Jun 21, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Public Policy (MPP)

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In our dynamic global society, talented professionals who contextualize, analyze and shape policy with an eye for the public good are vitally important. The USC Price Master of Public Policy program prepares students to become these essential leaders. Our program is organized around three broad areas: policy processes and analysis, economics and quantitative analysis. With an emphasis on social justice and innovation, students’ comprehensive studies will be immersive, spanning a variety of disciplines and culminating in a unique year-long practicum.

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

Requirements for Admission

Potential for distinguished academic and professional achievement is the principal criterion for admission to the Master of Public Policy program. In assessing an application, the admission committee evaluates:

  • past performance and future promise as evidenced by grades, work experience, community service, etc.
  • commitment to educational and career goals, as demonstrated particularly in the writing sample

In general, successful applicants will have at least a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (GPA).

Students are admitted to the fall semester. Students applying are encouraged to submit applications prior to December 15 in order to receive full scholarship consideration. Since the admission review process does not include an interview, submitted materials should present student qualifications clearly and completely.


All entering students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and are required to demonstrate proficiency in foundational statistical methods. The statistics prerequisite can be satisfied in one of two ways:

Statistics or Econometrics Course Taken Prior to Enrollment in the MPP

Completion of a college-level statistics or econometrics course with a grade of “B” or better within three years of matriculation. At minimum, prior coursework must have included essential topics in descriptive and inferential statistics such as measures of central tendency and dispersion, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. If relevant statistical coursework was completed more than three years prior, a waiver may be granted based on the level of statistical training completed and the degree to which currency with this material was maintained through subsequent professional use.

PPD 504  Essential Statistics for Public Management

If a student has not completed a college-level statistics course with a grade of “B” or better within three years of matriculation, they will need to complete a summer course prior to starting the MPP program. USC offers PPD 504  Essential Statistics for Public Management each summer; a grade of “C” or better in PPD 504  is sufficient to satisfy the statistics prerequisite. Students may instead choose to satisfy the requirement by completing a qualifying statistics course at another institution prior to enrolling at USC. If the course is completed outside of USC, it must be taken for a grade and the student must earn a grade of “B” or better. Regardless of which course is used to meet the prerequisite requirement, the units associated with the course will not be used toward the 48 required degree units.

Pre-semester MPP Labs

The Professional Fundamentals and Statistics/STATA Labs provide an introduction to the program, acclimate students to skills that will be further developed in their first-semester courses and help to create a genuine camaraderie within the first-year student cohort. Entering MPP students are required to participate in the Statistics/STATA Lab as well as the Professional Fundamentals Lab. The labs meet the week prior to the start of the fall semester. The Professional Fundamentals Lab will lead directly into PPD 554  Foundations for Policy Analysis, while the Statistics/STATA Lab will provide initial exposure to the statistical software that will be utilized extensively in PPD 558  Multivariate Statistical Analysis.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Public Policy degree requires 48 units of graduate work, with 20 units of core courses, the 4-unit Policy Analysis Practicum and 24 additional elective units divided between analytic and specialization areas.

Policy Analysis Practicum (4 units)

  • Units: 1
  • Units: 3
  • Note: *During a student’s final two semesters 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 skills to a current problem for an actual client. Enrollment in the practicum requires successful completion of all core course work.

Electives (24 units)

Students complete 8 units of analytic electives and 16 units of specialization electives. Students may take up to 12 elective units outside of the Price School of Public Policy with written approval from the MPP program.

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