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Where Policy Makers are Built

Gain Skills, Networks, and Real-World Experience to Make an Impact

MSPPM: Washington, D.C.

Year One in Pittsburgh. Year Two in D.C.

Gain invaluable work experience by day while completing your coursework by night in the MSPPM: Washington, D.C. pathway. This program provides you with a direct route to a career in policy or research—in Washington or elsewhere—by gaining a year of D.C. work experience and building your professional network before you graduate.

Heinz College's MSPPM-DC program is the highest-ranked policy analysis degree program in Washington, D.C. You will develop skills in data analytics and managementdc-pa-delegate-event-9-27-22.jpg strategies during your first year on campus in Pittsburgh. In year two, you will do real work on the ground through a year-long Heinz Policy Fellowship for a government agency, a D.C. non-profit, or a consulting group, while completing a challenging blend of policy analysis and methods courses, and a Capstone Project for a D.C. client.

Throughout the program, you will receive exposure to our world-renowned academic faculty and accomplished practitioners, as well as ongoing support and mentoring from our program office and Career Services staff that ensure a smooth transition and accelerated start into a meaningful career after graduation.

Dedicated to public service? Want to have an impact on policy right away? This is the program for you.

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1st Year) | Washington, D.C. (2nd Year)
Duration: 2 Years / 4 Semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer Internship, Fall, Spring)

A day in the life

An unvarnished look at the life of a Heinz College student. For more, follow us on Instagram.

Heinz Policy Fellowship — EXPERIENCE + ACCESS

A key feature of the MSPPM: Washington, D.C. pathway is the required second year Heinz Policy Fellowship. You will take evening/Friday classes in the second year to accommodate a 30+ hour per week work schedule that delivers real-world experience. Fellowships are hosted by both public and private firms.

Working nearly full-time hours and coming in equipped with Heinz College analytical skills that are unmatched by other policy schools, you will be prepared to tackle big projects—in fact, our students often find that they are entrusted with much higher-level responsibilities.

Recent Policy Fellows


Some recent examples of Policy Fellowships:

  • Developed expertise on solar and wind technologies, summarized appropriations bills and the President's Budget Request, and wrote for the organization’s website as a core member of a nonprofit organization’s innovation team.

  • Created a system for federal-government-wide reporting on the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations; contributed talking points to senior leaders, and researched the cost, from a government perspective, of owning a zero-emission vehicle.

  • Assisted a congressional office with preparations for committee hearings, legislative markups, and floor votes; conducted legislative research for the policy team; and planned a member-level roundtable event on the energy crisis.

  • Helped a think tank develop a local engagement project that resulted in a decision memo for program leadership, recommending a plan to help a new cohort of cities work toward Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Examined the impact of COVID-19 on the federal inmate population; used Stata to disaggregate Sentencing Commission Data by statute and visualize the proportion of racketeering across the U.S. with ArcGIS. 

  • Started a pilot project to analyze a local school district’s special-education early intervention system, and worked with a nonprofit organization’s board to create and implement a racial equity evaluation of their policy work.

That kind of access and rich experience translates to significant career advantage upon graduation.

Additionally, roughly 70 percent of MSPPM: Washington, D.C. students receive full-time employment offers from their Fellowships.

systems synthesis projects — real-world impact

MSPPM: Washington, D.C., students complete a team-based project, working in close collaboration with a real-world client. These projects fulfill an actual business or operational need for our partners, giving students an opportunity to have a measurable impact while still in school.

Recent MSPPM: Washington, D.C., Systems Synthesis clients include:

  • U.S. Agency for International Development 
  • Brookings Institution
  • The Carter Center
  • Eno Center for Transportation
  • Resilient American Communities
  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Global Fund to End Modern Slavery
  • #JustRecovery
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance
  • Open Government Partnership

My Story: Lizbeth

Lizbeth Perez Hernandez wants to work in housing policy for the federal government. "[Heinz] allows me to create the evidence for something to change."

My Story: Kristen

For Kristen Hochreiter, the MSPPM: Washington, D.C., program helps her combine her passion for international development with her interest in large-scale change.

My Story: Zoe

Zoe Swarzenski chose the MSPPM program to learn about the data side of policy and how to translate her technical skills into meaningful actions.

MSPPM: Washington, D.C. Curriculum

NOTE: MSPPM: Washington, D.C. follows the same academic schedule as MSPPM: Pittsburgh, which begins in August and lasts four semesters, graduating in May. MSPPM-DC is not compatible with MSPPM: Data Analytics or Fast Track.

For detailed curriculum information, please visit the MSPPM: Washington D.C. Student Handbook.


Below is one possible schedule for MSPPM: Washington, D.C. Actual schedules will vary depending on electives.

Class titles in bold are core courses. Heinz College offers a mix of full-semester (14 weeks) and half-semester courses (7 weeks) for core and elective courses.

  • Applied Economic Analysis
  • Statistical Reasoning with R
  • Organizational Design & Implementation*
  • Intro to Database Management*
  • Writing for Public Policy*
  • Negotiation*
  • Poverty, Inequality, and Social Justice Policy

  • Policy & Politics: American or International Perspective
  • Management Science I & II
  • Strategic Presentation Skills*
  • Financial Analysis*
  • Intro to Programming with Python*
  • Evidence-Based Management*
  • Policy Innovation Lab*


  • Heinz Policy Fellowship (~30 hrs/week)
  • Program Evaluation
  • R for Data Policy Analysis*
  • Federal Budget Policy*
  • Sustainable Development*
  • Systems Planning*
  • How Ideas Become Policy*
  • Leadership/Management Workshop: How Washington Works*

  • Heinz Policy Fellowship (~30 hrs/week)
  • Public Policy Capstone Project
  • Cost Benefit Analysis*
  • Data Visualization and Dashboards*
  • Environmental Policy*
  • Gender and Policy Workshop*

*Half-semester courses


Data shown reflects the last three years.

career outcomes infographic

Yearly reports

Job titles and salary information for the MSPPM-DC program.

A Message from the Head of Heinz College in DC

Sarah Mendelson

Ambassador Sarah Mendelson
Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy
Head of Heinz College in Washington, D.C.

As the lines between issues that are considered global and local blur in the 21st century, Heinz College will give you the skills to solve complex problemswherever they exist.

Within the larger Carnegie Mellon community, Heinz College is a leader on the frontier of innovation and technology. Here, you will be emboldened by the opportunity to affect change around issues you are passionate about as we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technological innovation will be at the center of almost every policy debate and decision.

Our faculty come from diverse backgrounds, and are deeply committed to solving societal problems through interdisciplinary collaboration. "Striving for sustainable development" is a frame that captures much of their work, whether focused on reducing inequality, decreasing violence, slowing climate change, enabling decent work, improving health, reducing corruption, or advancing human rights and gender empowerment. Also, as a leader in the development of smart cities and the future of work, Heinz College launched the Block Center for Technology and Society, supporting research and convenings.

Read on to learn more about some of the incomparable faculty you will learn from at Heinz College D.C.

MSPPM Pathways

Compare all four MSPPM options at a glance

The MSPPM program is offered in four distinct modalities—Pittsburgh (Two-Year), Data Analytics, Washington D.C., and Fast Track (Three-Semester). Compare all four and choose the path that best suits your mission.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Didn't find what you were looking for on this page? Check out our Admissions Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information on any of the topics or processes outlined above.