Frequently Asked Questions

If all of your questions are not answered here, contact Program Manager, Beth Henke 

What is the history of the MPP?

The University of Utah MPP program was approved by the Utah State Board of Regents in June, 2005. The first MPP cohort started classes fall semester 2006.

The MPP is the result of need expressed by students and professionals desiring further education in public policy. Currently, there are no other Master of Public Policy programs offered within the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE).

What is the MPP degree?

The MPP degree emphasizes analyzing and evaluating information to explain policy issues. As analysts, managers, and leaders, graduates use quantitative and qualitative information and data to develop, assess, and evaluate alternatives to current and emerging policy issues. Graduates may pursue careers in a variety of public service fields including all levels of government, nonprofits, the international arena, and the private sector.

Are there any MPP joint degrees?

The MPP program has arranged a formalized MPP/JD joint degree program with the SJ Quinney College of Law at The University of Utah. The MPP/JD can be completed in approximately four years. Students must apply to both programs separately, and, if admitted to both, can then pursue the joint degree.

There is also a Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program available for undergraduates in political science and economics. This program allows students to apply to the MPP in their junior year and start taking graduate courses in their senior year. Students will complete a bachelors and masters in about five years. Students must maintain a 3.5 GPA.

In additon, the joint MPP/MPH started fall semester 2009.

What are the differences between the Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Public Administration (MPA)?

Although there is some overlap between the two, the MPP focuses on public policy analysis, while the MPA focuses on the administration of public entities. The MPP contains courses in statistics and economics, both key elements of policy analysis work. Students who earn the MPP degree are able to work as policy analysts in the private sector (approximately 40% of MPP graduates nationwide work in the private sector), as well as the public and not-for-profit sector. View the MPP/MPA Side-By-Side Comparison for more information.

What careers are MPP graduates pursuing?

To date, six classes have graduated with MPPs from The University of Utah and all are pursuing interesting and fulfilling careers. Visit our Alumni page for more information.

I have taken several courses towards a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree; can I get an MPP instead?

You will need to apply for admission to the MPP program. If you are accepted in the program and you are currently enrolled in another degree program at The University of Utah from which you have not graduated, you may get credit for courses taken that are core or elective for either program. Please make an appointment with the program manager to discuss your particular situation.

I already have a Masters degree. Can I get an MPP degree?

You can apply for admissions to the MPP program. If you are accepted into the program there is the possibility of waiving core courses that you have already completed. The University will not allow graduation from a degree program with fewer credit hours than are required - for the MPP it is 40 semester credit hours. So, whereas, a waiver means you may not have to repeat a class, you will, with approval from the program manager, need to take an elective course in order to earn the required credit hours. Students must meet with the program manager to determine which, if any, courses can be waived.

I already have a graduate degree, do I need to take the standardized test (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MAT)?

No. If you have already obtained a graduate level degree (e.g. Masters, JD, PhD, MD) you do not need to submit standardized test scores.

Are there undergraduate prerequisite courses for the program?

The MPP program prerequisite courses include:

U.S. National Government - sample course at The University of Utah POLS 1100

Applied Statistics - sample courses at The University of Utah: FCS 3210; SOC 3112 and PSYCH 3000 - we cannot count 1000 level math classes for the statistics prerequisite

Introductory Microeconomics - sample course at The University of Utah ECON 2010

These courses must be completed at the undergraduate level with a grade “C” or better in the last 10 years. It is also recommended students pursue intermediate microeconomics, but this is not a prerequisite to the program. Students can apply for the program and complete the prerequisites prior to beginning course work.

I took American Government 15 years ago. Will it satisfy the prerequisite requirement?

No. Prerequisite courses - U.S. National Government, Introduction to Statistics and Introductory Microeconomics - need to be completed at an accredited college or university within the past 10 years. Students may petition in writing for an exception. Such petitions will be decided by the program manager and the director on a case-by-case basis. For more information please contact the Program Director.

Are classes offered during the days or evenings or weekends?

The majority of classes will be offered in the evening. However, the MPP is an interdisciplinary program, meaning students will take courses from different departments across the University. Some departments may only offer daytime courses. There are no weekend courses available.

Are there minimum standardized test score requirements?

No. Students may take the GRE, LSAT, GMAT or MAT. Scores are reviewed as part of the total application, and above 50th percentile is standard for our applicants.

What are the specific details of the letter of intent in terms of length, format, and content?

Your letter of intent (a.k.a. personal statement or application essay) should be two to three pages, preferably double-spaced. It should address your reasons for wanting to earn a MPP degree at The University of Utah, what you could contribute, both academically and intellectually to the program, how the MPP will help further your career goals, what those career goals are, etc.

