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Policies and Procedures

Student Conduct and Academic Integrity

Visit the Office of Student Conduct to view policies and codes related to student conduct and academic integrity.  

The Graduate School

View The Graduate School's policies related to admissions, academics, registration, and financial aid and support. 

Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Management

The School has several key policies that concern a student's progression toward graduation.

Academic progress requirements
  • Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Failure to maintain a cumulative 3.0 may result in administrative review or dismissal due to inadequate academic progress.
  • NON-CORE COURSES: Receive a grade of a C- or better in any non-core course to earn credit toward the degree. No graduate credit will be earned for ANY courses in which students receive a grade of D+, D, D-, or F.
  • CORE COURSES: Receive a grade of a C, C+ or better in a core course. A grade of C- in a CORE course will not be accepted and the course will need to be repeated. Students are only permitted ONE grade of a C OR C+ in the core. If a second C or C+ is earned, the student must repeat the course.
  • Complete all requirements within 5 years of beginning the program.
  • Register every Spring and Fall until the completion of the degree unless a registration waiver is approved.
  • Be deemed by the School to be making adequate progress toward a degree based on grades and completed credits to date.
Graduation requirements
  • MPP: 48 credits earned. MPM: 36 credits earned.
  • 3.0 cumulative GPA. 
  • 3.0 average GPA of all core requirements.
  • No grade lower than a “C” in a core requirement, and no more than one “C” in all core requirements. 
  • Specialization requirements met, if specializing.

A core requirement waiver shows that a student has fulfilled a core requirement from previous courses or work. Students may request a waiver for a requirement if they have a sufficient background to show that they have done work that is substantially equivalent to the requirement. The request is evaluated by comparing previous coursework or experience to a current requirement. A requirement may also be waived by examination for quantitative courses. While a waiver allows a student to take a substitute course, the student must still complete the total credits necessary for that student’s degree program.

What do students seek to waive?

Students often seek waivers for the core quantitative requirements. Students who waive these courses often have studied either statistics or economics at an advanced undergraduate level. Students who seek a waiver from a core qualitative course often have a strong background in philosophy and ethics, professional writing or both. Syllabi from past courses or current work examples are necessary for waiving these courses. Waivers based on work experience are likely to be offered for those that use the skills and methods for the requested course as a regular part of their work. For example, those who regularly interpret outputs of inferential statistical tests are good candidates to request a waiver for PLCY610.


Prior to requesting a waiver, students should review the syllabus for the course they wish to waive. Sample syllabi of our graduate courses can be found here. Students may also wish to ask the course instructor or Academic Advisor about how well their past experience matches the current version of a course. Courses evolve, so another student’s perception of a course may not align to the current version. A review of the syllabus helps students to avoid “answering the wrong question” when requesting a waiver.


Access request waiver form here.

Students should write a one-page comparison of past courses/experience to the requested course. The evaluation should map the course objectives through themes, content/readings and outputs/writings of previous work to the requested course. The syllabi from previous courses should contain a course overview/description and list of content/readings and detail the expectations of the outputs. It should indicate the rigor of coursework as well as stylistic elements such as whether the course presented professional skills. The comparison should clearly indicate the equivalency of the courses. A full request for waiver will include the student written one-page comparison AND documentation of the past courses/experience (ex: syllabi, work samples, etc.).

Requests for waivers must be granted in writing and recorded by The School. A request is typically approved or denied within four weeks of its submission. Students should keep a record of their request and its approval, and attach the waiver approval to their graduation application.


School of Public Policy students must learn the fundamental concepts of core courses and be able to use them with competency. Granting waivers to students who are not prepared hinders the student for the rest of their time in the School. The School will err on the side of caution when evaluating requests.

To request a waiver for a core requirement, please email


The School of Public Policy encourages students to consider courses from outside of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, at the D.C. Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, and at University System of Maryland (USM) institutions. These opportunities allow students to study issues that are not offered in the School or at the College Park campus. From walking next door to Architecture and Planning to travelling across the metro to George Mason, dozens of outside courses are potential candidates.

SPP Approval

To receive credit for graduate courses from outside of the School, students must request and be granted approval by the School. Before making a request, students should read the most recent syllabus of the desired course. Students must then make their request for approval in writing and receive approval in writing. Approvals are unlikely to be made retroactively.

All courses from outside the School must have a public policy or public management focus. Courses may not be substantially similar to courses that the student has taken previously for credit. Additionally, courses must be of a similar quality to those offered at the School of Public Policy. Courses must be at the graduate level and have letter grades, not pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades. The School will review each request to see that these conditions are met for requested courses. There is a limit of two outside courses per degree unless sufficient justification is provided.

