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What is public policy?

Public policy encompasses principles, laws, regulatory measures, courses of action and/or priorities created by a governmental body. The underlying values and outcomes of public policy not only exist in traditional government, whether local, national or international, but also in private companies, nonprofit organizations and community-based organizations. A public policy degree is designed to empower students to have the tools and skills necessary for understanding and shaping public policy.

What kind of jobs can I get with a MPP degree?

MPP graduates will have a diverse set of skills for employment in all areas of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and will benefit from the Hobby School's extensive network of contacts.

Recent employers of our MPP alumni include AIG, CHILDREN AT RISK, Drug Enforcement Agency, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management, Harris County Public Health, Houston-Galveston Area Council, Institute for Human Rights and Business, and Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

The average starting salary of a MPP graduate will vary greatly by sector, geography, and work experience. For example, entry-level policy analysts average over $50,000, and executive positions can earn over $100,000.

How do I apply for the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

For complete details on how to apply, visit the MPP Admissions page and Graduate Certificates page.

What are the application deadlines for the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

The Fall 2021 priority deadline for domestic and international applicants is March 1, 2021. The Fall 2021 application deadline for international applicants is June 15, 2021, and for domestic applicants is August 1, 2021.

The Spring 2022 priority deadline for domestic and international applicants is October 15, 2021. The Spring 2022 application deadline for international applicants is November 1, 2021, and for domestic applicants is December 1, 2021.

What are the application fees for the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

The application fee for the MPP program is $50 for domestic student applicants and $80 for international student applicants. The application fee for the graduate certificate programs is now $25.

Application fee waivers are available for prospective students that attend one of the Hobby School's virtual information sessions. In order to be notified about these virtual information sessions, contact Scott Mason at to be added to the Hobby School's e-mail distribution list.

What semesters offer admission to the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

The MPP and graduate certificate programs offer admissions for the Fall and Spring semesters.

Who should submit the letters of recommendation?

The MPP application requires two letters of recommendation. The graduate certificate application does not.

Letters of recommendation are gathered electronically. Applicants will be asked to provide the e-mail addresses of two references. The recommendation is that one recommender is a professional reference and the other recommender is an academic reference. However, the recommenders can be both professional or academic.

What specializations are offered in the MPP program?

As part of the MPP program, students are required to complete a specialization that is six hours, or typically two courses. This specialization and courses are selected by the student and approved by the Hobby School.

The Hobby School doesn't have a pre-selected list of specializations that must be used. Therefore, students are encouraged to find graduate-level electives throughout the university that fit their interests. The following are some examples of MPP students' specializations: Governmental Affairs, Health Policy, Higher Education Policy, Nonprofit Management, and Quantitative Methods.

The specialization won't specifically appear on students' diploma or transcripts. However, a record is kept by the Hobby School of all specializations, and students are encouraged to list their specialization on their resume.

Do you offer any dual degree programs?

Yes, we offer dual degree/accelerated pathway programs.

Dual degree programs allow students to complete two graduate degrees in less time. Accelerated pathway programs provide provide senior students permission to take a specified number of master’s level courses as electives toward completion of their bachelor’s degree. The students then apply to the relevant graduate program and if accepted, the previously completed graduate coursework during the senior year is counted as transfer credit toward the completion of the master’s degree.

For more information on these programs, visit Dual Degree Programs page.

How long do the MPP and graduate certificates take to complete?

Full-time students can complete the MPP program in approximately two years or five semesters. Part-time students can take three or more years. Dual degree/accelerated pathway programs will typically take at least a year longer to earn both degrees.

The graduate certificates are comprised of four courses, and designed to be completed in two semesters. However, it's possible that a student could complete all four courses to earn the graduate certificate in only one semester, but this isn't recommended.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement for the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

No, and the Hobby School Admissions Committee considers not just an applicant's GPA, but also their previous academic institutions, major/minor, and time to complete their program. While there is no minimum GPA requirement for these programs, applicants will have a higher probability of admission with a higher GPA.

