Solutions for the Region,
Solutions for the World

UG Program

Designated Emphasis in Public Policy


Doctoral students at the University of California, Riverside have the unique opportunity to pursue a Designated Emphasis (D.E.) in Public Policy through the School of Public Policy. 

  • Students must complete four graduate courses (16 units) in total, of which:
    • two should be core courses in the MPP program
    • one course from the list of MPP program elective courses, and
    • one graduate course (from an approved list) offered by a department that is not the student’s own department.
  • Note that students cannot apply units taken to fulfill the D.E. program requirement toward their own graduate program requirements.
  • All requirements for the Designated Emphasis must be satisfied within a year of a student advancing to candidacy in their Ph.D. field; a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for the award of the Designated Emphasis.


"While working towards my PhD in Environmental Engineering, I knew that I ultimately wanted to apply my expertise in the public sector. It was a uniquely valuable opportunity to pursue my D.E. in Public Policy and gain a better understanding of federal, state, and local policy-making in parallel with developing my technical expertise. The coursework and capstone project equipped me with an educational framework, along with guidance from the SPP faculty, to be able to successfully transition into the science and technology policy sector after graduation. I believe that the D.E. expanded my ability to see and explore the broader impacts of my scientific research through rigorous public policy training, and ultimately enabled me to become a leader in organizations like the National Science Policy Network. I think this program is especially valuable at UC Riverside where many scientists and engineers, like myself, are studying food and agricultural technologies that are inherently linked to food security, agricultural economy, global trade, and public health policies."
Holly M. Mayton, PhD
"During my doctoral studies, I was eager to learn how to leverage my science and engineering skills in the world of public policy. I am so grateful for Dr. Dinar and Dr. Deolalikar who saw value in my quest and created the Designated Emphasis program. Learning to speak the language of policymakers and gaining a broad understanding of policy principles beyond those only relevant to my scientific discipline made me more effective in my position in the US Senate working on energy and environmental policy and distinguishes me from traditional engineers in my position at the US Global Change Research Program. The DE was an incredibly worthwhile endeavor and I would recommend it to anyone looking to diversify their knowledge and qualifications for using a science or engineering background in public policy."
Drew Story, PhD
"As an anthropologist, studying human culture and the multiple challenges that people face, I felt the need to expand my understanding of the ways people can be impacted by and aided through policy. The Designated Emphasis program at the UCR School of Public Policy has given me a broader understanding of the importance of policy within my own field, as well as shaped me into a more well-rounded researcher. I would recommend to anyone hoping to create real-world change through their degree to pursue a D.E. in public policy."
Jessica Bradford
"I began my journey at the University after a long career in the nursing field. Witnessing the issues that people face in the healthcare system, I felt that I could no longer stand by and accept the status quo. I returned to school with a plan to help change the healthcare system. As a Ph.D. student in medical anthropology, I knew that I needed to augment my graduate program with a DE in public policy. Policies affects us in our everyday life and if we are to make any changes we need to understand how policies work and how to change policies for the good of the people."
Roseanne Rosenthal

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