USC Price School of Public Policy

Public Policy and Public Sector Management


Public policy analysts and administrators work both in the government and private sector to address local, national and international problems. The public policy agenda frequently involves complex social issues where there is no right answer and no one way. This specialization includes the conceptual approaches, methodological skills, and decision making tools that are critical to the effective formulation, implementation, and evaluation of public policies and programs. It includes the theory and practice of public management as wells as the application of analytical methods to substantive policy issues.

The specialization prepares professionals for analyst or management positions in the institutions that shape and implement public policy. Increasingly, these institutions include the private sector — NGOs and other non–profits, citizen groups, and commercial businesses — as well as governmental agencies.

» Courses
» Organizations for Site Visits and Internships


Elective courses allow for specialization in a substantive area, such as economic development, media and communications policy, transportation planning, and environmental policy. Sample courses for this specialization include:

  • Public Policy Formulation
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Organizations and Public Policy
  • Methods in Policy Analysis
  • Comparative International Development
  • Public Organization and Management Theory
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership
  • Public Financial Management and Budgeting
  • Finance of the Public Sector
  • Seminar in the Administration of Local Government
  • Concepts and Practices in Public Personnel Administration
  • Public/Private and Mixed Enterprises Planning
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Justice Administration
  • Political Leadership in Public Organizations
  • Intergovernmental Management

Organizations for Site Visits and Internships

Los Angeles is an ideal setting for students to engage in the most important policy issues. It is a city rich in cultural and economic diversity and has many examples of public and private agencies working in partnership on urban and social issues. USC has long–standing ties to many organizations, some of which have served as labs for case studies, and others that have served to mentor student interns. The Southern California region is home to:

  • 88 cities, 5 counties and numerous state governmental agencies
  • Numerous public policy institutes with researchers and analysts addressing policy issues in a wide–range of sectors, such as welfare reform, economic development, health, education, criminal justice, environmental protection and community organizing
  • Hundreds of NGOs, non–profits and community–based citizen organizations engaged on some of the most pressing policy issues facing the country

IPPAM has working relationships with many of these organizations, which serve as part of the program’s professional network for arranging site visits and student internships. Some of the organizations include:

  • RAND Corporation
  • County Board of Supervisors
  • City Council offices
  • Southern California Association of Governments
  • California Department of Corporations
  • US General Accounting Office (governmental watchdog agency)
  • Milken Family Foundation (policy research and dissemination)
  • California Coastal Commission
  • USC Institute for Civic Enterprise