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Advanced Certificate in Public Policy

The Advanced Certificate in Public Policy is intended for students who have interests in a particular issue area (such as immigration, poverty, environment, housing, urban redevelopment, civil or minority rights, health care, or education), or who wish to pursue policy-related careers in public, private, or nonprofit sectors. It provides students with both a theoretical and practical foundation in policy studies. 

Students take core courses introducing them to major theoretical traditions in the field, at least one research methods course, and electives that either provide an in-depth look at a policy area or develop skills through an internship or a thesis project. 

Download the advising checklist for Public Policy certificate.

The advanced certificate requires 15 units. Courses in the certificate program may be applied to an SDSU master’s degree (if applicable) with approval of the adviser.

Required courses (6 units):

  • P A 660 Administration and Public Policy Development
  • POL S 603 Seminar in Foundations of Public Policy

One research methods elective (3 units) drawn from the following options: 

  • P A 604 Methods of Analysis in Public and Urban Affairs
  • P A 606 Seminar in Quantitative Approaches to Public Administration (only for those with an appropriate background in algebraic and probability concepts)
  • POL S 616 Tools for Quantitative Analysis
  • POL S 617 Applied Qualitative Methods

Two electives (6 units) drawn from the following options: 

  • POL S 635 Seminar in the Politics of Public Policy
  • POL S 630 Seminar in Politics, ONLY when offered with policy-relevant content
  • POL S 560 Comparative Citizenship in Policy and Practice
  • POL S 796 Internship in Public Policy
  • P A 630 Seminar in Public Personnel Administration
  • P A 642 Seminar in Administrative Theory
  • P A 650 Seminar in Public Financial Management
  • P A 501 Nonprofit Organizations and Government
  • P A 580 Comparative Public Administration, ONLY when offered with policy-relevant content
  • C J 604 Administration of Criminal Justice
  • C P 635 Seminar in Housing Policy and Community Development
  • C P 675 Seminar in Land Use and Environmental Law
  • An additional research methods course (listed above) as an elective
  • Other elective courses are possible with the approval of the certificate administrator

Students who complete the Advanced Certificate in Public Policy will:

  • Explain, analyze, critique, and apply scholarly work across the fields of public policy and public administration through core coursework
  • Develop methodological skills for conducting policy-related research and analysis  
  • Design and carry out policy analysis projects
  • Develop substantive expertise in at least one policy issue area through core and elective coursework

Who may enroll? 

Students enrolled in any Master’s level program at SDSU are welcome to apply for enrollment in a certificate program. Certificate programs are also open to students with a Bachelor’s degree who would like to develop expertise in a specialized field without earning an M.A.

Can these units also count toward an MA degree?

The units for these certificate programs can count toward an M.A. in Political Science. 

If you are not already enrolled in an M.A. program, you can apply to enroll in a certificate program first and then later also use the units as part of an M.A. in Political Science. Some units may also count toward another M.A. degree program, with the approval of the relevant departmental graduate advisor.

How do I apply? 

Students who are not yet enrolled at SDSU, and who are not currently applying for admission to a graduate degree program, have three steps for Certificate admission. The first two steps are for admission to the university, and the last step is for the certificate admissions committee. 

  1. Apply to the university through Cal State Apply by April 1, 2024.
    • The program code for the Public Policy advanced certificate is 115529ACTS.
  2. Submit official transcripts to Graduate Admissions by April 15, 2024.
    • If your Bachelor’s degree was conducted in a language other than English, you will also need to submit proof of English language proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, DuoLingo, PTE).
  3. Submit required materials to the certificate admissions committee (department level) by April 15, 2024:
    1. A personal statement of about 500 words that explains a bit about your background and your interest in the certificate program. Why is this certificate program something that makes sense for you at this time?
    2. A resume or CV
    3. A writing sample, ideally academic or analytic writing.

Please note advanced certificate programs are not eligible for issuance of an 1-20 to request an F-1 visa. If you are an applicant who will need an F-1 visa to study in the U.S., you will need to be accepted to a graduate degree program (M.A., PhD) in order to request that visa. After admission, you could apply to a certificate program as a matriculated student.  

Students who would like to complete an Advanced Certificate concurrently with a degree program should finalize their enrollment at SDSU first. During your first semester, you may apply using the following online form: Public Policy, Advanced Certificate.

This form will cue the Certificate Administrator of your interest in the certificate. You may be asked to meet informally for a conversation as part of the admission process. If you are accepted into the certificate program, the administrator will complete an internal form on your behalf to enroll you (Request for Permission to Enter an Advanced Certificate Program). You will receive an email confirmation of that enrollment. Please save that confirmation email for your records. 

May I enroll in more than one certificate program?

You may only enroll in one advanced certificate program at a time. If you are enrolled in a graduate program and would like to complete both of these certificates, you must do it sequentially, completing one before enrolling in the other.

How do I confirm my completion of a certificate program?

In the semester that you are completing the last of the required courses, contact the certificate administrator at [email protected]. Toward the end of your final semester, the administrator will complete an internal form (Notification of Completion of Advanced Certificate Program) that will be reviewed by Graduate Studies. When Graduate Studies has reviewed and approved your certificate completion, they will add that completion status to your transcript.

Please address any questions about this Advanced Certificate program to the certificate administrator (and Professor of Political Science), Kristen Hill Maher, [email protected].