Overview Thomas Jefferson believed that American democracy would not endure if its citizens lacked the capacity for self-government. He therefore founded the University of Virginia to train talented young people for public affairs. Over the past two centuries, the University’s mission to sustain American democracy through education has remained constant, but society has become far more complex. In the information age, discourse on public affairs has become technically sophisticated and has rarely been as politically charged and ethically demanding. The intellectually nimble, public-spirited leaders that Jefferson sought to train at the University have never been more urgently needed.
The Program in Public Policy has been established to help fulfill the University’s public service mission and also prepare students for careers in public policymaking in both domestic and international arenas. This program provides students with the substantive knowledge, analytical skills, historical and political awareness, and ethical sensitivities needed for public leadership. The program is open to current University of Virginia students from all undergraduate majors and to students with both international and domestic policy interests. It allows students to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) degree in five years. The program consists of a core curriculum, a summer internship, elective courses, and a public policy study conducted for a real-world organizational client of the student’s choice. Fourth year students begin their professional studies and complete their remaining undergraduate coursework in order to receive their bachelor’s degrees at the end of the year. After completing the summer public policy internship, students return to Grounds for a final year of study. Upon graduation from the program, students will be prepared for public service careers in government, with non-profit organizations, and in private firms engaged in public-private partnerships.
Admission Students apply for admission in the spring term of the third year. Applicants must demonstrate that they will have earned at least 90 undergraduate credits before the start of the fourth year. Admissions decisions will be based on an evaluation of the applicant’s overall academic record; standardized test scores; potential for success in the field of public policy as evidenced by work experience or extracurricular activities; a personal statement; a public policy analytic essay; and two letters of recommendation. While the program is open to students from all undergraduate majors, it will be to your advantage to have taken an introductory politics or economics course, as well as a first-year calculus or introductory statistics course.
Requirements The M.P.P. degree program requires students to complete a minimum of 24 credits of graduate course work. Five core public policy courses are required in the fifth year: Research Methods and Data Analysis (B); Policy History; Strategic Leadership and Public Management; Legal and Moral Reasoning for Public Policy; and the Advanced Policy Analysis seminar. Students must take at least two elective courses in their areas of public policy interest. In addition, students are awarded six credits for completing a master’s level public policy study for an organizational client. Students will generally apply for advancement to graduate status in the spring term of the fourth year, although students who have already completed their undergraduate requirements may apply earlier. Criteria for advancement to graduate study include completion of the undergraduate degree; test scores; and an outstanding GPA.
In addition to the 24 graduate credits taken in the fifth year, students must take five public policy courses in the fourth year: American Political Institutions and Processes; Economic Analysis of Public Policy (A); Research Methods and Data Analysis (A); Introduction to Policy Analysis; and Economic Analysis of Public Policy (B). (Exceptionally well-prepared fourth-year students may petition the program faculty to be exempted from some of these courses).
Fourth-year students use their remaining classes to complete major, minor, or undergraduate requirements or to take elective course in their areas of public policy interest. All academic requirements for the undergraduate degree must be completed by the end of the fourth year. The credits from the public policy courses taken in the fourth year will automatically count toward the 120-credit requirement for the B.A., rather than the M.P.P. However, fourth year students who have already earned 120 credits may apply for early advancement to graduate status. The program faculty committee will permit certain adjustments to the curriculum to permit the participation of engineering students.
Summer Internship Placement Students are required to complete a public policy internship during the summer after the fourth year. Students may intern in international, federal, state, or local government agencies; non-profit organizations; or private sector corporations and consulting firms; in the United States or abroad. Students select their internships based on their interests and in consultation with program faculty.
Public Service Retreat Both fourth year and fifth year students will participate in a required public service retreat immediately before classes begin in the fall. The retreat will feature small group interactions with prominent public leaders, debriefings by fifth year students’ on their summer internships, and workshops on the challenges and opportunities of public service.