Spotlight: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, Maryland, site of the 2012 Fall Research Conference, is also the home to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), one of APPAM’s institutional members. Public policy is among the core missions of UMBC; its Department of Public Policy was established in 1974 and offers both a Master’s (MPP) and a Ph.D. program.
The department’s mission is to provide quality education for a diverse range of students—both full- and part-time—with a variety of aspirations and career goals in public policy. UMBC welcomes students who have recently completed their undergraduate education or master's degree, and are interested in pursuing careers in policy analysis, management, or research, as well as mid-career professionals who want to improve their abilities and qualifications.
Currently, the UMBC Department of Public Policy is developing strategies to increase the number of students enrolled in the MPP program, as the degree is an asset in the region’s highly competitive job market. In addition, the department continues to strengthen connections with the public policy community in the Washington/Baltimore metro area.
Interior lobby of the UMBC Public Policy building (Photo courtesy UMBC)
What makes UMBC stand out in the realm of public policy are the interdisciplinary nature, campus location, outstanding faculty, and multiple opportunities for student research.
The public policy program is interdisciplinary, allowing students to examine public policy using theories and concepts drawn from economics, sociology, political science and policy analysis. The program is particularly distinguished by the emphasis on evaluation and analytical methods in all policy areas.
UMBC’s proximity to federal and state government offices provides an ideal setting for training, internships, and employment opportunities. A 500-acre suburban campus in Catonsville, Maryland, UMBC is 10 minutes from downtown Baltimore and 45 minutes from both Washington, DC and Annapolis, Maryland. The department works with its Public Policy External Advisory Board—consisting of civic, nonprofit, and business leaders in Baltimore—to build bridges between students, faculty, and senior policymakers in the region.
The Department of Public Policy has ten nationally recognized full-time core faculty. The program also includes over 30 faculty members from other social science departments on the UMBC campus: Economics, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.
Students have the opportunity—and are in fact encouraged—to work with faculty on research projects. Faculty research complements the school’s educational mission in the classroom, providing funded research opportunities for graduate students and support for dissertations. M.P.P. students without relevant work experience are required to complete an internship. This is so students can apply the methodological and analytic skills acquired in the classroom in a real world setting.
UMBC’s programs do more than confer a graduate degree: they shape and craft tomorrow’s policy leaders. UMBC students are driven not only by an interest in public service and community involvement, but also by a desire to use qualitative and quantitative tools to analyze and find solutions to the essential problems of society. The federal government is the largest employer of UMBC’s public policy graduates. Program alumni influence government policies at the state and local level, conduct research in prestigious corporations, consulting firms and think tanks, play key roles in foundations and other nonprofit organizations, and teach in secondary and higher education institutions.
Well-known alumni include Jamie F. Chriqui, Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago; Michael Hubble, professor and program director of the Emergency Medical Care Program at Western Carolina University, Radha Kramer, founder and director, the TE'A project, and Radha Productions interactive theater, Thomas J. Vicino, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Master of Public Administration program at Northeastern University, and Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, President and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Photo by Jeff Kubina (under Creative Commons license)
The department’s core curriculum provides students with an understanding of the policymaking process, the forces affecting it, and the basic tools and concepts for analyzing public policy. Public Policy students choose a concentration in a specific policy area:
In the education policy concentration, students focus on the types of education policies made at every level of government. For most state and local governments, education is one of the most important policy areas and a very large budget item. Federal education policies are often on the frontiers of policy development.
Students in the evaluation and analytical methods concentration learn to design studies that enable researchers to draw causal inferences about the impacts of programs and policies. Participants also make use of a variety of analytical methods, including statistics, qualitative methods, operations research, and benefit-cost analysis. The program trains students to apply these skills to public policy and management issues.
Health policy is the largest study concentration in the UMBC Public Policy program, accounting for 25 percent of degrees awarded. Students study topics such as health care finance and delivery, the politics of health, and social epidemiology. Through partnerships with two UMBC research institutes, the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research and The Hilltop Institute, and with close-by agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Social Security Administration and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, students use their knowledge to improve health care systems and enhance the quality of life for all populations.
