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Master of Public Policy (MPP)

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The Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree is a 36-credit interdisciplinary degree designed to provide students the tools necessary to understand and solve complex issues related to public policy. This program will help students develop knowledge in foundational elements of public policy coupled with a concentration in animal protection policy, food and agricultural policy, community resilience, clean energy policy, or justice reform policy. MPP courses are offered online and in person during our summer session.

Program Description

The world’s complex public policy ecosystem demands professionals that can navigate both the halls of government and vast world of advocacy, government relations, and lobbying.

The MPP program will:

  • prepare students to engage in public policy with an eye towards what is strategically and politically feasible;
  • advance students’ abilities to strategically communicate, advocate, and lobby; and,
  • provide students with deep expertise in a policy field of their choice. If students would prefer to create their own track, they can choose from a comprehensive list of courses in our catalog to build the skills they need.

Animal Protection Policy Track

Our innovative and specialized courses focus on training students on the political, scientific, and ethical aspects of effective strategic animal advocacy. Students learn from leading experts and accomplished scholars with unique experiential learning opportunities including clinics or externships with prominent practitioners. Students benefit from the school's decades-long history as a pioneer in animal law and policy, distinguished faculty, robust and active network of alumni in leadership positions, and collaborative programs such as the Animal Law and Policy Institute. Students learn the fundamentals to become effective animal advocates in a variety of career paths. The required courses are Animal Protection Policy and the Science of Animal Law and Policy. Following these two core courses students may choose to take electives such as Animal Ethics, Animals and the Law, Biodiversity Protection, International Animal Law, the Law of Animals in Agriculture, Undercover Investigations of Animal Operations, and more.

Food and Agricultural Policy Track

Students can choose from an array of courses taught by world-renowned faculty. The food an agricultural policy track trains students in public advocacy and writing for a legal policy audience, offers opportunities for independent research with support from faculty, and opens doors to externships at organizations around the country and the world. Our unique and comprehensive curriculum, developed by faculty of VLGS's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, develops students' advocacy skills in the growing and dynamic area of food and agriculture policy.

Clean Energy Policy Track

The clean energy policy track prepares students for career opportunities advocating for and leading the clean energy transition. Energy policy has become the single most important influence on environmental protection and the climate. The need to transition expeditiously to a low carbon future is perhaps our greatest environmental and economic challenge and increased electrification is at the center of this transition. This policy track prepares students to lead on the fundamental policy issues critical to our clean energy transition by developing knowledge of current and future energy resources, the critical need to advance electrification as the leading low carbon alternative, the importance of regulation and markets, and the policy challenges we face in transitioning to renewable resources, advancing energy efficiency and decarbonizing or transportation system. Students also benefit from the Institute for Energy and the Environment, our renowned resource focused on the energy policy of the future. The required courses for this track are Energy Policy in a Carbon Constrained World and Energy Regulation, Markets and the Environment. Following these two core courses students may choose to take two energy electives from the following courses: Energy Efficiency Policy, Sustainable Transportation Law and Policy, Sustainable Energy Project Finance and Development and Oil and Gas Production and the Environment.

Justice Reform Policy Track

The Justice Reform track will include a variety of courses that provide students with the opportunity to evaluate historical and contemporary practices in a spectrum of governmental law and policy enforcement agencies. Students will develop the skills to analyze the purpose or intent of justice-related laws and policies, to analyze how laws and policies are implemented in practice—including any inherent or applied bias, and to reform current laws and policies to better achieve specific intended outcomes and goals through equitable practices. The courses will include Applied Criminal Justice, Clemency, Pardon and Expungement, Disability Civil Rights, and Drug Policy Reform. VLGS is home to the Center for Justice Reform, a statewide, regional, national, and international educational and training location for justice reform efforts including restorative justice.

    At A Glance

    Location: Online or Hybrid
    Duration: 18 – 24 months

    What are the Learning Goals of the MPP?

    • Foundational Policy Skills – Graduates will be able to engage in policy design, analysis, and evaluation, including determining if a policy is a success or a failure.
    • Strategic Communication and Advocacy Skills – Graduates will be able to use written, oral, and graphic skills to communicate effectively and persuasively through a variety of mediums including speech, social media, and written documents.
    • Inclusive Policy Making Skills – Graduates will be able to analyze the impact of current and proposed policies on individuals and communities historically marginalized and underserved by political systems. Graduates will be able to consider and assess diverse perspectives and navigate the complexity that comes with multiple perspectives.
    • Professionalism – Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of professionalism that involves working effectively inclusively and co-creating an environment where each perspective is considered for the cooperative purpose of making progress toward common goals. Graduates will interact respectfully and appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts.
    • Foundational and Substantive Policy and Knowledge – Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a substantive policy field (e.g., animal protection policy, food and agriculture policy, community resilience, energy regulation, justice reform) and its role in society.


    What is the curriculum?

    The MPP has seven required courses (19 Credits) and 17 track and experiential learning credits.

    • Core Required Courses (19 Credits)
      • Legislation and Regulation
      • Lobbying and Government Affairs 
      • Introduction to Policy Research and Writing
      • Communication, Leadership, Advocacy
      • Policy Design
      • Introduction to Public Policy
      • Structural Inequality 
    • Track Courses (17 Credits) – Examples include:
      • Animal Protection Policy Track
      • Justice Reform Track
      • Clean Energy Track
      • Food and Agriculture Law and Policy Track


    What are the Benefits of the MPP?

    • Distinct: The MPP degree is different from any other degree on the market. Taught by a combination of legal professionals and policy experts, this degree will give you the advocacy and lobbying skills you need to be a successful policy professional.
    • Flexible: You can complete the degree entirely online or opt to take the program in a hybrid format and join us in Vermont over the summer.