MPPM in Public Policy & Management

Career Options

Students completing the master's degree are prepared for a wide range of careers. Recent graduates have accepted positions as legislative aids at the state and national level, local and regional planners and town managers, policy analysts in nonprofits and private corporations, directors of nonprofit agencies, and private consultants.

Learn more about PPM graduate Dianna Walters and her work effecting change for child welfare policy.

The Public Policy & Management (PPM) program prepares graduates for leadership roles in government, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. The program provides each student with a strong, multi-disciplinary foundation of skills and knowledge and the opportunity to apply both to contemporary issues of public concern to strengthen communities and develop effective public leaders.

Mission Statement

The Public Policy & Management program at the Muskie School offers graduate-level education and training for those seeking a career in the public and nonprofit sectors. Educational experiences are multi-disciplinary and problem focused, with flexible delivery through traditional classes and distance technologies. PPM faculty, staff, and students engage in rigorous inquiry about the complex challenges of democratic governance in our diverse communities, states, and nation.


To educate students to have the ability to:

  1. Lead and manage in public governance and nonprofit organizations;
  2. Participate in and contribute to the policy process;
  3. Analyze and develop public policy;
  4. Solve problems and make decisions;
  5. Articulate and apply a public service perspective;
  6. Communicate and interact effectively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

Click on the "Learn More" tab below to read about our flexible course offerings, career advancement opportunities, and the impact our graduates make within the state and nation. 

For More Information

For more information about the Public Policy and Management program, please contact the Muskie Student Affairs Office at (207) 780-4864.

A total of 39 credits are required to earn the master's degree in public policy and management. The curriculum is based on core of six courses, a track of study selected to reflect career goals and shaped to enhance competencies and build depth of knowledge, elective coursework, and a culminating capstone project. The curriculum provides students with numerous opportunities to apply developing skills to real world issues and decision-making situations.

The Core Curriculum

A core curriculum of 21 credits (including a 3 credit capstone) assures an understanding of public policy making, management of public and community services, basic principles of economics, public finance and budgeting, design of policy and organizational research, and applying and communicating statistics and data analysis to study public service issues, answer questions and make decisions. Students who come to the Public Policy and Management Program without significant public service experience are required to complete a zero-credit field experience, or what is more commonly referred to as an internship. The field experience helps students understand and build public service values and gain experience.

The integrative capstone project is taken near the end of the program of study. Capstone efforts take many forms, for example: a piece of policy research, development of a strategic plan for a public or nonprofit agency, an organizational or human resource analysis, a case study, a survey, or a financial or budgetary study. Projects often are undertaken by small teams working with a faculty member. With instructor permission, a capstone may be done by an individual student under the guidance of a capstone advisor. Regardless of topic or whether done as a team or individual project, the capstone provides students an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member to apply knowledge and skills to a matter of current significance in public policy and management.

Accelerated Admissions Option.  Students with undergraduate degrees in public administration from the University of Maine or the University of Maine Augusta who have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher and GPA of 3.0 or higher in Public Administration courses will have the following two courses waived and the total credits required for the degree reduced to 33 credits:

Core Curriculum Requirements

Tracks of Study

To build upon skills and competencies gained through core courses, students elect a track of study composed of 12 credits of coursework. Track study enhances competencies and builds depth of knowledge and skills. Tracks are built using a range of designated courses that may change as student interests and program initiatives vary.

Policy Analysis Track

The policy analysis track is appropriate for students who are interested in analyzing and improving public policies. Students in this track learn to use policy analysis frameworks and research techniques and statistical methods for policy advising, research, and evaluation. Through careful selection of electives, students may complete a dual track in policy analysis and either financial resources management or organizational management.

Required Course:

Select six credits from the following methods courses:

Select three credits from the above methods courses or from the following set:

Public and Nonprofit Management Track

Students selecting the  Public and Nonprofit Management Track choose an emphasis in organizational management or financial resources management:

  • Organizational Management is appropriate for students who are interested in leading in state and local government, managing public and nonprofit organizations and foundations, working with people to achieve goals, and designing innovation and implementing changes.
  • Financial Resources Management is appropriate for students who are interested in the analysis of finances states and local governments or nonprofit organizations, analysis of state fiscal initiatives and policies, managing localities for fiscal health, economic development, regional solutions, and policy issues in state and local finance.    

