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The Pepperdine School of Public Policy Announces The Launch Of Its First Online Degree, The Master Of Public Policy Leadership (MPPL) In 2022

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Below is our recent interview with Pete Peterson (MPP ’07), Dean, Braun Family Dean’s Chair, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, Senior Fellow Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University:

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Pepperdine University?

A: The Pepperdine School of Public Policy (SPP) opened its doors in 1997 and is based in Malibu, California. The School offers a two-year master of public policy (MPP) on campus, and just announced the launch of its first online degree, the master of public policy and leadership (MPPL) in 2022. Pepperdine University is a faith-based Christian institution and is one of America’s leading liberal arts universities.

Q: Can you give us more insights into your online programs?

A: The MPPL will be one of America’s first stackable certificate policy degrees—offering students the flexibility to stack a certificate in one of three policy areas to create their own graduate degree in public leadership. Students will initially be able to choose among three options: “Local Government Leadership and Innovation,” “Education Policy Leadership and Innovation,” and “Leadership, Advocacy, and Policy Communications.” At a normal pace, the online degree can be completed part-time in as few as two years or a certificate can be finished in less than a year. The MPPL will be geared toward mid- and late-career students who are seeking to upskill in their current career or to pivot into a policy-related track.

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Q: What are the main advantages of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy programs?

A: Like the School’s on-campus MPP, its MPPL balances analytic coursework with classes in history and political philosophy, providing students with a more holistic foundation preparation for public leadership. At the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, we say that students will “see public policy differently from here,” which is an ode to this distinctive approach. As mentioned, one of the significant advantages of the new MPPL degree is its flexibility and the ability to enter the program either as a certificate student or a full degree-seeking student. Another advantage is our Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership’s involvement in program development. The Institute is one of America’s leading institutes focused on how to improve our public engagement processes at the local level and how to better use technology to make government more transparent and responsive.

Q: What can we expect from Pepperdine University in the next 6 months? What are your plans?

A: The School expects to roll out the new MPPL degree in 2022 soon after it welcomes MPP students back to the Malibu campus for the first time in over a year. It continues to grow its presence at Pepperdine’s Washington, DC campus as well, seeing both the MPP and MPPL as increasingly “bicoastal programs.” In fact, we’re looking to offer optional in-person intensives in both Malibu and Washington, DC as part of the MPPL curriculum. For our in-person MPP, SPP also has exciting plans for the upcoming fall semester with new faculty teaching courses in local government policy and political communications and a new blend of online and on-ground courses. We’re also increasing our programming in “govtech”—or how to apply technology to solve public policy problems.

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Q: What is the best thing about Pepperdine University that people might not know about?

A: Probably having prospective students know how valuable the MPP and MPPL degrees are and how they will benefit them professionally. Everyone knows what to expect when they apply to law school or for a master of business administration (MBA), but policy degrees are still a bit mysterious to students. Unlike the old-school master of public administration, which was positioned as the public-sector version of the MBA, these policy degrees are about problem-solving and are designed to equip students to lead efforts to solve the problems we face in our communities. At Pepperdine, our view is that these degrees are “cross-sector leadership degrees,” which prepare students for careers in government, nonprofits, and the policy-related private sectors and teach them how to build bridges between the three sectors to find solutions. In fact, equal shares of our MPP graduates in the last five years have gone into each sector and, like their counterparts nationally, have some of the highest job satisfaction numbers of any degree. We are proud to help them make this happen.

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