The Master of Public Policy degree program consists of 40 credit hours: 32 hours of core courses (7 courses total) plus 12 semester hours (SH) of electives (8 semester hours if an internship is taken for credit). Full-time students can complete the requirements for graduation in as little as 1.5 years. The optional cooperative education experience adds six months of work experience and a two credit-hour course for a total of 42 credit hours.

All core classes are available online or offline, and students are welcome to move between modalities. Both the online and on-campus courses reflect Northeastern’s high standards for excellence and offer a dynamic, interactive experience. All online courses are asynchronous, so that students can complete coursework on their own schedules, but all work must be completed by specified deadlines each week.

Students can also opt to add a graduate certificate, which is usually completed by choosing relevant electives. The MPP program includes certificates in the following areas:

  • Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy, and Social Change
  • Urban Analytics
  • Urban Studies
  • Data Analytics
  • Information Ethics
  • Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Security and Resilience Studies

See our certificates page for details.


Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Co-op is a signature of Northeastern’s MPP program. This optional experience allows students to take on full-time employment (minimum 32 hours/week) in a role related to public policy.

Northeastern partners with local organizations in Boston, national partners, and global employers to help students find placements. Throughout the co-op program, MPP faculty and staff are on hand to mentor students on their work experience.

The two co-op cycles run from January-June or July-December. Students must also take a required online integration course. Electing to participate in the co-op program adds two semester hours to the degree, increasing the total hours required to complete the degree to 42.


Internship

Students are required to take an internship for 4 hours of course credit. However, students can waive this requirement if they have substantial experience or are fully employed in positions relevant to their careers.


Optional Healthcare Management and Policy Concentration

This concentration builds in-depth knowledge of health policy and health-sector management for students seeking careers in public health, community health, hospital administration, health-service management, healthcare policy development, and more. The concentration comprises three courses: one in health management, one in health policy, and a health elective. View these course options.


Optional Sustainability and Climate Change Policy Concentration

This concentration is designed to enable MPP students to develop deeper insights into the policy dimensions of these intertwined but conceptually distinct realms of climate change inquiry and action, and in both domestic and international domains. Master’s students who choose this specialization choose three courses that focus on topics such as sustainability, environment, food systems, and energy policy. View these course options.


Master of Public Policy Course Descriptions

CORE COURSES

Surveys methods of social research, including field study and participant observation techniques, survey techniques, interviewing and questionnaire construction, sampling procedures, experimental design, content analysis, and use of available data.
Studies the use of social science quantitative techniques, emphasizing applications of value to public-sector analysts and scholars alike. Introduces probability and statistical analysis. Topics include measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, sampling distributions and hypothesis testing, bivariate correlation, regression, and forecasting. Examines how to generate and interpret statistical analyses.

Choose one of the following two courses

Reviews methodologies for assessing the impact of public policy. Includes experimental and quasi-experimental research design, the value and limits of case studies, political and organizational barriers to evaluation research, report writing, and procedures for instituting change.
Provides a systematic approach to understanding the origins, formulation, implementation, and impact of government outputs. Reviews key analytical concepts and competing theoretical perspectives. Considers both the political dimensions of public policymaking and the technical aspects of program design within the natural history of the policymaking process. Draws on case materials from a spectrum of policy areas.

Policy Frameworks and Practice Core

Introduces the fundamentals of macroeconomics and microeconomics as well as the role of key economic institutions, such as the Federal Reserve. Includes analysis of government’s role in a market economy and introduces methods of economic analysis.
Provides a practical overview to crafting effective strategies for advancing public policy changes at the federal, state, and local level using a range of legislative, litigation, and other policy tools. Uses a series of case studies on a wide range of policy topics to understand and evaluate how different policy strategies evolve in the interplay between branches and levels of government. Takes an interbranch perspective on how policy is made and places particular emphasis on the role litigation and the courts play in policy making, an aspect of public policy formulation that is often downplayed or overlooked.
Offers an opportunity for student teams, in partnership with a local, state, or federal agency or nonprofit institution, to assess an urban or regional problem, produce a thorough policy analysis, and present it and recommended solutions to the agency or institution. Course readings focus on materials needed to assess the problem and provide solutions. This is a faculty-guided team project for students completing course work in urban and regional policy studies. May be repeated without limit.

