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Online Master of Public Policy


The Online Master of Public Policy (MPP) is designed to be a two-year professional degree completed entirely online although part-time students may take significantly longer to complete the degree. However, per university guidelines, students should expect to complete the MPP no later than six (6) years after beginning the program. The curriculum is designed to meet specific learning competencies. These competencies are listed in the MPP Learning Competencies document (PDF).

Students are required to complete 34 or 36 credits of coursework (12 courses) broken down as follows:

  • 21 credits (7 courses) in a common curriculum component
  • 9 credits (3 courses) in a policy concentration area
  • 3 credits (1 course) as a free elective
  • 1 or 3 credits (1 course) in an internship (note: 2 credits of the experiential component may be waived - see "internship" details on this page)

The Common Curriculum Component consists of seven courses required of all students in the MPP program as follows:

  1. POL 500 - Public Institutions and the Policy Process
  2. POL 530 - Policy Analysis
  3. POL 540 - Microeconomics
  4. POL 580 - Statistics
  5. POL 581 - Research Methods for Public Policy
  6. POL 585 - Applied Policy Research Seminar
  7. POL 611 - Administrative Law

*Note: Summaries of the required courses (and concentrations) can be found on our Course Descriptions page. A schedule of when courses are generally offered (updated regularly) can be found our our Course Schedule page.

Summary Requirements for Online Master of Public Policy Degree

Common Curriculum Component 21 7
Policy Area Concentration 9 3
Elective 3 1
Internship 1 or 3 1
Total: 34 or 36 12

Concentration Areas

The MPP requires students to declare a policy area concentration when they apply to the program. The policy area concentration will be fulfilled by taking three courses in the subject area. Available concentration areas with courses that count in each area are as follows:

Public Management (any 3 of the following courses):

  • POL 510 – Public Management Credits: 3
  • POL 531 – Program Evaluation Credits: 3
  • POL 536 – Regional Economic Development Credits: 3
  • POL 541 – State and Local Public Finance Credits: 3
  • POL 661 – Environmental Law Credits: 3

Environmental Policy (all 3 of the following courses):

  • POL 562 – Environmental Policy Credits: 3
  • POL 661 – Environmental Law Credits: 3
  • POL 663 – Ocean Policy and Law Credits: 3

Education Policy (any 3 of the following courses):

  • POL 511 – Organizational Behavior in Educational Settings Credits: 3
  • POL 531 – Program Evaluation Credits: 3
  • POL 542 – Law and Education Credits: 3
  • POL 561 – Public Finance in Education Credits: 3
  • POL 570 – Social, Historical and Philosophical Foundations of American Education Credits: 3

Course decriptions are available from the course catalog. Our general schedule of courses is also available.

Students may enroll in up to two MPP courses without being admitted to the MPP program. Students interested in taking courses as a non-matriculated student must have the permission of the instructor before enrolling in the course.

Students applying to the MPP who are completing one of the program's graduate certificates should apply for the MPP in the semester the graduate certificate is being completed. Further, those students should not take any additional courses towards the MPP until they have been officially accepted and matriculated into the MPP program.

The following example shows how a student can complete the program in two years on a full-time basis. Students taking less than three courses per semester will extend their time to complete the program.

Year 1 FallYear 1 WinterYear 1 SpringYear 1 Summer
POL500 POL611 POL530 POL611

(if not taken)

POL540   Concentration or Elective  
POL581*   Concentration or Elective  


Year 2 FallYear 2 Spring
POL580** POL585
Concentration or Elective Internship

(if not taken)

Internship, Concentration, or Elective Concentration or Elective

(if not taken)


*POL581 should be taken as soon as possible in the MPP program because it is a prerequisite for upper-level MPP courses POL530, 580 and 585 (see above).

**POL580 MUST be taken prior to POL585.

A full schedule of when courses are offered, and their length, is available on our Course Schedule page.

Detailed advising information, including the faculty advisor for your concentration, can be found on the department's advising page.

You can track your MPP progress using the MPP Tracking Form (PDF), also available on the general advising page.