Do all three letters of recommendation need to be from professors, or can I include professional recommendations?

If you are currently an undergraduate student (or a recent graduate) the letters of recommendation need to be from professors who can speak to your academic abilities and personal qualities needed for success in graduate school. If you have been out of school for a while and you would find it difficult to track down three former professors, then you may use professional recommendations. However, if at all possible we like to see at least one academic reference.

How much does the MPP program cost?

Currently, most MPP courses are charged at the General Graduate Tuition rate (either resident or nonresident depending on your classification). Students may take courses in other departments that charge a differential tuition (e.g. business, law, public health, some public administration courses) in addition to the General Tuition Rate. You can learn more about tuition rates and differential tuition rates at The University of Utah Tuition Rates usually increase annually. Tuition rates do not include books and supplies.

Where can I learn more about scholarships and fellowships available through the University of Utah or other sources?

The Graduate School offers several opportunities for Scholarships and Fellowships, as well as resources for searching for outside funding. The Graduate School Diversity Office has several funding opportunities available.

Is there an internship requirement?

No. There is no internship requirement for the program. However, students with limited or no professional experience are encouraged to seek out an applicable internship to enhance their graduate education.

What are the application requirements?

Applicants for the MPP must:

  • Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

  • Establish eligibility for admission to graduate standing at The University of Utah.

  • Obtain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) in undergraduate courses.

  • Submit all MPP application materials.

More information on the Admissions Web Page

How do I submit my application to the MPP?

Please read the Application web page for the list of required application materials, and how to complete and/or submit them.

Does the MPP program accept applications for students to start each semester?

No. The MPP program admits students for fall semester.

What is the application due date?

The application due date is February 15 for submission of all MPP application materials.

Does the program accept applications for spring or summer semesters?

On a limited basis, the program may consider spring or summer applications. Please contact us for more information.

Will the program accept applications after the February 15 due date for fall semester?

On a limited basis the Admissions Committee may accept late applications. Please contact us for more information. Please be aware that late applications cannot apply for scholarship assistance. Also, while we strive to review applications in a timely manner, we cannot guarantee when late applications will be reviewed or when decisions will be sent. Also, please keep in mind the Graduate School charges a late fee for applications submitted past their application deadline.

Do I have to take the GRE?

The MPP program requires submission of a standardized test score. We will accept the GRE, the GMAT, the LSAT or the MAT. One test is not preferred over another.

What is the minimum test score required?

There is no minimum test score requirement. However, students accepted to the program consistently obtain a minimum of 50th percentile in each category and in the overall score for whichever test they take.

Is there an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement?

Both The University of Utah Graduate School and the MPP require a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework. The average undergraduate GPA for MPP students is 3.5.

How many applications does the program receive?

It varies year to year, and for fall 2011 we received 23 applications.

How important is each component of the application?

We do not have a valuation system for any part of the application, which means that no component of the application is assigned a numeric value. The Admissions Committee takes a holistic view of each applicant and reviews every part of every application in reaching its decision.

When does the Admissions Committee review applications?

The Admissions Committee strives to review completed applications during the second week of March or sooner.

How can I check the status of my application?

Every effort is made to keep you updated on the status of your application via email. However, you may contact the program manager at any time to check on the status.

When will I receive a decision on my application?

Program admission decisions are delivered on or around April 1.

What if I need to update my application?

Updates must be submitted through the ApplyYourself online application system.

What Universities and undergraduate degrees are considered accredited and accepted for the MPP program?

The decision regarding acceptance of undergraduate degrees is made by the Graduate Admissions Office and according to their website must be a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. If you have additional questions about this you can contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 801-581-7281.

What are the specific details of the letter of intent in terms of length, format, and content?

Your letter of intent (a.k.a. personal statement or application essay) should be two to three pages, preferably double-spaced. It should address your reasons for wanting to earn a MPP degree at The University of Utah, what you could contribute, both academically and intellectually to the program, how the MPP will help further your career goals, what those career goals are, etc.

Do all three letters of recommendation need to be from professors, or can I include professional recommendations?

If you are currently an undergraduate student (or a recent graduate) the letters of recommendation need to be from professors who can speak to your academic abilities and personal qualities needed for success in graduate school. If you have been out of school for a while and you would find it difficult to track down three former professors, then you may use professional recommendations. However, if at all possible we like to see at least one academic reference.

I took American Government 15 years ago. Will it satisfy the prerequisite requirement?