Methods and Statistics Electives

Choose one of the following four courses

Studies the use of social science quantitative techniques and how to generate and interpret statistical analyses. Topics include measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, sampling distributions and hypothesis testing, bivariate correlation, regression, and forecasting. Builds upon the concepts of correlation and inference to present analytic procedures involving several variables (including multiple regression, logistic regression, causal analysis, and multiway ANOVA) and introduces more advanced multivariate analytic methods.
Introduces the theory, methods, and tools of dynamic modeling for policy and investment decision making, with special focus on environmental issues. Makes use of state-of-the-art computing methods to translate theory and concepts into executable models and provides extensive hands-on modeling experience. Topics include discounting, intertemporal optimization, dynamic games, and treatment of uncertainty.
Investigates the city and its spatial, social, and economic dynamics through the lens of data and visual analytics. Utilizes large public datasets to develop knowledge about visual methods for analyzing data and communicating results. Offers students an opportunity to develop a critical understanding of data structures, collection methodologies, and their inherent biases.
Studies basic skills in spatial analytic methods. Introduces students to some of the urban social scientific and policy questions that have been answered with these methods. Covers introductory concepts and tools in geographic information systems (GIS). Offers students an opportunity to obtain the skills to develop and write an original policy-oriented spatial research project with an urban social science focus.

ELECTIVES

MPP students have 12 SH in free electives, which can be applied to earning one of several graduate certificates, concentrated in a particular focus area, or selected as desired from a broad array of courses offered by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, other graduate programs in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and most other graduate level programs at Northeastern University. The selection of electives is done in consultation with the student’s advisor.

Students who complete an internship for credit will take 8 semester hours of elective credits.

OPTIONAL CO-OP EXPERIENCE

Requires two consecutive semesters of co-op work experience and experiential integration

Provides eligible students with an opportunity for work experience. May be repeated without limit. Learn more about the co-op program in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Offers an integration course providing an opportunity for students on experiential placement to connect conceptual course material to experiential components. Students are expected to: interact with students from other disciplines, apply knowledge and skills across educational and experiential contexts; connect experiential components to different disciplines and domains of knowledge; and situate experiential components in the context of their own field and beyond. Requires department signature.

Optional Concentration in Healthcare Management and Policy

This concentration comprises three courses, one from each of three focus areas: Health Management, Health Policy, and Health Elective.

Students select one course from each topic area.

Health Management

Covers key issues and introduces management principles in health organization management. Offers students an opportunity to apply important theoretical ideas, such as systems thinking and organizational learning, to meet challenges effectively, to learn how the healthcare workplace functions, and how to manage in these workplaces. Emphasizes case-based learning, critical thinking, and evidence-based management using individual and group projects. Introduces cutting-edge tools in areas such as work redesign, performance management, brand enhancement, and quality improvement. Addresses the management imperatives of today’s healthcare organizations and how to implement strategies and programs to meet those imperatives effectively. Intended for anyone interested in working or managing within the healthcare industry, including the field of public health.
Offers students an opportunity to understand general business strategy concepts as they relate to the healthcare industry. Explores how to analyze market opportunities and challenges as they apply to various healthcare organizations, such as hospitals, physician organizations, and nursing homes. Presents and discusses analytical frameworks for making strategic decisions, drawing on different disciplines, including economics, management, and psychology. Strategic issues include mergers and acquisitions, vertical integration, joint ventures and alliances, performance-control systems, and organizational design.
Examines concepts and topics related to the design and management of supply chain operations in the healthcare sector. Focuses on activities and functions such as inventory control, order fulfillment, logistics, procurement, managing processes, relationship management, and information technology systems. Introduces various tools and techniques that enhance effective supply chain operations in healthcare organizations.

