Public Policy

The Master in Public Policy (MPP) provides an interdisciplinary understanding of societal problems and their potential solutions.

Students sitting in class

Our students gain a command of public policy analysis and an applied understanding of the various institutional contexts in which public policy is developed and implemented.

Drawing on expertise and courses across disciplines at Simmons, you'll complete a customized program of study and gain a well-rounded view on public policy. You'll refine your focus and sharpen your skills through independent research and internships in the field.

Alumni of our program go on to rewarding careers as policy analysts for government or the private sector, legislative aides to national, state and local policymakers, budget analysts, research associates at think tanks and policy institutes, policy specialists at advocacy organizations and direct services agencies and work on public policy creation and implementation. They're also well-prepared for law school and PhD programs in public policy, political science, economics and sociology.

The 11 course MPP program is composed of core requirements, electives, an internship (which can be waived based on work experience), and a capstone project. Core requirements include courses on policy analysis and theory, and social and economic policy. Electives are drawn from multiple schools and disciplines at Simmons, and include Advocacy and Social Action, Dynamics of Racism & Oppression, and Health Systems & Policy.

Possible internship sites may include legislative and executive offices, think tanks, and advocacy organizations. In their final semester, students complete a Capstone Project — an independent research and analysis project pertaining to a topic of their choosing. Most MPP students study on a part-time basis, taking two courses per semester to complete the degree in two years.

Required Coursework

MPP 501 Policy Analysis and Theory
This goal of this course is to provide students with a set of frameworks for analyzing the political environment of public policy and policy research, and to practice forming effective strategies for policy analysis, program evaluation, policy design, and advocacy. In other words, this course will enhance our understanding of what happens in the policy process when policies are formulated and implemented and our participation in the policy process. We will look at translating policy research into policy and the intersection of policy analysis and politics as well as policy issues, both historical and modern.

MPP 502 Social Policy Analysis
This course examines social welfare programs and policies that affect the nonelderly poor in the U.S., emphasizing how they have evolved over the last five decades and how they might be reformed so as to further reduce poverty. The course emphasizes understanding what we know from social science research about the strengths and weaknesses and the intended and unintended effects of these policies and how they are influenced by and how they affect labor market outcomes and family structure. The course begins by addressing some basic questions about the nature of poverty and the scope of current social welfare programs. What does it mean to be poor in the U.S. today? How do the extent of poverty and the scope of social welfare programs in the U.S. compare to those in other industrialized countries? We then assess the trajectory of social policy in the US.

MPP 503 Economic Policy Analysis
Focusing on a series of specific cases that exemplify the range of current economic policies, the course examines the various policies through a framework that: examines th policy's rationale, actual methods, and actual effects; evaluates the desirability of the effects; and considers alternative approaches. Specific cases reviewed aim to be representative of the range of current economic policies and will also depend on anticipated interests of students. Introduction to Microeconomics is a prerequisite of this course.

MPP 504 Quantitative Methods
This course introduces students to multivariate statistical methods for public policy analysis, covering multiple regression, logistic regression, and power analysis. Students will use SPSS, a statistical package for the social sciences. College level Introduction to Statistics is a prerequisite of this course.

MPP 505 Capstone
Students will work to design and analyze a substantive policy issue and present findings in response to a project scope of work. It is the culmination of a student's graduate work. This course is a capstone of a student's graduate education and an introduction into the professional practice of public policy analysis. During the semester, you will draw on the tools and expertise garnered from prior coursework to analyze one or more important public policy problems. On the basis of that analysis, the student will then develop recommendations for dealing with those problems to a client official or agency. All projects available for this semester are for real clients, addressing real policy issues. You will be expected to complete the project on time, demonstrating high, professional standards and apply skills in problem definition, issue framing, collection of data and information, interviewing, selection and analysis of alternatives, presentation of findings and recommendations, design of implementation tools, and report writing.

MPP 570 Internship
Students must complete a one semester internship. Student with prior work experience in public policy arenas will have the option to waive the internship requirement by petitioning the program director. Possible internship sites include, but are not limited to, legislative and executive offices, think tanks, and advocacy organizations.

Possible Electives for Master in Public Policy

Course offerings vary by semester and course numbers may change.

  • AST 529 Race, Culture, Identity, and Achievement
  • AST 536 Narratives of Oppression, Resistance & Resiliency
  • BEHV 430 Legal and Ethical Issues
  • LIS 475 Organizational and Information Ethics
  • LIS 493 Intellectual Freedom and Censorship
  • POLS 556 Feminist International Relations
  • SOCI 500 Community Research
  • SOCI 500 Plagues, Epidemics, and Society
  • SOCI 521 Sociology of Food
  • SOCI 545 Health Systems & Policy
  • SOCI 547 Antiracism and Justice Work
  • SW 409 Dynamics of Racism & Oppression
  • SW 523 Advocacy and Social Action
  • SW 554 Health Care Policy and Social Action

Ready to take the next step? We'll guide you through the requirements and deadlines — and get you started on your way.

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Our Faculty

Ben Cole photo

Benjamin Cole

  • Associate Professor and Director of the Division of Social Sciences, Education, and Public Health
Aaron Rosenthal

Aaron Rosenthal

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science & International Relations and Public Policy