Return to: 2130 Department of Public Management and Policy
Dr. John C. Thomas, Faculty Program Director
The Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) is an interdisciplinary degree program designed to prepare students for work in the analysis, development, and evaluation of public policies. In all levels of government and on a global scale, public needs and limited resources require public policy choices that are at once economically efficient, socially and technically effective, and politically responsive. Such choices confront policymakers on a broad range of critical issues, including health, education, economic development, the environment, global affairs, nonprofit policy and public finance.
Decision-makers often lack the knowledge and skills needed to interpret the full social, political, economic, and technical dimensions of the policy issues they face. In response, state and local governments, business, and federal agencies have turned to trained policy analysts for assistance in assessing policy options and in evaluating public programs. The same is true for nonprofit agencies, such as hospitals, schools, and regional planning organizations.
Graduates of the M.P.P. program typically work in analytical and leadership positions in a wide array of governmental, public service, private sector, consulting, and nonprofit organizations. Metropolitan Atlanta serves as a laboratory for students, who are encouraged to undertake field instruction and action research with public, private, and nonprofit agencies in the area. Opportunities are also available through the various research centers and community outreach efforts of the Andrew Young School. These opportunities enhance the education students receive and often open doors to attractive jobs.
The curriculum is a two-year course of study with a minimum of 39 hours of graduate coursework, comprised of 21 credit hours of required core courses, 3-6 credit hours of coursework in analytical and financial methods, and 12-15 credit hours in a defined concentration or an individualized concentration that must be approved by the program director.
Required Core Courses (21 Credit Hours)
Analytical or Financial Methods Elective(s) (3-6 Credit Hours)
Choose one or two from following:
Concentration Requirements (12-15 Credit Hours)
- Every student chooses a concentration from one of the following approved options: Education Policy, Environmental Policy, Global Affairs, Health Policy, Nonprofit Policy, Public Finance Policy, Social Policy, and Urban Planning and Policy. Concentrations are described below.
- Students also have the option of developing an individualized concentration in consultation with the Master’s Faculty Program Director. Approval of individual concentrations is required. Students must complete the online graduate petition found here: aysps.wufoo.com/forms/zjvgj2a1m6jds8/ to request approval from the department.
Internship or Thesis
PMAP 8941 - Internship: Internships provide students the opportunity to apply concepts and skills gained from their graduate curriculum and are optional for all M.P.P. students who lack significant prior administrative experience in a public or nonprofit agency or a related organization. The department’s faculty internship coordinator and the AYSPS Career Services & Alumni Relations Office assist in the search for an appropriate internship opportunity, but students are expected to take the lead. An internship requires enrollment in three credit hours of PMAP 8941; and the completion of 300 hours of work in the intern position. Students are free to work full-time or part-time, according to their needs and those of their internship sponsor. Many students find paid internships, but unpaid internships can also be very rewarding. Students should consider the value of the experience that an internship provides, in addition to the pay. Internship information and applications are available from the Department of Public Management and Policy, or the PMAP internship homepage on the web at aysps.gsu.edu/public-management-policy/pmap-internship-course/. Students with substantial prior administrative and/or policy analytic experience may petition to waive the internship elective by completing the online Graduate Internship Waiver Petition form: aysps.wufoo.com/forms/graduate-internship-waiver-petition/. Waiving the internship elective reduces the credit-hour requirement for the concentration and the overall degree by three hours.
PMAP 8991 - Thesis: Candidates for the Master’s degree in Public Policy have the option to submit an approved thesis to complete the requirements for the degree. A thesis replaces the requirement for PMAP 8900 - Capstone: Advanced Projects for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, the option most students are encouraged to pursue. A thesis may be more appropriate for a student who expects to pursue a doctoral degree, although other students may also pursue this option. The decision to write a thesis is made by the student in consultation with and with the approval of the department’s Faculty Program Director for the Department of Public Management and Policy (PMAP). Before approval is given, the student must demonstrate that an appropriate member of the faculty of PMAP is willing to chair the thesis committee, and that two other appropriate faculty members are willing to serve on the committee. A student must have completed at least 18 hours of graduate credit in the M.P.P., including PMAP 8010, PMAP 8011, and PMAP 8121, before registering for thesis hours.
- Initiating a Thesis Proposal. Any student who is considering or planning to write a thesis should meet with the Director to discuss personal interests and career objectives and to learn more about the expectations and requirements for the thesis. That meeting should occur before the end of the student’s first year of master’s degree work or before twelve (12) semester hours of coursework have been completed. If approved to pursue a thesis, the student should follow these steps:
- Choose a topic with the assistance of the thesis committee chair. Students typically approach an instructor about a topic with the intent of asking the instructor to serve as the thesis chair. The thesis chair must hold primary appointment in PMAP as a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. The student should consult with the prospective thesis chair at least one full semester before planning to register for thesis hours.
- In consultation with the committee chair, the student should select and receive agreement to serve from two additional faculty members who have appropriate academic preparation and/or experience relative to the thesis topic. (A student may also elect to have more than three members on the committee.) Faculty from other departments or institutions or from a public or nonprofit agency may serve on the committee with the approval of the Director. Composition of the committee should be determined by the time the student has completed eighteen (18) semester hours of graduate credit.
