The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted today to approve a new Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree to be offered at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth starting in January 2006.
Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said "the Master of Public Policy will become one of UMass Dartmouth's signature academic programs. It is built around an outstanding faculty and it will build on the applied research capabilities of the Center for Policy Analysis by bringing policy skills and knowledge back into the classroom."
After the BHE's vote, Dr. Louis Esposito, UMass Dartmouth Provost, announced the establishment of a new Department of Policy Studies, chaired by Dr. Clyde W. Barrow, that will offer the new MPP degree and the university's undergraduate minor in policy studies. Provost Esposito described UMass Dartmouth's new MPP degree as one "especially designed for employees in state, federal, and municipal governments, non-profit organizations, and business, trade, and labor associations, who are interested in career advancement, professional development, or a career change."
The MPP will be a two-year professional degree, although part-time students will be admitted and allowed a longer period of time to complete the degree. Students will be required to complete 39 credits of required coursework (13 courses) in topics such as Public Management, Public Finance, Policy Analysis, and Applied Policy Research. Students may also specialize in Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, Economic Development, Social Policy, Public Management, or Criminal Justice Policy.
In developing the Master of Public Policy program, faculty and administrators examined best practices for MPP degrees nationally with the intention of designing a curriculum that would meet national accreditation standards, as well as the stated needs of alumni, UMD students, public policy practitioners, and public managers in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Rhode Island.
The Center for Policy Analysis surveyed 384 University undergraduates and found that 45% of the students planned to attend graduate school in the next five years, and 36% indicated they would consider enrolling in a Master of Public Policy Program at UMD if one became available. Of 514 municipal officials surveyed, 85 responded with nearly three-fifths (58.3%) indicating that they planned to attend graduate school in the next five years, and nearly one-third (31.3%) indicating that they would consider enrolling in a Master of Public Policy Program at UMD.
The survey also asked municipal department heads whether it was important for management, supervisory, and other professional-level employees in their organization to have a master???s degree in public policy or a comparable field. Nearly four-fifths of the respondents (79.8%) rated such a degree as either very important (28.6%) or somewhat important (51.2%) to professional employees. Nearly four-fifths of the respondents (79.8%) reported that they were very likely (34.5%) or somewhat likely (45.2%) to recommend the program to current employees as important to their career advancement. As potential future employers of the program???s graduates, 23 public officials in the region submitted letters of support, including mayors, selectmen, town administrators, school superintendents, economic development officers, and workforce development officials.
The BHE's independent analysis concluded that the new MPP degree "matches well the mission of the University to offer and promote distinctive forms of public service" and will "fill an underserved regional market niche." It also cited national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that projects overall employment of social scientists is expected to grow by 1.4% annually through 2010 and that social science "graduates with master's degrees in applied specialties usually have better professional opportunities outside of colleges and universities" compared to bachelor's degree holders. By contrast, the BLS reports that individuals with only a bachelors degree in the social sciences "have limited opportunities and in most social science occupations do not qualify for professional positions."
Dr. Barrow, who authored the university's nearly 700-page degree proposal, noted that the MPP is the first new social science graduate program to be added at UMass Dartmouth in at least 25 years. He said that based on their survey findings, and the unmet pent up demand for graduate education in the region, the new department expects to enroll about 60 graduate students within the next three years and to hire several new faculty to accommodate that demand. The new department will create several new teaching assistantships, while new research assistantships will be created at the Center for Policy Analysis to support the program. The Department is also in the process of executing a memorandum of agreement with Kassel University in Germany to expand a student and faculty exchange program that was initiated last summer.
The new department will begin accepting applications to the Master of Public Policy immediately. Further information on the new degree may be found at http://www.umassd.edu/cas/policystudies/policy.cfm
. General information on graduate studies at UMass Dartmouth is available at ic Policy immediately. Further information on the new degree may be found at http://www.umassd.edu/graduate/
or potential applicants can contact Dr. Clyde W. Barrow, Director of the Center for Policy Analysis, at (508-999-9265).