Frequently asked questions


So many significant issues affecting humanity today are deeply intertwined with policy. However, policies are frequently outdated and rooted in past precedent, so they struggle to keep pace with the ever-evolving landscape. To address these issues, we need individuals who are exceptionally intelligent and well trained to step forward and lead.

Graduate programs in public policy are designed to prepare students for success, focusing on essential skills such as policy research, design and analysis, which are all critical for effective public policy work. Our M.P.P. program does more than train individuals for various public policy jobs; it empowers graduates to address significant issues on local, national and global levels.

A Master of Public Policy prepares graduates for fulfilling careers that make a difference in people’s lives and allow professionals to earn a wage that is considered comfortable in most major cities. Labor market analytics data from Lightcast shows that the median base salary for professionals with an M.P.P. is $72,000 per year.

An M.P.P. degree equips graduates with a versatile skill set that allows them to seamlessly transition across the governmental, nonprofit and private sectors. Government career options for M.P.P. graduates may include political roles such as working for officials at various levels or engaging in campaign operations, legislative analysis and policy development. Non-political government positions can range from program management to legal analysis. In the nonprofit sector, M.P.P. holders are prepared to contribute to policy research and advocacy or may even establish their own organizations. The private sector increasingly values M.P.P. graduates for roles in advocacy, government relations, marketing, communications, public relations, consulting and program analysis.

According to Lightcast, the top potential careers for M.P.P. graduates are:

  • Economist
  • Environmental scientist/specialist
  • Legislator
  • Political scientist
  • Social science research assistant
  • Statistician
  • Survey researcher

Students in our program can also take advantage of SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center, which offers comprehensive support services such as career counseling, resume writing and internship placements. The program team will help identify job opportunities within the policy space.

Yes, the Heigl Family Career Development Center and the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies both offer opportunities for online graduate students to meet with career advisors, build their portfolios and prepare themselves for the world of public policy. Professors in our program also work with students to connect them with agencies and think tanks that match their interests through guest speakers and immersion opportunities.

Program experience

An online master’s degree will allow you the flexibility to take classes while working or attending to other priorities. That said, an online degree is still a commitment. In the SMU M.P.P., half of your work is asynchronous, meaning you can complete it at your convenience. The asynchronous portion includes videos and both independent and group work. The ideal student is self-motivated and organized enough to create a schedule that allows them to meet deadlines.

The remaining 50% of the program is synchronous via Zoom. Your instructors create engaging lessons that encourage participation, and students will benefit from arriving to class ready to engage. Each class meets weekly in the evening, typically between 6:30-10 p.m. CT. In addition, a key feature of this program is the network that you can create with your classmates, instructors and guest speakers.

The first immersion takes place at the beginning of the program and involves interactive lectures, workshops and meetings with faculty and public policy professionals. This opportunity is designed to introduce students to the foundations of public policy and set a positive tone for their academic journey.

The second immersion occurs during the Capstone B course, typically in the final term of the program. Students present their capstone projects to classmates, faculty members and public policy professionals working in a variety of sectors. Both immersion experiences provide students with networking opportunities and a deep understanding of policy analysis and implementation. Learn more about our immersion experiences on our curriculum page.

Yes! Online students have the same access to campus resources, such as:

Once enrolled, your online orientation will discuss these resources.

Students can earn their degree on a part-time schedule in two years, or six terms, by taking two courses per term.

Request information

To download a program brochure and learn more about the online Master of Public Policy offered by Southern Methodist University, please fill out the form. You can also get in touch with an enrollment counselor directly by calling us at 855-741-1818.

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There are priority deadlines that have some benefits, but the program has rolling admission. Find the next priority application deadline on our admission page.

The admission committee wants to see a strong argument for why you are a good fit for the program. Tell us who you are, what you want to achieve and why you think this graduate program will get you there. Be sure to address how you plan to engage in an online program. Even though the program is online, it is meant to be collaborative with your other classmates and instructors. Tailor your statement to SMU and this program.

We look at all the materials in an application carefully to get a holistic impression of an applicant and try to gauge their chances for success in the program. The statement is especially important because it is one of the few pieces of the application that you create. You can’t change your transcripts or recommendations, but you can be sure to craft a strong and logical statement. Please note: a statement of purpose is also a writing sample, so be sure it is error-free and well written.

The purpose of the recommendations is to give the admission committee an indication of your ability to succeed in the program. Choose recommenders who know you well and have evidence they can share about how you will succeed in an online master’s program. Ideally, applicants should submit at least one from an academic source, although this is not a strict requirement.

No, GRE scores are not required to apply to our program.

Tuition and fees

The total tuition cost for this program is $36,000. Find a full summary of our program tuition and fees on our tuition and financial aid page.

Yes! Students enrolled in SMU’s online M.P.P. are encouraged to request federal and state financial aid by completing their FAFSA. Scholarships may be awarded by academic departments during the admission process. Any scholarships awarded will be submitted to the Graduate Financial Aid Office to be included in your total financial aid offer.

Active military service members, veterans and their spouses and dependents have access to additional funding through the Yellow Ribbon Program in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Yellow Ribbon Program allows military service members and their families to utilize funds to cover tuition expenses and other costs, including books and fees. Learn more about our funding opportunities on our tuition and financial aid page.