Public Policy and Administration

This is an archived copy of the 2017-2018 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies

Program Description

The Capital Campus's graduate programs in Public Policy and Administration prepare future leaders to address the complex issues that face California. We serve the State and the region by developing leaders with strong analytical tools and a deep commitment to public service.

Note: The Department of Public Policy and Administration, in collaboration with the College of Business Administration, offers an interdisciplinary Master's of Science in Urban Land Development. It also offers an interdisciplinary doctorate in education in collaboration with the College of Education.  Both of these programs are listed separately in this catalog.

Special Features

  • The proximity of Sacramento State to the State Capitol offers significant advantages to students, providing them with a ready ''laboratory'' for observing the policy and administrative issues they will confront professionally and for gaining experience alongside existing practitioners in public policy and administration. In particular, the graduate program's internship feature is greatly strengthened by the placements available in California state government, local government, and related organizations.
  • The graduate program's curricular design and scheduling of courses allow students to complete the program in four semesters if enrolled full-time. In addition, part-time students may complete the program under a five- or a six-semester schedule. Classes are scheduled in the evening and on Saturday to accommodate the scheduling interests of students who are employed in the daytime or who have other obligations that require evening schedules.
  • Reflecting on growing national interest in collaborative methods, and the need for mid-level administrators in the judicial system, the Department offers certificates in Collaborative Governance and (through the College of Continuing Education) Judicial Administration.

Career Possibilities

Policy analyst and/or public administrator for state, federal, or local government; private firm or association; or not-for profit organization

Contact Information

Edward Lascher, Department Chair
Suzi Byrd, Administrative Support Coordinator
Tahoe Hall 3038
(916) 278-6557








Undergraduate Course Work

Study in Public Policy and Administration

Units required: 3

Offered Courses (3 Units)
PPA 100/GERO 102Introduction to Public Policy and Administration3
Total Units3

Graduate Programs

Admission Requirements

Admission to classified standing in the program requires:

  • the baccalaureate degree;
  • a GPA of 3.0 for all undergraduate coursework and in the last 60 units;
  • results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test;
  • completion of the following (or their equivalents at other colleges or universities as determined by the Department Chair):
    ECON 1BIntroduction to Microeconomic Analysis3
    GOVT 1Essentials Of Government3
  • a written statement of purpose from one to two pages in length (typewritten), addressing the applicant's purpose in pursuing the Master of Public Policy and Administration;
  • a minimum score of 560 (220 if computer-based, 83 if internet based) on the TOEFL (this requirement applies only to students earning degrees abroad whose primary language is not English); and
  • three letters of recommendation from individuals with knowledge of the applicant's academic and professional potential.

A student with certain deficiencies in the above requirements may be admitted to the program on a conditionally classified status. Admission conditions will be determined on an individual basis.

Admission Procedures

All prospective students must file the following with the Office of Graduate Studies:

  • an online application for admission;
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State; and
  • GRE scores.

For more admissions information and application deadlines please visit

The items below should be submitted to the Department office:

  • written statement of purpose;
  • letters of recommendation;
  • program application; and
  • TOEFL score, if applicable.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy listing their program of graduate study. The filing procedure should begin as soon as the student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed at least five of the program's required courses (except PPA 295) with a minimum grade of ''B-'' in each and an overall grade point average of at least 3.0; and
  • Satisfy the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) by completing one of our Departmental Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) courses with a grade of "B" or better (either PPA 200 or PPA 220A) or meeting one of the other standards set by the Office of Graduate Studies. 

Department specific advancement to candidacy forms are available in the Department office.

Master of Public Policy and Administration Degree

Units required for the MPPA: 36-39
Minimum required GPA: 3.0

Minimum grade in all required courses: "B-" (or "credit" for PPA 295 and PPA 500)

Required Courses (30 Units)
PPA 200Introduction to Public Policy and Administration3
PPA 205Research in Public Policy and Administration3
PPA 207Quantitative Methods in Public Policy and Administration3
PPA 210Political Environment of Policy Making3
PPA 220AApplied Economic Analysis I3
PPA 220BApplied Economic Analysis II3
PPA 230Public Budgeting and Finance3
PPA 240APublic Management and Administration I3
PPA 240BPublic Management and Administration II3
PPA 295Internship in Public Policy and Administration 13
Electives (6 Units)
Select 6 units. Graduate level PPA elective courses include the following: 26
California Land Use Policy
Urban Problems, Economics and Public Policy
Introduction to Collaborative Policy Making
Collaborative Governance Advanced Practice
Urban Policy
Culminating Requirement (3 Units)
PPA 500Culminating Experience 33
Total Units39

At the discretion of the Department Chair, PPA 295 may be waived for students with one year of administrative and analytical experience in a full-time professional capacity in the field of Public Policy and Administration.


PPA graduate students are required to take 6 units of elective courses. Ordinarily at least 3 of these units should be chosen from among the graduate level elective courses offered by the Department of Public Policy and Administration. As appropriate, the requirement to take at least 3 units within PPA may be waived with the approval of the student's academic advisor and the Department Chair.

Additionally, the Department has offered experimental PPA 296 electives in the past, and will continue to do so.