- After selection of the committee, the student must submit to the Director the online Thesis Proposal and Committee Request Form for approval. The Director must approve the composition of the thesis committee and any subsequent changes in that composition.
- During registration, the PMAP staff will input the authorization on the system, and the student should be able to register (using the computer number obtained the thesis committee chair or from PMAP staff).
- Thesis Credit. Students may earn up to six (6) credit hours of thesis credit for PMAP 8991. Three (3) of those credits replace PMAP 8900 and three (3) credits may be used for elective credits in the student’s concentration. Typically, the student should enroll for those credits in the last two semesters of his/her program.
- The chair of the thesis committee will submit a grade of either IP or U for the student enrolled in PMAP 8991 until the semester in which the thesis is defended and completed. A grade of IP indicates that the student did not complete the thesis during the semester, but was making satisfactory progress. A grade of U indicates that progress was unsatisfactory. At the end of the semester during which the thesis is defended and completed, the chair of the thesis committee will submit a grade of S or U. A grade of S indicates that the thesis was successfully completed and defended. A grade of U indicates that the thesis was not successfully defended or was not successfully completed following a successful defense. A student receiving a grade of U must petition for permission to register for additional thesis credits. Such permission is not automatic, but depends upon the thesis committee chair’s determination that the student can complete the thesis satisfactorily in the succeeding semester. The grades of IP or U assigned to thesis work prior to the completion of the thesis will remain on the student’s record.
- Thesis Proposal. The choice of a thesis topic is the responsibility of the student, assisted by the committee chair. Typically, the student should have a reasonably well-defined topic in mind before requesting faculty to chair or serve on a thesis committee. That topic should take the form of a brief statement of the research problem and research design. The thesis committee must approve this statement before the student may register for thesis hours. The thesis proposal consists of the first three chapters of the thesis, including the introduction, the review of the literature, and discussion of methods and procedures. References also must be included. In addition, before any data collection or analysis can begin, the student must obtain approval from GSU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) if the research involves human subjects. (Students are encouraged to seek IRB approval before completion of the thesis proposal, in consultation with the thesis committee chair.) The committee must approve the proposal before the student completes a significant amount of the data collection and/or analysis. The thesis committee chair and other members of the committee are responsible for providing guidance and assistance and ultimately for evaluating the thesis. The student is the investigator and author of the thesis.
- Thesis Standards and Style. The thesis constitutes a significant part of the work toward a Master’s degree and is the culmination of all other activities. The thesis must represent high standards of scholarly inquiry, technical mastery, and literary skill. It should be a contribution to the student’s area of study and should reflect the student’s independent efforts with guidance from the thesis committee. The thesis must conform either to the American Psychological Association (APA) Style Manual (latest edition) or to a citation style approved by the thesis committee. The thesis must comply with the format, style, and procedural instructions included in the Thesis Guidelines: aysps.gsu.edu/oaa/thesis-guidelines/.
- Final Defense. Every student who completes a thesis is subject to a final oral examination or defense. Prior to scheduling the defense, the student must submit a final draft of the thesis to all members of the committee, who will determine the feasibility of a final defense. The thesis committee must receive and approve the final draft of the thesis prior to the scheduling of the final defense. The student may schedule the final defense of the thesis only in a semester when all other degree requirements will be satisfied. The student and thesis committee must agree upon the date, time, and place of the final thesis defense, which must occur prior to the final two weeks of scheduled classes for the semester of anticipated graduation. With the committee’s approval, the student must announce the date, time, and place for the final thesis defense at least two weeks prior to the date of the defense. The student must deliver the original copy of the Thesis Defense Announcement to the departmental office to become a part of the student’s file. No fewer than three members of the student’s thesis committee must attend the thesis defense. The defense will be open to all faculty members and the general public. Approval of the thesis requires a majority favorable vote by the thesis committee. Should an attempt be unsuccessful, the thesis committee has the prerogative to decide how to proceed, including the latitude to recommend additional work or the student’s termination from the program. The student is allowed two attempts to successfully defend the thesis. Immediately following the thesis defense, the committee chairperson should report the results to the AYSPS Office of Academic Assistance.
- Submission of the Thesis. Having successfully defended and completed the final document, the student is required to submit the original thesis and the required number of copies to the Director for final inspection and appraisal. Instructions for submission of the final documents are found in the Thesis Guidelines online: aysps.gsu.edu/oaa/thesis-guidelines/.
- Reproduction and Publication. The completed thesis must be approved by the Office of Academic Assistance (OAA) and electronically submitted through the Georgia State University Library. The student should login to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertations website, enter personal information and other committee and thesis information. Once the thesis is approved, the student should upload the document in PDF format to the database. Contact OAA for procedural questions, and refer to the library website for detailed instructions and help.
Graduate assistants are required to enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester and 9 credit hours each Summer semester. These credit hours consist of courses required for prescribed 39-hour program of study, as well as additional hours of PMAP 8912 - Research in Public Administration and Policy.