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Inside an MPP Curriculum

MPP curriculum

At Pepperdine University’s Master of Public Policy program students gain an education tailored to build practical policy-making skills. The program is rooted in a rich curriculum and elective coursework, designed to create impactful future leaders. The requirements are crafted with precision, aiming to unravel complex policy questions and arm students with the essential knowledge and expertise for the multifaceted world of public policy.

The MPP curriculum covers a vast range of topics including government institutions, nonprofit organizations, and social policies. Students here don't just learn; they are prepared with a thorough level of knowledge and a rigorous set of tools that allows them to make an impact on society.

Pepperdine’s Master of Public Policy skillfully weaves core subjects with elective coursework creating a program able to shape future leaders.

What Do You Learn in a MPP Program?

The Master of Public Policy program at Pepperdine University is designed to develop well-rounded policy experts. This two-year program balances rigorous economic and quantitative analysis with moral reasoning and critical thinking.

The public policy coursework equips you with the ability to balance various perspectives and provides students with the methodologies used in public policy. This includes economic analysis, political analysis, quantitative methods, hypothesis testing, and moral reasoning, equipping you to analyze and evaluate policies effectively. At Pepperdine’s MPP program, students are given a classical history and philosophy foundation which exposes students to great ideas, thinkers, and leaders. 

Beyond policy content and academic knowledge, the program focuses on developing student’s professional skills to foster their future policy career. Creating not only knowledgeable, but also experienced leaders.

What to Expect in Year 1: The James Q. Wilson MPP Curriculum

In honor of one of the School's founders and professors, the Pepperdine School of Public policy offers the James Q. Wilson curriculum as the foundation of your first year. This unique set of courses introduces students to the quantitative aspects of policy, the significance of public service, and the "Great Ideas" on government and citizenship. It's an exploration of America's founding principles and how they have influenced the government-citizen relationship over the centuries.

Here is a basic overview of the course offerings in this foundational year. 

Ethical Dimensions of Public Policy: Great Books and Great Ideas

In this core course, students will gain an understanding of the philosophical, historical, and moral foundation of policy initiatives through a survey of the “great books.” This course stands as a basis of comparison, encouraging students to continually revisit the great themes and principles that form the center of American order. It is intended to be a touchstone for returning again and again to the great themes that recognize the permanent, tested principles that provide the roots of American order, including a belief in God and the recognition that men and women are sacred beings created with a transcendent end. 

Applied Economic Analysis

The Applied Economic Analysis course develops a student’s ability to apply key economic principles of both domestic and global policy issues. By turning theory into practice, students strengthen their ability to apply economic reasoning to policy challenges. Concepts include consumer choice, the production decisions of firms, and the function of prices in allocating scarce resources.

The Roots of American Order: What Is Public Policy?

This course discusses concepts, systems, and institutions that participate in the development of public policy, both from historical and contemporary perspectives. Included is an attempt to lay the groundwork for the moral consequences of public action—­how, for instance, government distribution of benefits alters incentives and values. It also considers policy development and implementation by the private sector of business, labor, and nonprofit associations as well as the church, the family, and educational institutions, which have played such an important role in American society.

This course also introduces tools that are useful in the formal analysis of collective action, including a consideration of market failures, imperfect competition, and cost-benefit analysis. The larger purpose of this course, as well as MPP 601, is to consider how the ultimate objectives of public policy can best be met through a proper balance between constraints and personal freedom.

Applied Research Methods

In this course, students will understand how to evaluate the performance of public policy decisions through research methodology and statistical techniques. Applied Research Methods bridges the gap between theoretical foundations and their practical applications to apply research design methodology and interpret results. 

Political, Organizational, and Strategic Aspects of Public Policy Analysis

In this class students concentrate on the responsibility of public leaders to understand concepts such as the political feasibility of alternative policy responses. Alongside a focus on the political, organizational, and strategic facets of public policy leadership, students will also study the ethical and moral standard expected leaders. 

Professional Development

The Master of Public Policy program emphasizes professional development and experiential education as a key component of growth and success for students. Students are required to engage with professionals and attend events throughout their enrollment and submit reflections These events offer invaluable opportunities for students to interact directly with leading scholars and practitioners in public policy institutions, broadening their understanding and helping them build essential professional networks.

