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The Hill Top: Georgetown
© ehpien on Flickr (CC)

Spotlight: Georgetown University

June 23, 2014 09:00 AM

In October 2013, the Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) became the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP) as a result of a transformative gift of $100 million from alumnus Frank McCourt.

Establishing a public policy school in the nation’s capital originated as an idea in the Georgetown University Department of Government and Economics in the late 1970s. Today, the McCourt School is the ninth school at Georgetown University and the first new school at the university since 1957. The McCourt School is housed in the historic Old North building at Georgetown University.

The McCourt School currently offers three master’s degree programs and eight dual-degree programs. There are 14 affiliated research centers, twenty-one full time faculty members, ten visiting faculty members, more than one-hundred affiliated faculty members, and approximately 450 enrolled students across the various degree and executive education programs.

The Program

MSPP is located in Washington, D.C., a magnet for those who care about public policy at every level of government. Washington, DC is not only home to the federal government, but also home to countless nonprofit organizations, international organizations, think tanks, trade associations, and groups representing the interests of state and local governments.

McCourt students have endless opportunities to link theory to practice through extraordinary access to policy practitioners as affiliated faculty, part-time internships available throughout the year at the White House, Capitol Hill, the District of Columbia government, the World Bank, the National Governors Association, and nearly every major think tank, government agency, and nonprofit group in the District. This is in addition to varied conferences, seminars, hearings, and other events around the nation’s capital.

The School is located within Georgetown University, a premier academic institution established in 1789 and steeped in a tradition of scholarly inquiry and concern for the human condition. This is the perfect setting for McCourt. MSPP extends its own resources through ties to Georgetown’s excellent programs in law, economics, psychology, foreign policy, business, and medicine. Georgetown’s tradition of public service is reflected in the 20 alumni who currently serve in the U.S. Congress, another who served as the 42nd President of the United States, and the numerous Georgetown faculty members – including Madeline Albright (former Secretary of State), Senator Chuck Hagel, Alice Rivlin (Former Office of Management and Budget Director), Harry Holzer (former Chief Economist at the Department of Labor), and Judy Feder (former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of HHS) – who have served in both the academy and government.

Other notable alumni include Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and the former President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.

The Graduates

McCourt attracts the nation’s and the world’s best and most committed students, and faculty engages them in rigorous preparation for their roles as practitioners and leaders. The students are realistic idealists, and agents of change who know that change is hard. They are smart and thoughtful citizens who understand their obligations to service, and bring intelligence guided by experience to the tasks of policy making, whether in government, in the voluntary sector, or the private sector. 

MSPP's location in Washington, DC puts students at the epicenter of the policy world. It allows the School to bring in leading policy practitioners as both teachers and speakers. Students regularly intern and go on to work at the White House, in federal agencies, and on Capitol Hill. Graduates find opportunities in the private sector with major consulting and evaluation firms and with local service-oriented and large international aid nonprofits based in our nation’s capital.

McCourt is proud to be one of America’s leading institutions of public policy analysis and management and its students are proud to be part of the greaterGeorgetown community.

The Mission

georgetown-healyThe McCourt programs are training tomorrow’s policy leaders today. MSPP’s mission is to give students the rigorous quantitative and analytic skills needed to design and implement smart policies. McCourt recognizes that corporations, NGO’s, nonprofits, and philanthropy play an increasingly critical role in public policy and aims to prepare students to work in these emerging sectors as well as within all levels of the government.

Through cutting edge research, MSPP’s world-renowned faculty identifies pressing problems and recommends effective and sensible solutions. The School's faculty and research centers study policy issues on today’s most critical topics including economic security, energy and the environment, education, international development, and health and healthcare.

The Goals

The School's main goal is to continue to build on its founding vision with four main priorities: student scholarship, faculty excellence, research excellence, and engagement excellence. 

The administration is also in the process of building our two centers, the Massive Data Institute and the Institute for Politics and Policy. The Massive Data Institute represents a next-generation approach to the study of public policy. Enhanced digitization and the internet have created massive amounts of new data, while advanced computational tools have created an ability to analyze it in ways that were never before possible. The study of these data sets can vastly improve understanding of public policy problems and find solutions to the most pressing problems.

The MDI will become a leading place for harnessing these data for policy formulation, analysis, and evaluation and in training the next generation of policy professionals in the techniques and tools they need to effectively use these new resources. So far, McCourt has announced two new initiatives. In the spring of 2014, the School posted two postdoctoral fellow positions to begin to staff the Institute. The Fellows will conduct policy relevant research using large data sets, teach a course on a big data topic, and host a seminar on their research. MSPP also launched a seed grant program to aid Georgetown faculty and graduate students conducting research at the intersection of public policy and big data. These initiatives are designed to support this important scholarship on campus while McCourt engages with potential research partners and work to staff the Institute more fully.

The Institute for Politics and Policy will be a hub of thoughtful, nonpartisan political dialogue and evidence-based, practical policy development at Georgetown. Its mission is to foster public service and civic engagement and to excite and inspire young people toward active political participation. Faculty and administration are still developing programming for the Institute, but they envision a traditional Fellows program connecting students with senior officials directly involved in politics and policy at home and abroad; a student political internship program to further enhance political engagement and training, research and other programming to promote effective governance and increase the diversity of political representation. The School is especially excited to welcome to broader Georgetown community- both undergraduate and graduate students from other Schools- to the activities at the Institute.

McCourt also welcomes two new full-time faculty members in the fall of 2014. The School recently awarded their first McCourt Fellowships, among the most generous fellowships available from any U.S. university, to a small group of the most promising future public policy scholars and practitioners.

Thanks to the transformative gift received last year, McCourt now has its own endowment to sustain these important research and training activities for generations to come. Lastly, McCourt's other main goal, critical to realizing the vision for the program, is to move to a location off Georgetown’s main campus, possibly downtown or near Capitol Hill.


Follow the McCourt School on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Lauren Mullins contributed to this article.


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