PSU introduces Master of Public Policy program

the College of Urban and Public Affairs’ Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State will offer a two-year full-time master’s degree in public policy beginning in the fall. The program is designed for those looking to work in public, nonprofit or private sector jobs.

The program’s area of focus will be concerned with government actions that address public issues. Areas of study will include political science, public administration and economics.

Chris Shortell, a professor of political science at PSU, worked with faculty members to create the program. It took years of planning and development before it was implemented.

“There has been talk of this possibility for close to 10 years now, with the latest interaction having been the development process over the last four years,” Shortell said.

Oregon State University is currently the only university in Oregon to offer such a degree. However, similar degree programs are more common in both Washington and California, as well as along the East Coast.

Bruce Gilley is the Master’s of Public Policy director and a professor of political science at PSU.

“This is a landmark program and where there is only one school within the state with an active public policy program,” he said. “They have helped and supported us here.”

He continued, “The assistance [OSU] presents helps [us] create a larger hub of policy training within the state of Oregon which [we] do not currently have.”

“When it comes to getting the approval of a program there are many hurdles that need to be cleared, and this program cleared all of them,” Shortell said.

The Master’s of Public Policy will require 61 credits to be awarded a degree. Coursework will consist of a first-year core curriculum in policy leadership, analysis and process for an accumulated total of 31 credits. The second-year curriculum will consist of 12 credits in composed policy tracks, 12 credits in policy specialization, 3 credits from a summative project and 3 credits for a professional development plan.

The program will accept a cohort of 20 students this fall.

“We expect a lot of demand in terms of applicants, and there have already been many inquiries since the announcement in December,” Gilley said.

The application process will be selective in order to ensure a diverse cohort with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.

“[We] are looking for individuals with real passion toward the public policy area; it takes just that to be a real professional in the public policy career field,” Gilley said. “The first cohort will really help shape the program.”

The program will assist those seeking careers in developing and analyzing policy. One of the goals of the program is to provide training and education in an area of study that usually falls between the cracks of existing programs.

Adi Darmawan is currently a senior at PSU. “Most [students] look for graduate programs after graduation and that is what I am currently advancing towards,” he said.

“When I heard of PSU offering a degree in public policy, I was sure where I was headed,” Darmawan said. “This presents an opportunity to not just receive a quality education, but also to contribute to the future of the program by contributing to the shaping and preparation for future participants.”

Applications for the program were made available in January. The final application deadline is April 30.