McGeorge School of Law

MPA & MPP FAQ

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.

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. We would be happy to work with you in figuring out which program is a better fit for your strengths and needs.

What kind of post-graduation employment can I expect?

Many of our students receive placements or promotions while they are completing the program. McGeorge's Career Development Office is active in seeking out and distributing information regarding career opportunities for MPA and MPP students, and continues to stay engaged with alumni to make sure our students are placed in a career which suits their interests and capabilities.

What is McGeorge's Influence in the Community?

McGeorge School of Law has been educating lawyers in Sacramento for 93 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. One sign of 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 from 1957-1991.

Members of our McGeorge family serve on nonprofit boards, provide pro-bono legal services, and participate as active community volunteers for dozens of local and national community outreach organizations. Students, faculty, staff and alumni contribute thousands of hours annually to support important community and charitable efforts.

Why Sacramento?

No state and few nations face the complexity and consequence of policy choices made and implemented in California. The campus, located just 10 minutes from the State Capitol, is at the epicenter of the offices of state, federal and local agencies, plus those of non-profits and advocacy firms focused on public policy making and implementation. This proximity ensures that our students are able to analyze, observe and engage in today's most critical issues.

Sacramento is also an excellent place to live, work, and play! CareerBliss rated Sacramento 1st for Happiest Workers in Mid-Sized Cities. Bloomberg Businessweek placed Sacramento 2nd in their Top 10 Most Fun, Affordable U.S. Cities. Sometimes referred to as the City of Trees, Sacramento has the most canopy coverage of any major city in the United States, and comes in 3rd worldwide (MIT, Treepedia).

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.

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. This allowed the MPA and MPP programs to be offered under the law school as well as allowing JD students to take public policy courses as electives.

What is the difference between an MPA and an MBA?

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.

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.

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. In the Dual JD-MPP degree program, a student takes only law courses the first year, and then begins the public policy courses in the second year. Students pursuing a JD and MPA typically complete the JD and then focus on the MPA. Please contact us to discuss these options.

When is the application deadline?

We accept applications on a rolling deadline. This means that there is no fixed time your application must be complete in order to be considered. We will continue to evaluate applications until we have reached capacity or until classes begin. However, in order to have the best chance of admission and the best access to scholarship assistance, we encourage prospective applicants to submit their applications as soon as possible. The MPA program allows students to begin each Fall semester (classes starting in August) and each Spring semester (with classes starting in January). The MPP program accepts students for the Fall semester only.

Are scholarships available? How much do the programs cost?

Each application to the MPA and MPP programs is automatically considered for scholarships. If accepted, the letter of admission will include details about the scholarship assistance McGeorge is able to offer. Most students receive a scholarship. Scholarship amounts are dependent on the strength of the application, the timing of the recruitment cycle, and other factors. For this reason, it is strongly encouraged that prospective applicants submit their application as early as possible to maximize the benefits which are available to them. Additionally, the McGeorge Financial Aid office is available to advise on Federal assistance programs, and other options available to graduate students.

Our cost is comprised of three components. Each semester, students pay tuition based on the number of units they are taking. Additionally, there is a $50 per semester fee which goes towards student government, student organizations, and other student amenities. Finally, all students are required to have health insurance. If a student is not already covered under a health insurance plan, they will be required to purchase the student health insurance plan. For more information and a current estimate of total costs, please click here.

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).

Does McGeorge participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans?

McGeorge is proud to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. For more information about eligibility and benefits, please click here.

What are classes like?

Public policy courses are typically comprised of 15-25 students. Classes are structured to allow for a working schedule, with most courses being offered in the evenings or on weekends. 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. Some assignments are individual, while others are based on team work.

Is a thesis required?

No. Our MPA and MPP programs focus on practical professional skills. Instead of writing a thesis (a type of document you are unlikely to replicate later in your career) you'll participate in a capstone course. This capstone course requires students to construct a professional presentation on a major issue of public administration and/or policy by pulling together the knowledge and skills gained from all previous classes.

What is an externship? An internship?

Externships are for credit and unpaid; internships are not for credit and can be paid. 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. MPP students who are already working should consult their academic advisor in order to incorporate the externship and internship requirements into their existing job. Students pursuing the MPA may complete an externship with approval of the Program Director and may undertake an internship also.

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.