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Pepperdine University School of Public Policy

The Pepperdine University School of Public Policy is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree program, located in Malibu, California. It is one of five graduate schools at Pepperdine University with specializations in Public Policy and Economics, Public Policy and American Politics, International Relations and National Security, and State and Local Policy.

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) requires 50 units of course work with four 3- or 4-unit courses each semester for two academic years (four semesters). The first year is primarily composed of core courses and provides a foundation for the student's specialization courses, most of which are taken in the second year.[1]


The School of Public Policy enrolls approximately 100 students and offers a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree built on a distinctive philosophy of nurturing leaders to use the tools of analysis and policy design to effect successful implementation and real change. This requires critical insights balanced with personal moral certainties that only a broad exposure to great ideas, courageous thinkers, and extraordinary leaders can encourage. It prepares graduates for careers as leaders and seeks also to strengthen the institutions which lie between the federal government and the individual, including the family, religious organizations, volunteer associations, local and regional government, and nonprofit organizations.

Pepperdine's School of Public Policy was founded almost two decades ago by noted scholars and leaders like James Q. Wilson, Jack Kemp, and Michael Novak, as a response to many of the government-centric policy programs of the time. Because of these beginnings, Pepperdine offers students a comprehensive curriculum grounded in both policy analysis and an exceptional understanding of the many factors – cultural, historical, and constitutional – that affect the implementation of public policy.[2] The current dean of the Public Policy School is Pete N. Peterson. The current Dean Emeritus of the School of Public Policy is James Wilburn.

The School of Public Policy offers two policy Summer Sessions at the centrally located Washington, DC campus. Each session is a four-week, 3-credit seminar. Past seminar topics include,"American Grand Strategies in International Relations: From the American Revolution to President Trump" and "Roots of American Order: Thinking Historically About Public Policy."

Intensive Professional Learning ComponentsEdit

In addition to regular credit courses, each student is required to complete professional experiences, which are critical to developing leadership in real-world situations. Students must participate in a series of professional development experiences each semester, complete a mandatory Policy Internship, and complete a capstone project which will be developed during the final semester’s Policy Research Seminar (Capstone) for credit. This project may be presented to a board of academic and real-world practitioners and provides another assessment of individual progress in developing leadership skills and personal values. This major policy analysis, undertaken with a member of the faculty or a committee of faculty and board of visitors, is designed to provide focus and fuel for successful undertakings and to assist students with career planning.

The School of Public Policy hosts a range of professional development events throughout the academic year. These co-curricular activities are intended to provide both career-oriented professional preparation in areas such as job search strategies, career development, and networking as well as hands-on opportunities to interact with leading scholars and practitioners in the field of public policy.

Policy InternshipsEdit

The required 240-hour Policy Internship should be selected in an agency or organization related to the student’s area of specialization and must be completed prior to the second semester of the second year. Such agencies may be in local, state, or federal government; nonprofit organizations; the private sector; or an international experience in a non-US setting to prepare for foreign service after graduation. The internship should provide a perspective on how the methods and theories learned in the cases studied in the classroom may find practical expression in non-textbook and complex real-life settings. No credit will be given for work done without approval or prior to entering the program. It is expected that most students will complete their Policy Internship during the summer between the first and second years, although provisions are made to allow it to overlap the academic year.

Joint Degree ProgramsEdit

Joint degree programs include the MPP/Juris Doctor degree in conjunction with the School of Law, the MPP/Masters of Dispute Resolution degree in conjunction with the School of Law's number one ranked Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution [3] and the MPP/MBA degree in conjunction with the Graziadio School of Business and Management.

The Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic LeadershipEdit

The Davenport Institute for Public Policy was founded in 1996 and in 2010 partnered with the nonprofit, multi-partisan organization Common Sense California to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. The institute promotes an increasingly important leadership skill: how to engage residents in making difficult local policy decisions. The institute does this through three major program areas: training, consulting, and grant making. More than 1,000 local government officials have been trained in public engagement skills through the institute’s half-day training sessions, and more than 40 communities’ projects have been sponsored through annual public engagement grants. Through its fellows, conferences, training programs, and grants, the Davenport Institute seeks to promote civic engagement in the School of Public Policy classroom as well as in the town square.

