Skip to main content

Strategic Plan


The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy pursues a three part mission:

  1. Developing diverse and innovative leaders in the art and science of policy and governance;
  2. Advancing the frontiers of applied interdisciplinary knowledge; and
  3. Promoting local, state, national, and global public good.


We are guided by and model these values in practice:

  • We hold that serving the public good is at the heart of our identity as a land-grant institution as well as our academic mission;
  • We are committed to upholding and advancing democratic governance;
  • We believe that multi-stakeholder governance encompassing the public, private, and nonprofit spheres is essential for advancing the public good;
  • We embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion as a community and as a critical component of the development and implementation of good policy; and
  • We recognize that policy and governance is not just a technical exercise, but one that is imbued with ethics and normative values.

Headwinds and tailwinds in higher education and public policy

As we look to the next five years and chart a course for the School, we must be cognizant of the challenges facing higher education broadly and the field of public policy specifically, and the opportunities that exist to support our goals.


Increasing economic pressure on students

Against a rising cost of education and stagnating wages and job opportunities in the public sphere, a growing pressure to go into other fields with higher income potential threatens to limit the pool of applicants for our programs. In addition, specifically at the graduate level, our enrollments are depressed during periods where there are robust job markets and positive economic outlooks. Growing the applicant pool will require us to not only consider the quality and relevance of our programs on an ongoing basis but also address changing needs for delivery to keep costs down. Raising additional support for prospective students will be critical for a vibrant and growing student body.

Increasing economic pressure on public institutions of higher education, and a rapidly evolving business model

Revenue pressures from multiple angles are resulting in a rapid evolution of the higher education business model. Higher education across the country is facing flat or declining public funding, with possible future pressures to reduce funding, potentially dramatically. While the state of Maryland has continued to provide strong levels of public funding relative to many other states, prudence requires us to be ready to address possible shifts in the policy and budget environment that could cause downward pressure on this funding. Other traditional avenues to bolster resources, including tuition increases and international student growth, are respectively constrained by growing student debt and an increasingly competitive environment for public policy programs outside the United States. 

Political polarization and tarnished perceptions of higher education and public service

Societal trust in and support for higher education in the United States is at historic lows, with only half of adults thinking that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the direction of the country. There is a strong partisan dimension to these views, with almost 60% of those identifying as Republicans or independents who lean Republican believe that higher education has a negative effect on the way things are going in the United States. Within the field of public policy, sustained attacks on the role of government, and on government and public service professionals, is contributing to a decline in the attractiveness of careers in public policy. Maintaining a broad support base for public service and schools that prepare professionals for public service is essential in the years ahead.

A rapidly shifting policy education landscape 

A proliferation of options for graduate policy degrees, including highly specialized and niche policy degrees, as well as accelerated degrees targeted at specific working populations, is changing the face of the traditional graduate policy degree field and making it ever more competitive. Likewise, well-resourced alternatives including professional STEM and business degrees are creating an increasingly competitive marketplace for potential students. Policy issues related to science and technology are emerging at the forefront of the field, with a need to prepare graduates with both technical and policy literacy. At the same time, perhaps the greatest change to the policy education space is the fact that policy is increasingly becoming a subject for undergraduate study, including a rapid growth of programs offering undergraduate majors. These competitive pressures are occurring at the same time higher education in the United States is expected to experience slower growth of the postsecondary student population, with projected annual growth in degree conferrals at all levels falling below 0.5% through 2027 (from an average annual growth of 2.5% between 2007 and 2017).


Our location affords us access to all levels of policymaking, exposure to a diverse range of issues, and engagement with the full spectrum of policy and governance institutions, organizations, and actors

Our proximity to the federal government in Washington, DC, the state government in Annapolis, and the local governments of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties presents opportunities to access policy making at all levels. Further, the concentration of private, nonprofit, and intergovernmental organizations in the region, addressing both domestic and international concerns, affords a breadth and depth of exposure to policy expertise and debates available to few other policy schools. 

