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MPP and MPA Programs

University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy (Price) - MPA and MPP

Program Comparison Highlights

Institutional Structure: The Sol Price School of Public Policy (Price) is one of 21 schools and colleges within the University of Southern California.

Curriculum Design: The Price School offers a vast array of course electives for the MPA and MPP degrees. The two degrees have somewhat overlapping required core courses. MPP students then select one of 9 recommended courses in management subjects and 2 of 11 recommended courses in analysis subjects. In addition, students select three or four elective courses with the advice of the academic adviser or director of the program. For MPP students these electives typically are taken in an area of policy specialization, such as: community economic development, education policy, environmental policy, health, infrastructure, international policy and development, media and communications, philanthropy and nonprofit, and transportation. For MPA students these electives may be devoted to gain depth in one of the following designated area clusters: community and economic development, environmental management and land-use policy, financial management, health administration, human resources management, information technology management, intergovernmental management, international policy and management, local government, nonprofit management, planning, public policy, real estate development, transportation, and urban form and design. Our PEACO analysis below suggests that typical Price MPA students takes 37% of their courses in what we call management-oriented subjects and 63% in policy-oriented subjects, while typical Price MPP students take 24% of their courses in management-oriented subjects and 76% in policy-oriented subjects. The percentage of courses in math-economics subjects is 12% for the MPA and 22% for the MPP. Given the 13.3 one-semester-course-equivalent degree requirement for the Price MPA and the 16 course requirement for the MPP, this places the Price MPA in what we call the "medium course requirement, policy-oriented, lower math-economics" curriculum type, shared with the American University MPA and the Oregon MPA. It places the Price MPP in what we call the "high course requirement, highly policy-oriented, higher math-economics" curricular type, shared with the Princeton MPA, the UCLA MPP and the Chicago MPP (see MPP/MPA Curricular Types). The Price School provides a relatively high number of courses and a relatively high proportion of courses taught within the school.

Professional Program Features: The Price School has an Office of Career Services ( that offers a wide range of services. The Price School includes the following research centres and groups: Center for Economic Development; Center for Health Financing, Policy and Management; Center for Sustainable Cities; Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy; Homeland Security Center (CREATE); Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise; Lusk Center for Real Estate; METRANS Transportation Center; Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics; Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy; Sol Price Center for Social Innovation; and the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute.

Program Summary


University: University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, California, USA (MPP and MPA) and Sacramento, California, USA (MPA) and online (MPA)

Degree: Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Year Founded: 1929

Marketing Approach: "The mission of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy is to improve the quality of life for people and their communities, here and abroad. We achieve this mission through education and research that promote innovative solutions to the most critical issues facing society.” (, accessed 5 March 2015)

MPA: “Established in 1929, USC Price’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is one of the oldest and most distinguished programs of its kind in the country. It continues to ascend the national rankings for top public management programs. In 2012, it ranked sixth nationwide among public management/administration programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.” (, accessed 5 March 2015).

MPP: “The Master of Public Policy (MPP) program is renowned for bringing together leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to design solutions to today’s pressing social problems. It offers a comprehensive degree that integrates public policy leadership, analysis, evaluation, and management. Core courses and specialized electives provide students with in-depth knowledge of critical policy issues.” (, accessed 5 March 2015). “The MPP program helps build the skills and knowledge base required of a professional policy analyst. The MPA program offers a solid professional education designed to prepare students for all the challenges and opportunities of a career in public management. While the MPA tends to focus more on management-based courses and the MPP has a heavier emphasis on analytical and quantitative coursework, both degrees through the available electives provide students the opportunity to take further coursework in management or analysis.” (, accessed 5 March 2015).

Degrees Awarded per Year: TBD [Information will be requested from the School]

Academic Unit within University: USC Price is one of 21 schools and colleges within the University of Southern California.

