FAQs

Prospective Students: General

What are classes like?

STPP classes are generally small (one exception is PubPol 754), with about 10 to 35 students. Discussion of readings and relevant news issues comprise the core of class time, though some classes have a significant lecture component as well. Many classes also give students the opportunities to simulate policy debates through role-playing. Because students come from a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines, classroom discussions tend to be lively and represent multiple points of view.

What types of students are in the STPP program?

The program draws a highly diverse array of students, including master’s and doctoral students from not only the biological and physical sciences, engineering, and the Ford School of Public Policy, but also the Schools of Public Health, Information, Social Work, Business, Law School, Natural Resources and Environment, and more. You may be interested in reading the profiles of STPP students. The one thing that all STPP students have in common is an interest in understanding how science and technology are used in the policy process, and shaping science and technology policy.

Do I need to have a background in science/engineering or in public policy/law/social science?

No. Classes are designed to teach students the policy analysis tools they will need and to present scientific issues on a level that is accessible to a layperson.

I am an undergraduate who is interested in science & technology policy issues. What kind of educational program is right for me?

The STPP program does not yet offer any courses in science and technology policy at the undergraduate level. However, you might be interested in enrolling in PubPol 481, “Science, Technology, and Public Policy” offered through the Ford School or LSA’s minor in Science, Technology, and Society.

Do I have to start in the Fall semester?

No. There are admissions in both the Fall (October 15) and Winter semester (February 15) and you can start in either term.

How is the Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program different from the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program?

Both the STS and STPP programs seek to understand the relationships between science, technology, and society. The STPP program, however, is more focused on science and technology policy, and teaches students methods and tools, including writing public policy memos, to understand, analyze, and shape science and technology policy.

Which classes should I take first?

There is no required order for the classes in the program. Some students recommend taking PubPol 585 first, as it provides a useful introduction to policy writing that will be useful for later classes. This is currently offered only in the Fall semester. Many students, however, start with PubPol 650 in the Winter term without any problems. You may take the core courses and your two electives in whatever order best fits your academic calendar.

One of the required courses, PubPol 754 has both 1 and 3 credit sessions available. Which should I take?

STPP students must take the 3-credit version of PubPol 754.

Can I take STPP core courses before I am accepted into the program?

Yes. However, you may find it difficult to enroll in some of the courses that are particularly popular (e.g., PubPol 650 and PubPol 585) because a certain number of seats are reserved for currently enrolled STPP and Ford School students. If you have trouble registering for a course, you should put your name on the wait list and attend the first class.

Can I take a science and technology policy-related course that is not currently listed as an elective?

Once you are accepted into the STPP Program, you can petition for a course. You can pick up a “Petition for Waiver of Program Requirement” form at Student Services in 2245 Weill Hall. Fill out the form (details about the course, instructor, number of credits, etc.), include a course syllabus, and return to Student Services. The course will be reviewed (usually we are looking for rigorous courses that have enough “policy” relevance) and if it is approved, it will be added to our list of electives.

I have already taken some of the STPP courses. Will they count towards my certificate?

Yes, courses you have taken in the past can be approved for the certificate.

Can I enroll in the STPP certificate program if I am in a non-Rackham graduate program?

Yes. You will need to fill out a Rackham application and pay the application fee (approximately $25).

What is the difference between an STPP certificate and a Master of Public Policy degree?

The MPP is a 48-credit/2-year graduate degree in public policy. MPP students can elect coursework in areas such as social or economic policy, policy analysis, politics, international development, and others. The MPP core courses include calculus, statistics, economics, public management, and ethics. The STPP program is a 15-credit graduate certificate specifically focused on science and technology policy issues that is designed to supplement a graduate degree in another field. (Ford School students with an interest in science and technology policy can apply for the STPP program as well.)

How will the STPP certificate help me on the job market?

Though policymakers often seek scientists’ expertise, most scientists do not have training in policy analysis. If you have an interest in shaping policy in your area of expertise, the STPP certificate will provide experience and training that will set you apart from those with only a PhD or master’s degree in your field. In addition, STPP students have access to an email listserv with job opportunities in science policy and related fields. On occasion, they may also have the opportunity to engage in real-world policy consultation through the STPP Program. More information on careers in Science, Technology, and Policy are on the STPP website.

Is the certificate awarded at the same time as my master’s or PhD?

Not necessarily: the certificate can be awarded before or after the completion of your University of Michigan degree, depending on when you complete your STPP requirements.

When are the application deadlines?

The deadlines each year are October 15 for the Winter term and February 15 for the Fall term.

How do I apply?

Please see our STPP admissions page for information about applying to the certificate program: http://fordschool.umich.edu/research/stpp/admit.php. Please note that the program is competitive and one of the more important parts of your application is the essay which is a 2-page statement that explains how the STPP program will contribute to your education and future career.


Application: General

I’m applying to the Ford School and to STPP at the same time. Can I use one application to save on application fees?

