Why this programme?
Public policy issues are growing in complexity and there’s an increasing interconnectedness between local, national and international levels of decision making and implementation. Due to the increasing complexity of the issues, there is a growing need for specialists in policy analysis who have a combination of technical skills as well as theoretical and specific area knowledge. During the one-year master's programme in Public Policy and Human Development, you will be trained by leading experts from both Maastricht University and United Nations University and will earn two diplomas, one from each institution.
Innovative collaboration with UNU
After successful completion of the programme, you will obtain a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Public Policy and Human Development, and will receive two diplomas. The first is from Maastricht University and is accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), and the second is issued by United Nations University (UNU).
A strong foundation
The first semester is the same for all students. The focus is on the theories and practice of governance and policy analysis. You will take three courses and several skills trainings covering the general aspects relevant in the fields of governance and policy analysis. You will learn to apply current theories and research in the following academic disciplines:
- public policy
- public economics
- public policy analysis
- data science and statistics
- regression analysis
- research design
This will provide you with a strong foundation and will prepare you to conduct detailed analyses of the issues covered in the specialisation you choose.
Closing Ceremony Master of Science in Public Policy and Human Development
At the end of the first semester, you will choose an area of specialisation. The programme director and the specialisation coordinators will support you in making your selection. The areas of specialisation are:
- Governance of Innovation (in cooperation with UNU-MERIT)
- Social Protection Policy (in cooperation with the ILO)
- Risk and Vulnerability (in cooperation with UNU-EHS)
In addition to providing a sound theoretical foundation, the programme places a strong emphasis on skills. You will conduct your own research, apply policy analysis tools and receive practical training in negotiation and crisis management.
Why study statistics to work in public policy?
Among the most challenging yet rewarding parts of our programme is the quantitative training. A fundamental part of the programme, all students are required to take this training in the first semester. We asked our alumni:
Fanny Trang: “The quantative training really opened a whole area of evidence-based policy that I did not know at all. It is a very hard course and it taught me many lessons because, in fact, I failed econometrics the first time. I have never studied harder than I did prior to retaking that exam and I ended up having the highest grade of the class after the second sit. If you really put your mind to it, this field can unlock a lot of knowledge.”
For Benjamin Bogliacino: “Working in public affairs and having to deal with specialists from ministries back in London or the EU in Brussels I do need a broad understanding. So if you read a report that contains statistical data you need to quickly grasp the meaning, so you don’t have to rely on other people… The course was very tough, it is hard work, but you get a lot of support from the school.”
And for Praachi Kumar: “One of the key factors of public policy is not only having the skills to analyse policy but also to build policy. Much of what I did after graduating the MPP was to contribute in the development of the Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI). The skills I learned during the social protection specialisation allowed me to build such indices and interpret them for a policy audience.”
Frequently asked questions
We have compiled an overview of answers (as far as possible) to the most frequently asked questions about our programme. The list will be updated continuously.
Master's Open Day
Would you like to know more about the master's in Public Policy and Human Development? In this video - shot during the Master's Open Day- several students, prospective students and graduates discuss the ins and outs of the programme.
Master’s Open Day at UNU-MERIT/Maastricht Graduate School of Governance
When starting their careers, many graduates find that working differs from what and how they were taught at university. Maastricht University bridges theory and practice by approaching the theory through case-studies, using the Problem-Based Learning methodology. In small groups, you seek solutions to ‘problems’ taken from real-world situations. Instructors act as facilitators, giving help as needed. This allows you to build independence and develop the problem-solving skills that you will need in the field.
Examples of real-world policy issues that can be discussed in class are, among many others:
- the role of universities in local development
- the impact of migration policies
- healthcare access for children in developing countries
- mitigation of the effects of global warming
- the conflict of China's economic growth and its sustainable development
the watchdog role of the media
At UNU-MERIT, the academic resources of the faculties of Maastricht University and those of several foreign partners are combined in order to guarantee high quality multidisciplinary training in the heart of Europe. With guest lecturers from universities abroad and from international organisations, there is an interesting balance between theoretical and practical approaches within the programme.
You will be supported by an academic counsellor who can help you with your study choices, progress and planning. For the master’s thesis, you will be linked up with a senior staff member who will act as your thesis supervisor.
An average week
In the Public Policy and Human Development programme, an average week entails 10-12 contact hours with professors and fellow students. During these contact hours, you will gain in-depth knowledge and functional skills using various educational methods, including:
- tutorial groups
- case studies
- hands-on exercises
- essay and paper writing
- group discussions
- skills training
In addition to the contact hours, you will need to spend 30-40 hours of independent study.
In parallel to the course curriculum, we offer a series of employability workshops and a mentorship programme to build your professional skills. These activities are very popular among our students, and help you to better understand your competences and define your professional career.
The specificities of the Master's programme in Public Policy and Human Development
During the second half of the programme, you will actively participate in public policy research and complete a master’s thesis under the close supervision of a senior member of the academic staff. The thesis can be in one of the following forms:
- survey analysis
- empirical investigation
- literature review
- case study
- theoretical investigation
DEMOS Study Association
The MPP has its own study association DEMOS!
Watch the video to see how much creativity, dedication and resilience the DEMOS team demonstrated in times of COVID-19 and all the activities that they managed to organise for the MPP cohort of 2020-2021!
DEMOS is the study association of the Master's programme in Public Policy and Human Development. DEMOS provides our students with a community that facilitates social and cultural bonding, professional capacity enhancement, network development, and academic achievement.
DEMOS study association and the MPP community at United Nations University-MERIT
You will have the option to do an internship as part of the Public Policy and Human Development programme. Using our strong international network, we can support you in finding a placement. This year, for example, students did internships at:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands
- UNICEF, Bangkok
- GTZ, Lusaka
- Economic Policy Research Institute, Cape Town
- ILO, Senegal
In the coming years, we aim to increase the number of these challenging and engaging internship possibilities. Your internship can also serve as the basis for your master’s thesis. Please note however that internships are extra-curricular.
At UNU-MERIT, we utilise the academic resources of Maastricht University and a strong international network. Experts from universities and international organisations come from all over Europe and from other parts of the world to share their expertise by teaching courses and giving workshops and lectures. The School’s fast growing international academic network is also used to provide internship possibilities for our students.
About 80 per cent of the students and researchers at UNU-MERIT come from outside the Netherlands. They come from over 55 countries around the world. The diversity results in a stimulating blend of country-specific knowledge and individual experience that will enrich your academic experience and expose you to many different views and ways of approaching the same subject.
The language of instruction for the programme is English. For students who are non-native English-speakers, the programme's English curriculum will strengthen your command of the language and prepare you for a career in an international environment.
Life@UM - Leven in Maastricht - Internationale studentenstad box img
As birthplace of the Maastricht Treaty, Maastricht symbolises internationalism. It is home to more than 125 international scientific and research institutes and is located at a crossroads between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.