No. Prerequisite courses - U.S. National Government, Introduction to Statistics and Introductory Microeconomics - need to be completed at an accredited college or university within the past 10 years. Students may petition in writing for an exception. Such petitions will be decided by the program manager and the director on a case-by-case basis. For more information please contact the program manager. See  below in Pre-requisite Course FAQ.

I already have a graduate degree, do I need to take a standardized test (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MAT)?

No. If you have already obtained a graduate level degree (e.g. Masters, JD, PhD, MD) you do not need to submit standardized test scores.

Are there any pre­requisite courses for the MPP program?
The MPP program requires three pre-requisites:

  • U.S. National Government – sample course at The University of Utah is POLS 1100. This course should teach students the Constitutional basis of American government; public opinion, political participation, media, parties, interest groups; governmental decision makers (Congress, presidency, bureaucracy, courts).
  • Introductory Statistics – sample courses at The University of Utah are FCS 3210, SOC 3112 and PSY 3000. Math classes or classes at the 1000/100 – 2000/200 level are not accepted. This course should include Topics include means, standard deviations, T-tests, chi-square, ANOVA, regression analysis, correlations, and computer assignments.
  • Microeconomics – sample course at The University of Utah is ECON 2010. This course must be a specific microeconomics course. Courses that encompass microeconomics and macroeconomics are not accepted. This course should include issues related to the production of goods and services. Questions addressed include what gets produced, how does production take place, and who gets the output. Micro theory helps answer these questions by analyzing markets and how consumers and producers make decisions.

Sample classes are provided here to give examples of courses that meet the pre-requisite. This doesn’t mean they are the only acceptable courses. They are provided as additional information for you to assess whether or not you have fulfilled the pre-requisites.


Does it matter when I completed the pre­requisites or what grade I received?
Yes. The pre-requisites must be completed in the last 10 years with a grade of “C” or better.


Can I apply to the MPP program if I haven’t taken the pre­requisites?
Yes. You can still apply to the program. If you are accepted to the MPP program, you must complete the pre-requisites before starting graduate courses in the fall.

Do the pre­requisites need to be completed at The University of Utah?  
No. As long as the courses are completed for a grade at an accredited college or university and meet the conditions/descriptions stated above they are acceptable.

Will this course count?
If you have a question about whether or not a course will fulfill the pre-requisite please send the name of the course, the course description and/or syllabus, where the course was taken and grade received to the program manager.

Can I take an elective outside my policy focus area?
Yes. There are a minimum of four elective courses required for students who started the MPP program before summer 2010, and three required for those starting fall 2010 or later.  While we encourage students to choose a policy track/area and take electives in that area, we realize this is not always possible for a variety of reasons. You are welcome to take electives from different disciplines, but the courses you select must have public policy content.  If you have a question about a course containing sufficient policy content please talk to the program manager or program director. Dual degree program electives are slightly different. Please check the website or talk with the program staff.


Is there a listing of elective courses?
Yes. You can view a list of the different elective course options on our website. Electives are grouped by policy area. You can focus on a particular policy area or choose courses from different areas. Please note this list contains suggested courses, and you may see other courses that interest you by viewing The University of Utah course catalog and searching different discipline areas. If you have a question about a course containing sufficient policy content please talk to the program manager or program director. 

 
Can I take elective courses during my first semester?
We encourage students to take the MPP foundational core course during fall semester. For full time students these courses  include PADMN 6320 Policy Theory and Applications, PUBPL/PADMN 6290 Quantitative Methods for Public Policy and ECON 6300 Public Finance (part time students should consider PADMN 6320 and PADMN 6290). The reasoning is that these core courses are designed to provide introductory knowledge and skills in which other courses in the program build upon. 

 
Do I need permission from the program staff before I register for elective courses?
If a class is on the suggested elective list you do not need permission to register for it. We ask that if a course is not on the suggested list of electives that you contact the program manager and/or director prior to get verification that the course will count toward your elective hours before registering for the class.  The program reserves the right to not accept an elective with limited policy content. 

 
Do I have to choose a policy track listed on the website?
The MPP Program has identified eight policy track options for students to gain deeper, more substantive knowledge in an area of interest. You can choose one area and select recommended elective courses, or you may design your own policy track and seek guidance from the program manager and/or director.

Generally, what is the Capstone Project?
The University of Utah Master of Public Policy degree project integrates knowledge and skills gained from the curriculum into a capstone project – also known as the Capstone. The project can serve as an opportunity to further develop your policy specialization, to expand contacts in the community, and to create a significant sample of your work. All projects include a written report; however, the length, format, and content of the projects vary tremendously depending on the type and scope of the work completed. Through the project, you can demonstrate your ability to apply the skills from your coursework to a real‐world problem.

