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Frequently Asked Questions

If all of your questions are not answered here, please contact us.

History of University of Utah's MPP program?

University of Utah's MPP program resulted from students and professionals expressing their desire for further education in public policy.  The program was approved by the Utah State Board of Regents in June, 2005 with the first cohort starting fall 2006.  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 focuses on analyzing and evaluating information to explain policy issues.  Graduates of this program use quantitative and qualitative information to develop, assess, and evaluate alternatives to current or emerging policy issues.  Many pursue careers in fields of public service in all levels of government, nonprofits, the international arena, and private sector.


Are there MPP joint degrees?

The Master of Public Policy program has four joint degrees.

The MPP/JD joint degree combines policy practice with law.  Students must apply to both programs, and, if admitted to both, can pursue the joint degree.  Students pursuing the MPP/JD are expected to complete both degrees in about four years. 

The Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program is available for undergraduates in political science and economics.  This program allows students to apply to the MPP their junior year and begin graduate courses their senior year.  Students in this program will complete a Bachelor and Masters in about five years, and must maintain a 3.5 GPA.

We also have two joint degrees with Public Health (MPP/MPH) and Population Health Sciences (MPP/PHS PhD).   These programs focus on health policy.  Students who enroll in these joint programs can expect to graduate within 3 to 5 years.


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 administration of public entities.  Students who earn the MPP degree are able to work in the private, public, and not-for-profit sector.  View the MPP/MPA Side-By-Side Comparison for more information.


What careers are MPP graduates pursuing?

To learn more about what MPP graduates have been up to, visit our Alumni page.


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, while currently enrolled in another program at the University of Utah, from which you have not graduated, you may get credit for core or elective courses taken in that program.  Please make an appointment with the program manager to discuss your options.


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 there is the possibility of waiving core courses you have already completed.  The University will not allow graduation from a degree program with fewer credit hours than are required; which is 40 semester credit hours.  This means that while you may not have to repeat a class, you will, with approval from the program manager, need to take an elective course to earn the required credit hours. Students must meet with the program manager to determine which, if any, courses can be waived.


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 is POLS 1100.
  • Applied Statistics - sample courses at The University of Utah are 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 is 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.


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.


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 double-spaced.  It should address your reason for wanting to earn a MPP degree at The University of Utah, what you could contribute academically and intellectually to the program, how the MPP will help further your career goals, what those career goals are, etc.


Does my letter of recommendation need to be from a professor, or can I include professional recommendations?

If you are currently an undergraduate student (or a recent graduate) the letter of recommendation needs to be from a professor 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 find it difficult to track down a former professor, then you may use professional recommendations.  However, if 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 differential tuition (e.g. business, law, public health, public administration).  You can learn more about tuition rates and differential tuition 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?

See our Financial Assistance page for funding resources.


Is there an internship requirement?

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.


How can I find housing?

University of Utah has their own off-campus housing search engine.  You can also visit Housing and Residential Education's website to find other housing options.

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 at the University of Utah.

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

  • Submit all MPP application materials.

Find out more on University of Utah's 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 submit them.


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

The MPP program only admits students for fall semester.


What is the application due date?

The priority deadline is January 15 to be eligible for MPP scholarships.


Does the program accept applications for spring or summer semesters?

The program may consider spring or summer applications on a limited basis.  Please contact us for more information.


Will the program accept applications after January 15?

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


Do I have to take the GRE?

No. The MPP program does not require a standardized test score. Students are encouraged to submit test scores (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MAT) if they feel that there scores will strengthen their application. 


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

Both the University of Utah Graduate School and MPP program 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?

The number of applications we receive varies year to year.


How important is each component of the application?

We do not have a valuation system for any part of the application, which means 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 each application when making its decision.


When does the Admissions Committee review applications?

The Admissions Committee strives to review completed applications during the second week of February 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?

Admission decisions are delivered on a rolling basis beginning in mid February.


What if I need to update my application?

To edit your application you must submit your updates through the Slate 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.  According to their website, students must have 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 801-581-8761.


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 double-spaced.  It should address your reason for wanting to earn a MPP degree at the University of Utah, what you can contribute academically and intellectually to the program, how the MPP will further your career goals, what those career goals are, etc.


Does my letter of recommendation need to be from a professor, or can I include professional recommendations?

