Jun 22, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Education/Public Policy (PhD/MPP)

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Education/Master of Public Policy dual degree offers students interested in careers in Educational Policy rigorous training in education, policy research and analysis. Students emerging with this dual degree will apply in-depth knowledge of policy processes, content and analysis to critical questions of contemporary education policy.

The PhD/MPP requires five calendar years of full-time study. The first academic year is devoted to MPP classes, the second to PhD classes, completion of the MPP practicum in the third year, PhD qualifying exam in the fourth year and the PhD dissertation in the fifth year.

Students can enter this program one of two ways: (1) apply simultaneously to both programs and state their intent to be admitted to the dual degree program; or (2) apply to the PhD during the first semester as an MPP student. If admission is approved by each school, students will be admitted to the dual degree program.

Student must complete 84 units (48 from the PhD in Education Policy and 36 from the Master of Public Policy).

Degree Requirements for the PhD

The PhD in Urban Education Policy, adapted for the dual degree, requires a minimum of 48 units of course work, comprising the following elements: Core Block (16 units), Concentration Block (15 units), Research Block (12 units), and Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation Block (5 units).

Degree Requirements for the MPP

The Master of Public Policy, adapted for the dual degree, requires a total of 36 units. The public policy units include 24 units of core courses, the 4-unit Policy Analysis Practicum, and 8 units of analytic electives.


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 a minimum, prior course work 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 course work 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 84 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 of 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 .

Policy Analysis Practicum (4 units)

  • Units: 1
  • Units: 3
  • Note: *During a student’s second year of the program, the Policy Analysis Practicum is required as a component of the program’s 36 units of policy 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 coursework.

Analytic Electives (8 units)

Students choose two electives from the courses that are part of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) “Analytic Elective” options. Refer to the MPP catalogue listing for the list of courses Analytic Elective List. Note that PPDE 668  is required for the PhD/MPP joint degree, and therefore cannot count as an Analytic Elective. 

Additional Requirements

Program Adaptation

Students in the dual degree are not required to take the 12-unit specialization elective requirement from the MPP program. Instead they are required to take PPDE 668  and 8 units of analytic course work/electives, and because they will specialize in educational policy, they will obtain the relevant expertise through the Rossier course work.

Students also do not take the 12-unit Cognate Block and 3 units of the 15-unit Research Block from the PhD program because the scope of these block requirements are interdisciplinary in nature or research-oriented, and as such are naturally suited to combine with the MPP.

Students work with their adviser to make the best selection of elective course work to align with their educational and career goals.

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