Related Academic Units and Degrees: USC Price offers four other Master’s degrees (Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Urban Planning, Real Estate Development, Health Administration, two Ph.Ds (Public Policy and Management, Urban Planning and Development) and a series of executive education programs (Executive Master of Health Administraiton, Executive Master of Leadership, Master of International Public Policy & Management, as well as various specialized executive programs) and graduate certificates. Multiple dual-degree opportunities are available as well.

Posted Tuition: Tuition for the 2014-15 academic year was $1,602 per credit, for an approximate program total of $64,080 for the MPA with prior work experience; $65,682 for the MPA with no prior work experience; and $76,896 USD for the MPP.

Concentration/Curriculum Overview:

MPA Degree Requirements

Summary: Students in the MPA program complete 14 units of required courses, 3 management competencies courses, and 4 electives. Students with less than 2 years of full-time work experience must also complete an internship. Students may also specialize by completing units of specialization electives within a substantive subject area, including:  Local Government; Nonprofit Management; Health; Public Finance; International; and Arts Leadership. In addition to formal course requirements, students participate in "MPA Labs" as part of the PPD 540 - Public Administration and Society course, which involves meetings and activities with local government, nonprofit and quasi-government agencies. The school also offers various international MPA labs. Students may also pursue the MPA at the school's Sacramento campus.

Duration: 2 years

Academic Prerequisite: Graduation from a 4-year accredited college/university. Students must also have completed 12 units of undergraduate social science courses and statistics. As with the MPP, students must also have received a “B” grade or better in a college-level statistics course, or take a statistics course (PPD 502x) in order to graduate.

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: 40 units [For post-service students]

Number of Required Courses: 14 units

Number of Electives Typically Taken (difference between above two entries):

Number of Electives Offered within Program:

Comprehensive Examination: No

Thesis Required: No.

Internship Required: Yes, if students have less than 2 years of professional work experience prior to graduation a 300 hour internship and PPD543 Internship Seminar are required (at, accessed 21 March 2015).

International Study Required: No.

MPP Degree Requirements

Summary: Students in the MPP program must complete 48 units of graduate work, with 24 units of core units (including a Policy Analysis Practicum, an applied project) and 24 elective units divided between management, analytical and specialization areas (at, accessed 21 March 2015).

Duration: 2 years

Academic Prerequisite: Graduation from a 4-year accredited college/university. Students must also have received a “B” grade or better in a college-level statistics course, or take a statistics course (PPD 502x) in order to graduate.

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: 16 (48 units)

Note 1: We are using a course equivalency of one four-unit USC course = 4/3 semester course equivalent. We base this equivalency on the observation that the degree takes four full semesters, and that a typical schedule has 12 units per semester, the same number of credits associated with a normal workload of 4 three-credit courses per semester. Furthermore, each 4-unit, full semester courses "usually meet once a week in the afternoon or evening, for a 3.5 hour session, for the entire 16 week semester" (at, accessed 21 March 2015) which results in about 4/3 the contact hours as a weekly 3 hour classes for 12-13 weeks, the norm for the one-semester equivalent course.

Number of Required Courses: 8 (24 units)

Number of Electives Typically Taken (difference between above two entries): 6.7 (2

Number of Electives Offered within Program: 14

Comprehensive Examination: No

Thesis Required: No.

Internship Required: No.

International Study Required: No.

Co-curricular Activities Supportive to Degrees

Professional Development and Career Support: Yes, (, and, accessed 5 March 2015)

Student-run Journal: Yes, Policy and Practice (

Applied Projects: MPP: Yes, students complete a “Policy Analysis Practicum” which involves conducting research on a policy issue for a client. MPA: Yes, students must complete a capstone course which involves a semester-long project with nonprofits and public government agencies.

Pro Bono Consulting: Exclusively through the "Policy Analysis Practicum."

Courses Offered: The full list of Price courses are found in the USC Catalogue, the Price section of which can be found at The required and recommended concentration courses for the MPA is found at (accessed 5 March 2015), and for the MPP at (accessed 5 March 2015).

Course Material Online: Course descriptions but not syllabi are generally available at the links immediately above.

