William and Mary

Graduate Curriculum

The Master of Public Policy curriculum requires a common core of ten courses and a ten-week summer internship. In addition to the core, students are required to take 20 credit hours of electives, including a minimum of five 3-credit electives, at least one of which must be a 3-credit program approved School of Law course.

MPP Year One

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Mathematics for Public Policy Quantitative Methods II                 
The Political Environment

Benefit-Cost Methodology

Quantitative Methods I Elective
Microeconomics of Public Policy Elective
Law and Public Policy
Summer Internship

MPP Year Two
Fall Semester Spring Semester
Policy Research Seminar Ethics and Public Policy
Public Management and Organizational Behavior Policy in Practice
Elective Elective
Elective Elective

First Year Coursework
Fall Semester

PUBP500 - CORE -  Mathematics for Public Policy (1 credit), Professor McBeth

This course is an introduction to mathematical methods applied to economics and policy analysis. The emphasis is on learning the techniques rather than proving theorems. The only prerequisite is college level algebra. Topics include: linear algebra, comparative static analysis, optimization problems, constrained optimization, and integration. This course will be carefully coordinated with PUBP604, Microeconomics of Public Policy.

PUBP550 - ELECTIVE - Macroeconomics for Public Policy (1 credit), Professor Schmidt

This mini course, pitched between Principles and Intermediate levels, provides a bird's-eye view of the aggregate open economy with a focus on the determination of output, employment, interest rates, exchange rates, and inflation.  Much of the course will be devoted to reviewing the basic models and principles of macroeconomics as they apply to policies for short-run fluctuations in employment and prices (business cycles), but long-run growth will also be addressed.

PUBP590 - CORE - Policy in Practice (1 credit), Professor McBeth

An introduction to the practice of public policy. Students must complete a portfolio of experiences involving the practice of public policy outside of the classroom. A passing grade requires that the portfolio contain a written synthesis of the student’s observations of policy in practice and how their experiences have shaped their views on public policy. Those experiences must include, at a minimum, the following three elements: (1) participation in the Washington Program, normally in the fall of the first year of study; (2) completion of an approved 10-week full-time internship, normally occurring between the first and second year of study; and (3) participation in at least three Policy Dialogues offered by the program. 

PUB601 - CORE - The Political Environment (3 credits), Professor Gilmour

This course is an introduction to the larger political environment in which policymaking occurs. Major themes include the impact of the electoral incentive on the design of policy instruments, the importance of constitutional structure and the separation of powers, and the role of uncertainty and expertise in the political process. Major issues include: the decline of political parties; the role of interest groups and political action committees in shaping the policymaking process; the capacity of Congress to lead; difficulty in effective presidential governance; and the role the courts play in the formulation and implementation of public policy.

PUBP602 - CORE - Quantitative Methods I (3 credits), Professor Pereira

This course is an introduction to the methods and techniques of statistical analysis with emphasis on social science and public policy applications. Topics include: descriptive statistics; probability and probability distributions; sampling; estimation and hypothesis testing; the relationship between two variables (correlation and least squares regression); regression theory; and introduction to multiple regression. There will be extensive use of the computer for projects involving data analysis.

PUBP604 - CORE - Microeconomics of Public Policy (3 credits), Professor Sanders

Development of the basic concepts of microeconomic theory, with emphasis on the public sector. This course provides a rigorous introduction to the analytic techniques used in other core courses, especially benefit-cost. Calculus will be used throughout, to teach the principles and to work through examples and applications. It will be coordinated with PUBP605, Mathematics for Public Policy Analysis.

PUBP607 - CORE - Law and Public Policy (3 credits), Professors Heller and Byrne

Law and Public Policy examines the role of the judiciary as a policy-making institution, including its interactions with legislative, regulatory, and private-sector entities. Students analyze several cases currently before the United States Supreme Court and, through the prism of those cases and other readings, explore the concepts of judicial review, separation of powers, and federalism, and also external influences on law-making bodies, including lobbying, public opinion and the media.  The class also attends oral argument from one of these cases in the Supreme Court chambers.  Students will sharpen their ability to evaluate law in the context of public policy by completing oral, written, and role-playing exercises.

