MPP Directors' Letter
On behalf of the faculty, staff and current students of the Master in Public Policy program at Cal Poly, We invite you to explore the many opportunities that our program offers.
Our program’s core mission is to build leadership and the capacity to analyze problems, design social innovations and implement policy solutions in a world that desperately needs them. From local poverty and economic development to global health and security, our program trains professionals with the tools to succeed in a variety of public policy fields.
Our students learn to think critically and creatively about public policy theory, analysis and application. Core courses in public policy, applied methodology, leadership, economic and regulatory policy and policy analysis allow our students to experience the process of designing, implementing and evaluating policy, all while developing an appreciation for the diversity of perspectives and trade offs involved in serving the public interest.
One-third of required units are drawn from electives in which our students customize their course of study toward a specific area of expertise and its social, political and technological context. Numerous departments offer elective courses to fulfill requirements, including Agriculture, Biology, Business, Economics, City and Regional Planning, Forestry and Natural Resources, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Statistics.
Our accomplished instructors work closely with students on real world problems. We provide experiential training through field research and internship experiences, as Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy is an integral component of our program. Located halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento to the north and Los Angeles and Orange County to the south, Cal Poly provides numerous opportunities for statewide professional internships, as well as additional opportunities in Washington, D.C. and abroad. As a core aspect of the MPP program, internships provide our students with valuable opportunities to focus career goals and enhance understanding of policy design and analysis.
Our program also supports participation at professional and academic conferences across the nation. Through these conferences, students present original research to expert audiences and connect with policy professionals. We have a tremendous track record in both conference acceptances and presentations by graduate students. Financial support for graduate students in our program includes scholarships, fellowships, non-resident tuition waivers and student loans available through Cal Poly and outside organizations. The MPP program at Cal Poly is among the least expensive in the state, making it an excellent return on investment.
Opportunities such as these make Cal Poly a great place to pursue graduate work. For the past 24 years, U.S. News & World Report has recognized Cal Poly as the “best public Masters university in the West” and Forbes.com recently ranked Cal Poly third nationally, behind UC Berkeley and the University of Virginia, for alumni earnings. Moreover, the surrounding community provides a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy the beautiful natural environment during an occasional study break. Open spaces, outdoor cafes and world-class wineries, breweries and restaurants are just a few of the amenities that you can find along the beautiful California Central Coast, in the “happiest city in the United States,” just a flat half-marathon from the sandy shores of the Pacific!
Variation in types of work and fields of specialty means that salaries can vary, but public policy is gaining ground as a profession relative to more saturated professional programs including law school and business management. Government analysts work for agencies and departments to help design, implement and evaluate policy programs. Non-profit and private sector analysts work for think tanks, innovation labs and research centers to understand the effects of policy and design future policy solutions, and there are countless policy-oriented careers where professionals lead and manage teams to navigate and shape specific regulatory environments. Our MPP degree provides the skills and knowledge base that is increasingly in demand, as policy problems grow ever more complex.
We invite you to contact us for further information.
James Ward, Ph.D.
Interim Director, MPP Program
Visiting Professor of Political Science
Elizabeth Lowham, Ph.D.
Director, MPP Program
Professor of Political Science
Martin Battle, Ph.D.
Director, MPP Program
Assistant Professor of Political Science