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Core Curriculum

Master of Public Policy (MPP)

Our core curriculum consists of:

Core Structure

First Year



* PP220
Law and Public Policy

Introduction to Policy Analysis

The Economics of Public Policy Analysis

The Economics of Public Policy Analysis

* PP273
Public Management & Policy Implementation

Elective course

Decision Analysis, Modeling and Quantitative Methods

Decision Analysis, Modeling and Quantitative Methods

Summer Policy Internship (required)


Second Year



* PP250
The Politics of Public Policy

Advanced Policy Analysis (Thesis Seminar)

Elective course

Advanced Policy Analysis (Thesis Independent Study)

Elective course

Elective course

Elective course


* Can be taken in the Fall of the first or second year of the program

Core Curriculum - 1st Year

The core courses emphasize practical applications of analytical skills and encourage students to “learn by doing” through numerous exercises and projects conducted in teams and individually. Fieldwork activities are also a part of the core curriculum, involving real clients, a written report, and oral briefings on the report. In addition, colloquia with outside speakers are frequently held that further examine some of the policy issues treated in the core courses.


Students bring together the skills learned in other core courses working in teams to solve real-life problems for off-campus clients.


Concepts of microeconomic behavior of producers, consumers, and government agencies are applied to specific policy areas. The effects of policy alternatives are assessed by such criteria as the efficiency and equity of resource allocation, impact on income distribution, and effectiveness in achieving policy goals.


Materials including court decisions, legislation, and administrative regulations are used to examine important legal aspects of public policy. Legal research, interpretation and draftsmanship skills are developed. Relationships among lawmaking agencies and between law and policy are explored through specific cases.


Students learn and apply quantitative methods including cost-benefit analysis; statistical and econometric analysis of policy-relevant data; survey design and interpretation; and formal policy models based on decision theory.

PUBLIC MANAGEMENT & policy implementation (PP273)

This course introduces graduate students to the central elements of public management and policy implementation. Students will focus on three key challenges that public managers face: managing program performance; managing people; and managing crises. Using both academic literature and case studies, the course will train students how to realistically use data and evidence in government and how to write and negotiate effectively in the public sector. Material is drawn from national, state, local, and international settings.

the politics OF PUBLIC POLICY (PP250)

Political and organizational factors involved in developing new policies, choosing among alternatives, gaining acceptance, assuring implementation, and coping with unanticipated consequences. Includes case studies, theoretical, empirical, and interpretative works from several disciplines.

Summer Policy Internship

Students are required to complete a policy internship during the summer between the first and second year of study. Students choose positions as apprentices to policy practitioners in international, federal, state, or local government agencies; non-profit organizations; or private sector corporations and consulting firms; in the United States and abroad. Students enrolled in concurrent degrees with Public Health and Law are exempt from this requirement, since they are already required to do a summer internship with their concurrent degree program.  For prior year summer internship statistics and information, go the Employment Statistics page

Core Curriculum - 2nd Year


The second year comprises two required courses, Advanced Policy Analysis (APA) and Political and Organizational Aspects of Public Policy Analysis, plus a number of electives.

The APA project is an intensive study of a significant policy issue of the student’s choice. The project is often done for a specific client in a public or private policy organization, and sometimes the student is paid for the work. For some students, the project is an outgrowth of the summer internship or may lead to a post graduation position with the client organization.

Students conduct their projects as members of an APA seminar, which provides them with a faculty supervisor and a peer group able to supply constructive suggestions. When the completed analysis is found satisfactory by the faculty, it then serves as the student’s required thesis. Frequently, the specific policy recommendations made in these analyses have been adopted by the student’s client.

The following list of APA titles illustrates the range and variety of suitable projects:

  • Countering Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man: The relative Efficacy of Anti-Smoking Ads
  • Cracking Down on Identity Theft: new Challenges for Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Designing Local Welfare-to-Work Systems: Federal Funding Options
  • Pros and Cons of Privatizing Solid Waste Collection Services in Mexico
  • The Costs and Benefits of Job Training in the Elder Care Market
  • Analysis of Frequent Winners in Small Business: A Case Study of Californian Firms
  • Health Information and the Internet: Protecting Consumer Privacy Online
  • Poverty Alleviation in Rural Nicaragua
  • Ensuring Contraceptive Supply in Ethiopia and Sudan: The Role of the Packard Foundation Population Program
  • Reducing Waiting Time in Public Hospitals in Hong Kong: Private Insurance Approach
  • Controlling Street Prostitution in Oakland: What the Oakland Police Department Can Do to Improve Current Law Enforcement Policies
  • Supporting California’s Wildlife: An Evaluation of Funding Alternatives for California's Department of Fish and Game.
  • Raising Low Pay in a High Income Economy: The Economics of a San Francisco Municipal Minimum Wage
  • Re-examining the Property Tax reassessment for Commercial Properties
  • Children of Arrested Parents: Strategies to Ensure Their Safety and Well-Being
  • Russia’s regional nuclear Warhead Storage Facilities: Problems and Solutions
  • Safe Routes to School: Where exactly are we going?
  • Delinquency Risk Assessment: Improving the Performance of Home Mortgages
  • Addressing California's Overcrowded Schools: Equity in the State’s Distribution of Funds for School Construction
  • Fuel-Efficient replacement Tires: Guidelines for Transforming the Marketplace
  • Housing voucher Portability in Alameda County: A Caseload Analysis of Clients and Cost Pressures
  • Estimating the External Costs of Driving in San Francisco
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program in California: Opportunities for Reform