No, these programs have completely separate admissions processes and decisions. Once students are enrolled in a Rackham program, there is no additional fee to apply for the certificate.

Do I have to send new transcripts directly from all the schools I have previously attended?

No, current students can forward have your undergraduate transcripts from your current U-M program office. Please contact the admissions/student services coordinator or graduate advisor at your school, who should be able to assist you with this.

Do I need to send official transcripts from my department at U-M?

No, we can access your transcripts from your time at U-M. It is helpful for you to include an unofficial copy of your U-M transcript from Wolverine Access.

Do I need to have new letters of recommendation sent, or can I reuse the ones from my current program?

You may reuse letters of recommendation, but we do ask that at least one of your letters speak to your interest in science, technology, and public policy.

Do you have access to my letters of recommendation and transcripts at my current school?

The STPP admissions committee does not have access to files at some other U-M departments. Please ask the admissions/student services coordinator or graduate advisor at your school. He or she should be able to forward the materials to us. We will accept scanned and e-mailed documents.

There is a place on the application that must be completed by a program chair. Is that my current program’s chair or STPP’s?

This should be completed by your current program chair; please ask him or her to complete it before submitting the application to us. There are spaces for two signatures on the application.

How do I find out the program code for my current program and for STPP?

The code for the STPP certificate is 01906. If Rackham administers your program, you can find your current program’s code here. If Rackham does not administer your program, please contact your graduate advisor or your program’s student services department.

Where should I have application materials sent?

Please have all materials sent to our admissions office:

University of Michigan
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Science, Technology, and Public Policy Admissions
2245 Joan and Sanford Weill Hall
735 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091


Application: Master’s Students

I am a master’s degree student; are there any particular issues I should consider if I want to enroll in the program?

You should pay careful attention to when your required courses are offered at your home school/department as well as in the STPP program. We recommend that you plan early to incorporate the STPP core courses into your schedule. Familiarize yourself with Rackham’s and your degree program’s double counting rule and ensure that you have room in your schedule to complete all credits/requirements. Completing the STPP certificate often requires you to take more courses per semester than you would take otherwise.

See Rackham’s information about dual counting of credit hours (PDF).

Does enrollment in the STPP graduate certificate program require additional tuition and/or fees?

If you are enrolled full time as a master’s student, you will not have to pay any additional fees. If you are a part-time student who pays by the credit hour, than any STPP courses will count toward your credits for the term in which you take them.

I am a dual degree student—will I be able to double count my certificate credits?

The Rackham rules state; “Double-Counting may be permitted only for the overlap of two master’s degree programs or for the overlap of a certificate program. Under no circumstances can any program be overlapped with more than one other program.” Thus most dual degree students will need to complete 15 additional credits in order to earn the certificate.


Application: PhD Students

I am a PhD student. Are there any particular issues I should consider if I want to enroll in the program?

As each department has different requirements, you should talk to your advisor about what the STPP program will entail and ensure that you will have time to complete it while taking any other classes you need and doing your research. Talk to your department and contact us if you have any specific concerns. If you received a master’s degree “along the way” to your doctorate, you should verify what courses can be double-counted.

I am a PhD student who has advanced to candidacy. Can I still enroll in the certificate program?

Yes. Rackham allows you to take one course per semester after you become a doctoral candidate. If you have not taken courses in semesters since you advanced to candidacy, then you can “bank” those courses to take later. For example, if you have taken no courses since you advanced to candidacy two semesters ago, then next semester you could take three courses at once.

Does enrollment in the STPP graduate certificate program require additional tuition and/or fees?

There are not normally any additional fees for PhD students. See the information about Augmented Candidacy Enrollment (PDF).


Application: Postdoctoral Students

Can postdocs apply for the STPP program? Are they eligible for financial aid?

Yes. In addition to the STPP application, you will need to fill out the “New Student Application” through Rackham and present an official final transcript with your BA posted. If your STPP application is accepted, then Rackham will admit you.

If you are taking 4 or more credits, you may be eligible for federal financial aid. Please keep in mind, however, that most STPP courses are only 3 credits each. There are also competitive programs such as Sallie Mae, Stafford Loans, and Perkins Loans, which may not have the 4-credit limit.

Can I apply if I am not enrolled at University of Michigan?

Yes, you can apply directly to the certificate program by filling out a Rackham application and enroll in the STPP program as a “stand alone” student.

Can I apply if I am a postdoctoral fellow?

Yes. You will need to fill out a Rackham application.

I am not a U.S. citizen. What kind of visa do I need?

Please speak with the International Center about visa questions.


Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

What is the STPP Postdoctoral Fellowship Program?

The STPP Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is an opportunity for postdocs from a wide range of academic backgrounds to apply their talents to the field of science and technology policy. In addition to doing research in some area of science and technology policy and teaching courses (one course in the first year and two in the second), postdocs help design new courses, working with faculty to develop the curriculum, and plan and attend STPP events such as the lecture series. These fellowships are made possible through a generous gift from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

Who should apply for a STPP postdoctoral fellowship?