Enrollment in PPA 500 is required of students in their last semester of enrollment in the program. Each student will undertake a project or thesis dealing with a policy or administrative issue and complete a significant written work detailing the problem or issue examined, sources of information used in analyzing the issue, and project findings and conclusions.

Certificate - Collaborative Governance

Units required for Certificate: 6 units

Admission Requirements

  • Enrollment in the Sacramento State MPPA program OR
  • Enrollment in the Sacramento State MSULD Program and completion of additional set of readings before enrollment in PPA 270
Required Courses (6 Units)
PPA 270Introduction to Collaborative Policy Making3
PPA 272Collaborative Governance Advanced Practice3
Total Units6

Certificate - Judicial Administration

Note: The Certificate in Judicial Administration Program is administered by the College of Continuing Education in accordance with guidelines set by the Department of Public Policy and Administration

Units required for Certificate: 12 units

Admission Requirements

The Baccalaureate degree AND application for the Graduate Certificate in Judicial Administration as administered though the College of Continuing Education. 

Required Courses (12 Units)
PPA 291Court Governance and Operations3
PPA 292Court Management3
PPA 293Court Leadership3
PPA 294Emerging Issues in Judicial Administration3
Total Units12

Certificate - Capital Fellows Certificate in Applied Policy and Government

Units required for Certificate: 6 units

Admission Requirements

  • Accepted to one of the four Capital Fellows Programs: Assembly, Judicial Administration, Executive, Senate.
Required Courses (6 Units)
Select the two courses applicable to your program6
For Senate Fellows:
Senate Fellows Introductory Seminar
Senate Fellows Policy Seminar
For Assembly Fellows:
Assembly Fellows Introductory Seminar
Assembly Fellows Policy Seminar
For Executive Fellows:
Executive Fellows Introductory Seminar
Executive Fellows Policy Seminar
For Judicial Administration Fellows:
Judicial Administration Fellows Introductory Seminar
Judicial Administration Fellows Policy Seminar

How to Read Course Descriptions

PPA 100.     Introduction to Public Policy and Administration. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GOVT 1 or GOVT 150 or equivalent.

Explores context and process for policy making by national and California state governments, including ethical dimensions. Applications are developed from students' and instructor's areas of interest including K-12 and higher education, land-use policy, and aging issues such as elder advocacy, Social Security, and Medicaid. Provides background and skills for entry level positions in public or non-profit organizations.

Cross Listed: GERO 102; only one may be counted for credit.

PPA 200.     Introduction to Public Policy and Administration. 3 Units

Examines public policy and administration by exploring major policy processes, particularly in California state and local government. Topics include the emergence and specification of issues, developing and selecting policy options, implementing and administering policies and evaluating and terminating public policies. The course approach is comprehensive, transdisciplinary and human centered -- concerned with the interplay of values in shaping policy outcomes. The intent is to provide conceptual frameworks and operational principles required in identifying and resolving issues emerging in public settings.

Note: Satisfies the Graduate Writing Intensive Requirement (GWI).

PPA 205.     Research in Public Policy and Administration. 3 Units

Emphasizes fundamental research and management skills necessary in generating accurate and useful decision-related information for policy makers. Topics include conceptualizing and structuring research questions, collecting valid and relevant data and interpreting and presenting results. The course approach is pragmatic, transdisciplinary, and oriented to producers and users of policy research information. The intent is to enhance research skills in analyzing and resolving policy issues.

PPA 207.     Quantitative Methods in Public Policy and Administration. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): ECON 1B, PPA 205 or instructor permission.

Study of quantitative methods as applied in public policy analysis. Concentrates on interpreting the results of econometric, statistical, and other public policy studies, and on determining the relevance and applicability of quantitative analysis with the larger scheme of public policy decision making.

PPA 210.     Political Environment of Policy Making. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 200 or instructor permission.

Assists students in learning to identify the political factors impinging on the policy process and in learning to cope with them. With special emphasis on the California political environment and issues, employs case studies, structured role-playing, and including politically feasible policy alternatives and advice to hypothetical clients. The goal is to equip students to work effectively as politically aware policy analysts.

PPA 220A.     Applied Economic Analysis I. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): ECON 1B, or instructor permission.

Presents the basic concepts, tools, and models of microeconomics in the context of public sector choices. The standard market demand and supply model is developed and used to analyze the effect of public policies (particularly those of California state and local governments) on consumers and businesses. The principles of welfare economics are presented and used to evaluate economic performance.

Note: Graduate Writing Intensive Course.

PPA 220B.     Applied Economic Analysis II. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 220A.

Continuation of PPA 220A which focuses specifically on the role of government in a market-oriented economy with emphasis on market failures including: public goods, externalities, and monopoly. Corrective taxes and expenditure programs are discussed, and the technique of cost-benefit analysis is developed and applied to various state and local government projects.

PPA 230.     Public Budgeting and Finance. 3 Units

Enables students to understand, analyze, and evaluate the governmental budget process including revenue and expenditure patterns. The primary emphasis is on California state and local governments. The federal budget process is discussed primarily to reflect the impact that it has on state and local governments. Features both theoretical and practical approaches to budgets, including alternate budget formats. Various perspectives are utilized to explore the political, economic, and policy concerns inherent in the development and implementation of public sector budgets.