The Capstone requires that you articulate a clear question for investigation and select appropriate methodologies to answer the question. These methods demonstrate the synthesis of the range of skills you have gained in policy analysis, economics, quantitative methods, and elective course work.

Although not required, many degree projects focus on client‐generated real‐world questions. Some students identify such topics from an internship or employer, other students contact agencies or groups directly to see if they have a need for research.  


How does the project fit in to the degree program?
In addition to coursework, some graduate programs at The University of Utah require a thesis as part of the degree requirements. Other programs require a project or research paper – these programs are considered non‐thesis degree programs. The MPP is a non‐thesis degree program that requires students to complete a policy project that demonstrates the skills they have learned throughout their graduate career.  

The policy project can take many different forms – mirroring what students have learned in the MPP curriculum. It can be a policy analysis, a needs assessment, a cost‐benefit analysis, a policy evaluation, a policy paper, or an academic paper.


Why is there an Capstone class?
The Capstone will ideally enable you to examine an existing public or nonprofit sector problem and develop an evidence‐based recommendation that can be implemented. Most of your time on the project is spent outside the classroom. However, you will enroll in PUBPL 6950, and as part of a capstone experience, you will share your work‐in‐ progress and receive feedback from the instructor and fellow students. The end result is a usable analysis intended for implementation.  


When is the Project completed?
Students complete their project as part of the Capstone course during their final spring semester.  


How do I choose a topic?
Students are encouraged to pick a project topic that supports their interests and their policy emphasis area. The project guidelines are purposefully vague to allow students the flexibility to pursue their academic interests and demonstrate the strength of their acquired skills. Ideally, students choose to complete a project for a faculty member or a community group. The hope is that the project is useful in the realm of public policy analysis, implementation or evaluation.


When should I start thinking about a topic for my Project?
Students are encouraged to start thinking about their project topic at the beginning of their graduate career. Students should have their topic selected and confirmed during their final fall semester, and most certainly, it needs to be finalized before starting the Capstone course in spring. 

 
How do I develop a topic?
To get a better idea of how to form a strong topic proposal, it might be helpful to:

  • Read through titles of prior degree projects. We have a list of recent degree projects you can download.  
  • Talk with instructors you have enjoyed working with – they can help stimulate ideas or may need assistance on current research projects.
  • Approach community groups or government agencies that work on topics you are interested in researching. Go talk with them. Often times these groups need good quality research, but they can’t afford to hire someone to complete it.  


As you think about possible topics, also, consider the following questions:

  • How will the project maximizes your skills and capitalize on your graduate experience?
  • Can you complete it, with a substantive product, in a four month period?
  • Will it demonstrate the application and synthesis of skills and knowledge from both the core curriculum and elective interests?
  • If partnering with a community or government agency, will you have quality agency supervision and assistance?
  • What is the timeline for the work leading up to a completed degree project?

What is the role of the PUBPL 6950 course instructor?
The instructor for PUBPL 6950 provides general project guidance, imposes course requirements and provides feedback to you. The instructor also provides a grade for the capstone course.


Who supervises the overall project?
Students select a Master’s Supervisory Committee. The graduate supervisory committee is responsible for:

  • Approving the student’s academic program of study
  • Approving the Capstone subject
  • Reading and approving the Project as the degree requirement for graduation

The chair of the supervisory committee directs the student’s research and writing of the Capstone.  


How do I choose a Supervisory Committee?
Master’s supervisory committees consist of three faculty members, the chair must be MPP core faculty, and the committee members can be in other departments/programs per the Graduate School policy below.  

All University of Utah faculty members (including regular, research, clinical, emeritus, visiting, and adjunct) are eligible to serve as supervisory committee members. The faculty member must hold an academic or professional doctorate, the terminal degree in the relevant field, and/or must have demonstrated competence to do research and scholarly or artistic work in the student’s general field. Persons not from the University of Utah may also serve as committee members upon approval of the dean of The Graduate School (a vita for the proposed committee members should accompany the request). Committee chairs must be selected from regular faculty (i.e., tenured or tenure track). Immediate family members are not eligible to serve on a student’s supervisory committee. 