Instructional Distribution (PEACO Profile): The table below indicates the distribution of instruction offered, based on the course assignments to subjects in the Course Map below, weighted by estimated enrolment determined by the PEACO Algorithm.   





Curricular Type Parameters

Number of Courses Required for Graduation



Math-Economics Subjects (EA, QM, Macro, Fin Markets)



Policy-Oriented Subjects



Management-Oriented Subjects



Enrolment-Adjusted Course Distribution

Analysis and Skill Subjects



  - Policy and Management Analysis



  - Economic Analysis




  - Quantitative  and Analytic Methods



  - Leadership and Communication Skills



Institutions and Context Subjects



  - Democratic Institutions and Policy Process



  - Ethics, Rights and Accountability



  - Socioeconomic, Political, and Global Contexts



Management Function Subjects



  - Public Financial Management



  - Evaluation and Performance Measurement



  - Other Management Functions



Policy Sector Subjects



  - Macroeconomic Policy



  - International Development



  - Health



  - Other Policy Sectors






Competency Gap Analysis (in Course-Weeks of Instruction)

Course-Weeks in Core Subjects taken by Typical Student



Surplus or Shortfall Relative to Core Competency Requirement

  - Policy and Management Analysis (CCR = 18 course-weeks)



  - Economic Analysis (CCR = 12)



  - Quantitative Methods (CCR = 12)



  - Analytic Methods (CCR = 6)



  - Leadership Skills (CCR = 9)



  - Communication Skills (CCR = 3 courses)



  - Democratic Institutions and Policy Process (CCR = 18)



  - Ethics, Rights and Accountability (CCR = 6 courses)



  - Socioeconomic and Political Context (CCR = 6)



  - Global Context (CCR = 3)



  - Public Financial Management (CCR = 6)



  - Evaluation and Performance Measurement (CCR = 6)



  - Human Resource Management (CCR = 3)



  - Information and Technology Management (CCR = 3)



  - Macroeconomic Policy (CCR = 6)



  - Environment and Sustainability (CCR = 3)



Subject-Matter Shortfall for Typical Student (Sum of Shortfalls)



Additional Parameters

Total Courses Listed



Courses Designated as Required (inc. Specialization Reqs)



Archetypal Public Affairs Subjects (P&MA, EA, QM, DI&PP)



Archetypal International Affairs Subjects (GC, ID, DS&FR)



Courses Required and Offered

Courses Required to Graduate



Required Courses



Elective Courses Taken by Typical Student



Elective Courses Listed



Enrolment Weight of Elective Course



Total Courses Listed




Source: At accessed 5 March 2015

Page Created By: Dave Marshall on 5 March 2015 and updated by Ian Clark on 22 March 2015 and Dave Marshall on 3 April 2015. Updating and editing may consist of substantive and/or formatting changes. Unless otherwise noted, however, information regarding a program's structure, curricular offerings and PEACO score is based on the program as it was on the date of page creation. The content presented on this page, except for the assignments of courses to Atlas subjects, the Instructional Distribution analysis, and the Commentary is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.

USC Price MPP and MPA Course Map
 C o u r s e s  O f f e r e d,  l i s t e d  b y  P u b l i c  P o l i c y  a n d  M a n a g e m e n t  S u b j e c t

Courses listed are those offered by the Price School in the 500 and 600 range plus those listed as options within requirements. R indicates a requirement and a fraction indicates the number of options available within the requirements. Courses are 4 credits or the decimal number in parenthesis, where 0.25 indicates a 1-credit course; 0.5 a 3-credit course and 0.75 a 3-credit course.