If you are currently an undergraduate student (or a recent graduate) the letter of recommendation needs to be from a professor 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 find it difficult to track down a former professor, then you may use professional recommendations.  However, if possible we like to see at least one academic reference.


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

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 for an exception.  Such petitions will be decided by the program manager and director on a case-by-case basis.  For more information please contact the program manager


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

If you have already obtained a graduate 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 such as 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 specifically focus on microeconomics.  Courses that encompass both microeconomics and macroeconomics are not accepted.  This course should include issues related to the production of goods and services.  Questions addressed include what is produced, how production take place, and who gets the output.  

Sample courses are provided to give an idea of classes that meet the pre-requisite requirement.  This does not mean they are the only acceptable courses.  Contact the program manager if you have any questions about what courses will meet the program prerequisite requirements.

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

Can I apply to the MPP program if I haven’t taken the pre­requisites?
You can still apply to the program without having finished the pre-requisites.  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?  
Prerequisite courses do not need to be completed at the University of Utah, as long as they are completed at a grade of "C" or better at an accredited college or university and meet the above requirements.


Will this course count?
If you have questions 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?
There are a minimum of three elective courses for students.  While we encourage students to choose a policy track and take electives in that area, we realize this is not always possible for varying 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 director.  Dual degree program electives are slightly different.  Please check the website or talk with the program staff of each program to find out what meets the elective requirements.

Is there a listing of elective courses?
You can view a list of the different electives on our website under the current students page.  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 University of Utah's course catalog.  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 their first 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.  For students studying part time you should consider taking PADMN 6320 and PADMN 6290.  The reason is these core courses are designed to provide introductory knowledge and skills; which other courses in the program build on. 

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 if a course is not on the suggested list of electives, you contact the program manager or director to receive verification 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. 

Generally, what is the Capstone Project?
University of Utah's Master of Public Policy program integrates knowledge and skills gained from the curriculum into a capstone project.  The project can serve as an opportunity to further develop your policy specialization, expand contacts in the community, and create a significant sample of your work.  All projects include a written report; however, the length, format, and content of the projects vary depending on the type and scope of 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 you articulate a clear question for investigation and select appropriate methodologies to answer the question.  These methods demonstrate the range of skills you have gained in policy analysis, economics, quantitative methods, and elective course work.

Although not required, many 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 the degree program?
In addition to coursework, some graduate programs at the University of Utah require a thesis.  Other programs require a project or research paper – these programs are considered non‐thesis programs.  The MPP is a non‐thesis program that requires students to complete a policy project demonstrating the skills they have learned throughout their graduate degree.  

The policy project can take many different forms.  It can be a policy analysis, needs assessment, cost‐benefit analysis, policy evaluation, policy paper, or an academic paper.

Why is there a 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 the capstone experience, you will share your work and receive feedback from the instructor as well as 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 topic that supports their interests and their policy emphasis.  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 topic at the beginning of their graduate career.  Students should have their topic selected and confirmed during their final fall semester.

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.  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 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.  These are the chair, who must be MPP core faculty, and the committee members, who 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 who are willing and available 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, for justifiable academic reasons, to refuse serving 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 a 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 you must complete the following:

  • 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 “C” or better.
  • 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.  This is due by the last day of class in your 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?
You do not have to attend graduation ceremonies, 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 commencement speaker, and at the end of the commencement ceremonies the President of the University confers degrees to all graduates in attendance.  Convocations, on the other hand, are held by each college at the University.  Family and friends are invited to attend.  During Convocation, each student’s name is read and he/she will receive a diploma cover while being 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.  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.  For Convocation Instructions, please visit the College Convocation website for information about times and where to line up. 


Where do we park?
Please visit the Commencement website 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 during spring semester and if you have applied to graduate, you will receive a 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, check the Bookstore website at the beginning of spring semester for 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 more information.

What is a master’s hood?
The master’s hood is not a hood worn over the head.  It has a velvet wrapping, reflecting an academic discipline's colors, and is worn over the gown around the shoulders.   

What color of 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 the Public Administration’s color.

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

What if things change and I can’t graduate in the semester I applied for?
You will need to 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
University Bookstore
University Commencement
College of Social and Behavioral Science Convocation 




Last Updated: 6/26/24