You are here: American University School of Public Affairs Master of Public Policy

Master of Public Policy

Tamari Ramishvili, SPA/MPP '17
Request Information

Shaping Future Policy

Tomorrow’s policy analysts and change-makers start here. The mission of The Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the AU School of Public Affairs is to prepare students to advance the quality of policy making in a variety of institutional settings. Accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), our program instills a blend of substantive analytical skills and contextual knowledge. 

World-Class Instruction, Personalized Attention

Students in the MPP program gain insights from leading policy scholars in education, health, social welfare, the environment, and international development. You’ll learn how to create and evaluate public policy and effectively share that analysis with stakeholders. Our students explore policy analysis in the context of political and policy processes in the U.S. and abroad. They learn to improve policy using sound evidence and evaluations of costs and benefits. Small class sizes help students learn about cutting-edge research tools and apply them to issue areas that matter.

Rich Real-World Experiences

Class time is balanced with experiential learning opportunities. Located in the epicenter of public affairs, where leaders in government and public policy and administration practice their craft, Washington, DC offers unparalleled resources for research, internships, and employment. Campus life is rich with policy talks, conferences, and active student groups. You’ll also find resources and experts at the many academic research centers in the School of Public Affairs, including the Center for Environmental Policy, the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research, and the Metropolitan Policy Center.

Designed for Flexible Learning

AU’s MPP program allows you to align your degree with your career goals. With 11 concentrations, flexible platforms upon which you can form personalized areas of expertise and showcase them on your resume, online portfolios, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles. Most class schedules cater to both full-time and part-time students. Classes start at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays to allow for work and internships.

Position Yourself for Success

Our MPP program will set you up for success in a competitive marketplace. Graduates emerge from the program ready to bring about policy change in the government, non-profit, and private sectors. Whether you want to work locally or globally, the MPP program will arm you with the skills to make important contributions to the world of public policy.


This concentration teaches you how to utilize governmental and nongovernmental tools to address challenges imposed by poverty, hunger, educational deficiencies, unemployment, and discrimination.

This concentration gives you the skills to tackle the issues confronting policymakers working on health and related topics in the U.S. and around the world.

This concentration allows students to gain an appreciation for the issues faced by policymakers and analysts working on education and related issues in the U.S. and abroad.

This concentration equips students to work with policymakers and analysts on global issues and those affecting the developing world.

This concentration gives students the knowledge and competencies to tackle scientific, technological, and environmental issues confronting policymakers and analysts.

Public finance provides a framework for understanding policy choices and the implications of program structural features within the context of economic responses of service populations, the general public, and policymakers. This concentration combines models of public sector economics, including mechanisms of public choice, service pricing, taxation, and expenditure structures with economic analytic frameworks to understand mechanisms available for influencing public behavior and likely outcomes of alternative policy options.

Taking advantage of a newly-created, university-wide offering in nonprofit management and the department’s traditional strength in public sector administration, this concentration is for students wishing to focus on the strategic organizational challenges that policymakers and analysts confront when using nonprofit organizations to implement public policy.

If you wish to combine your study of public policy with a deeper understanding of public administration, this concentration gives you the opportunity to take a selection of management courses from our Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. Such courses amplify lessons contained in the required MPP course in Organizational Analysis (PUAD-684) by examining issues that affect the implementation of public policies.

Students who wish to work as program evaluators or policy analysts may want to concentrate in advanced policy analysis. This concentration encourages you to take more than the single course in applied policy analysis required of all MPP students.

If you wish to gain an understanding of the legal issues that policymakers and analysts encounter within the area of criminal justice and the field of legal studies broadly, this concentration will meet your needs.

This concentration is rooted in the university’s traditional course offerings in comparative politics and area studies in the School of Public Affairs and the School of International Service, coupled with courses dealing with global issues in the College of Arts and Sciences. It focuses on international security policy and the manner in which different countries address common domestic policies such as health, education, and social services.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) requires 39 credit hours of approved graduate work for students entering the program with a bachelor's degree. Required core courses comprise 30 credit hours, with an additional 9 hours in an area of concentration. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all coursework is required to remain in good standing and to earn the degree. Full-time status is considered to be 9 credit hours per semester. Students are expected to complete the degree within two years, including one summer.

Public Policy Practicum

The Public Policy Practicum (PUAD-688) exposes students to the institutional, legal, and ethical dimensions of policy analysis in organizational settings. It tests critical thinking, research, and writing skills using a client-based policy analysis project. The Practicum, taken in the final semester of study, is offered in fall and spring semesters only.


Students without an extensive professional background in public policy participate in either a for-credit or non-credit internship relevant to this field. If you are taking the internship for credit, you will register for the course as part of your concentration. If you have a non-credit internship, you will be required to complete a survey on your experience.

More information about course requirements can be found here.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

The School of Public Affairs operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity.

While previous academic or professional work in public policy is not required, SPA values applicants who have acquired practical experience before beginning their degree program. Your personal statement about your background, career interests, and reasons for pursuing graduate study in the program will be essential, along with the other required application materials.

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to substitute test scores from similar tests, such as the GMAT or LSAT, for the GRE. If you received your undergraduate degree more than five years before applying to the program, you may be able to waive the requirement for test scores altogether.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) is a 39-credit-hour program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Public Affairs offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards and named scholarships are administered by the SPA Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience, specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree emphasizes evidence-based ideas and approaches and the use of data and research methodologies to find solutions to policy challenges. Our Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree delves more into leadership in public and nonprofit organizations, the organizational environment, and the analysis of public management issues. As an example, the Social Policy concentration in the MPP program and the Social Policy focus area the MPA program may cover similar topics and may even offer some of the same courses and faculty, but the courses will have different emphases depending on the program you’re pursuing.

Related Links

We Know Success

% of Graduates are now Working, Grad School, or Both

number 14 for Public Policy Analysis, up from #17

by U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Public Affairs Graduate School Rankings

Aminata Sy headshot

Achievements ·

MPP Student’s Atypical Journey to Foreign Service Career

Read More