The public management concentration introduces students to a toolbox of management skills drawn from management professionals in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Students take courses in public management as well as budgeting, organizations and leadership, and program evaluation.
The urban policy concentration combines analytic training with opportunities for applied research and real world experience. Operating in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area, one of the nation’s most strategic urban corridors, the program exposes students to urban issues in neighborhoods, cities, suburbs, and metropolitan areas.
The economics concentration provides students with basic graduate level training in the theory and applications of microeconomics and econometrics. Students apply this knowledge to policy relevant areas such as human resources, health, the environment, public finance, and international economics.
Policy history (Ph.D. only) involves analyses of policy development and implementation, grounded in historical research. Policy history provides an avenue for studying how and why public policy shifts over time, and explores paths to comparative analysis for informing current debates.
Public Policy faculty are distinguished by their excellence in teaching as well as their research, publications, and public service. Faculty include:
Marvin Mandell, Evaluation and Analytical Methods Concentration
Marvin Mandell is a Professor of Public Policy. His research and teaching center on the application of quantitative methods to policy analysis. This includes program evaluation and the application of operations research to public policy and management. He also examines the role of various forms of policy research in the policy process.
Dr. Mandell received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Prior to coming to UMBC, he was on the faculty of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and taught at The Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Mandell has been involved in the evaluation of public programs in a variety of areas, including early childhood and family education, foster care, welfare reform, alternative dispute resolution programs, and programs to assist the homeless. He was Principal Investigator on a recently completed Ford Foundation-funded project entitled “Focusing on Success: Pathways Out of Child Poverty” and is currently a Co-Investigator on a NIH-funded project entitled “Analyzing the Impact of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program.”
Co-author of Social Experiments and Public Policy (Urban Institute Press, 2003), Dr. Mandell’s work has also appeared in such journals as Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Management Science, Location Science, Evaluation Review, and Socio-Economic Planning Sciences. He is a past president of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
Nancy Miller, Health Concentration
Nancy Miller is a Professor in the Department of Public Policy and an Affiliate Professor in the Intercampus Doctoral Program in Gerontology. She joined the Department of Public Policy in 1998. She received both her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
Dr. Miller has conducted interdisciplinary health policy research, first through her work at the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)) and most recently as a faculty member in Public Policy. Her research interests are focused on chronic disease, disability, and long term care, with particular concerns toward access to care. Dr. Miller recently completed research exploring the increasing number of middle-aged adults in nursing homes, which was funded by CMS. Currently she is examining health care disparities in access and use of health care services among adults with disabilities. Her work has been supported by the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, CMS, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Miller’s work has been published in Medical Care Research and Review, American Journal of Public Health, and The Gerontologist.
In 2004, Dr. Miller received the University System of Maryland Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring. In 2005, she received the UR Great Award from UMBC’s Graduate Student Association.
Donald F. Norris, Department Chair
Donald F. Norris is Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Policy, and Director of the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR). Dr. Norris is a specialist in public management, urban politics, and the application, uses and impacts of information technology (including e-government) in public organizations. He holds both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in government from the University of Virginia.
Dr. Norris teaches courses in public management and urban affairs. He has authored three books, edited or co-edited four books, and contributed chapters to more than 22 others. He has published articles and four book reviews in such scholarly journals as Public Administration Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Review, Public Budgeting and Finance, State and Local Government Review, and Public Performance and Management Review in the U.S., and Public Policy and Administration, Local Government Studies, and Talking Politics in the U.K. Dr. Norris has also been a guest editor for special issues of State and Local Government Review and the Journal of Urban Affairs and co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.
Dr. Norris has authored or co-authored more than 60 research reports and monographs, and more than 50 scholarly papers. He has consulted with local and state governments for more than 30 years in a wide range of areas in public policy and management.
UMBC is located at 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, Maryland 21250. For more information on the Department of Public Policy and the graduate degrees offered, visit the department’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.