Program Overview:

Master's in Public Policy & Administration

Most graduate programs in public policy require students to choose between the analytical and the administrative sides of the discipline. Northwestern’s part-time MPPA degree program encompasses both. While instilling leadership skills, the program develops students’ administrative as well as analytical competence to enable them to rise in the field and drive change at the local, national and international levels. The program encompasses a range of specialized areas — public administration, public policy, global policy — all grounded in the perspective that policy challenges are fluid, interconnected and global. Students learn to think across diverse groups and boundaries.


The MA in Public Policy and Administration is a versatile degree that applies to a variety of areas across all career sectors, private as well as public. MPPA graduates achieve leadership roles in government at the local, state and federal levels, in nonprofit organizations, and in the private sector. MPPA graduates pursue rewarding careers in health service, community service, in management consulting jobs, with financial institutions, in social entrepreneurial organizations, urban and regional planning, political science research and foreign affairs. 


All courses are fully accredited. SPS online courses marry the best aspects of online technology with the interactivity of the classroom. Students can take any combination of online and on-campus courses, or all online or all on-campus, to complete their degree. Find out more about online learning at SPS.


Program Goals

  • Evaluate the collaborative inter-organizational, inter-governmental, and international public policy and administrative environment
  • Apply a standard of ethics to policy and administrative context
  • Design public policies and programs
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of public policies and programs
  • Communicate relevant policy or program information to diverse stakeholders
  • Lead public organizations to implement policy decisions with respect and understanding for the broader institutional, societal, economic and political environment
  • Manage public resources to achieve organizational goals

Areas of Specialization

Upon submitting an application, students declare an intended area of specialization from the following options:


Curriculum Requirements

The Master's in Public Policy and Administration requires the successful completion of 13 courses to obtain a degree. Students complete nine core courses, three elective courses corresponding to a chosen area of specialization, and a capstone (498) or thesis (590) project. Review complete curriculum details and specialization electives for the MPPA program. Current students should refer to curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program.

MPPA faculty members Felicity Vabulas, Iowna Bochenska, and David Faller explore the European migrant crisis, and its effect on European economic and political policies. 

Core Courses:

  • MPPA 401-0 OR 401-DL Research Methods
  • MPPA 401-DL Research Methods
  • MPPA 402-0 Elements of Public Finance and Budgeting
  • MPPA 402-DL Elements of Public Finance and Budgeting
  • MPPA 403-0 OR 403-DL Fundamentals of Public Admininstration
  • MPPA 403-DL Fundamentals of Public Administration
  • MPPA 404-0 OR 404-DL Microeconomics for Policy and Administration
  • MPPA 404-DL Microeconomics for Policy and Administration
  • MPPA 405-0 OR 405-DL Elementary Statistics for Research
  • MPPA 405-DL Elementary Statistics for Research
  • MPPA 406-0 OR 406-DL Analytic Methods
  • MPPA 406-DL Analytic Methods for Policy Analysis
  • MPPA 407-0 OR 407-DL Scope and Theory of Public Policy
  • MPPA 407-DL Scope and Theory of Public Policy
  • MPPA 408-0 OR 408-DL Public Organization Theory & Management
  • MPPA 408-DL Public Organization Theory & Management
  • MPPA 409-0 OR 409-DL Writing and Communication
  • MPPA 498-0 OR 498-DL Capstone Project
  • MPPA 498-DL Capstone Project
  • MPPA 590-0 Thesis Research

Elective Courses:

  • MPPA 411-0 OR 411-DL The Legislative Process
  • MPPA 411-DL The Legislative Process
  • MPPA 413-0 OR 413-DL The Nonprofit/NGO Sector
  • MPPA 413-DL Foundations of the Nonprofit/NGO Sector
  • MPPA 417-0 OR 417-DL Public Human Resources
  • MPPA 417-DL Public Human Resources
  • MPPA 419-0 The Strategic Policy Environment
  • MPPA 419-DL The Strategic Policy Environment
  • MPPA 430-0 Politics of Local Justice
  • MPPA 430-0 OR 430-DL Behavioral Economics
  • MPPA 430-DL Behavioral Economics
  • MPPA 432-0 OR 432-DL Intergovernmental Relations
  • MPPA 432-DL Intergovernmental Relations
  • MPPA 435-0 OR 435-DL Regulatory Policy
  • MPPA 435-DL Regulatory Policy
  • MPPA 440-0 International Institutions
  • MPPA 440-DL International Institutions
  • MPPA 450-0 OR 450-DL Global Economic Policy
  • MPPA 450-DL Global Economic Policy
  • MPPA 452-DL The Global City
  • MPPA 452-DL The Global City
  • MPPA 490-DL Special Topics: US and Global Environmental Policy
  • MPPA 580-DL Global Policy Lab