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About the Program

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:

Annalisa Purser


Who are you? I am the associate director of communications at the University of Utah, and I have worked in the field of higher ed communications for more than a decade.

 However, I decided to pursue the MPP for a completely unrelated reason -- I was interested in studying organ transplant policy. My partner was diagnosed with a rare liver disease when he was five, and after waiting on the organ transplant list in Utah for nearly eight years, we decided to relocate to Indiana in hopes of receiving a liver more quickly. Luckily, Forrest received a transplant just one day after being listed at Indiana University Hospital. Based on this experience, I wanted to get more involved in the transplant community and felt that I could be a better advocate if I first invested in learning more about field.

 After I graduation, I’d like to volunteer on the liver and intestine committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which develops policies regarding the procurement, distribution, and allocation of these organs. I plan to focus my capstone project on organ donor registries and would love to be involved in coordinating and streamlining the registry system nationally at some point.

What is your favorite part about the MPP program? I considered several different master’s programs before settling on the MPP. What interested me most about the program was its interdisciplinary nature, and I felt that the quantitative emphasis would be a nice complement to my broader communications background. I have enjoyed the opportunity to dabble in economics, sociology, philosophy, etc. while also building a stronger foundation in research, analysis, and critical thinking.

What is your advice to new MPP students? Returning to school and working full time has been challenging, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn and apply many new theories and skills along the way. I encourage incoming students to remember to enjoy the journey and find excitement in learning new things, which can be easy to overlook in the midst of deadlines and grades.

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Last Updated: 1/15/20