However, applicants that have a GPA below 3.0 can only be admitted on a conditional basis, which is basically a probationary status to closely monitor the student's progress.

Are there any required prerequisite courses needed for admission into the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

No, there aren't any required prerequisite courses needed for admission into the MPP and graduate certificate programs.

However, students would especially benefit from previous courses in economics, mathematics, philosophy, and writing.

What graduate-level tests are required for admission into the MPP program?

Due to COVID-19 issues, the MPP program will waive the GRE requirement for all Fall 2021 applicants with a 3.2 or higher undergraduate GPA from an accredited institution.

The GRE requirement is also waived if an applicant has completed a PhD, JD, or MD in the U.S. or the equivalent of a PhD or MD outside the U.S. All other applicants are required to complete the GRE.

Although there are no minimum GRE scores, the typical well-qualified student scores 152 on the verbal, 150 on the quantitative, and 4.0 on the analytical writing sections. GRE scores will only be counted if the exam was completed within the previous five years of the application.

GRE scores should be sent directly from Educational Testing Services (ETS) to UH (GRE Code: R6870). Your application will not be processed without GRE scores if they are required. GRE scores older than five years will not be accepted.

What graduate-level tests are required for admission into the graduate certificate programs?

While the MPP program requires the GRE besides the exceptions listed above, there are no tests required for admission into the graduate certificate programs.

What are the English language proficiency requirements for admission?

All graduate applicants, regardless of citizenship status, must demonstrate proficiency in English to obtain admission to the graduate programs.

The most common way is for an applicant to earn a bachelor's degree (or higher) from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or at an institution at which English is the medium of instruction in the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, Liberia, Trinidad, the Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Turks and Caicos, and English-speaking Canadian provinces.

The other methods are achieving minimum scores on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)/IELTS (International English Language Testing Service)/Duolingo English Test, or Level 6 completion of UH's Language and Culture Center.

For more specific information about the English language proficiency requirements, visit the English Language Proficiency Requirement page.

How much do the MPP and graduate certificate programs cost?

For more information on program costs, please visit the Graduate Tuition & Fees page.

What scholarships and other financial aid is offered?

Each semester, eligible students currently receive up to a $3,000 Hobby School Excellence Scholarship. The Hobby School Excellence Scholarship is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. In addition, other scholarships, grants, and loans are available.

While graduate certificate students can potentially receive a Hobby School Excellence Scholarship, federal financial aid cannot be used for these programs.

For more information, please visit the Financial Aid & Financial Assistance page.

Are the MPP and graduate certificate programs offered online?

Due to COVID-19 issues, most classes are offered online, and some have a face-to-face option. The Hobby School anticipates that we will transition back to more face-to-face classes after Spring 2021.

When are MPP and graduate certificate program classes held?

In order to accommodate working students, required classes are offered in the evenings, Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Specialization elective classes can be held on different days and times.

Where are MPP and graduate certificate program classes held?

Most classes are held in McElhinney Hall and nearby buildings. Specialization elective classes can be held in different campus buildings.

Due to COVID-19 issues, these classes have mostly been moved online for Spring 2021.

Can I use my current job for the MPP internship requirement?

Yes, as long as the job is related to public policy, it can be used for the MPP's internship requirement. However, the POLC 6391 Public Policy Internship course and related assignments would still need to be completed.


Can I transfer courses from another graduate school?

Possibly. With permission from the Director of Graduate Studies, students can transfer up to nine graduate credit hours from another university if they have not already completed that graduate program. Students will be required to submit syllabi and possibly coursework to evaluate transfer credit. In addition, students will not receive transfer credit from a completed program.

Does UH offer a PhD program in Public Policy?

No, UH does not currently offer a PhD program in Public Policy. However, UH does offer a PhD in Political Science.

What is the process for graduation and commencement?

For more information, visit the University Commencement page.

Who should I contact if I have any questions about the application process for the MPP and graduate certificate programs?

Please contact Scott Mason (; 713 743 5572).