Masters Areas of Concentration

For MSPP, students are encouraged to pursue one or more concentrations.  A concentration consists of at least three 3-credit courses, of which at least one is the School of Public Policy.  Students can pursue concentrations within groups already developed by the faculty (see below). Or, students can pursue an individualized concentration, with the written approval of the proposed concentration program of study by their advisor. The School of Public Policy currently offers four areas of concentration: energy and environmental policy; information and communications policy; science and technology policy; and urban and regional development policy.

You should quickly learn the particular strengths and interests of the School's faculty within each of these areas. However, like many of you, most faculty members have interests that overlap these areas of concentration or include policy areas that are not institutionalized here. The complexity of public policies encourages us to be flexible and creative in defining the boundaries of our interests. Thus, you should not feel compelled to choose only one of these areas of concentration, and you should permit your elective curriculum to evolve as you are exposed to new ideas by your courses, your fellow students, and the faculty. As the School develops, these concentrations may be changed or added to.

Energy and Environmental Policy

The twin goals of environmental stewardship and energy sustainability provide our country and the world with two of the most pressing challenges of modern times. The overwhelming dependence of the world on fossil fuels has led to energy security, equity, and air and water quality problems in addition to the destabilizing effects of global climate change. Essentially all scientific leaders in the world now agree that the climate is changing and that our dependence on burning fossil fuels is the dominant cause.

The environment and energy policy concentration at Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy positions graduates for leadership careers that address these challenges in various areas of professional life, including government agencies, universities, not-for-profits, and industry. Students with a focus on environment and energy policy will be introduced to such issues as environmental economics and regulation, energy and climate policy, as well as sustainability, institutions, and decision-making.

Students may select electives from the following public policy course list or they may consult with their advisor for courses offered across Georgia Tech:

  • PUBP 6300 Earth Systems
  • PUBP 6310 Environmental Issues Seminar
  • PUBP 6312 Economics of Environmental Policy
  • PUBP 6314 Policy Tools for Managing the Environment
  • PUBP 6326 Environmental Values and Policy Goals
  • PUBP 6327 Sustainability and Environmental Policy
  • PUBP 6330 Environmental Law
  • PUBP 6701 Energy Technology and Policy
  • PUBP 6760 Negotiation  and Conflict Management
  • PUBP 8540 Advanced Topics in Environmental Policy
  • Courses offered on a special topics basis include Introduction to Climate Policy; Negotiating Sustainability; and Ecological Economics

Information and Communications Policy

Information and communication policies intersect with many dimensions of human existence and have a substantial impact on society.  Students learn the following:

  1. Political and governmental processes that make information and communication policies
  2. Underlying factors that determine policies
  3. Current important policy problems
  4. Understanding of industry motivation and interests
  5. Understanding of the role that changing technologies have on policy
  6. Impacts of different policy strategies

Students develop an understanding of information and communications policy through a mix of theoretical and practical approaches.  Courses offer practical and theoretical readings, and the curriculum is enhanced because of the additional resources available in the Georgia Tech community. Students in this concentration typically have a range of backgrounds, such as computer science, electrical engineering, management, industrial engineering, public policy, and other disciplines that promote an exciting and interesting learning environment.  Several departments on the campus have relevant courses that are available to enrich the policy perspective.  Georgia Tech also has several active research centers that work in information and communications policy.  The Center for Advanced Communications Policy is also an important strategic partner of the School.  Georgia Tech is also home to GCATT (the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology), which frequently hosts meetings with national and state industry and government leaders.  

Available with this track is a special emphasis on the Internet. As a new technology that is still in flux and that has wide social impacts, the Internet-related part of the track focuses on 1) the impacts of technology design and the policy role of the research community; 2) an international and supra-national perspective; and 3) institutional design and evolution. As a new technology, the Internet is not yet housed in a mature institution, and consequently, international political processes of institutional design are emphasized. The Internet and Public Policy Project (IP3) is a research and outreach organization within the School of Public Policy. IP3 provides opportunities to interact with policy-makers, conduct independent research, and connect with other researchers around the world. Students may select electives from the following public policy course list or they may consult with their advisor for courses offered across Georgia Tech:

  • PUBP 6111 Internet and Public Policy
  • PUBP 6501 Information Policy and Management
  • PUBP 6502 Information Technology, Communication and Telecommunication Policy
  • PUBP 6514 Mass Communications Policy
  • PUBP 6725 Information Security Policies and Strategies
  • PUBP 6726 Privacy, Technology, Policy and Law
  • PUBP 88xx Special Topics

Science and Technology Policy

Science and technology are central to the mission of the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. The School focuses on areas of public policy in which either the consequences of scientific and technological activity have public policy implications, or technical and scientific information is a significant input to the policy-making process. Within this broad school emphasis, the science and technology policy concentration addresses issues that either entail specific scientific or technological goals, such as the allocation of government resources in the advancement of science or, having more general purposes, contain scientific or technological activities at the core of their pursuit, such as economic competitiveness via high technology.

