McGeorge School of Law


Frequently Asked Questions

How do the McGeorge MPP and MPA degrees differ from other offerings?

The MPA and MPP degrees offered by McGeorge School of Law join knowledge of the law, competencies in analyses, and skills in action. While all work of public professionals must be based on law, this is the first offering of this degree by a law school. It affords students a deep understanding of statutes and regulations critical to modern governance.

Particular focus in the program is given to analysis and action in the contexts of high complexity, conflict and uncertainty. The campus close to California's State Capitol in Sacramento is an asset-- near the offices of state, federal and local agencies, plus those of non-profits and advocacy firms focused on public policy making and implementation. This provides access to experienced professionals as adjunct faculty and guest lecturers plus access to opportunities as externs and interns for students. Graduates understand and have the skills to master various aspects of governance, including the use of formal authority and competencies of governments, roles of non-profits and businesses, and citizen engagement.

Is McGeorge known and respected?

McGeorge School of Law has been educating lawyers in Sacramento for 93 years. A clue to McGeorge's reputation in this state capital: the Gordon D. Schaber County Courthouse, home to Sacramento County Superior Court, and the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library at McGeorge were both named for the man who served as dean of McGeorge for 34 years. McGeorge alumni dominate lists of the 100 most influential attorneys in Sacramento and McGeorge alumni are leaders in state agencies, lobbying firms and non-profit organizations as well as law firms in Sacramento and beyond.

Is this a new program?

The first students enrolled in the MPP and MPA degree programs in 2016. We are, however, a very experienced faculty with over a century of experience among core faculty members preparing graduate students for professional success. We are committed to providing courses and experiences to successfully launch your career in service to the public.

How does this program fit into law degrees at McGeorge?

McGeorge School of Law offers the JD, MSL, LLM, and JSD law-related degrees and two non-law degrees—the MPP and MPA. The public policy and law degrees complement and strengthen each other. You will take at least two law courses among your required courses and more for an area of concentration. Law students may enroll in public policy courses and some students will pursue both a JD and MPP or JD and MPA degree.

Does the American Bar Association accredit the MPP or MPA degrees?

No, the ABA only accredits the JD degree at any law school, including McGeorge. The American Bar Association must approve offering this degree through McGeorge School of Law by granting "acquiescence. " The ABA wants to ensure that the educational experience of JD students in law schools it accredits is not diminished by any new degree offered by an accredited law school. These programs received ABA acquiescence in 2015, including access by JD students to elective courses in public policy.

How should I choose between the MPA and the MPP?

Are you most interested in working with others to implement public policies? Do you like partnering with or managing others in direct actions? If so, the MPA, which emphasizes leading and managing competencies, is a good choice. Are you most interested in analyzing how to solve complex public policy issues, including how to identify and assess options for action? Do you like developing policy proposals and then getting them enacted into law or regulation? If so, the MPP which emphasizes analytic and policy making competencies, is a good choice.

I am also considering a MBA; is that a good option?

The MBA is a good choice for those committed to work in for-profit firms; it is not as well-suited if your goal is working in non-profit or public settings. Most of those enrolling in a MPP or MPA degree seek to "make a difference," seen as making the world a better place or serving others, which are values more congruent with the MPA or MPP degrees. Additionally, the private sector operates quite differently than the public or non-profit sectors, with different systems of accountability, finance, accounting standards, employment or budgeting, for example.

Is it possible to earn a JD degree as well as a MPP or a MPA?

Yes it is possible to earn both degrees, requiring one more year of study in addition to that required for the JD, but saving a year compared to pursuing both degrees independently. The first year, a student takes only law courses and then begins the public policy courses in the second year. Please contact us to discuss this option.

Is this a good time to pursue a MPA or MPP degree?

Now is always a great time to invest in yourself! Those pursuing the MPA or MPP degrees are motivated by a desire to make a difference in society, to advance their careers, to join a community and to stretch their minds. We live in an increasingly complex world, with deep conflicts and large uncertainties. Moreover, as more baby boomers retire, this creates employment opportunities for graduates to move into new or enhanced careers.

How should I pick a school in which to enroll?

Pick a program that fits your needs and is also challenging. A MPP or MPA degree should substantially change your understanding of our society and increase your competencies to make a meaningful difference. We admit students who we believe will thrive and succeed in our programs and commit ourselves to supporting students through completion of their degrees and in professional careers.

Can federal loans be forgiven by public service?

Some federal loans can be partially forgiven if employed in public service. See: Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

What are classes like?

Public policy courses (coded "PUB" in the course catalog) are taught in a seminar style, true also of some law courses (coded "LAW") while other law classes are taught in the traditional Socratic style in amphitheater seating with possibly larger enrollment. In PUB classes, students engage in spirited policy discussions and learn about innovative management approaches from experienced professionals, who impart their knowledge based on their own experiences in their fields of expertise. Most assignments take the form of recognized professional work products, such as a decision memo, an analysis to be presented to a committee of the California state legislature, an issue brief or comment on a proposed regulation.

What is an externship? An Internship?

Students pursuing the MPP degree are required to complete an externship, typically in their second semester, and also an internship, typically in the summer between year one and year two for full time students. MPP students may complete additional internships depending on availability and satisfactory progress on their degree. Students pursuing the MPA may complete an externship with approval of the Program Director and may undertake an internship also. Externships are for credit and unpaid; internships are not for credit and can be paid.

Both public service internships and externships build on McGeorge's strong connections to government agencies, non-profits, advocacy organizations and private firms. These real world experiences are important components of the overall educational experience, which prepare students to effectively engage in complex and consequential public issues.


Contact Casey Heinzen, Assistant Director, Public Policy Programs
Email | 916.520.7471

Student Spotlight

TestVanessa Adame
Vanessa Adame
Class of 2018 
Hometown: Folsom, Calif.
Undergraduate: UC Davis
Major: Political science and psychology

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