Master of Science in Public Policy Data Science

Expand your professional horizons with a degree that combines the strengths of two top-ranked schools in public policy and engineering.

Master of Science in Public Policy Data Science

Informatics and big data are increasingly essential to policy development throughout the public and private sectors. Knowledge of both can lead to ever-expanding career opportunities. Bolster your decision-making role in government agencies and the corporate realm with the USC Price School of Public Policy and USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Master of Science in Public Policy Data Science.

The program builds unique, in-demand proficiencies and the necessary expertise for leveraging big data and analytics to:

  • Increase transparency and accountability
  • Improve the efficiency and quality of services
  • Enhance security and address matters of defense and intelligence
  • Oversee emergency management
  • Influence policy and the policy-making process broadly

Interdisciplinary and

Richard Green
The MS in Public Policy Data Science prepares you for success in:

  • Addressing the institutional and legal challenges associated with collecting, combining, and analyzing big data from disparate sources to inform and guide policymaking
  • Combining tools from informatics, such as machine learning and data mining, with public policy and project evaluation methods, that include statistics and econometrics
  • Applying informatics principles — including mining and visualization of large datasets — to help craft better public policies
  • Persuading decision-makers by knowing how to use relevant data to make good recommendations
  • Understanding markets and using effectively informatics to develop appropriate strategies for public investment in everything from transportation to renewable energy

Geared to Meet Your Personal Needs

Group Project
In addition to core courses that bridge informatics and public policy, the program offers electives enabling you to focus on your professional interests. It also offers paths for students with and without prior training in computer science.

Sample courses include:

  • Economics for Public Policy
  • Foundations of Public Policy Analysis
  • Multivariate Statistical Analysis
  • Applied Econometrics for Program Evaluation
  • Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science
  • Overview of Data Informatics in Large Data Environments
  • User Experience Design and Strategy
    View courses list »

Hands-on Experience
The program culminates with a capstone project in which you work with a real-world client, producing a consultant’s report that not only addresses a compelling challenge, but also demonstrates your abilities for prospective employers in this burgeoning job market. Options include a big data project for local governance, security, and smart cities and sustainable transportation.

A Dynamic Field with Abundant Opportunities

Dynamic Field
The effective use of informatics holds the potential to revolutionize how public policy is created. In Southern California alone, nearly every governmental agency now has a dedicated big data and/or innovation unit, while several leading technology companies, including IBM and Google, have created specialized divisions and products aimed at leveraging these tools in the public policy realm. Understanding and knowing how to use effectively informatics is crucial for work in nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits as well.

The vast range of applications includes:

  • Crime pattern identification
  • Traffic light synchronization
  • Transit usage
  • Fair housing practices
  • Health care access
  • Education financing



Potential for distinguished academic and professional achievement is the principal criterion for admission. In general, successful applicants will have at least a B average in undergraduate study with strong grades in math and analytical courses, and high quantitative scores on the GRE.


Early Deadline: December 15
International Students: May 1
Domestic Students: June 1

For questions about admission or for more information, please contact:
Marisol Rios, USC Price Director of Recruitment and Admission, at [email protected] or
Camillia Lee, USC Viterbi Assistant Dean For Graduate & Professional Programs, at [email protected]
Students must be admitted by both the Price School of Public Policy and the Viterbi School of Engineering; only one application is required. Start your application »


A minimum of 36 units is required for the MS in Public Policy Data Science, and you must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 for graduation.

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