The Master of Public Policy (MPP) is a 48-credit degree program, divided into core (required) courses, capstone, and elective courses.

Core Courses (24 Credits)

The core courses emphasizes analytical skills and core knowledge for designing and managing sound public policy.

Economics (6 credits)

  • PPOL 506: Intermediate Microeconomics (3 credits)
  • PPOL 507: Microeconomics II (3 credits)

Quantitative Methods (9 credits)

  • PPOL 501: Statistical Methods for Policy Analysis (3 credits)
  • PPOL 502: Regression Methods for Policy Analysis (3 credits)
  • PPOL 503: Advanced Regression and Program Evaluation Methods (3 credits)

Political Institutions and Process (9 credits)

For each of the required courses, students may choose either a U.S. domestic focus or comparative international focus.

  • PPOL 510: Public Policy Process; or PPOL 511: Comparative Policy Process (3 credits)
  • PPOL 518: Ethics, Values and Public Policy (3 credits)
  • PPOL 514: Public Management; or PPOL 515: Comparative Public Management (3 credits) 


PPOL 506: Intermediate Microeconomics

This course provides an in-depth analysis of supply and demand, the theory of the consumer and theory of the firm. The course focuses on the determinants of consumer behavior by studying the role of utility maximization and constrained optimization. Firm behavior is studied by investigating the role of profit maximization when firms operate in perfectly competitive markets and when they are monopolies. Key concepts include efficiency, opportunity cost, the role of incentives and marginal analysis. Applications to public policy issues are emphasized.

PPOL 507: Microeconomics II

This course serves as a continuation of Intermediate Microeconomics. It explores the impact of a variety of factors that may result in market failures, including public goods, externalities, information asymmetries and uncertainty. A rationale for government policies as a corrective device for market failures is then developed. This framework is then used to discuss a variety of government transfer programs and their financing, with particular emphasis on the incentive effects of such programs and policies. An introduction to cost/benefit analysis is incorporated as a mechanism for evaluating various programs. PREREQUISITE: PPOL 506, Intermediate Microeconomics.

Quantitative Methods

PPOL 501: Statistical Methods for Policy Analysis

This is the first course in the three-course quantitative methods sequence. The sequence is designed to increase understanding of empirical analyses — both as a consumer of empirical analyses and as a producer of such analyses. This course introduces students to descriptive and inferential statistics often used in public policy research. The course aims to provide students with a solid foundation for analyzing data, conveying analyses in convincing and appropriate ways. Topics covered include: measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, random variables, hypothesis testing and confidence intervals, statistical power, correlation, simple regression, and an introduction to multivariate regression. Students use Stata (a statistical software application) to develop their data analysis skills.

PPOL 502: Regression Methods for Policy Analysis

This class is the second of a three-part sequence in Quantitative Methods. In this course, students further study multivariate regression analysis with a main focus on ordinary least squares (OLS) regression and a modest focus on probit and logit regression. Topics include hypothesis testing, heteroskedasticity, omitted variable bias, measurement error, and topics related to model specification. The course concludes with section on research methods. Topics include causality, internal validity and external validity, sampling and weighting, measure validity and reliability, and missing data. The statistical package Stata is used. PREREQUISITE : PPOL501 OR EQUIVALENT.

PPOL 503: Advanced Regression/Program Evaluation Methods

This course is an introduction to advanced, but commonly used, methods of statistical analysis. The emphasis is on applied learning; formal proofs and mathematical rigor are presented but not the principal focus of the course. Instruction will concentrate on how to determine the appropriate econometric approach in addressing various types of policy questions. Topics covered include: random assignment experiments, nonexperimental methods such as regression discontinuity designs, instrumental variables, difference-in-difference models, and propensity score matching. Also covered are maximum likelihood estimation, multinomial and ordered logit and probit, truncated/censored dependent variables (tobit models), panel data, and time-series analysis. The statistical package Stata is used.

Political Institutions and Process

PPOL 510: Public Policy Process

This course analyzes the politics, institutions, norms, and actors involved in the agenda-setting, legitimation, and decision-making of public policy in the US. Students learn how to use analytical frameworks that explain how the policymaking process works, relates to the substance of policy, and applies to real world issues. Students also investigate how the policy making process varies across different issue areas. As one of several assignments, students write a policy memo suitable for submission to a member of Congress or other key political actor.

PPOL 511: Comparative Policy Process

This course provides a cross-national perspective on the institutions and processes of public policy-making. The first section of the course examines a series of theoretical perspectives for analyzing constraints on and opportunities for policymaking, including political culture, globalization, and feedbacks from past policy choices. The central section of the course focuses on political institutions as venues and vehicles for policymaking. The final section of the course looks at case studies of specific policy sectors, such as pensions, health care, and the environment. Throughout the course, there will be a balance between general and theoretical materials and a more intensive examination of a small number of countries.