Applicants should be recent recipients of the doctoral degree, with demonstrated interest in science and technology policy. Areas of specialization and disciplinary approaches are open. Salary is competitive and includes benefits. Modest funds will also be provided for moving, conference travel, and research. Awardees will be expected to be in residence in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the time of their award and be an active colleague within U-M. See for more information on applying.


Current Students

Am I required to attend the STPP lectures? When are they?

Yes, STPP students are required to attend the STPP lecture series. There are usually four speakers per term, all on Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. You can find a list of the current term’s lectures here.

Where is the list of electives that I can take for the STPP program?

STPP electives

I have found another class that I think should count for the STPP certificate. Can I get this approved?

Once you are accepted into the STPP Program, you can petition for a course waiver. If you stop by student services they will give you a “Petition for Waiver of Program Requirement” form. Fill out the form (details about the course, instructor, number of credits, etc.), include a course syllabus, and return to Student Services. The course will be reviewed (usually we are looking for rigorous courses that have enough “policy” relevance) and if it is approved, it will be added to our list of electives.

What is the difference between an internship and a fellowship?

An internship is a temporary position (e.g., for the summer) with an emphasis on “on-the-job” training. An internship may be paid or unpaid, and often provides valuable insights and connections that may lead to full time employment. Generally, in the field of science and technology policy, a fellowship refers to a longer-term position, and usually requires a PhD or a master’s with considerable experience. Fellowships may or may not be academic research positions. Click here to find internship and fellowship information.

How many classes can I count for both the certificate and my home program?

In some cases, students may want to "double-count" courses that they are already taking as part of their graduate coursework requirements. According to Rackham, 6 of the 15 credits required for the certificate can be double-counted with other requirements. Please note: the rules for double counting are slightly different for students enrolled in Master's programs. Check with your home program to ensure that they have the same rules, especially if your home program is not a Rackham program. Keep in mind that if you are already enrolled in any sort of dual degree program you will likely not be able to double count certificate credits.

When I try to register for an STPP core course, I receive this message: “Error: You are unable to enroll in this class at this time. Available seats are reserved and you do not meet the reserve capacity requirements.” Is there any way I can enroll for this class? I see that there are 16 available seats remaining, but 17 are reserved.

The Ford School has a priority registration period during which access to register for most PubPol classes is restricted to Ford School students: for Fall semester registration, that date is typically in mid-summer; for Winter semester registration, that date is typically in December. After priority registration, all remaining seats in most elective courses will open to all U-M students at the graduate level. If seats are available, you may register for the course on that date. If the course fills prior to that date, the online registration system will begin a waiting list, to which you may add yourself. If there is a waiting list at that time, put your name on the waiting list and definitely come to class on the first day—even if there is a waiting list.

Note that if you are in the STPP program (you have been admitted and matriculated), you should have priority access along with other Ford School students to register for STPP courses, defined as PubPol 585 (Professor Parthasarathy’s section), PubPol 650, PubPol 754, and some STPP electives. You should not receive the error message if you are already in the program.

My other program is a non-Rackham program. How do I register for STPP classes?

You will need to register for at least half (8) of the credits you’ll use toward your STPP certificate under a Rackham career. Be sure to select your Rackham career on the first registration screen in order to elect STPP courses correctly. You can verify on your unofficial transcript that these courses are listed under a Rackham career.

How long do I have to complete the requirements for the STPP Certificate?

Students have a maximum of four years, from the date of first enrollment in the program, in which to complete the certificate.


Graduating Students

What do I need to do to apply for graduation with an STPP certificate?

  1. A student who has completed all work must use Wolverine Access to formally apply for the certificate ("Apply for Graduation"). Deadlines for each term are published by Rackham OARD.
  2. Students who have received or will be receiving a UM Master's Degree, including an embedded Master's Degree, or another certificate should fill out the Dual Degree Election Form (use program code 01960), obtain appropriate signatures from both departments, and submit to Rackham during the last semester of enrollment. The Ford School's Student Services office (2nd floor Weill Hall) can sign the STPP side of the form.
  3. Check the Rackham Tip sheet for more information.

How will my STPP certificate be recognized?

Once Rackham verifies that your course requirements have been completed, the STPP certificate will appear on your transcripts for the semester that you applied to graduate. You will also receive a paper certificate in the mail a few months after your certificate is conferred.

How do I stay in touch with the STPP program?

The alumni voice is critical in shaping and improving the STPP program. We look forward to reading your advice and criticisms in the exit survey and encourage you to attend STPP events, follow Twitter, and connect to our LinkedIn site. We will ask you to contribute your “News”—new jobs, a fellowship, stpp-related travel, publications, story ideas—and we will continue to send you the STPP Newsletter (please keep your contact information updated by emailing: jbisanz@umich.edu).