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Is a master’s in engineering, law and policy right for you?

By Chloe Lane

Updated May 12, 2022 Updated May 12, 2022

Sponsored by Penn State College of Engineering’s School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs 

The professional masters in engineering law, and policy (MELP) is aimed at graduates from STEM backgrounds who are looking to accelerate their careers and acquire a set of unique skills in science and technology policy, systems thinking, and regulatory affairs across both public and private sectors. 

Designed to meet the growing demand for technical professionals versed in policy and law systems, the newly created MELP programme at Penn State College of Engineering prepares those with a science, technology, engineering, or math background to become innovators of change. No prior legal or policy background is required to pursue this degree. 

As the first academic offering of Penn State’s Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative, the MELP degree integrates a technical depth in systems thinking and systems design, a fundamental understanding of legal regulatory frameworks, and an understanding of domestic and global policy. 

During the degree, students will learn to communicate technical expertise to policymakers, help identify regulatory and policy gaps in emerging technologies, and integrate ethical, legal, social and policy components into their research and professional discipline.  

Could the MELP degree be the graduate programme for you? Read on to discover what else you can learn in this diverse degree. 

A MELP degree will teach you how to address complex issues and implement sustainable, technical solutions. 

The MELP’s comprehensive curriculum encompasses topics such as science, technology, and international policy; systems design, data and privacy law, technology policy, and foundations in public and private law. Through these courses, students will gain a strong understanding of the societal and ethical impacts of emerging technologies and enhance their interdisciplinary skills. 

This will enable students to devise ethical, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s major societal issues. 

Graduates of the MELP professional programme will have the necessary tools and skills to communicate science and technology effectively to policymakers, regulators, and decision-makers to help inform public policy.   

Graduates will have the ability to identify opportunities for change and innovation. To instil impact through solutions-oriented approaches at the interface of technology, law, and policy, such as those described by the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. 

As policy and law reform often goes hand-in-hand with engineering, science, and technology research and advancements, it is important for STEM professionals to be solidly grounded, technically broad, globally and civic-minded, ethical, and innovative.  

Through the MELP program’s comprehensive, interdisciplinary problem-solving and experiential learning-based approach, students enhance their technical depth with regulatory knowledge and policy skills. 

The MELP degree is flexible and can be tailored to your interests 

Designed to meet students’ needs, the MELP program offers enrolment flexibility—the degree may be completed in either nine months of intensive study, one year of full-time study, or two years of part-time study.  

Students can also customise the programme to meet their own interests, needs, and technical background through nine different technical focus areas: 

  • Environmental  

  • Nuclear energy policy and nuclear security  

  • Computer and network security 

  • Autonomous vehicles 

  • Energy  

  • Telecommunications 

  • Biological and agricultural 

  • Nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing 

  • Biomedicine and health care technologies 

Through the MELP degree, students will acquire strong technical and analytical skills and an understanding of the convergence between engineering, law, and policy for the successful development and implementation of technology-based strategies and solutions for business growth and public interest technology. 

A MELP degree will prepare you for the global workplaces of the future  

MELP will prepare students for the competitive, interdisciplinary, global workplaces of the future. 

Technology will inevitably play a large role in the future workplace, in a variety of ways—from artificial intelligence to data storage to manufacturing and material tracking systems. A MELP degree provides graduates with the skills and mindset to efficiently find solutions to the political, ethical, economic, legal, and social challenges that are sure to arise from these technological changes.  

At Penn State University, students will develop an understanding of the societal and ethical impacts of emerging technologies, and obtain the technical, policy, and regulatory skills needed to become innovative leaders of change to shape technology for the public good and in service of public needs. 

The degree will also equip students to work in a variety of work environments and pursue various employment opportunities, including industry, government, non-profits, international organisations, think tanks, national labs and start-ups. It will provide students with a solid grounding in the skills and knowledge needed to become a socially conscious engineer, technologist, or scientist, and an effective policy change maker.  

Ideal for students with STEM degrees, MELP provides the opportunity to obtain a graduate degree from a top R1 land-grant university in the state of Pennsylvania in State College, also known as happy valley. At Penn State you will learn from expert faculty who are successful scientists and researchers in their field, and practitioners that provide practical industry and governmental professional experience and skills.  

As a graduate from Penn State University, you will become part of the largest Alumni Association in the United States, with more than 740,000 Penn State graduates. An important network available to you as you seek job opportunities. 

This article was originally published in April 2022 . It was last updated in May 2022

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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