Students should use the form below to submit the syllabus of the outside course and a one-paragraph statement on how the outside course fits their program goals when requesting approval. Please allow two weeks for the School to complete the review.

Additional steps if taking courses through the DC Consortium

Students should read UMD’s Consortium policies and consult the Office of the Registrar about the registration process and payment information. While the Consortium offers many choices, it may have constraints also. The requested Consortium course may not be substantially similar to courses offered at UMD. Some schools exclude some programs or specific courses from Consortium students. Additionally, some professors are not accommodating to students from outside of their school. Students should request permission to register from the course professor via email, primarily as a way to gauge the general receptiveness and responsiveness of the instructor. While this is some work, it is better to review prior to investing too much time and energy.

To find courses, students should review the course catalogs from Consortium institutions. It is the student’s responsibility to find the courses that meet their goals.

The Consortium registration process is managed by the Office of the Registrar at UMD. It requires students to complete a paper registration document that has no electronic equivalent. Students must get a copy from The Registrar’s Office and have it signed by the School of Public Policy. The student must return the paper form to the Office of the Registrar for processing.

Consortium students are often similar to waitlist students in registration terms. Course spaces are given to students from that University before they commit them to outside students. Maryland students may not be officially in the course until after the first meeting. Students should arrange a backup course at UMD so that they can take their planned number of credits if they are not admitted to the Consortium course. This is especially true because of the differing semester start and course adjustment dates at other schools. Understanding these dates is the student’s responsibility.

Additional steps if taking courses at other USM institutions

Inter-institutional enrollment is the mechanism that allows qualifying students at a USM institution to take selected courses at other USM campuses. Students are responsible for understanding and following UMD's inter-institutional enrollment policy when applying. The requested inter-institutional course may not be substantially similar to courses offered at UMD.

The registration process for our students is managed by the Office of the Registrar at UMD. Students must complete the Application for Inter-Institutional Enrollment form and obtain the required signatures from our School before returning it to the Registrar for processing.

Conclusion and next steps

The process can be long, but students have enjoyed the diversity of thought that being at another institution can bring out. Again, each request is evaluated individually, and the School of Public Policy has final discretion.

Please complete the request for SPP's approval of outside course form. (You will be asked to sign in with a Google Account first. You can use your "" email address to sign in.) Once approved, please send the Consortium or inter-institutional form to the academic advisor for SPP signatures if applicable. Please email questions about this process to


The PLCY798A and PLCY798B courses allow for independent study. This is an excellent option for students who desire to study a topic that is not offered as a course in the School. These courses require students to develop a syllabus and work with a faculty member, just as they do in a traditional course. Also, students must produce work that is of graduate rigor and complete about 50 hours of work per credit of the course. Students may complete up to 3 credits per study in a semester.

Student requirements

Students must create a syllabus and submit a proposal to a potential advising professor. The syllabus should be based on familiar models and probably include the following:

  • Title
  • Overview with learning objectives
  • Course readings and other inputs (texts, data sets, recordings, other media)
  • Course writings, exams and other outputs
  • Schedule/Timeline by week

All reading should include total pages per document. This measure helps us to evaluate the quantity of material that the student covers. The faculty advisor will judge the appropriateness of the content.

Faculty Advisor

Students must find a faculty advisor. The advisor should be a regular faculty member in the School of Public Policy. The student must request the assistance of the faculty member with a proposal. This request may be accepted or rejected by the faculty member. To increase a student’s chances of having a proposal accepted, the student should design the course to be of interest to the advisor. The student should also prioritize faculty with whom they have an existing relationship.

While the advisor will assign the final grade of the course, an independent study is mostly the work of the student. The student is responsible for completing the work in the desired time frame and for communicating their needs. Students should be driven to produce good work intrinsically.

Be aware that faculty members don’t work during the summer. So, some may be less likely to work on a summer study with a student. Also, commitments like books, papers, and course load are very likely to contribute to faculty availability. Please respect their other commitments and be prepared to ask someone else for help if you are rejected.


Previous topics have included immigration policy, a survey of current topics in consumer finance and a quantitative analysis in Health Policy. The style of the course will be proposed by the student and probably revised by the faculty member. The most important aspect of an independent study is a high quality output.

Next steps

Pick a topic and draft a synopsis. Consider why this topic should appeal to your potential advisor. Create a very basic syllabus so that you can show it to your potential advisor to display that you are serious about this study.  

When you and the faculty advisor finish drafting the syllabus, please send it please send it to the Graduate Studies' academic advisor for review and approval. Allow two weeks for this review. Once you receive the written approval, you may register for the course and begin your independent study.