Wilson School to expand master in public policy program

Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is expanding its one-year master in public policy (MPP) program to offer the degree to qualified physicians, Ph.D. scientists and lawyers. The school plans on enrolling new students into the expanded program for the 2008-09 academic year.

The expansion of the MPP program was recommended by a special committee convened last year by Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter to examine the school's range of possible degree offerings. The University's Graduate School approved the committee's recommendations in May.

Committee members concluded that one year of policy training would add significant value to professionals in the medical, scientific and legal fields who wish to pursue public policy careers. They also determined that MPP students with advanced training and experience in these fields would enrich the academic environment for existing students.

The existing MPP degree provides mid-career professionals with seven or more years of public or nonprofit professional work experience an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of and expertise in the areas of economics, public policy and leadership development. The expanded MPP degree programs do not require a specified amount of work experience, but are intended to serve the school's mission to increase the leadership capacity for careers in public service, especially government careers in international affairs.

"It is important to expand the MPP program because doing so will allow outstanding professionals in the fields of medicine, science and law to develop and hone their policy skills, and thus bring their technical expertise to bear on important public policy issues," said Nolan McCarty, acting dean of the Wilson School. "I commend the committee for its work in preparing such thoughtful and comprehensive recommendations for the graduate program."

The committee was chaired by Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs David Wilcove. Committee members included Professor of Public and International Affairs Robert Keohane, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Christina Paxson and Professor of Public Affairs Kim Scheppele.

MPP for physicians

The Wilson School has decided to offer the MPP for physicians because medical doctors play an active role in policy issues related to health. The MPP degree can be distinguished from a master in public health degree by its focus on economics, politics, sociology and statistics as tools for policy analysis. These skills are important for future health policymakers.

The school currently offers a graduate certificate in health and health policy (HHP), geared toward policy students who want to pursue domestic or international careers in health-related fields. The HHP certificate is earned by completing required courses in political economy of health systems and epidemiology as well as elective courses drawn from a wide array of topics, including health economics, health and the environment, health care in developing countries, HIV/AIDS policy, and poverty, inequality and health. The faculty committee determined that the school's other graduate students likely will benefit from classmates with medical training.

MPP for Ph.D. scientists

The MPP for Ph.D. scientists was created in part because many of today's most pressing and controversial policy issues are rooted in science, such as global warming, stem cell research, the evolution of drug-resistant strains of disease organisms and the protection of privacy in an increasingly wired world. As scientists will play an increasingly important role in addressing these issues, the school is expanding the MPP program to enroll leading professionals in disciplines such as physics, engineering, information technology, atmospheric sciences, geosciences, biology and other natural and physical sciences.

The vast majority of leaders and innovators in contemporary science have doctoral degrees, yet a Ph.D. in a scientific field typically provides limited training in public policy. The result is a widening gulf between the scientific and policy communities, arising at a time when the need for dialogue, cooperation and leadership is growing.

The Wilson School currently offers a graduate certificate in science, technology and environmental policy (STEP), which includes a wide array of elective courses in science policy. It is expected that candidates for the MPP degree for Ph.D. scientists also will take courses in economics, politics and statistics to round out their curriculum. Candidates for this one-year degree must have completed their Ph.D. when they apply to the school's graduate program.

Physicians and Ph.D. scientists enrolled in the MPP program will be encouraged, but not required, to enroll in the HHP or STEP certificate programs, respectively.

MPP for lawyers

The Wilson School currently offers a joint MPA-JD degree, which allows students concurrently registered in both the MPA program at the Wilson School and a JD program at another institution to complete both degrees in four years instead of five. The MPP degree for lawyers is intended for those who have completed their JD and have recognized, after several years of work experience, the need to acquire the analytical tools for policy analysis. They also may enroll in courses in international relations or domestic policy analysis, depending on their interests.

As with the other MPP degrees, the MPP for lawyers will add crucial exposure to politics, economics and policy that students would not get in the routine course of their other professional education.

MPP candidates are required to attend a five-week summer program covering economics, math, leadership development and policy, which begins each year in early August and runs through early September. The MPP program is a full-time residential degree program from August through graduation in early June. Although there are no required courses, each student is expected to complete a minimum of eight courses.

Financial aid is provided to admitted students who complete the Statement of Financial Resources on the online application and request assistance. The deadline for applications for fall 2008 admission is Dec. 1.