Analysis and Skills

 Policy and Management Analysis

  PPD 545 - Human Behavior in Public Organizations (R/9 for MPP; R for MPA)
  PPD 554 - Foundations of Public Policy Analysis (0.5) (R for MPP)
  PPD 555 - Public Policy Formulation and Implementation (R for MPP)
  PPD 626 - Public/Private and Mixed Enterprises Planning
  PPD 650 - Organization Development in Public Administration
  PPD 656 - Political Management: Theory and Applied Techniques (R/9) for MPP)
  PPD 666 - Administrative Research and Analysis
  PPD 673 - Strategic Planning in the Public Sector (R/9 for MPP)
  PPD 698 - Strategic Management and Change
  PPDE 648 - Performance Management (0.5)
  PUAD 685 - Seminar on Organizational Behavior in Public Systems
  PUAD 697 - Seminar in Public Management

 Economic Analysis

  PPD 501 - Economics for Policy, Planning, and Development (R for MPP; R for MPA)
  PPD 647 - Finance of the Public Sector (2R/11 for MPP)

 Quantitative Methods

  PPD 502x - Statistical Foundations for Public Management and Policy (0.5)
  PPD 525 - Statistics and Arguing from Data (0.5)
  PPD 558 - Multivariate Statistical Analysis (R for MPP)
  PPD 570 - Applied Statistics for Planning, Policy and Management
  SOCI 621 Quantitative Methods and Statistics II (2R/11 for MPP)

 Analytic Methods

  PPD 507 - Six-Sigma Methods and Applications (0.75)
  PPD 552 - Managing and Financing Public Engineering Works (0.75)
  PPD 557 - Modeling and Operations Research (2R/11 for MPP; R/3 for MPA)
  PDP 560 - Methods for Policy Analysis (R for MPP)
  PPD 587 - Risk Analysis (2R/11 for MPP)
  PPD 612 - Research and Analytical Techniques
  PPD 626 - Public/Private and Mixed Enterprises Planning
  PPD 631 - Geographic Information Systems for Policy, Planning and Devlelopment (0.5)
  PPD 666 - Administrative Research and Analysis (R/3 for MPA)
  PPD 690 - Alternative Dispute Resolution (0.5)
  PPDE 661 - Methods for Equity Analysis (2R/11 for MPP)
  COMM 650 - Survey Constriction and Validation (2R/11)
  SSCI 581 - Concepts for Spatial Thinking (2R/11 for MPP)
  PM 542 - Social Network Analysis (2R/11 for MPP)

 Leadership Skills

  PPD 500 - Intersectoral Leadership (0.5) (R for MPP; R for MPA)
  PPD 640 - Leadership Foundations: Competencies and Core Values
  PPD 641 - Leading Individuals, Groups and Teams
  PPD 642 - Strategic Leadership of Organizations
  PPD 643 - Leading Transformations Across Sectors: Integrative Seminar
  PPD 657 - Political Leadership in Public Organizations
  PPD 668 - Entrepreneurship in the Public Sector
  PPD 690 - Alternative Dispute Resolution (R/9 for MPP)
  PPD 680 - Development of Effective Groups and Organizations
  PPDE 682 - Strategic Management and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations

 Communication Skills

  PPD 693 - Communicating Public Policy

 Professional Practice

  PPD 645 - Professional Development


Multiple Subjects

 Capstones, Practicums, Internships

  PPD 546 - Capstone in Public Administration (R for MPA)
  PPD 561ab - Policy Analysis Practicum (R for MPP)
  PPD 543 - Internship Seminar (0.25)
  PPD 638 - Integrative Seminar
  PPD 646 - Fieldwork

Institutions and Context

 Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

  PPD 540 - Public Administration and Society (R for MPA)
  PPD 655 - Administrative Law and Public Management
  PPD 669 - Federal Management Systems
  PPD 672 - Presidency, Congress, and the Bureaucracy
  PPD 676 - Comparative Public Administration
  PPD 681 - Public Organization and Management Theory
  PPD 682 - Justice Administration: A Management Perspective
  PPDE 647 - Civic Engagement in Governance
  PUAD 675 - Institutional Context of the Public Sector
  PUAD 695 - Seminar in Administrative Theory
  PUAD 791ab - Public Administration Research Seminar (0.5)

