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Would an MPP be the right pathway for me?

guccigrandmaguccigrandma 0 replies1 threads New Member
Hi everybody!

I'm currently a third year undergraduate student at UC Irvine. I'm double majoring in Psychological Sciences and Criminology/Law/Society. I'm pretty sure I want to pursue an MPP, but I'm still not 100% sure if that's what would be the best option for me.

My interests are very strongly related to racial equality, specifically criminal justice reform. For example, I'm super interested in fighting mass incarceration, fighting racial inequality, reducing racial disparities in terms of education/employment, and really anything that has to do with the criminal justice system and its biases. For example, I interned at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation where I did a lot of statistical analysis and research on increasing education opportunities in penal institutions and I'm currently leading a research study at my school on the relationship between extracurricular participation in low income communities and justice system involvement (I'm only mentioning these to give you a sense of what I wanna do in the future).

Essentially, I guess the best way to put it would be that I'm interested in fighting a whole bunch of racial issues that kind of all contribute to the racial disparities in the criminal justice system while still wanting to focus on criminal justice reform itself, if that makes any sense.

So basically, I feel like a Master's in Public Policy would help give me the knowledge and experience necessary to do that, because I want to help change the wide range policies that contribute to these disparities.

But at the same time, I'm not 100% sure if I would gain the knowledge of the law I feel like I'd need in order to really contribute to criminal justice reform efforts. For example, criminal laws affect different demographics in different ways. Drug laws affect a wealthier person living in Beverly Hills differently from a lower income individual living in Crenshaw.
This is a huge contributor to mass incarceration, and in order to change the policies related to these disparities, I feel like I'd need a solid understanding of how these laws affect different people

So my final questions are:
• Would an MPP give me sufficient knowledge I need in order to do what I want to do?
• If not, would an MPP/JD be a better option? i.e., would a JD help me understand how different criminal and civil laws affect different groups of people?
• If neither an MPP nor a dual degree program is the best option, do you have any alternate suggestions?

3 replies
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Replies to: Would an MPP be the right pathway for me?

  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3597 replies13 threads Senior Member
    I can see how an MPP would be a good degree for you. You would want to find a program strong in crime policy and also strong in quantitative training and impact evaluation, which is what you might be describing when you say you are interested in how different laws affect different people.
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  • juilletjuillet 12737 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    I can also see how an MPP would be a good degree for you. However, I encourage you to approach this from the perspective of what you would like to DO rather than what graduate degree to get.

    There are LOTS of different ways to contribute to criminal justice reform and racial equality. You could be a researcher who uncovers the inequalities and consequences thereof (at many places - academia, nonprofits, NGOs, think tanks, etc.). You could be a lawyer who defends people who are unfairly accused or sentenced. You could be a policy wonk for a Congressional office who helps elected legislators reform these laws. You could be the politician yourself.

    It sounds like you are interested in doing the research side. An MPP can be a good degree to move forward in that, although you'll want to choose a program at which you can get more research experience and learn the research skills you'll need to move forward. But there are lots of other master's degrees you could get that would prepare you well for this kind of role.

    Typically, you get a JD if you want to be a lawyer. There aren't too many other good reasons to get a JD ("JD Advantage" aside). Law school doesn't really teach you the law; you can learn about criminal justice law without going to law school or being a lawyer. You learn about the law by studying the law, and there are lots of non-lawyers who spend a lot of time studying law and learning about the consequences and loopholes and whatnot. A researcher with an MPP can do that.

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  • darinbovdarinbov 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Since you did statistical work you might be interested in an economics-focused degree. Some of the MPP programs are more quantitative than others or you might consider an economics degree outright.
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