

Sample Classes:

  • California Politics and Public Policy
  • Corporate Non-Market Strategies
  • Governance, Public Administration and Development
  • Government and Regulation
  • International Political Economy: Trade and Investments
  • International Trade Agreements
  • Urban Economic Policy

Environmental Policy

  • Marine Science, Economics, and Policy
  • Modeling Environmental Systems
  • Special Topics in Remote Sensing and Data Analytics - Environmental Policy
  • Special Topics in Remote Sensing and Data Analytics - Urban Policy
  • Sustainable Development
  • The Politics of Energy and Environmental Regulation

Health Policy

  • Managing Mission Driven Organizations
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality

Undergraduate Courses (approved by departments; faculty consent required)

  • Aging: Social Health and Policy Issues
  • Case Studies in Health Care Programs for the Poor and Underserved Populations
  • Economics of Health Producers
  • Essentials of Global Health

Inequality and Social Policy

  • Food Security
  • Immigration and Immigration Policy
  • Urban Economic Policy

Peace and Security

  • Corruption and Development
  • Food Security
  • Global Corporate Accountability: Governance, Responsibility, and NGOs
  • Human Rights, Public Policy, and International Relations
  • Humanitarian Interventions
  • Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
  • State Building and Modeling State Capacity
  • The New ‘New’ Civil Wars
  • The Political Economy of Authoritarian Regimes
  • The Political Economy of Foreign Aid
  • The Political Economy of State Capacity
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • U.S. National Security and Decision Making
  • Violence in Latin America
  • Applied Data Analysis and Statistical Decision Making - QM III
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Integrated Development Practice
  • Public Opinion and Foreign Policy

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. See the UC San Diego General Catalog. 

Quick Links

Student Profile

In a Q&A complementing our Flickr tour of a day in the life of Gustavo López, the 2020 MPP candidate reveals what attending GPS looks like today. Read here


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Master's programs


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