The Master of Public Policy requires an internship (3 credits) for students with less than 2 years of substantial and relevant public policy or public management experience. The field work component of the internship (2 credits) will be waived if an individual has at least 2 years substantial and relevant work experience in a policy making or public management position, although all students must enroll in the academic seminar component (1 credit) of the internship to graduate.

Detailed information on waivers of the experiential component and planning for the internship are outlined below.

Deadlines for Requesting Experiential Component Waivers for the Internship

Students request a waiver in writing (email is acceptable) to the internship director (Professor Kathryn Wassel) detailing how the student has at least two years of policy-relevant experience. The decision of the internship coordinator is final.

Students requesting waivers must adhere to the following deadlines:

  • For waiver requests where the course is to be taken in the Fall semester, students must submit the request no later than April 15th of the immediately preceding semester.
  • For waiver requests where the course is to be taken in the Spring semester, students must submit the request no later than November 15th of the immediately preceding semester.
  • Failure to follow these deadlines will result in an automatic denial of the waiver requests.  If students cannot wait until a later semester to make the request then they will be required to take the full internship experience (3-units) regardless of prior experience.  

Registering for the Internship

Registering for the internship course (POL599) requires a permission code from the internship director (Professor Kathryn Wassel). After consulting with the internship director in the semester preceding your intention to take the internship course (for example arranging for your internship or waiver in the Spring semester preceding the following Fall semester you plan on registering for the internship), contact the director for registration approval for the semester you wish to engage in the internship experience. With written approval you will be able to register for the course as indicated in the approval (1-unit section with waiver, 3-unit section without waiver).

Planning Your Internship

As stated in the course description of POL599:

A policy-related internship tailored to each student's career preferences or academic interests. The selection of an internship venue will occur in consultation with the student's MPP advisor and with the approval of the MPP Internship Coordinator. The Internship venue is usually selected from a pre-approved list of local, state, and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector businesses. Note: The field work component of the internship (2 credits) is waived if an individual has at least 2 years substantial and relevant work experience in a policy making or public management position, although students must still enroll in the academic course component (1 credit) of the internship to graduate.

To allow for the most valuable internship experience possible, the following guidelines are suggested:

  1. First, explore what is out there.  Reach out into the community in the areas that interest you to see if you can find an experience you would enjoy.  If you are having difficulty, and after consultation with your adviser, you can contact the internship director (Professor Kathryn Wassel) for help and to develop your ideas.  This should be done well before the semester you are planning to take your internship.   
  2. Second, once you have a possible connection for an internship, you should ensure the expectations between yourself and your sponsor for the internship are aligned.  You should also make sure these expectations meet the requirements of the program, and this is where involving the internship director in the final agreement between you and your agency makes sense.  

The Internship Experience

The actual internship will be divided into two (2) parts:

  1. the experiential component (actually engaging in the internship experience); and
  2. the seminar component where you will interact with your fellow classmates also interning during the semester.  

The specific details of the experiential component (required if not waived) will be determined by agreement between your host for the internship and the internship director. The seminar component will take place mainly in an online interactive environment where you will have specific readings to link your internship experience to your academics in the public policy program.

For more information about internships, please see the NASPAA site.
For more information hosted by UMassD on internships, please see the Career Center's internship page.

Students are encouraged to develop a professional portfolio that contains the major deliverable items in the courses they take during their MPP program. Doing this in an electronic format that can be shared is an effective way of providing others an easy way to view examples of your applied knowledge in the different aspects of public policy during your academic career. This is not a requirement for completion of the MPP requirements in this program, but is rather a best practice that will help to provide a platform to show your comprehension of major policy themes and accomplishments during the program.

Helpful Hints

  • Create a special ‘portfolio’ file where you place digital copies of all major papers, reports, newsclippings, etc. created for each course you have taken during your tenure in the MPP program. 
  • Include summaries of any special events or presentations you have made during your time in the MPP program.
  • Place these materials into a sharable format (Google Drive, Dropbox, or website) so that it can be easily provided to those who may be interested.

When students are close to completing their studies and plan to graduate, they will need to declare their intention to graduate.

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