Spring Semester

PUBP603 - CORE - Quantitative Methods II (3 credits), Professor He

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of econometrics. The emphasis is on those techniques that are of most use to social scientists and policy analysts. PUBP602 and PUBP605 will supply the prerequisite skills. The course will begin with regression estimation and the theory of least squares including examination of Gauss-Markov assumptions, the least squares estimator, and properties of estimators, transformations, consistency versus unbiasedness, inference and hypothesis testing, and multiple regression. Next is a discussion of econometrics when the Gauss-Markov assumptions are violated. Topics include autocorrelation, heteroskedasticity, specification error, simultaneous equations, lags and distributed lag models, omitted variable bias, limited dependent variables, pooling time series and cross section data, multicollinearity, regression diagnostics, and prediction and simulation.

PUBP606 - CORE - Benefit-Cost and Evaluation Methodology (3 credits), Professor Stafford

This course examines basic concepts and techniques involved with benefit-cost analysis. This approach will be applied to a variety of public policy issues and programs. Topics include: choice of discount rate, treatment of income distribution, intergovernmental grants, tax expenditures, regulation, and program evaluation.



Summer Internship

Second Year Coursework
Fall Semester

PUBP610 - CORE - Policy Research Seminar (3 credits), Professor Stafford

This one semester research and writing intensive seminar involves both the further development of policy research skills and communication skills relevant to policymaking. Students will be involved in small-group, client-driven policy analysis projects and an individual project. Each student will complete a policy research report and present it to various audiences. In addition, students will analyze at least one quick-turnaround policy problem picked at random.  View current and past projects here.

PUBP612 - CORE - Public Management and Organizational Behavior (3 credits), Professor Woodward

This course seeks to define the distinct character of the term public management, describe and analyze its relationship to public policy, and analyze the various talents and strategies public managers must have at their disposal to deal effectively with managing people and policies successfully within the framework of democratic government.

A major goal of the course is to clarify the distinctly "public" dimensions of public management and the consummate challenges posed by same. Theoretical literature as well as case studies will be employed.

Another major goal of the course is to develop an understanding of how governmental organizations deal with uncertainties. In addition, public organizations are subject to constant political direction, constraint, and control in their operations. All these exigencies have implications for not only the roles of managers in public organizations, but also for their self-concept, motivations, knowledge and skills, and the tools and techniques they employ. These issues, along with an examination of alternative ways for public executives to deal with distinctive policy challenges, will be explored through case studies, simulations, and journal articles. Insofar as possible, the American experiences will be contrasted with those of public managers in other countries.




Spring Semester

PUBP609 - CORE - Ethics and Public Policy (3 credits)Professor Carroll

This course examines the ethical dimensions of policy problems. The objectives of the course are: to define, in suitably neutral terms, a plausible form of rational policy-assessment that can reasonably be called moral or ethical assessment; to contrast such moral assessment with standard forms of economic, legal and political analysis; to outline a procedure for the evaluation of and deliberation about policymaking that includes such moral assessment; to apply that procedure hypothetically to a representative array of policymaking cases, including those that raise issues of professional ethics for policy analysts; to consider proposals for a code of professional ethics for policy analysts and policymakers; to subject all the foregoing to critical scrutiny, both as to matters of detail and as to the grounds for rejecting either this form or all forms of moral policy-assessment. Proposals for an evaluation procedure that integrates the ethical dimension into policy assessment will then be examined and applied to cases specially selected both to test the procedures and to raise questions of professional ethics. Model codes of professional ethics will be examined, and the desirability of comparable standards among privately employed public policy professionals will be explored.