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What is an MPP/MBA and who is it for?

June 28, 2021 :: Admissionado

The Master’s in Public Policy, or MPP, has gained traction over the years, but it remains a minuscule portion of the master’s degrees conferred each year.

Meanwhile, the MBA continues to hold the top spot as the most popular master’s degree on the market. Our business school admissions consultants recently discussed the growing trend of setting oneself apart with a dual degree master’s, and for those with goals at the intersection of business and government, adding an MPP to your MBA might be a perfect fit.

Unlikely Friends

The MPP and the MBA might seem an unlikely pair—where is the overlap between someone interested in policy and government and the profit-minded MBA student? But these two disciplines actually mesh surprisingly well, and there is a lot more overlap between the interests and goals of MPP/MBA students than you might think. These days, plenty of MBA students plan to use their degree to affect public good rather than make a profit, and many (about 20% of) MPP graduates go on to work in the private sector.  

Who should consider the MPP/MBA?

The MPP is aimed at those interested in policy and government, but that doesn’t mean your only option is to work in the public sector post-graduation. Many MPP graduates choose to work in the non-profit, NGO space, or even go into private sector consulting (on government issues). The skills you will gain in the MPP empowers you to analyze the effects of policy, diagnose broken policy and apply solutions—skills that are translatable across a range of sectors. 

However, if your goal is to lead a public sector organization, rise through the ranks of leadership, run for elected office, or start a non-profit (or really any number of other career tracks involving management and leadership), the MPP doesn’t really help. Enter the MBA; rounding out your theoretic policy analysis knowledge with a highly practical management degree that will help you either rocket to the top of whatever existing organization you aspire to lead, or launch your own organization. 

To oversimplify, the MPP makes you a policy wonk, while the MBA gives you the ability to apply that policy knowledge while running an organization efficiently, in either the public or private sector. When it comes to choosing an MBA, most MBA admissions consulting companies come to the rescue.

What’s the career track?

Like many other dual degree programs, the MPP/MBA dual degree programs offer graduates greater versatility and flexibility in their career. Many choose to enter the consulting industry, while others work within government agencies or in the non-profit sector. Still, others take a more entrepreneurial path, creating their own NGOs. This set of degrees can easily be translated to an elected position as well, and even if you didn’t set out with this in mind, you may find yourself running for office years into your career as the position where you can best implement your ideas. 

Who offers the best program?

Most universities with a top business school offer an MPP dual degree, and those that don’t have gotten creative with partnerships. Conveniently, one of the best business schools in the world, HBS, happens to also host one of the best schools of public policy—the Harvard Kennedy School of Government—making Harvard perhaps the most obvious choice for those seeking a top MPP/MBA dual degree. But you don’t have to get a double Harvard degree unless you want to: As a result of HKS’s top-of-the-heap reputation, four other business schools also offer an MBA/MPP done in partnership with HKS, including MIT, Stanford, Dartmouth Tuck, and Wharton. 

Other programs that boast top- notch rankings in both disciplines include the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Duke.


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