PPOL 518: Ethics, Values and Public Policy

This course provides an introduction to the following course themes: 1) Values (and not just interests) are fundamental to public policy, and so sophisticated policy analysts should understand the roles that values can play in policy analysis and the policy process; 2) Values are contested in that political actors interpret core values (e.g., equity, liberty, justice, security, efficiency) in conflicting ways and also place different weights on different values; 3) Differing institutional arrangements (markets, democracy, authority) enhance certain values and potentially suppress others; 4) Differing forms of reasoning (e.g., utilitarianism, deontology, or casuistry) offer differing ways to reach conclusions regarding value choices, but that no method can be demonstrated to provide the answer to these choices; 5) The systematic analysis of values can provide policy recommendations that are superior to those made without systematic reflection; 6) Policy analysts should be able to provide a reasoned explanation regarding the values embedded in the policy recommendations they make. These principles can usefully be applied to the policies of individual countries as well as multilateral organizations. In this class, we will focus on how these values apply to countries other than the United States as well as to international organizations.

PPOL 519: Ethics in a Globalized World

This course is designed to raise students’ awareness and understanding of the moral context of international affairs (North and South), and their own role as effective moral agents. The course will challenge students to cultivate their abilities in the discipline of reflective moral thinking, and introduce them to the spectrum of prominent moral theories and their application to critical challenges in the pursuit of human well-being, lives of meaning, and ecological integrity. There are many strong indications that there is a growing influence of explicitly moral thinking in international development, conflict, environment, and political analyses, theory, policy, and practice – a premise that warrants close scrutiny from the outset of the course and repeated consideration in the weeks that follow.

PPOL 514: Public Management

This course introduces students to public management: the art and science of planning and implementing public programs. Participants will examine the constraints public managers face in a democratic society; how the challenges of public management vary across different organizational and policy settings; and how public management and policy analysis frequently intersect. A key objective is to offer students a useful mix of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on management as a function performed in all sectors (public, nonprofit, and private) but, when appropriate, participants focus on what factors make public management distinctive and more challenging. Some of the specific topics covered include: executive leadership; the role of front-line operators and middle managers; organizational culture; problems of bureaucratic coordination and dysfunction; how Congress, the President, and the courts attempt to control the public bureaucracy; managing people; managing budgets; privatization and contracting out; ethics in public management; performance management and strategic planning; and management reform strategies. Case studies are used extensively to explore specific challenges and scenarios.

PPOL 515: Comparative Public Management

A key component in the study of public policy is the ability to work through how public policy gets put into action. Successful policy implementation requires more than technical policy analysis; it requires a critical understanding of the underpinnings of good management and governance. This course uses theoretical and case study materials to introduce students to the difficulties of public management in a comparative perspective. We will focus specifically on the challenges facing less developed countries as well as the options and resources available to effectively implement policies in those countries. Through class discussion, simulations and assignments, students will apply theoretical concepts in comparative public management to actual situations.

Capstone Project (6 credits)

The MPP program aims to educate students to think critically about public policy and to demonstrate a mastery of the various skills embodied in the curriculum.

Students choose between two capstone experiences: completing a thesis, or completing a policy analysis capstone. Both options span two semesters, and involve answering a policy question in an analytically rigorous manner, drawing on the knowledge and skills of the MPP curriculum.

Students who choose the thesis capstone option will develop a research question and work with their advisor to formulate and implement a research plan. Students who choose the policy analysis capstone option will work with a small group of fellow students to study a real policy problem for an actual organization.

Capstone Experience

The MPP program aims to educate students to think critically about public policy and to demonstrate a mastery of the various skills embodied in the curriculum. Students choose between two capstone experiences: completing a thesis, or completing a policy analysis capstone. Each option spans two semesters, and involves answering a policy question in an analytically rigorous manner. The capstone options differ in which elements of the MPP curriculum they place greater emphasis.

PPOL 526/527: Policy Analysis Capstone

Students use their knowledge and skills, working with a small group of fellow students, to analyze a real‐world policy question for a client organization. In consultation with a faculty member, students conceptualize and examine the question in an analytically rigorous manner. By interacting with a client organization, students develop an understanding of the policy issue facing the organization and determine the appropriate approach to addressing it so that they can provide a systematic analysis. Students gain an understanding of the many steps and decisions that are needed to produce a policy analysis with real-world problems and organizations. They also gain an appreciation of the nuances and challenges of different organizations and the unique approaches that are needed to provide useful information in different settings.