 Ethics, Rights and Accountability

  PPD 599 - Seminar in Social Justice (0.5)
  PPD 667 - Public Ethics

 Social and Political Context

 Intergovernmental and Global Context

  PPD 569 - Applied International Policy Analysis and Management Project
  PPD 571 - International Public Policy and Management Seminar
  PPD 572 - Special Issues in International Public Policy
  PPD 613ab - Policy, Planning, and Development International Laboratory
  PPD 661 - Intergovernmental Management: Local Perspective
  PPD 662 - Intergovernmental Management: State Perspective (R/9 for MPP)
  PPD 663 - Intergovernmental Management: Federal Perspective
  PPD 670 - Management of Intergovernmental Programs

Management Functions

 Public Financial Management

  PPD 516 - Financial Accounting for Health Care Organizations
  PPD 541 - Public Financial Management and Budgeting (R/9 for MPP; R/2 for MPA)
  PPD 625 - Planning and Economic Development Finance
  PPD 648 - Concepts and Practices of Public Budgeting
  PPD 652 - Financial Administration in Local Government
  PPD 660 - Local Agency Debt and Cash Administration
  PPDE 645 - Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations (R/9 for MPP; R/2 for MPA)
  PUAD 613 - Seminar in Financial Policy

 Evaluation and Performance Measurement

  PPD 542 - Policy and Program Evaluation (2R/11 for MPP; R/3 for MPA)
  PPD 560 - Methods for Policy Analysis

 Human Resource Management

  PPD 649 - Concepts and Practices in Public Personnel Adminisration
  PPD 653 - Training in the Public Sector
  PPD 685 - Human Resources Management in Public and Non-Profit Sectors (0.5)
  PUAD 617 - Seminar on Behavioral Aspects of Training and Development

 Information Management and Technology

  PPD 654 - Information Technology Management in the Public Sector (R/9 for MPP)

 Program and Service Delivery

  PPD 664 - Contract Management (0.5)

 Regulatory Policy and Management

  PPD 671 - Decision-Making in Regulatory Agencies

 Nonprofit Management and Advocacy

  PPD 629 - Planning in the Voluntary Nonprofit Sector
  PPD 658 - Advocacy in Public Administration
  PPD 665 - Contemporary Issues in Philanthropy
  PPD 675 - Nonprofit Management and Leadership (R/9 for MPP)
  PPD 684 - Leadership Development in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors (0.5)
  PPD 687 - Strategic Management in the Nonprofit Sector
  PPD 689 - The Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy
  PPDE 646 - Grant Writing Practicum (0.5)
  PPDE 647 - Civic Engagement in Governance
  PPDE 681 - Fund Development for Nonprofit Organizations

Policy Sectors

 Macroeconomic Policy

 International Development

  PPD 526 - Comparative International Development (0.5)
  PPD 677 - International Development Administration
  PPD 678 - Processes of Change in Developing Societies
  PPD 679 - Financial Administration in Developing Countries
  PPDE 649 - International Development NGOs

 Social Policy and Welfare


  PPD 508 - Health Care Operations Improvement (0.75)
  PPD 509 - Problems and Issues in the Health Field
  PPD 510ab - Financial Management of Health Services (1.5)
  PPD 511 - Health Information Systems (0.5)
  PPD 512 - Health Administration Residency Seminar
  PPD 513 - Legal Issues in Health Care Delivery (0.5)
  PPD 514 - Economic Concepts Applied to Health
  PPD 515 - Strategic Management of Health Organizations
  PPD 517 - Concepts and Practices in Managing Health Care Organizations (0.5)
  PPD 518 - Quality of Care Concepts (0.5)
  PPD 519 - Methods and Applications of Health Care Research (0.5)
  PPD 520 - Economic Approaches to Health Policy Analysis (0.5)
  PPD 521ab - Information Technology Management Systems in Health Care
  PPD 600 - Management of Managed Care Organizations (0.5)
  PPD 601 - Management of Long-Term Care Organizations
  PPD 604 - Seminar in Hospital Administration
  PPD 606 - Urban Health Policy
  PPD 607 - Introduction to Public Health Policy
  PPD 602 - Strategic and Operational Planning for Health Services
  PPD 603 - Marketing of Health Services
  PPD 605 - Frontline Issues in Health Services Administration and Policy
  PPD 608 - Leadership Symposium in Health Management and Policy (0.5)
  PPD 609 - Physician Practice Management (0.5)
  PPD 610 - Managed Care Contracting (0.5)
  PPD 695 - Clinical Issues for Managers (0.25)
  PPD 696 - Health Care Venture Development (0.5)
  PPD 697 - Cultural Proficiency in Health Management and Policy (0.5)
  PPDE 630 - Community Health Planning