Organizational Management Emphasis

Required Course:

Select six credits from the following set of core management competencies:

Select three credits from the following courses:

Financial Resources Management Emphasis

Select three credits from the following set of foundation knowledge courses:

Select six credits from the above foundation knowledge courses or from the following set:

Select three credits from the above foundation knowledge courses, core competency courses, or from the following choices:


Beyond the core and track requirements, students take six credits of electives of their choice that may include further courses from the tracks, courses relevant to a certificate, or courses of interest to them. Careful selection of electives often permits students to complete a dual track of study. The Program Chair and academic advisors help students with choices and academic planning.

Please see the USM Graduate Admissions website for information on the admissions process.

Upon entering the first semester, students will be given academic planning sheets they and their advisors should use to plan their courses for the duration of their degree. 

Course Sequencing

Students should consult with their  Applied Statistics for Public Policy and Management Foundations of Public Policy and Management Economics and Public Policy Public Service and Management and LeadershipResearch Design (advisors each semester about sequencing courses, pre-requisites for courses, when courses are likely to be offered, and how course choices may be used to promote career plans.

Number of credit hours: see Requirements tab on current page

Length to degree: see Requirements tab on current page

List of dual degrees: see on Requirements tab on current page

List of specializations: see Requirements tab on current page

Fast-track info: see Requirements tab on current page, section regarding students with undergraduate Public Administration degrees from the University of Maine in Augusta.

Number of students

Internship placement

Completion rate

Alumni careers (2002-2013)

Advance Your Career

Applicants with prior public service experience will significantly broaden their skills and abilities, enabling them to advance within their profession, while students new to the sector will find the combination of formal training and practical experience ideal preparation for careers in such fields as social and health services, administration, education, policy formation, and legislation. No matter the student’s level of experience, the program’s flexible course delivery- with classroom-based courses in Portland and Augusta and an exciting variety of online and distance offerings- makes it possible to complete a degree while maintaining a full-time career.

In keeping with the school’s hand’s on approach to the educational process, the PPM program is problem-focused, with problem solving emphasized throughout the curriculum, especially those that place students in “decision-forcing” settings. Students are encouraged throughout their program to undertake field projects, often within organizations in which they are employed or serve as volunteers. Through faculty research and public service activities, as well as the school’s Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy, students are also regularly involved in applied research projects that provide valuable professional experience.

Socially Relevant Curriculum

At the center of the curriculum is a core of study in policy analysis and public management, providing a foundation of knowledge and skills for effective performance in public policy and management.

The core of study includes a course which integrates politics, management, and policy making, as well as courses which approach the study of public policy from the perspectives of economics and ethics, and courses in the theory and techniques of computing, statistics, management, research design, and public finance and budgeting.

Engaged Faculty

Carolyn Ball, Ph.D.

Bruce Clary, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Charles Colgan, Ph.D.

Kate L. Forhan, Ph.D., Professor Emerita

Barbara Fraumeni, Ph.D.

Mark Lapping, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor

Josie LaPlante, Ph.D.

Lisa Morris, Ph.D.

New Publications

What's New?

Building Bridges Beyond the Quadrangle: The CAO and the External Community
(Book chapter by Mark Lapping in: Martin J, Samuels JE, eds. The Provost's Handbook: The Role of the Chief Academic Officer. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2015:200-206.)

Health Data and Financing and Delivery System Reform: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty? (Issue Brief by Barbara Shaw, Andy Coburn, Kimberley Fox, Andrea Gerstenberger, and Barbara Leonard)

New Jersey's Manage by Data Program: Changing Culture and Capacity to Improve Outcomes(Report by David Lambert and Julie Atkins).

Rural Implications of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. (Issue Brief by Erika Ziller, Jennifer Lenardson, and Andy Coburn).

Safety of Rural Nursing Home-to-Emergency Department Transfers: Improving Communication and Patient Information Sharing across Settings. Journal for Healthcare Quality, 37(1), 55-65. (Authors: Judy Tupper, Carolyn Gray, Karen Pearson, and Andy Coburn).

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