PPOL 528/529: Thesis Workshop

Working individually in consultation with an advisor, students use their knowledge and skills to study a policy question of their choosing, using appropriate statistical techniques on large-sample datasets. Students learn about the research process generally and in the context of their own research. They formulate a research question, develop a conceptual framework and undertake empirical work to find an appropriate answer. Through this process, students gain an appreciation for the many steps and decisions that are needed to produce research and analysis in general terms and in the context of their own and their classmates’ projects.

Electives (18 credits)

MPP students expand on the analytical skills they attain in their core coursework with 18 credits of elective courses. Students have an array of elective courses from which to choose at the McCourt School and Georgetown University’s other top-ranked graduate schools. Our expert faculty teach a wide range of elective courses in today’s most relevant policy areas and methods.

Many McCourt School students choose to align their elective coursework with their interests and career goals. While not required, students may choose to focus their elective coursework in a particular area of study like Environmental Policy, Health Policy, or Development Policy.

Please see below for a sample list of electives offered over the past academic year. This list is not exhaustive and additional courses can be found on the Registrar's Schedule of Classes. McCourt students also have the opportunity to take electives in other Georgetown graduate programs as well as through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Please contact Director of Academic Affairs Nirmala Fernandes at for more information.

  • U.S. Domestic Economic Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 614: The Federal Budget in a Time of Madness
    • PPOL 623: National Economic Issues
    • PPOL 649: Macroeconomics
    • PPOL 758: Foreign Direct Investments in the US
    • PPOL 759: Getting People to Behave
  • International Economic Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 608: Asian Economic Development
    • PPOL 676: International Financial Institutions
    • PPOL 677: International Trade Policy & Negotiations
    • PPOL 734: Latin American Economic Development
  • Development Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 638: International Health
    • PPOL 647: International Social Development Policy
    • PPOL 681: BRICS & The Global Economy
    • PPOL 685: History and Theory of Development
    • PPOL 703: Political Economy of Foreign Aid
    • PPOL 780: Economic Complexity & Development
  • Political Strategy and Governance including courses such as:
    • PPOL 600: The Press & the Presidency
    • PPOL 612: Federalism & Intergovernmental Relations in the U.S.
    • PPOL 627: Identity Politics & Interest Groups
    • PPOL 632: Strategic Advocacy: Lobbying/Interest Groups
    • PPOL 657: Policy, Politics & the Media
  • Education Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 655: Education Productivity: Teachers & Technology Effects
    • PPOL 672: Topics: Post Secondary Education
    • PPOL 797: New Players in Education: Charter Schools
  • Environmental & Regulatory Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 613: Environmental and Natural Resources Economics
    • PPOL 636: Energy, Society & Politics in Developing Countries
    • PPOL 687: Nuclear Power, Climate Change, Clean Power
    • PPOL 711: Sustainable Development
  • Health Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 604: Health Care Quality: Recent Policy Issues
    • PPOL 642: Health Policy & Politics
    • PPOL 643: Health Care Access Demand Issues
    • PPOL 661: Genomics, Precision Med & PPOL
    • PPOL 798: Politics & Policies of Addiction and Recovery
  • Homeland Security Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 688: Homeland Security
    • PPOL 692: Capacity Building/Counter-terrorism (previously Post Conflict Reconstruction)
    • PPOL 694: Cyber Conflict and National Security Policy
  • Management & Leadership such as:
    • PPOL 612: Federalism/Intergovernmental Relations
    • PPOL 633: Women and Leadership
    • PPOL 663: Public Leadership
    • PPOL 699: The Power & Influence of Philanthropy: Local, National, Global
    • PPOL 748: Negotiation
  • Methods including courses such as:
    • PPOL 622: Policy Analysis
    • PPOL 646: Data Visualization for Policy Analysis
    • PPOL 683: Spatial Data Modeling & Public Policy
    • PPOL 693: Applied Monitoring & Evaluation for Development Programs
    • PPOL 696: Survey Research Methods
    • PPOL 737: Game Theory
  • Public Management including courses such as:
    • PPOL 639: Strategic Planning & Public Policy
    • PPOL 663: Public Leadership
    • PPOL 680: Risk Management
    • PPOL 756: Contracting
    • PPOL 779: Agency Rulemaking & Adjudication: How Fed Govt Does Business
  • Social Policy including courses such as:
    • PPOL 604: Policy/Politics of Entitlements
    • PPOL 607: Child Development
    • PPOL 611: The War on Drugs: Causes, Consequences and Alternatives (formerly US Drug Policy & Its Consequences)
    • PPOL 659: Race, Faith & Politics
    • PPOL 664: Tax Policy
    • PPOL 745: U.S. Immigration Policy