Situated within a top-tier public research university

As a policy school located within a large and active public research university, we have a broad and deep set of potential partners at our disposal. In particular, the University’s strengths in science and technology, including cyber, artificial intelligence, data, and sustainability, present opportunities to expand our activities by leveraging existing resources.

Positive relationships and strong linkages with the state of Maryland

A continued history of strong state support for higher education in Maryland, including current support for the School of Public Policy, is a valuable and rare asset. In addition, the School has numerous constructive relationships with the state, both through academic and research programs in support of the state and through the positions our alums hold in the executive and legislative branches. 

An increasingly attractive and accessible location

With the redevelopment of College Park and Baltimore Avenue, and the completion of the Purple Line light rail, the University stands to evolve from its history as a commuter institution to both a dynamic college town and a more integrated part of the DC region. These developments offer the opportunity to better link our community not only to Washington, DC, but to College Park and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, and to attract students, faculty, and staff. 

Value for money

As a publicly-supported, nationally-recognized policy school in a top-tier university, we provide a high-quality education at a lower cost compared to most competitor institutions. To take advantage of this tailwind, we will need to raise additional scholarship/fellowship support to remain highly competitive in the value for money category. 


Goal 1 - Pursue continued growth and strengthen connections across our programs and our community

Recognizing the imperative of growth to meet increasing and evolving needs in the public policy sphere, to serve as a critical and necessary source of resources to sustain and expand our activities, and to advance the state and public mission of the School, we will pursue balanced and integrated growth.

With respect to our academic programs, undergraduate studies will remain a significant driver of growth in the School. This will be complemented by reinvigorated master’s programs, and modest but quality growth in our doctoral program. Entrepreneurial and executive programs help to fulfil our mission and are also a source of both partnerships and revenue for the School. These will be emphasized as an area for further growth. Program growth will both require corollary growth in our faculty and staff and provide opportunities to support this increase. The development of linkages between these four program areas will be a focus, so that growth in each is of benefit beyond the individual program.

  • Develop and maintain a well-curated portfolio of degrees, certificates, and other educational offerings at the undergraduate, graduate and executive levels
  • Growth in the Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy program - total enrollment of 800 students in AY23/24 
  • Growth in the Master of Public Policy/Master of Public Management program - total enrollment of 250 students in AY23/24
  • Growth in the Master of Public Studies - Professional Administration (or MPA) program - total enrollment of 120 students in AY23/24
  • Growth in the Doctor of Philosophy in Policy Studies program - incoming cohort of 12 students in AY23/24
  • Develop and maintain integrated systems across the school that cohesively support all academic programs, including student affairs, budget and administration, operations, development, communications, and research support

To support the intended growth in academic programs, we will enhance both our recruitment efforts and ensure the continued relevance of our offerings. Increased staffing resources at the undergraduate level will support the recruitment needs of a fast-growing program, while the existing “whole-of-community” effort that engages faculty, staff, alumni, and students in recruitment will be strengthened at all levels. As data science and analysis is increasingly at the heart of the field, we will strengthen our offerings to equip students with the knowledge and skills they will need. Expanded and revised program offerings will be explored to better align with the needs of students, including certificate programs, a Master of Public Administration, and program delivery methods that are responsive to working and remote students.

  • Establish a standing committee to support recruitment efforts across the School and to inform the consideration of changes to program offerings in furtherance of recruitment goals

Growth in the School’s teaching and research activities will demand and provide the opportunity to increase the size of the faculty. Faculty hiring opportunities will be used to build the School’s teaching and research strength in key areas, to meet core teaching demands, and to advance our diversity, inclusion, and belonging objectives. In support of developing linkages between the academic programs, we will hire and deploy faculty that will teach across our undergraduate, graduate and entrepreneurial programs. We will seek balanced growth of faculty across tenure-track, professional-track, and adjunct categories, and work to ensure an integrated, collegial, actively engaged faculty body in the School.