Health Policy

Examines contemporary healthcare policies, programs, and politics. Discusses the structure of the healthcare system and its costs, efforts to develop universal health coverage, the spread of managed care, and related topics.
Reviews the history of healthcare reform in the United States and the various policymaking associated with it, including the recent Affordable Care Act. Analyzes the causes and consequences of U.S. health system change over the past century, covering events such as efforts for single- payer healthcare, the rise of the medical-industrial complex, employer- sponsored health insurance, and Medicare and Medicaid. Analyzes current system trends shaping future reform efforts such as the use of artificial intelligence and retail thinking in healthcare delivery. Introduces students to organizational, economic, and sociological theories for studying healthcare reform and offers students opportunity to apply course learning in practical ways. Of particular interest to doctoral and advanced master’s degree students wanting to study and work in healthcare.
Uses basic economic concepts to illuminate the many factors that shape health, healthcare, and the healthcare system in the United States. Examines the role of these concepts in explaining the challenges faced in achieving three core goals of the healthcare system: increasing access, limiting cost, and improving quality. Explores how policy makers, market participants, and others can remedy access, cost, and quality deficiencies. Illustrates how economic concepts can be applied to the study of health and health behaviors.
Offers students an opportunity to obtain practical knowledge concerning the planning, organization, administration, management, evaluation, and policy analysis of health programs. Surveys what we know and think about public health administration and policy and what we do in practice. Introduces the main components of public health policy and administration using notable conceptual frameworks and case studies. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.

Health Elective

Explores the role of economic, social, and individual factors in explaining racial and ethnic health disparities and examines intervention approaches to eliminate them. Topics include genetic and social constructions of race and ethnicity, measuring race and ethnicity, and the differences in prevalence and patterns of disease across groups; cultural and structural factors that affect healthcare delivery, such as discrimination, racism, and health status; and public health approaches to prevention and improving healthcare delivery.
Offers students an opportunity to obtain practical knowledge concerning the planning, organization, administration, management, evaluation, and policy analysis of health programs. Surveys what we know and think about public health administration and policy and what we do in practice. Introduces the main components of public health policy and administration using notable conceptual frameworks and case studies. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.
Introduces the field of environmental health, which encompasses concerns related to physical, built, and social environments. Discusses the tools used to study environmental exposures and diseases. Examines environmental health hazards, the routes by which humans are exposed to hazards, various media in which they are found, and disease outcomes associated with exposures. Offers students an opportunity to become familiar with methods used to conduct environmental health research and with the federal and state agencies responsible for protecting environmental health.
Seeks to educate students about the role of advocacy in public health while providing tools and support to address current healthcare issues. Provides information and theory about advocacy, education, and community organizing in public health practice and skills geared toward direct application. Covers various techniques related to developing and conducting an advocacy project within a community setting. Offers students an opportunity to develop, communicate, and refine a community-based advocacy program. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.
Focuses on social epidemiology, which is defined as the study of the distribution and determinants of health in populations as related to the social and economic determinants of health. Includes theories, patterns, and controversies, as well as programs and policies that can be applied to address health inequalities. Readings include articles that situate one dimension of social epidemiology with articles addressing the empirical patterns, address prevailing theories and controversies regarding the causes of the inequalities, as well as address interventions or policies that may be applied to address the inequalities.
Presents an overview of global health issues and focuses on less economically developed countries. Covers measures of disease burden; demography of disease and mortality; Millennium Development Goals (under the auspices of the United Nations); infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria and their prevention; vaccine utilization and potential implications; chronic diseases; tobacco-associated disease; nutritional challenges; behavioral modification; mother and child health; health human resources; and ethical issues in global health.
Focuses on the aspects of urban development and life that impact the health and well-being of city residents. Offers students an opportunity to learn about the impact of migration patterns, built environments, occupational stratification, and other cultural and community contextual factors that impact health status and healthcare access. Examines the level of overall health and healthcare found in urban populations, particularly the urban poor, and the disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and elsewhere. Considers public policy approaches for addressing the unique health issues of urban areas. Examines urban health issues both from a national and international perspective. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.
Explores individual, interpersonal, and social influences on health. Offers students in public health an opportunity to learn the application of the social and behavioral sciences. Examines foundations of public health, including prevention and the prevention paradox, theories of disease causation, and public health ethics. In addition, multilevel influences on health are examined, including behavioral theories and social determinants of health. Throughout the semester, attention is paid to disparities in health. Finally, we examine strategies to reduce health disparities, such as education, interventions, and policy-level changes, and discuss their relative effectiveness. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.

