Get to know our Optional Certificate Programs

Nov 03 2021
Christine Zizzi, Jia Jun Lee, Nethania Josma, MPA Class of '22

The certificate programs at SPIA offer a great opportunity to specialize your degree and deepen your expertise in a specific area of interest. Beyond the classroom, they are also a great way to get to know other students with similar policy interests and experience. For some, it could be a great way to pivot your career to a topic that may interest you but is perhaps relatively new to you. For others, it is an opportunity to stay current and informed with your topical interests.


Health and Health Policy (HHP) Certificate

Student Representative: Christine Zizzi

The HHP certificate, designed for both domestic or international health interests, offers classes on core topics in health policy and specializations. One of my favorite HHP courses at SPIA was Professor Elizabeth Armstrong’s Reproductive Justice and Public Policy, which uses the lens of reproductive justice to explore policy and politics around reproduction in the United States. Currently, I’m working with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Medicaid Department in my Affordable Care Act workshop, under the leadership of Heather Howard and Dan Meuse. We spent Fall break in North Carolina meeting with stakeholders across the state and eating a lot of delicious food. (Note: this workshop is open to all students but is especially great for students pursuing the HHP certificate.)

Outside of the classroom, HHP students (or as we like to call ourselves, HHP-lovers) get together to discuss all things health and health policy. Over the summer, students got together virtually for a book club sponsored by the Center for Health and Wellbeing, where we discussed “Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics” by Jamila Michener. The Center for Health and Wellbeing also works with HHP students to host health-focused graduate alumni career panels, with domestic and international health policy focus areas. These panels offer a great way to learn more about career paths and health-focused work SPIA alums are exploring.


Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) Certificate

Student Representative: Jia Jun Lee

Beyond SPIA’s Field concentrations, I have continued pursuing my interest in environmental policy through the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) Certificate. As a Field IV candidate, one of my favorite courses at SPIA is Energy Economics with Amy Craft, which focuses on economic and policy discussions around the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables, both domestically and globally. Apart from environmental and energy-related courses, there is no shortage of technology and science policy courses. I am planning to take Technology Policy and Law in the spring, which examines issues such as privacy, intellectual property, free speech, and the regulation of broadcasting and telecommunications.

The best part about STEP is the community. I have enjoyed and learned from interactions with professors, practitioners, and fellow students, as well as access to workshops, policy research, and social events held by the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE), Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), and others. It is an excellent space and opportunity to learn, stay informed or meet others who are interested in STEP-related issues. Looking ahead, I am excited about C-PREE and the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance's co-organized conference on climate finance and net-zero transitions in the spring.


Urban Policy (UP) Certificate

Student Representative: Nethaniah Josma

The Urban Policy (UP) certificate at SPIA allows students to make urban policy and, to an extent, social policy a secondary focus of their academic experience. Students interested in the UP certificate hold varying interests from housing and homelessness to urban governance, and the available classes aim to support these wide-ranging interests. The more central urban policy classes offered right now are Urban Inequality and Social Policy, GIS for Public Policy, Implementing Urban Economic Development, State and Local Finance, Urban Politics and Policymaking, and Affordable Housing. David Kinsey has a wealth of practical experience and hosts a policy workshop annually on housing-related issues. The classes offered towards the certificate are largely domestic-focused, but the faculty has attempted to expand individual course contents to introduce a more global comparative lens. Urbanization and Development is a new course that has amassed positive reviews from students interested in international affairs. SPIA students are also highly sought to sit on Princeton’s Public Transit Advisory Committee and contribute to local policy issues. Lastly, SPIA has a strong alumni network in urban policy and planning. Alumni remain openly connected on social apps to share career advice and opportunities in the field.