It is the responsibility of the student to approach prospective committee members with a view to their willingness and availability to serve in such a capacity. Try to choose faculty that have expertise and research knowledge in your interest area. If this is not possible, approach a faculty member who is experienced in the methodology you are choosing to use for your project.  Faculty have the right, however, for justifiable academic reasons, to refuse to serve on a student’s supervisory committee.  
The MPP program director approves the chair and committee members. The process of forming a supervisory committee is completed by filing an Capstone Approval form with the program office prior to the due date posted each fall semester.  


Can I work in partnership with a government or community organization?
Of course! You may identify and approach a group you would like to work with, and who has a need for the required project. In the past, students have completed policy analysis, needs assessments, cost‐benefit analysis and other types of research projects for government and community groups.  


How long does it need to be?
There are no length requirements for the paper.

What requirements are needed to graduate?

Per University of Utah policy, all students are expected to familiarize themselves with University, college, and program degree requirements.  The responsibility for complying with all requirements rests with the student. To receive your MPP degree the following must be completed:

  • 31 semester hours of core courses with a grade of “B” or better
  • A minimum of 9 semester hours of elective coursework with a grade of “C” or better
  • A total of 40 semester hours of faculty approved coursework
  • A 3.0 or better overall grade point average
  • An Applied Policy Project approved by the PUBPL 6950 instructor and MPP faculty (due by the last day of class of graduating semester – usually spring semester)
  • An application for graduation submitted to the Registrar’s Office by the deadline posted on the Registrar’s website

Do I have to attend graduation ceremonies?
No, but we highly encourage it as a way to celebrate your achievements. The majority of students choose to “walk” with their peers during the College Convocation, but there is no requirement to do so.


What is the difference between commencement and convocation?
Commencement is a gathering for all University of Utah graduates, families and friends. There is a prominent commencement speaker and at the end of the commencement ceremonies the President of the University confers degrees to all graduates in attendance. Convocations are held by each college at the University. Family and friends are invited to attend. Masters students are part of the procession into the Huntsman Center and you can sit with your peers. During Convocation, each student’s name is read as he/she receives a diploma cover and is congratulated by faculty.  


Can I just attend commencement or convocation, or do I have to attend both?
You can attend both, or just one. It’s up to you. No tickets or reservations are required for either.


Do most students attend both commencement and convocation?
Some students attend both. The majority only attend the College convocation.


How long are commencement and convocation?
Visit the University Commencement Ceremonies website for the commencement schedule
http://www.sa.utah.edu/commencement/index.htm.
The College convocation is about an hour and forty‐five minutes to two hours long.  


What happens that day – what do I do?
For Commencement Instructions: Please visit the University Commencement website for information about times and where to line up http://www.sa.utah.edu/commencement/commencement.htm
For Convocation Instructions: Please visit the College Convocation website for information about times and where to line up. Follow the instructions for Masters students.
http://www.csbs.utah.edu/graduation.html

 

Where do we park?
Please visit http://www.sa.utah.edu/commencement/parking.htm for parking information.


Where do I order a graduation cap and gown?
The University Bookstore sells graduation regalia including caps, gowns, hoods, tassels and stoles of gratitude. They host a graduation fair in early spring semester and as long as you have applied to graduate, you will receive notice for the fair. If you miss the fair, the Bookstore usually provides an opportunity to purchase regalia closer to graduation, but at a higher cost. If you don’t want to miss the fair, start checking the Bookstore website beginning spring semester for fair information and dates.


How much do the cap and gown cost?
Cost of graduation regalia is determined by the University Bookstore. Check their website for
information.


What is a master’s hood?
The master’s hood is not a hood worn over the head. It is worn over the gown and around the
shoulders. It has a velvet wrapping that reflects an academic discipline’s color.  


What color hood and tassel do I order?
There is no specific academic color for Public Policy. In the past, U of U MPP students have chosen white, which is the College of Social and Behavioral Science’s color. However, you can also choose peacock blue which is Public Administration’s color.


What if I forget to file the Graduation Application by the deadline?
Contact the Registrar’s Office to see if they will still accept your application for graduation. Be aware that they may not be able to accept the application and that you may have to graduate the following semester. If this is the case, you must register for three semester hours to maintain continuous enrollment per University of Utah Graduate School policy.


What if things change and I can’t graduate in the semester I applied for?
Contact the Registrar’s Office and let them know the situation. You may need to file another application.


Where can I find more information?
Registrar’s Office, Graduation Division  
http://www.sa.utah.edu/regist/graduation/applying.htm


University Bookstore  
http://www.bookstore.utah.edu/utah/home.aspx


University Commencement  
http://www.sa.utah.edu/commencement/


College of Social and Behavioral Science Convocation  
http://www.csbs.utah.edu/graduation.html