  • A1 - Majority of core faculty teaching in at least two programs (undergraduate, graduate and executive/entrepreneurial) across the academic year

As our alumni community expands with the undergraduate program, we will adapt our engagement activities to ensure strong connections are maintained between an evolving School and a diversifying alumni group. We will create opportunities for alumni to engage with students and faculty throughout the School, recognizing the valuable contributions our alumni community make in terms of student recruitment, professional development, and to the intellectual life of the School. With an already dynamic and committed alumni body, we will further engage them in the governance of the School through the Alumni Chapter Board. Through enhanced connections with the School, we will seek to build a culture of philanthropy among our alumni community, just as we do with our students.

  • 30% of alumni base engaged (all modes of engagement - e.g. event participation, giving, School programming) at some point during the academic year

Given the shifting higher education business model where state funding will not be sufficient to resource intended growth, we recognize the need for resource development to realize the goals of this plan. Development will be a shared responsibility across the School, with opportunities to identify and secure resources present in our academic programs, our research program, and our service and impact activities. Development support will target fundraising efforts towards areas in which the School is looking to build strength, and where viable prospects exist. Diversifying our resource base, both in terms of areas of substance and sources of funding, and progressively moving towards long-term, sustainable financing sources including endowments, will be a priority.

  • 50% increase in annual entrepreneurial program net revenues by AY23/24 against three-year average baseline
  • 50% increase in total of annual gifts from all sources, including individuals, foundations, and corporations, by AY23/24 against three-year average baseline
  • 100% increase in annual external research funding by AY23/24 against three-year average baseline
  • At least 50% of funding raised from gifts between AY19/20 and AY23/24 put towards endowments

Goal 2 - Build an increasingly diverse and inclusive school with a strong sense of belonging for all

Recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion as the fabric of our society, and essential in educating diverse policy leaders, developing inclusive research, and addressing a broad range of policy issues, we will build an increasingly diverse and inclusive school that creates a strong sense of belonging for all.

We will ensure our admissions and recruitment process is accessible, fair, and transparent. We will actively recruit in a diverse range of venues, and engage the School community in the process to provide prospective students with authentic perspectives. Data on the School community and on incoming classes will be made readily available.

  • Achieve and maintain the School of Public Policy as being within the top 3 campus units for the percentage of under-represented minorities in our undergraduate and graduate student bodies
  • Increase the number of diverse candidates in graduate candidate pool, with particular focus on underrepresented minorities
  • Achieve and maintain graduation rates at or above University-wide graduation rates

Processes for recruitment for faculty will emphasize opportunities to enhance the diversity of instruction. A comprehensive approach will be taken, including attention to broadening the pools of applicants, ensuring successful recruiting processes, and working with others in the field to broaden the pipeline of prospective applicants, especially when it comes to faculty at all levels. Mentoring committees will be actively utilized to enhance retention efforts. 

  • Increase the number of diverse candidates in faculty search pools, with particular focus on underrepresented minorities
  • Increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities on the faculty committee and overall faculty body
  • Track and prioritize retention to achieve above University average

Course content and materials will support the analysis of policy issues from a range of ideological, demographic, and socioeconomic perspectives, and a process for review of this balance will be established. Through both course content and instructional approaches, inclusive classrooms that foster the sharing and discussion of diverse voices will be emphasized. 

  • Establish a systematic and regular process for faculty review of curriculum to ensure that a wide range of views and backgrounds are represented across the width and breadth of our curriculum

Opportunities for training and development will be offered for faculty and staff, taking advantage of University resources and external expertise where relevant. Establishing a comprehensive onboarding process for faculty and staff will be a priority, so that new employees are properly supported and set up for success. Campus resources for teaching development will be leveraged to support faculty in creating inclusive and engaging classroom environments.