This concentration offers students the opportunity to study how decision-making in a variety of contexts in the contemporary world has an impact on or is influenced by science and technology. This includes at least three aspects of the study of science and technology that are policy relevant.

  • Priority setting. The first consists of the analysis of existing policies in the areas of scientific research or technology innovation aimed at obtaining certain national objectives. The allocation of government resources for science and technology activities, for instance, figures prominently among these.
  • Management. Second, the nature of research activities and their organization or the dynamics of the process of technological innovation must be known for policies designed to obtain results in these areas to be effective. The institutional arrangements to support and manage scientific activities as well as the establishment of the priority of scientific activities within the broader political system are examples of this aspect.
  • Assessment. Third, policymakers must have a sense of the value that public investment has created for the nation and whether prior policies have worked in order to determine future government support. The frameworks and techniques to establish measures of the value of scientific research and technological innovation are policy problems that are part of this aspect.

In sum, this concentration takes science and technology as key national assets and studies the ways in which they can be developed, employed, and assessed to serve the public interest.  Students may select electives from the following public policy course list or they may consult with their advisor for courses offered across Georgia Tech:

  • PUBP 6401 Science, Technology, and Public Policy
  • PUBP 6402 Research Policy and Management
  • PUBP 6403 Science Careers and Workplaces
  • PUBP 6414 Technological Innovation and Government Policy
  • PUBP 6415 Technology, Regions, and Policy
  • PUBP 6417 Critical Perspectives on Science and Technology
  • PUBP 6440 Science Technology and Regulation
  • PUBP 6753 Comparative Science and Technology Policy
  • PUBP 6777 Analysis of Emerging Technologies
  • PUBP 8530 Advanced Science and Technology Policy

Policy Analysis and Policy Evaluation Concentration

The policy analysis and policy evaluation concentration is designed to give students a strong analytic foundation in quantitative and economic approaches to the assessment of policy.  The focus on policy analysis provides students with skills in forecasting policy outcomes, valuation of policy impacts, and communicating policy alternatives to policymakers and citizens.  The focus on policy evaluation provides students with analytic skills needed for assessing outputs, outcomes, and impacts from policies.  Students In this track can draw from coursework offered in several schools including public policy, economics, industrial engineering, and city and regional planning.   Students in this track need to be mindful of pre-requisite courses in other schools and seek appropriate advice.

  • PUBP 6221 Policy and Program Evaluation
  • PUBP 6312 Environmental Economics
  • PUBP 6602 Economic Development Policy Analysis and Practice
  • PUBP 6604 Methods of Urban and Regional Policy Analysis
  • Econ 6150 Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Econ 6310 Public Economics
  • Econ 6161 Econometric Modeling
  • ISYE 6230 Economic Decision Analysis
  • ISYE 6234 Measurement and Evaluation
  • CP 6031 Economic Analysis for Planners
  • CP 8520 Advanced Planning Theory

Public Management Concentration

Students in the public management concentration learn the leadership and decision-making skills needed in developing and managing organizations to be accountable and effective. These are challenging goals. To be accountable, managers must understand the scope of their authority, accept responsibility for their duties, and understand how to measure and report the fruits of their efforts in an open and transparent way. To be effective managers must know how to translate policy goals into management practices and measure whether their efforts are yielding the desired policy outcomes.

In the current era, most public policies are implemented through complex networks of public programs that call upon the talents and resources of public, private, and not-for-profit organizations. These networks are bound together through contracts, funding mechanisms, and regulatory and reporting relationships. Being accountable and effective in the modern era means having a detailed understanding of how the different types of organizations and policy tools interact with one another.

Students in the public management track can select from the following electives. However, students are also encouraged to explore related coursework from across the Georgia Tech campus.

  • PUBP 6014 Organization Theory
  • PUBP 6017 Public Management
  • PUBP 6018 Policy Implementation
  • PUBP 6221 Policy and Program Evaluation
  • PUBP 6226 Business and Government Relations
  • PUBP 6314 Policy Tools for Environmental Management
  • PUBP 6403 Science Careers and Workplaces
  • PUBP 6501 Information Policy and Management
  • PUBP 6760 Negotiations and Conflict Management