Spotlight: Sacramento State
The Master’s of Public Policy and Administration Program at Sacramento State is an interdisciplinary program designed to equip its graduates with the conceptual, analytic, and problem-solving skills and experiences necessary for them to deal effectively with public sector policy and administrative issues, problems, and opportunities. In the fall of 2014, Sac State celebrated its 25th year of granting the MPPA, with over 400 alumni working in the Sacramento Area, California, and the world.
The Sacramento State program differs from other similar programs in that its focus is purposefully on California State and local levels of government. The proximity of the campus to the capital of California state government offers significant advantages to professional master’s students in the program, providing them with a ready laboratory for observing the policy and administrative issues they will confront professionally, and for gaining experience alongside existing practitioners in public policy and administration. In particular, the program’s internship allows student placements in California state government, local government, and related organizations while completing a professional master’s degree in the city that is home to the world’s largest subnational government and that Time magazine called “America’s Most Diverse City.”
The program’s curricular design and scheduling of courses allow students to complete the program in four semesters if enrolled full-time. Part-time students may complete the program under a five- or six-semester schedule. Classes are offered in the late afternoon and evening hours to accommodate the scheduling interests of students employed in the daytime, or who have other obligations that require evening schedules.
Sac State looks to infuse the ideas of ethics and the public good into a diverse curriculum focused on acquiring the “toolkit” necessary to practice both the creation and assessment of public policy, and the effective public administration necessary for its successful implementation. The program prepares graduates for careers as administrators in state or local government departments, agencies, boards, or commissions; elected officials, government policy analysts, public affairs officials, budget analysts, advocates for policy interests coming before state, and leaders of non-profit institutions.
How Does Sac State Stand Out?
Unlike a traditional master’s program in public administration alone, the School's core curriculum includes two courses in applied economic analysis and two courses in research methods (both qualitative and quantitative). And unlike a traditional master’s program in public policy alone, the core curriculum includes two courses in public administration, a course in public budgeting, and a course in the political environment of policy making. The School requires all MPPA graduates to complete a culminating thesis/project on an applied public policy or administration topic of their choice and faculty infuses all of their classes the acquisition of the writing and applied research skills necessary to do this. Students also take two master’s level electives of their choice with specialized offerings including urban policy and collaborative governance. The completion of two electives in collaborative governance awards the student with a certificate in the area.
In partnership with the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific, it is possible to earn jointly a J.D. and MPPA. In addition, the Department of Public Policy and Administration (joint with the College of Business) at Sacramento State offers a Master’s of Science Degree in Urban Land Development, a Certificate in Judicial Administration, and partners with the College of Education to offer an EdD in Education Leadership and Policy.
Furthermore, MPPA Faculty affiliations with local governments in the Sacramento Region and research centers across the Sacramento State campus, including the nationally known Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy, affords the opportunity for master’s students to work in the field of local government or public policy research while pursuing their master’s degree.
The Department of Public Policy and Administration at Sacramento State is home to six full-time faculty and multiple part-time faculty/practitioners that teach in the MPPA Program. The full-time faculty with public administration expertise includes Charles Gossett and Mary Kirlin; Su Jin Jez and Andrea Venezia respectively specialize in higher education and K-12 education policy/administration. Rob Wassmer and Ted Lascher, who respectively specialize in the economics and politics of public policy and administration, round out the MPPA roster of full-time faculty. Practitioners include Peter Detwiler, a long-time California legislative staff member who specializes in California Land Use Policy, and David Booher who supervises the efforts of the Center for Collaborative Policy.
Terra Townsend, who entered the MPPA Program in fall 2012 and holds a Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree from Seattle University, describes well the reasons to attend:
“I sought out this degree for the unique offering of classes in both public policy and administration, a vital combination when pursuing work in the analytical field. A well-balanced, practical curriculum delivered by incredible faculty cultivates a cadre of professional students who are well-prepared to tackle real-world policy issues and challenges. I am thankful to be involved in the MPPA program and look forward to using the skills I attain to further my career in public service.”
Josef Preciado, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Studies and Latino Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and also entered the MPPA Program in fall 2012, further describes the program’s advantages:
“I decided to apply to Sac State’s MPPA Program when I learned of the analytical and research skills I could develop and utilize in my professional career. As a MPPA student, I feel closely connected and supported by my peers in the program and the larger network of MPPA graduates via GASPPA, the program’s student organization. I am certain this program’s well-rounded, interdisciplinary approach is the right fit for me.”
Educating master’s students since 1989, the Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration at Sacramento State boasts more than 400 graduates who have found employment at the California Chiropractic Association, California Common Cause, California Legislative Analyst’s Office, 1California Little Hoover Commission, California State Association of Counties, California State Auditor, California State Departments of Education, Employment, Finance, and Health Services; California State Legislature, California Taxpayers Association, City of West Sacramento, Internal Revenue Service, New Zealand Ministry of Social Development, Office of U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Sacramento County Planning Department, San Francisco County Board of Supervisors, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Department of State.
Some of the School's more prominent alumni include:
You can also visit Sac State on social media via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (@PPASacState).