  • Establish baseline diversity and inclusion training for all faculty and staff by AY20/21 and provide opportunities for new members of the community through the life of this plan
  • Contributions to the advancement of the School’s diversity, inclusion, and belonging goals will be included in all promotion, advancement and recognition processes, merit reviews, and post-tenure reviews, as appropriate

Enhanced opportunities for interactions within and across groups in the community will be pursued, both in support of our educational, research, and impact missions, and to foster social connections. Strengthening connections between undergraduate and graduate students, and between faculty, staff, and students, will be of particular focus. Additionally, we will highlight our diverse community through sharing stories, celebrating communities, and recognizing the expertise of our community via digital media and other communication channels.

  • Increase School-supported opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to interact outside of classroom environments
  • Strengthen collaborative efforts within the School to share and recognize diversity, inclusion, and belonging actions and expertise

Goal 3 - Establish the School of Public Policy as a top policy school with a distinctive identity

Recognizing an increasingly competitive marketplace for students and resources, with pressure from peer institutions and alternatives to the policy field, we must maintain the core strengths of a leading policy school while investing in existing assets and new areas to develop and maintain a captivating approach to policy education, research, and impact.

As a school of public policy committed to high quality education, we will maintain the faculty depth and curricular offerings to build and integrate students’ skills in economic, political, normative and data analysis, and to prepare them for careers leading and managing diverse work forces and a wide range of policy issues. We will seek faculty with expertise in particular areas of substance and the ability to teach these skills across our academic programs. Using the assessment of learning outcomes, we will revise our curricular offerings as needed to ensure we provide students with the necessary theoretical foundations, analytical skills, and experiential learning to succeed as policy leaders.

  • Establish a school-wide assessment approach for both the undergraduate and graduate curriculums, that engages governance bodies in the School as appropriate, to ensure a relevant and quality educational experience for all students

The School’s location remains a distinctive strength, affording us the ability to draw on a large community of leading scholar-practitioners from across sectors and to engage our students in the practice of policy. We will continue to emphasize the value of scholar-practitioners both when hiring in the academic market and the practitioner market, and encourage faculty to avail themselves of opportunities to practice policy and serve the public good. We will prioritize teaching excellence for all our faculty, and ensure a commitment to student engagement, inclusive teaching practices, and innovative methods to enhance student knowledge and critical thinking. Experiential learning, including service and study abroad opportunities, will remain a key part of our academic offerings, and we will enhance our coordination and support of these opportunities. Maintaining a vibrant community of scholars and practitioners, providing robust experiential opportunities, and leveraging our geographic location will support our efforts to prepare students for diverse careers across the public (federal, state, and local), private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.  

  • 100% of core faculty involved in the practice of public policy (through such activities as testimony, serving in advisory roles, practitioner-friendly research, direct service delivery, board service, and other outside professional activities)
  • Maintain a balance of theoretical and experiential learning offerings that is responsive to pedagogical and student demands
  • Establish a teaching professional development program that leverages the resources within the University, particularly the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center

Reflecting the nature of public policy in the 21st century, we will advance multi-level and multi-stakeholder governance by engaging issues and constituencies across sectors and jurisdictions. We will welcome people to our community who bring diverse backgrounds, expertise, and relationships across multiple sectors and geographies. We will expose students to domestic and global policy issues, and solutions across sectors and at different levels of governance, to prepare them for multi-faceted, multi-sectoral and multi-jurisdictional careers. Our internationally-oriented expertise, partnerships, and learning opportunities will support this effort, as will our international student and faculty body. While our graduates gain employment across sectors, we recognize that we prepare an uncommonly large number of students for government service. We will continue our role contributing to the federal government workforce and will strengthen our contributions to developing state and local government talent. 