PPA 240A.     Public Management and Administration I. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): 1) graduate standing and 2) completion of PPA program prerequisites, or instructor permission.

Examines concepts and approaches used in analyzing and understanding complex organizations. Organizational theory, management concepts, and behavioral analysis is employed to understand the dynamics and evolution of public sector organizations. Emphasis is placed on applying classic organizational theory and introductory leadership skills and issues.

PPA 240B.     Public Management and Administration II. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 240A.

Continuation of PPA 240A. Examines concepts and approaches used in analyzing and understanding complex organizations. Emphasis is placed on ability to intervene and assist public agencies by designing intervention plans, engaging in strategic planning, promoting interdepartmental effectiveness, using advanced leadership issues and techniques, and using advanced organizational development strategies.

PPA 250.     California Land Use Policy. 3 Units

Examines public policies that influence land use. Reviews tools of land use planning and development and applies them to issues that dominate California policy choices including urban design, fiscalization of land use, sustained growth, and the challenges of social equity.

PPA 251.     Urban Problems, Economics and Public Policy. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 220A or ECON 100B.

Corequisite(s): ECON 251; only one of these courses may be counted for credit.

Historical development, economics and possible policy solutions of the most pressing problems facing central cities and urban areas in the U.S. are presented. Problems discussed include poverty, crime, urban abandonment/suburban sprawl, edge cities, deteriorating infrastructures, and fiscal stress.

Cross Listed: ECON 251; only one may be counted for credit.

PPA 270.     Introduction to Collaborative Policy Making. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 200 and PPA 210, or approval of instructor.

Examines the theory and practice of collaborative policy-making using case studies of major collaborative processes. Topics include interpretative policy analysis, deliberative democracy theory, public participation, collaborative policy networks, the use of dialogue in public policy, resolution of policy controversies, and consensus building.

PPA 272.     Collaborative Governance Advanced Practice. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 270 with a grade of B- or better, or instructor permission.

Practice driven, highly participatory course for professionals who require more advanced skills into collaborative methods. Topics include conflict analysis and assessment, analysis of advocacy speech, public participation, working with the media, and interagency networks. Focuses on active learning with practice in a wide variety of collaborative skills.

PPA 284.     Urban Policy. 3 Units

Exploration in-depth of the socio-economic problems of urban and metropolitan areas and evaluation of proposed political and governmental solutions.

Cross Listed: GOVT 284; only one may be counted for credit.

PPA 291.     Court Governance and Operations. 3 Units

Studies the state judiciary as both independent and interdependent with the legislative and executive branches of government at both the state and local level. The goal is to develop foundational knowledge of the historical and evolving governing and operational principles of the California court system.

PPA 292.     Court Management. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 291 or instructor permission.

Provides training in key court administrative areas identified by such organizations as the National Association of Court Management (e.g., case flow management). Drawing from interdisciplinary literature on management theory, court case studies illustrate and provide context.

PPA 293.     Court Leadership. 3 Units

Examines leadership in the court environment as distinct from management. Investigates how leadership principles are exercised in pivotal areas of the courts such as: community relations, creativity and innovation, organizational change, workforce development, succession planning, strategic planning and re-engineering.

PPA 294.     Emerging Issues in Judicial Administration. 3 Units

Addresses pressing issues in judicial administration (e.g., courts in an electronic world, rising administrative workloads, greater number of self-represented litigants). Specific topics may change from year to year depending on the urgency of topics and nature of policy implications.

PPA 295.     Internship in Public Policy and Administration. 3 - 6 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 200.

Supervised work experience in a government or related organization.

Credit/No Credit

PPA 297A.     Executive Fellows Introductory Seminar. 3 Units

Seminar will enhance Executive Fellows' understanding of the state policy making and administrative process, policy implementation, ethical responsibilities of policy and administrative actors.

Note: Open only to students admitted to the Executive Fellowship Program.

PPA 297B.     Executive Fellows Policy Seminar. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PPA 297A

Seminar will extend the examination and analysis of the Executive branch of government to include alternative administrative practices, policy implementation strategies, and related administrative issues.

Note: Open only to students admitted to the Executive Fellowship Program.

PPA 298A.     Judicial Administration Fellows Introductory Seminar. 3 Units

Critical examination and analysis of the administrative operation of the California judicial system and its structures, policies and practices.

Note: Open only to students admitted to the Judicial Administration Fellows Program.

PPA 298B.     Judicial Administration Fellows Policy Seminar. 3 Units

Analyzes procedural issues and policy questions within the California judicial system with emphasis on the interdependence of the judicial, legislative and executive branches.

Note: Open only to students admitted to the Judicial Administration Fellows Program.

PPA 299.     Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Permission of faculty supervisor and the Department Chair.

Supervised independent study in public policy and administration.

Credit/No Credit

PPA 500.     Culminating Experience. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Advanced to candidacy and permission of the graduate coordinator.

Completion of a thesis or project approved for the Master's degree.