Zach Epstein


 The McCourt School’s emphasis on a strong quantitative and analytical approach to the study of public policy immediately set it apart... 

Why did you choose the McCourt School?

GPPI’s emphasis on a strong quantitative and analytical approach to the study of public policy immediately set it apart from other programs I had considered. The fact that you don’t have to compete with Public Policy PhD candidates for research opportunities and the attention of faculty members made me feel like the MPP candidates would be the program’s top priority. Plus, as everyone knows, you can’t beat the location for a public policy student.

How has your experience at McCourt been so far?

My experience has probably been a little unusual in that I started as a full-time student but took a job opportunity which required that I become a part-time, evening student. When that opportunity arose, the staff and faculty here were incredibly accommodating and supportive. The people who make this program run really care for the success of their students. As for the faculty, everyone will have their favorite and least favorite professors, but I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from (and I mean this quite seriously) the two greatest professors with whom I have ever taken a class.

Have you taken advantage of the McCourt School's DC location? If so, how?

As I mentioned earlier, I took a job at the Department of Labor after completing my first year, and that would not have been possible had I not been living in DC while in school. There are always opportunities to work wherever you go to school, but no place will offer you the same kinds of opportunities that DC will. Now, I’m taking classes at the McCourt School again while working, and there have literally been days when I have come to work and actually used material that I had been discussing in class not a week earlier. It’s pretty incredible.

What do you hope to do with your McCourt School degree?

I just want to be a voice for pragmatic policy making. The world we live in is teeming with data and information needing to be analyzed, understood, and presented to those who are willing to listen. If I get the opportunity to teach and inform others, I’ll feel satisfied.

What would you say about the McCourt School to a prospective student?

Take the time to be sure it’s right for you; going back to school is an important decision, but if you’re looking to build the analytical skills you’ll need to think critically about the very broad range of subjects influenced by public policy making, then I think you’ll be quite happy here. Your peers will often teach you more than your courses do, so take advantage of their expertise. Also, DC is beautiful in the spring.