  • Expand foundational course offerings in multi-stakeholder governance
  • Maintain a balance of domestic- and internationally-oriented courses across the School’s credit-granting programs
  • Maintain a balance of faculty with experience in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors, preferably across two or more

As part of a flagship public land-grant institution, the School must realize its mission of advancing public good in and for the residents of the state of Maryland, and respond to the growing need for civically-engaged and responsible community members. Through new initiatives in state and local governance, and in civic engagement, the School will serve as a resource for the state and engage students in experiential learning opportunities throughout Maryland. While emphasizing our role and responsibility in the state, our efforts will extend beyond Maryland to address these issues at a national level. As we build out our activities and relationships in the state, we will seek to establish the School as a gateway between campus and Annapolis.

  • Increase engagement with the state through internships/fellowships, research activities, and community-based learning with Maryland-based organizations, state agencies, and the legislature

As one of only two policy schools within a tier-one (R1) public research university in the national capital region, we must use this position to bring the expansive disciplinary expertise of the University to bear upon relevant policy issues. We will establish partnerships with key parts of campus, including through joint appointments, joint degrees, cross-listed courses, and collaborative research, to leverage existing strengths and resources. Partnerships that support our efforts to build expertise and activity in science and technology policy, and that share our expertise in policy analysis, management, and leadership, will be a priority. 

  • Increase the number of joint-appointments, cross-listed courses, cross-campus research activities, and collaborative programming
  • Explore joint-degree programs with other units on campus as part of academic program growth

Goal 4 - Build recognized strength within and between key substantive focus areas

Recognizing that a focus on a defined number of areas builds the depth of activity that allows for recognized strength and the attraction of faculty, students, and resources, we will integrate and coordinate teaching, research, and impact activities within and between six key areas.

Reflecting the School’s tradition of addressing both domestic and international policy, we will continue to engage the global dimensions of policy issues whether concerned with interactions between and among stakeholders, global comparisons of issues, or the international exchange of knowledge. We seek to increase internationally-oriented course offerings across the School’s academic programs, and to work with campus partners to provide students learning opportunities with additional disciplinary fields. Research partnerships and conferences with University departments and other research hubs will be a priority, as will be the expansion of interdisciplinary research.

Given the importance of leadership, management, and finance to the execution of public policy, the relevance of leadership, management, and finance learning for our graduates’ career outcomes, and the role that the School’s leadership, management, and finance capacity plays in the delivery of executive and entrepreneurial education, we will strengthen our expertise in this area. When presented opportunities for hiring, we will emphasize both teaching and research portfolios to further the School’s research activities. Recognizing the importance of this area in developing our graduates’ ability to lead and manage in diverse policy domains, we will seek to provide a balance of independent as well as integrative course offerings in leadership, management, and finance across our academic programs.

With an established depth of expertise and level of activity in philanthropy and nonprofit leadership, we will capitalize on this strength to build a reputation as the leading school in the field. In addition to expanding experiential curricular and co-curricular programming across the University, increased research activity will be pursued to elevate the School’s prominence. The innovative nature of the Do Good campus approach will be leveraged to form partnerships that provide opportunities and resources for continued growth.

Leveraging and coordinating assets across campus, we will build the School’s strength in science, technology, and policy and contribute to positioning the University as a leader in the science, technology, and policy interface. Academic programs in partnership with other campus units will be explored, including with the schools of engineering, information studies, and computer science. Increased expertise and activity in this space will also be leveraged to provide curricular offerings in data analytics and skills. Partnerships with other universities, government agencies and research centers will be used as building blocks, with opportunities for executive education and research. Given the School’s and University’s existing assets and the potential for funding in this space, building out a cohesive set of activities across three domains -- cyber, sustainability, and security -- will be a focus.

Recognizing student demand for coursework, research, and practice opportunities in social policy, as well as the prominence of social dimensions in policy issues, we will build our activities and expertise in this area. Partnerships with units on campus will be leveraged to increase the breadth of our academic offerings, including in the area of education policy. With existing expertise in the School, potential partners on campus, and the possibility of enhancing current funding, health policy presents an organic growth opportunity to be pursued.

