Master of Public Policy

2021-2022 Fact Sheet

Degree Title: Master of Public Policy

University of Northern Iowa (UNI)

The mission of the UNI’s Master of Public Policy program is to enhance the public service values of emerging and mid-career public service professionals and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to analyze, develop, and evaluate public policy at all levels of government. We expect our graduates to: value accountability and transparency as integral to responsible stewardship of the public trust; be able to assess the ethical implications of policy decisions and incorporate those considerations into their professional work; be able to differentiate between efficiency and effectiveness in evaluating policy alternatives; and demonstrate respect, equity and fairness in their dealings with fellow public servants and a diverse citizenry. 

OrganizationThe MPP program is an academic program within the Department of Political Science in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA.
Method of InstructionAll courses are delivered online, with courses meeting synchronously via Zoom on Tuesday evenings.
Number of Credit Hours37 hours (34 if internship requirement is waived. Students who are already working in the public sector or have significant public sector experience may have this requirement waived upon approval by the Graduate Coordinator).

Structure of Program and Length of Degree

The program follows a cohort model, with new cohorts admitted in odd-year fall semesters. The program is designed for full-time students to finish in two years. Students take two, 8-week long classes each fall and spring semester, two asynchronous courses (and internship, if not waived) during their first summer, and complete an independent research project in their second summer.

Number of Students

As of Fall 2020, the program had 24 students enrolled. Nearly all of these (22) were part of the Fall 2019 cohort, which began with 23 students. At any given time, students from previous cohorts may still be enrolled as they complete their research project or other unfinished work.

Number of Faculty

The Program is overseen by Dr. Chris Larimer, Program Coordinator, and Dr. Scott Peters, Head, Department of Political Science. Seven faculty teach courses within the MPP sequence. You can find all of their bios here. During the final summer of the program, students complete a research project under the supervision of a UNI faculty member. Thus, the total number of faculty in the program depends upon cohort size. In the 2019 cohort, counting all independent research sections, 20 faculty members taught within the program.

Graduate Completion Rate*

Initially enrolled in 2015 cohort

Graduated within 2 years

Graduated within 3 years

Graduated within 4 years

Total students graduated and persisting to graduation










*For students initially enrolled in the 2015 cohort (AY-5)

Tuition & Financial Aid

All students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of location, making it an affordable option for all students.

  • Tuition for the 2021-22 academic year is $517 per unit of graduate credit or $325 per unit of undergraduate credit. An additional technology fee per course may apply. Tuition and fees are expected to rise each May, typically announced by the Iowa Board of Regents in March.
  • Qualified students are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship for an academic year, with $500 applied to the Fall term and $500 to the Spring term. No scholarships are applied to the summer term. May be renewed for a second year. See for details.

Admissions criteria

To be admitted, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. We also offer provisional admission for those whose undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0, but who demonstrate through their work experience the ability to complete graduate-level work. Toward that end, we rely heavily on letters of recommendation and personal statements to gauge how prepared students are for the work and how the program will help them pursue their career goals. Students must submit:

  • Undergraduate transcript(s)
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation

Careers & Internships

Students are required to complete 3 hours of internship credit in a designated organization. Such organizations include, but are not limited to, federal, state, or local public organizations, or non-profit organizations. Students entering the program may request a waiver of the internship requirement if they have sufficient work experience.

Students NOT seeking a waiver are required to contact the Graduate Coordinator during the first fall semester of the program to discuss internship placement. The student and instructor will jointly identify a public or non-profit agency suitable for placement where the student will be expected to complete 90 hours of work. The student, in consultation with the agency and Graduate Coordinator, will identify a project for which the student has the primary responsibility. The project must involve policy analysis (quantitative or qualitative), not just routine agency work. Performance at the internship is assessed through four work products: 

  • Preliminary analysis of the policy issue
  • A report produced for the agency
  • A reflection paper on the experience
  • An evaluation by the agency supervisor

In recent years, student have completed internships at:

  • American Network of Community Options and Resources
  • Shelter House of Iowa City, IA (Nonprofit)
  • National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Advanced Research Intern (University of Maryland)
  • City Clerk’s Office, Hudson, IA
  • Greater Des Moines Partnership/Capital Crossroads (Nonprofit)
  • Black Hawk County Elections Office, Waterloo, IA
  • Goodwill of Central Iowa (Nonprofit)

Due to the cohort nature of our program, most students complete their degree in odd-numbered years. Nine of the 11 students who completed the program in 2019 responded to alumni surveys. 100% of these graduates were employed six months after graduation. Consistent with our mission to serve current and emerging public service professionals, 10 of these 11 2019 graduates were employed when they began the program in 2017.

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