Through continued course work and work-study opportunities, the Davenport Institute provides current School of Public Policy students with the skills, experience, and relationships they will need to work toward common-sense answers to today’s difficult policy problems. The institute has been instrumental in developing the School of Public Policy’s student chapter of the International City/County Management Association, only the second such chapter in California, as well as in facilitating the annual City Manager in Residence program. The institute is affiliated with the following networks and associations: Bridge Alliance, California Consortium on Public Engagement, National Civility Network, National Conference on Citizenship, and the University Network for Collaborative Government.

In 2000 the Institute was named in honor of David Davenport, the University’s sixth president, and an endowment of $3 million was established.[4]

School of Public Policy EventsEdit

The School of Public Policy is host to several noteworthy visiting scholars, public- and private-sector officials, and policy leaders, providing students the chance to interact with those responsible for shaping policy in their respective fields.

Featured Events Include:

  • A Way Forward, Celebrating 20 Years of the School of Public Policy,[5]

Featured Speaker: US Senator Benjamin E. Sasse of Nebraska Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

  • Evening Conversations in Washington DC:The Moral Sense in Politics and Policy,[6]

Past Speakers Include: Rod Dreher, Journalist; Ronald C. White, Author and Historian; Andy Crouch, Author; Joe Loconte, Associate Professor of History, Kings College

  • Patricia Tagliaferri Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series,[7]

Featured Speaker:Dr. Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

  • Wilburn Distinguished Lecture Series in Politics and Policy,[8]

Featured Speaker: Andrew Roberts, Visiting Professor, War Studies Department, Kings College

  • Viewpoint Diversity in American Higher Education: How Far Left to Go?,[9]

Past Speakers Include: Jon Shields, Associate Professor, Claremont McKenna College; Samual J. Abrama, American Enterprise Institute; Gerard Alexander, University of Virginia; Eliot Cohen, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; James Gimpel, University of Maryland, Samuel Goldman, The George Washington University

Honor SocietyEdit

The School of Public Policy has a chapter of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society. Pi Alpha Alpha is the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration which was created to recognize and promote excellence in the study and practice of public affairs and administration. PAA membership identifies those with the highest performance levels in educational programs preparing them for public service careers. In order to become a member, students must attain a minimum of a 3.7 GPA, complete a minimum of 32 units, and express a desire to conduct themselves in a manner that brings honor to the chapter, the School of Public Policy, and the Pepperdine Community.

Pepperdine Policy ReviewEdit

The Pepperdine Policy Review is a student-run journal that publishes scholarly work of School of Public Policy. It features articles, commentaries, opinion pieces, and book reviews that address a variety of issues from health care and national security to political philosophy.[10]


Institutional Member:

  • The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management[11]
  • The National Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration[12]
  • The Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program[13]
  • Associate of Professional Schools of International Affairs[14]


The School of Public Policy is a partner with:

  • City Year Alumni University Partner[15]
  • Golden Key International Honour Society[16]
  • The Greenlining Institute[17]
  • International City/County Manager's Association (ICMA)[18]
  • Millennium Momentum Foundation[19]
  • Municipal Management Association of Southern California[20]
  • Rangel International Affairs Program[21]
  • Teach for America[22]

Distinguished Visiting FacultyEdit

While the faculty of the School of Public Policy is drawn from leading academics and practitioners in the various fields of public policy, a distinctive feature of the school is the use of distinguished public policy scholars, practitioners, and thinkers from around the country to teach and lecture on short-term appointments, bringing their expertise within their discipline to our classrooms. Their contributions add significantly to the richness of the student experience as mentors and advisers, as well as to its comprehensive curriculum, grounded in both policy analysis and an exceptional understanding of the many factors that affect the implementation of public policy.

Notable faculty members who have lectured at the School of Public Policy include:


External linksEdit