Building upon globally visible teaching and research strengths in key policy domains, we will pursue continued growth to enhance the reputation and visibility of the School’s sustainability expertise. An expanding stable of faculty and researchers will provide opportunities for enhanced curricular offerings across our academic programs, including the revitalization of the energy and environmental specialization at the master’s level. Opportunities to lead large, collaborative research initiatives with units on campus and external entities will be sought, and will be leveraged to strengthen faculty, student support, and programming. Engagement with both the domestic and international dimensions of policy issues will continue, and a broader program of regional sustainability expertise for key regions and countries will be pursued.

In addition to building depth of expertise and activity within each of these identified areas, we will expand connections and activity between them to realize recognized strengths at the intersections. Growing faculty and teaching capacity within areas -- particularly within the areas of leadership and management, and science, technology, and policy -- will support curricular offerings in all areas. Formal and informal coordination between faculty affiliated with areas will be encouraged to identify opportunities for collaborative research.

  • Establish pillars as operational structures capable of developing cohesive and integrated activities in the six areas to enhance our offerings, funding, and profile, including:
    • Systematic engagement of the pillars to ensure cohesive course offerings and faculty alignment across academic programs
    • Use of the pillars to support student recruitment across academic programs
    • Regular engagement of the pillars by the School’s development and communications functions to support fundraising efforts and the elevation of external profile
  • Achieve Top 10 U.S. News rankings in multiple areas, to include those in which we have strong current rankings (e.g. public finance and budgeting, nonprofit management, environmental policy and management, national/homeland security, and international global policy and administration)

Goal 5 - Expand research activity within the School to enhance our prominence and impact in and on the field

Recognizing that a robust research profile increases the School’s impact and prominence, provides additional resources, and enhances the ability to recruit faculty and students, we will expand our research activity.

Through the support and recognition of research activity, we will cultivate a research active faculty at all tenure-track and relevant professional track ranks. School funding to incentivize research, including to match outside grants and gifts, provide seed funding, and support participation in research conferences and endeavors, will be established.

  • 100% increase in annual research output by tenure-track and relevant professional track faculty by AY23/24 against three-year average baseline
  • 100% increase in annual external research funding by AY23/24 against three-year average baseline
  • 20% of tenure-track and relevant professional track faculty buying out at least one course per academic year for research or impact purposes

Collaborative research among faculty at the School and University, and with external researchers, will be encouraged to successfully secure larger grants and establish greater prominence. The coordinating function of centers and pillars, in conjunction with the support of the School’s development capacity, will be leveraged to pursue joint, interdisciplinary research opportunities.

  • At least two research proposals submitted each year that involve collaborative efforts between faculty investigators from the School and researchers from elsewhere in the University and/or external to the University

Engaging students as research collaborators in faculty research projects will be emphasized across our doctoral, masters, and undergraduate programs. In addition to providing opportunities for students to develop skills and participate in cutting-edge research, research collaborations will be used to attract students to the School.

  • Establish a research program to engage undergraduate students as research participants with School and University faculty
  • Enhance opportunities for graduate student research assistantships

Aligning the expansion of research activity with the areas in which the School seeks to build strength will be encouraged, so as to take advantage of existing critical masses of research active faculty. School research support will prioritize these areas.

In order to incentivize and support the research enterprise in the School, the Dean will create a Dean’s Research Fund to match qualifying outside grants, provide seed funding, and build research strength and recognition in priority areas. The School will also allocate staff resources to support research activity, and will increase these resources as Designated Research Initiative Funds grow with successful grants. The School will also expand efforts to communicate the full extent of research activity and impact outside the School as well as facilitate faculty and doctoral student participation at research conferences.

  • Creation of Dean’s Research Fund, and bolstering of staff support for research funding proposals and research projection
  • 80% of tenure/tenure-track and professional track faculty in research titles presenting at leading conferences in public policy/administration and respective disciplines each year