MA Rural Public Policy & Planning


Program Coordinator's Message

Dear Prospective Rural Public Policy and Planning Student:
We are grateful that you would consider the Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy and Planning (MRPPP), a graduate program in the Department of Social Sciences here at Mississippi Valley State University, as a choice of your graduate education. 

As you know, public policy making is an essential function of any level of government to address societal challenges. This responsibility passes from policymakers to policy implementers. A successful public policy-making cycle translates into beneficial laws and regulations for all. MVSU’s MRPPP program seeks to provide individuals  from the broader Delta region, the state of Mississippi and the nation, who are interested in, or currently serving in, various public, administrative or professional capacities in rural and small-town governments, private and nonprofit organizations, as well as those who desire to pursue doctoral studies in public policy, planning, administration, management, and related fields with graduate education in rural public policy and planning. 

For those interested in learning how to implement substantial change in the public sector and beyond, the MVSU MRPPP program can help hone relevant skill-sets. The program can be completed in as little as two years, making it easier than ever for employees from state, municipal and local governments to earn their master's degree. Concentrations are available in Rural Health policy, Nonprofit policy, Social and Economic policy and, plans are underway to introduce Agricultural policy to benefit those working in agricultural field.

The MRPPP program here in the heart of Mississippi Delta has been a leader in innovative education since its inception in 2007. The program has produced graduates, who hold careers in local, municipal, state, and national government; nonprofits, healthcare agencies; educational administrations; while other graduates have pursued doctoral degrees. Our students have been employed as County Tax Assessors; Director of Sponsored Research at a Junior College; Community Project Manager in a Healthcare Agency; Director of Student Records; County/City Fire Chief; Education Coordinators in Public School Districts, to name a few.

Through its face-to-face and online course offerings, the MRPPP program delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students, most of whom are non-traditional and practitioners, to make a positive impact on their workplaces and communities. The coursework required to obtain an MRPPP degree prepares students for work in leadership and management positions. The program allows students to build on their knowledge and skills as well as obtain practical experience in the field of public service. In addition, the MRPPP program provides graduates with the necessary tools to be effective leaders with a solid foundation in ethics. Because of the focus placed on rural public policy issues, MRPPP is an ideal degree for those entering the field of town, city and county management. This program’s comprehensive, multi-disciplinary  curriculum helps produce graduates with the skills needed to effectively manage the demanding and evolving needs of rural counties, cities and small towns in Mississippi Delta.

Faculty in the Rural Public Policy and Planning program assure you that your experience here will be enlightening, exciting and rewarding and as Coordinator and Chair, I will make sure that your concerns are addressed timely and your potential is maximized.
We are anxiously expecting to meet you and discuss further about our Rural Public Policy and Planning. You may contact us at 662-254-3552/3547 or via email
Richard J. Mushi, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Social Sciences
Coordinator, Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy and Planning


About Rural Public Policy & Planning


The Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy and Planning Program is a graduate program within the Mississippi Valley State University department of Social Sciences. The Program seeks to provide the Delta region, state, and the nation with the opportunity for graduate education in rural public policy and planning. In addition, the program provides continuing education opportunities for those individuals interested in, or currently serving in, various administrative capacities in government, private and nonprofit organizations; and those who desire to pursue doctoral studies.


The Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy and Planning seeks to fulfill the need for graduate study in rural communities and small town governments like those in the Mississippi Delta and the broader Delta region. The Program provides opportunities for graduate education for those individuals interested in or currently serving in various administrative capacities in rural and small town governments, private and non-profit organizations. In addition, the program serves those who desire to pursue doctoral studies in public policy, planning, administration,management, and related fields. The program also appeals to non-traditional students seeking to expand their knowledge bases and problem solving approaches in addressing the myriad of problems in the everyday life of rural communities.


The program goals are:

  1. To prepare professional practitioners who demonstrate state-of-the-art knowledge and expertise in the formulation, implementation, evaluation, and analysis of rural public policies;
  2. To prepare professional practitioners with the skill set for policy and program planning and evaluation for rural private, public, and nonprofit agencies; and
  3. To prepare students for doctoral studies 


The Master of Arts in Rural Public policy and Planning (MRPP) curriculum consists of thirty-six (36) credit hours. The program’s core requirements consist of twelve (12) credit hours, six (6) credit hours of research and statistics, and six (6) credit hours of thesis or six (6) credit hours of practicum. The program has three areas of specialization namely: rural health policy, nonprofit policy, and social and economic policy of which students choose one. Each area of specialization consists of nine (9) credit hours.