MPP curriculum


What to Expect in Year 2: Electives & Specializations

Areas of Specialization

As students enter their second year at Pepperdine University's Master of Public Policy program, they are given the ability to choose an area of special interest.These paths are tailored to deepen their knowledge and skills in a specific public policy area, preparing them for their future careers. 

Areas include American Policy and Politics, Applied Economic Policy, State and Local Policy, International Relations and National Security, and Public Policy and Dispute Resolution; each area offers its own unique blend of courses and experiences. Students get the chance to tailor their education to fit their career aspirations and personal interests.

Applied Economic Policy

Through the Applied Economic Policy specialization, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence economic policy-making. They are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze and develop policies that address economic challenges at both the local and global levels. This specialization prepares students for careers in policy analysis, economic development, government, and related fields.

American Policy and Politics

The American Policy and Politics specialization creates a deep understanding of the United States' political landscape and the skills necessary to effectively engage in policy-making processes for students. Graduates of this specialization are well-prepared for careers in government, non-profits, advocacy, or any sector where a thorough understanding of American policies and politics is essential.

International Relations and National Security

The International Relations specialization offers a deep dive into international affairs policy through its rigorous elective coursework. This specialization hones decision-making skills and provides a nuanced understanding of the United States' position in the world, along with the complexities and effectiveness of policy in international development.

Students explore real policy scenarios and strategies, preparing them for a variety of roles in the international arena. Graduates of this specialization are prepared for careers in diplomacy, international organizations, and national security.

State and Local Policy

The "State and Local Policy" specialization focuses on the unique challenges and opportunities that arise at state and local levels of governance. This specialization is particularly relevant for students who aspire to influence policy-making within regional contexts, understanding that much of the innovation in public policy often originates at these levels.

Dispute Resolution

Pepperdine University's Master of Public Policy program offers a Dispute Resolution specialization. This specialization hones vital skills for mediation and negotiation. It's more than just training; it's about equipping students with the right mix of leadership abilities and policy expertise to adept at handling conflicts and challenges in diverse environments, making them invaluable in the public policy realm.

From local community groups grappling with urban policies to international organizations dealing with complex health care issues, these graduates become capable of fostering resolution and consensus in various public policy roles.

Formal Internship Experience

The 240-hour Public Policy Internship is a pivotal requirement, completed before the spring semester of the second year. Students choose an internship aligned with their area of specialization. The internships range from local, state, or federal government agencies; nonprofit organizations; the private sector; and international experience.

This internship is strategically timed to allow students to put their first year's learning into practice. It's an immersive experience that brings the classroom and textbooks to life through the  nuances and complexities of policy implementation in scenarios..

Policy Seminar (Capstone)

The Policy Seminar serves as the capstone experience in the final semester. It offers students a comprehensive opportunity to apply their learning in a real-world context.In this seminar, students engage in developing a major public program design and implementation plan. The plan is based on a real situation, which can be global, national, state, or local in scope. The project requires students to develop a focused mission alongside a strategic and practical implementation plan. A key component of this process involves acknowledging and incorporating the perspectives of various interest groups whose support and "buy-in" are essential for the project's success.

Students are tasked with thorough personnel planning, creating a detailed budget plan, and devising a method for securing stakeholder approval. This approach ensures that students consider all aspects of policy implementation, from conceptualization to execution.

The results of this intensive work are presented to a board of visitors, which includes academics and active professionals.The team's efforts are reviewed and evaluated not only by faculty but also by government officials and key representatives of constituencies affected by the policy.

MPP curriculum


Apply Today For The Master of Public Policy Program at Pepperdine University

Enrolling in the MPP Program at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Public Policy is the start of a transformative journey for those aspiring to be influential leaders in public policy. This two-year graduate program goes beyond traditional academics, offering a pathway to become a well-rounded expert capable of making a long lasting impact in the policy space.

The program’s curriculum provides a comprehensive understanding of public policy through a solid educational foundation, while elective offerings enable students to customize their learning to fit their unique interests and career goals.

For more information on the MPP curriculum.