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About the Program

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Prospective Students

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University of Utah's Master of Public Policy (MPP) program combines policy and economic analysis with quantitative sources for students to build the necessary analytical skills needed to effectively solve public policy problems. These core skills are valuable in national, state and local governments, "think tanks", consulting firms, non-profit groups and private companies throughout the United States and world.


The Master of Public Policy program contributes to public service and public policy analysis by advancing understanding of the policy process, and producing graduates equipped to research, analyze, and inform public policy making.  We develop the individual by challenging and assisting each student to reach their professional and academic potential.  We strive to create a community that fosters mutual respect, enhanced by a strong partnership between faculty, students, and staff.

Photo of Director Sharon MastracciSharon Mastracci started at the University of Utah in Fall 2015. She was a 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom and prior to that, spent 13 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Public Administration. Born and raised in Ohio, she earned BA and MA degrees in Economics at Ohio University and then worked as an Economist at the State of Ohio Legislative Budget Office. She earned her PhD in Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Sharon studies gender in organizations and public sector employment, specifically emotional labor in public service. Her husband, Tony Mastracci, also teaches for the Programs of Public Affairs. Tony holds BBA and MPA degrees from Ohio State University and is currently pursuing his EdD at the University of Pennsylvania. Sharon and Tony live, work, and play in Salt Lake City.

Sharon Mastracci, Professor

Director of the Programs of Public Affairs 


The University of Utah Master of Public Policy program began in 2006 as a response to the growing need expressed by students and professionals to educate and train leaders who can understand, analyze, and evaluate public policy issues through a multi-disciplinary approach.  Public policy is present in nearly every context of the labor market and community, be it economic, political, domestic, or international. Many government and nonprofit organizations in the state have expressed a need for individuals who cannot only manage, but also perform analytical work to address policy questions and effectively communicate the analysis to others.

Currently, University of Utah's Master of Public Policy program is the only one offered within the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE). Our program is located in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and housed in the Center for Public Policy & Administration. The mission of the Center for Public Policy & Administration is to provide research, education, and services to public and nonprofit organizations that will strengthen administration, leadership and public policy making.

Student Spotlight: Elise Bailey


Who are you? I came to the MPP program straight out of undergrad here at the U, where I got a BS in exercise and sports sciences and minored in sociology with a focus in health and medicine. I had originally planned to go to medical school, but eventually felt more drawn to helping solve larger problems with the health care system than to helping solve the problems of individual patients. That's how I ended up where I am now: in the second year of a dual degree program getting an MPP and a PhD in Population Health Sciences, where I study health systems innovation.

What is your favorite part about the MPP program? I love the range of backgrounds among professors in the program. I've taken classes from researchers, academic administrators, government workers, lobbyists, and directors of policy institutes. I don't know exactly what kind of career I'd like after school at this point, so I really appreciate that my classes have exposed me to information about what it can be like to work in all these fields.

What is your advice to new MPP students? Do the readings, use Grammarly, and take time to build relationships with your professors. Don't worry too much about feeling in over your head at the beginning. We're all coming to the program with different backgrounds and that's a good thing, not a bad thing. In my case, I came from a very applied health sciences background and didn't know much about economics or government agencies when I began the program. That's okay. Just be aware of your weak spots and try to learn what you can to fill those gaps. That's the very practical advice I wish someone had given to me when I first joined the program.

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Last Updated: 11/1/19