Core Requirements (12 hours)

RP 503         Rural Policy Planning, Evaluation and Analysis   (3 hrs)

RP 504         Rural Community and Economic Development  (3 hrs)

RP 505         Economic Analysis of State and Local government (3 hrs)

RP 506         Intergovernmental Relations (3 hrs)


Research Requirements (6 hours)

RP 507         Research Methods for Public Policy  (3 hrs)

RP 508         Statistical Analysis (3 hrs)

Thesis or Non-Thesis Option (6 hours)

RP 509         Thesis: Master’s Thesis (6 hrs)

RP 510         Non-Thesis: Practicum (6 hrs)


Prerequisite for non-public administration/policy majors (3 hrs)

RP 515         Seminar in Public Administration (3 hrs)


Areas of Specializations                                                                  

Rural Health Policy (9 hours) 

RP 517         Public Health Administration and Planning (3 hrs)

RP 518         Principles of Environmental Health (3 hrs)

RP 520         Epidemiology in Rural Districts (3 hrs)


Nonprofit Policy (9 hours)

RP 521         Voluntary Nonprofit Sector and Public Policy (3 hrs)

RP 522         Nonprofit Management and Leadership (3 hrs)

RP 523         Financial Accounting in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors (3 hrs)


Social and Economic Policy (9 hours)

RP 525         Rural Planning and Social Policy  (3 hrs)

RP 526         Rural Demography and Growth (3 hrs)

RP 528         Small Business Development (3 hrs)


Electives (Optional)

RP 513         Independent Study in Public Policy (3 hrs)

RP 514         Special Topics in Public Policy (3 hrs)

RP 515        Seminar in Public Administration (3 hrs)



Applicants seeking admission to the Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy and Planning Program at Mississippi Valley State University must be admitted to the University via this graduate degree program.

To be eligible for admission to this graduate program, the following requirements must be met:

  1. An applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

  2. An application must be filed with the Office of Admissions.

  3. An official transcript of a conferred undergraduate degree and any transcripts the student is seeking credit for to the intended program of study must be on file in the Office of Student Records/University Registrar.

  4. An applicant must satisfy a minimum undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

  5. An applicant must submit three letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to certify as to your abilities and character.

  6. An applicant must a "Personal Statement" and a "General or Scholarly Writing Sample".

  7. The department of the graduate program applied for must formally accept the student for admission to the graduate program of study. The actual acceptance letter is forwarded by the Office of Admissions.

  8. An immunization record must be submitted and/or on file.

Students who show academic promise but fail to meet all the requirements based on the aforementioned indicators may be admitted on a conditional basis.  Students will be required to complete nine (9)hours toward the degree while on provisional status, and must earn a minimum of a “B” or above in each class.  After the provisional period, the faculty will review the student’s progress and determine if he or she should be allowed to continue.  Those students who are allowed to continue will then be unconditionally admitted to the program. Conditionally admitted students are not eligible for financial aid.


Priority Date for Admission

Admission to a degree program is made in the fall or spring semester. The priority date for fall applications is March 15. The priority date for spring applications is October 15. 


Admission of Undergraduates to Graduate Courses

Undergraduate Mississippi Valley State University students who have completed all required courses thus far and are within six hours of graduation may enroll in a maximum of six semester hours of graduate work. To be eligible to take graduate courses, undergraduate students must have a grade point average of at least 2.50 overall and in their major field. 


Re-Admission to the University

All graduate students who withdraw from the University or who have been suspended for academic deficiencies must apply for re-admission by submitting an application to graduate studies. Re-admission is not automatic and does not reinstate the student. The Department must approve all applications for re-admission and reinstate the student.


Non-Degree Seeking Graduate Students

Applicants not seeking an advanced degree from Mississippi Valley State University but wishing to take courses may register as a non-degree seeking student. Non-degree graduate students are permitted to take up to nine hours of graduate study. If a student later chooses to undertake a graduate degree, only nine semester hours taken as a non-degree student may be applied to a program.

A non-degree seeking student, who subsequently seeks full or restricted admission, must complete an application for admission to the University and be accepted based on the recommendation of the program. A non-degree student must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and must submit proof of immunization and an application indicating non-degree status. Non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid and letters of recommendations are not required.  



The Rural Public Policy and Planning Program faculty is diverse with specialties in the areas of Health Policy, Nonprofit Policy, and Social and Economic Policy.



Dr. Cassie Osborne

Professor of Political Science/Rural Public Policy

Dr. Richard Mushi



Associate Professor of Public Administration/Rural Public Policy 



Dr. Elizabeth Evans Assistant Professor of Public Administration/Rural Public Policy (Part-time)
Dr. Cassandra Hawkins



Assistant Professor of Public Administration/Rural Public Policy







Dr. Kathie Golden Professor of Political Science/Rural Public Policy (Part-time)



MVSU is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools(SACS). The program is compiling data that will be used to apply for the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) for accreditation eligibility review.


The Master of Arts in Public Policy and Planning is an interdisciplinary program. The department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health and the Department of Business Education at Mississippi Valley State University provide courses in the specialty areas. 


For application materials or program-specific information, interested candidates should contact:

The Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment, (662) 254-3347 or Program Coordinator, Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy and Planning, (662) 254-3352/7.

For general information contact: MVSU Admissions and Recruitment Office, 662-254-3347.