Optional Concentration in Sustainability and Climate Change Policy

Take three of the following courses

Explores the science of sustainable food production around the world and examines the issues related to nutrition and hunger, food safety, and food production. Discusses issues such as population growth, climate change, and sustainability, which are presented as thematic topics. Also discusses issues such as soil health, genetically modified (and engineered) foods, water use, governmental food guidelines, and human health. Pulls focus on the thematic topics from scientific literature but also includes additional sources of information, such as gray literature, media coverage, documentaries, and popular nonfiction. Explores local examples of sustainable agriculture, including incentives in food security and sustainability in New England.
Provides an overview of the various aspects of urban sustainability planning. Examines sustainability as an urban planning approach with both ecological and social justice goals. Covers sustainable planning and offers students an opportunity to understand it within the context of smart growth and the new urbanism. Focuses on the two areas in which cities can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions—the built environment and transportation. From there, the course examines planning efforts to reduce demand on water and sewer systems and to create employment in renewable energy and other “clean-tech” occupations. The course ends by placing urban initiatives in the context of state and national policy.
Serves as an introduction to climate change and development processes in developing countries. Exposes students to key debates in the fields of climate change and international development. Offers students an opportunity to learn about the approaches to climate adaptation, the relationship between adaptation and development, and concepts of resilience and transformation. Using a comparative case study approach, explores the importance of the local context; the intersections of politics, economics, and culture; ecology and human-environment relationships; and the role (and challenges) of finance and development assistance. Climate impacts threaten to reverse many of the development gains of the last century, and the most vulnerable are likely to be the most impacted by climate change. At the same time, opportunities exist to ensure climate-compatible development pathways.
Introduces methods and tools of ecological economics, an interdisciplinary field that draws on theories, concepts, and tools from the physical, life, and social sciences; unites the relevant aspects of different disciplines; and generates new knowledge that can serve as a basis for investment and policymaking that is responsive to biophysical constraints on economic processes. Illustrates the use of ecological economics with empirical applications. Offers students an opportunity to apply ecological economics to a variety of environmental issues.
Introduces the theory, methods, and tools of dynamic modeling for policy and investment decision making, with special focus on environmental issues. Makes use of state-of-the-art computing methods to translate theory and concepts into executable models and provides extensive hands-on modeling experience. Topics include discounting, intertemporal optimization, dynamic games, and treatment of uncertainty.
Explores the renewable energy transition with an emphasis on social innovations in energy systems, climate resilience, and the interconnections among technology, policy, and social change. The transition away from fossil fuels toward more efficient, renewable- based energy systems includes much more than a technological substitution; this transition also involves social, institutional, and cultural change in how individuals, households, communities, and organizations relate to and use energy. The emerging concept of energy democracy provides an innovative lens to explore the transformative potential of the renewable energy transition. Explores tensions associated with systemic vs. incremental change, centralized vs. decentralized systems, and infrastructural lock-in vs.flexibility through semester-long team projects in which students contribute to existing, ongoing, local energy transition initiatives.
Explores key environmental challenges from an international perspective. Provides a history of international environmental politics, as well as discussion of contemporary issues. Presents key paradigms for understanding environmental challenges, and aims to equip students with the analytical tools to look critically at important debates, understand the role of different actors, and assess policy options from multiple perspectives. Focus areas include natural resource management, multi-stakeholder negotiations, and climate change. Themes addressed throughout the course include the role of science in environmental policy, tensions between environment and development in international environmental politics, and the scale and complexity of international environmental governance.
Explores the public policy dimensions of the contemporary food system. Utilizes scholarly readings and case studies to assess the role of governing institutions and political actors in shaping the food supply; the effects of energy, transportation, and urban policies on food access; the ecological dimensions of food production; impacts of international trade regimes on global food trade; and the potential impacts of climate change on food security. Compares the United States and other nations and explores alternatives to the dominant food system. Seeks to engage students in applied policy analysis of specific food system issues.
Offers an integrated introduction to the intersection between environmental science and policy. Organized around the two central themes of sustainability transitions and climate resilience. Connects theoretical frameworks, including sociotechnical systems and coupled socioecological systems, to key science-policy issues related to transitioning to a more sustainable future and responding to a changing climate.

Master of Public Policy

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