 Employment, Labour and Immigration

  PPD 686 - U.S. Immigration Policy

 Cities, Urban and Regional Development

  PPD 524 - Planning Theory (0.5)
  PPD 527 - The Social Context of Planning (0.5)
  PPD 529 - Legal Environment of Planning (0.5)
  PPD 530 - Historical Analysis of Urban Form and Planning Practice (0.5)
  PPD 531 - Planning Studio
  PPD 533 - Planning History and Urban Form (0.5)
  PPD 611 - Policy Issues in Planning and Development
  PPD 614 - Management in Planning Practice (0.5)
  PPD 615 - Comparative Urbanization, Development and Inequality
  PPD 616 - Participatory Methods in Planning and Policy
  PPD 617 - Urban Demography and Growth (2R/11 for MPP)
  PPD 618 - Housing Facilities and Community Development
  PPD 619 - Smart Growth and Urban Sprawl: Policy Debates and Planning Solutions
  PPD 620 - General Plans
  PPD 621 - Environmental Impacts (in Urban Planning)
  PPD 622 - Seminar in Urban Development
  PPD 623 - Community Development and Site Planning
  PPD 624 - Local Economic Development: Theory and Finance
  PPD 625 - Planning and Economic Development Finance
  PPD 627 - Design Skills for Urban Planners
  PPD 628 - Urban Planning and Social Policy
  PPD 630 - Urban Economic Analysis
  PPD 633 – Urban Transportation Planning and Management
  PPD 637 - Forecasting and Urban Planning: A Survey of Theory and Methods
  PPD 639 - Introduction to Community and Economic Development
  PPD 644 - Shaping the Built Environment
  PPD 652 - Financial Administration in Local Government
  PPD 694 - Coastal Policy and Planning
  PPDE 631 - Public Space: Theory, Policy, and Design
  PPDE 632 - Sustainable Cities
  PPDE 634 - Methodology, Methods and Tools for Urban Sustainability
  PPDE 635 - Housing and Land Use in Rapidly Urbanizing Regions
  PPDE 644 - Land Use and Transportation Planning

 Environment and Sustainability

  PPD 568 - Environmental Governance and Sustainability (0.5)
  PPD 691 - Methods for Assessment and Protection of Environmental Quality (0.5)
  PPDE 660 – Environmental Policy Design and Analysis (0.5) (2R/11 for MPP)

 Agriculture and Resources

 Science, Technology and Innovation

  PPD 674 - Science, Technology, and Government

 Industry, Trade and Investment

  PPD 688 - Business and Public Policy

 Energy, Transport and Infrastructure

  PPD 588 - Introduction to Transportation Planning Law (0.75)
  PPD 589 - Port Engineering: Planning and Operations (0.75)
  PPD 633 - Urban Transportation Planning and Management
  PPD 634 - Institutional and Policy Issues in Transportation
  PPD 635 - Principles of Transportation Systems Analysis
  PPD 636 - Infrastructure and Modern Society (0.5))
  PPD 692 - Transportation and the Environment

 Defence, Security and Foreign Relations

  PPD 659 - National Security Administration and the Domestic and International Environment
  PPD 683 - Homeland Security and Public Policy
  PPDE 662 - China from a US Policy Perspective

 Policing and Justice Administration

 Arts and Culture

 Financial Markets

 Other Policy Sectors

Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance