Initiated by a group of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management alumni, the new need-based financial aid packages will be granted to Master of Public Policy admitted students who come from not-for-profit organizations, social organizations and enterprises.

Each year, the financial aid packages of 50-100% tuition fees will be granted to two or three admitted students, starting from the Master of Public Policy Class of 2024 (MPP2024). The financial aid program will run in five years.

The packages aim to support admitted students of both Policy Analysis (PA) and Leadership & Management (LM) concentrations of the Master of Public Policy program. The students must be full-time workers in community development institutions, social enterprises, social organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

According to three founders of the fund, the financial aid packages target certain students who cannot afford to pay tuition fees to study at FSPPM.

We hope this initiative will support candidates who are passionate about serving the community and improving their personal capacity to contribute more and go further in their community service path. We acknowledge that some admitted students have given up on their dream of pursuing Master of Public Policy at FSPPM because of financial constraints,” one of the fund’s founders, who is a MPP4 alumna, shares.

The founders assume the financial aid packages partially satisfy other FSPPM alumni’s desires to give back to the school. They hope that the initiative will also pave the way for philanthropic efforts from Fulbright students who receive financial aid from philanthropists while studying at Fulbright and wish to pay it forward after becoming successful in their career after graduation.

Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) has opened the applications for Master of Public Policy Class of 2024 (MPP2024). For the first time, the program will recruit policymakers, politicians, and government officials from Laos under Mekong – U.S. Partnership Program (MUSP).

Admitted students are granted a full scholarship by the U.S. Department of State, including:

  • 100% Tuition fee for MPP – Policy Analysis concentration
  • Housing & meal stipend of US$500/month for 15 months in Vietnam
  • Settlement stipend of US$250
  • One round trip airfare to HCMC
  • Visa application for maximum of 2 years
  • Medical insurance for maximum of 2 years
  • A cultural briefing trip during the Orientation period
  • Attend an Alumni engagement event, and series of policy seminars, workshops at Fulbright.

Applicants from Laos also have the chance to apply for an elective course held by the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Harvard University (USA).

The MUSP-MPP program are looking for policymakers, politicians, and government officials from Laos PDR who have a bachelor’s degree and at least two (02) years’ experience of working full time.

Admitted students are required to attend full-time classes at the Ho Chi Minh City campus of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (Fulbright University Vietnam) for a Master degree in Public Policy – Policy Analysis concentration.

For more details about the full scholarships for government officials from Laos:

The Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management has received a five-year grant of US$800,000 from the U.S. Department of State to launch Mekong-US Partnership- Master in Public Policy (MUSP-MPP) program. From now to 2026, MUSP MPP-PA brings 20 rising young public officials from Mekong countries, starting with Laos, to attend Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management at Fulbright University Vietnam for a Master degree in Public Policy – Policy Analysis. Graduates will obtain the Master in Public Policy degree issued by Fulbright University Vietnam.

The Fulbright School of Public Policy & Management is one of only 11 schools outside the United States, and the only one in South East Asia that have been fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). This is considered as the “gold standard” in public services education.

In addition to our core public policy expertise serving the Vietnamese government, the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management has demonstrated a strategic and long-standing track record and commitment to addressing key challenges of the Lower Mekong region through a variety of projects and initiatives such as Lower Mekong Public Policy Initiative (LMPPI) to bring policy makers from Lower Mekong countries together to promote mutual learning and trust, and stimulate dialogue on public policies; and the Natural Capital Management Program (NCMP), our first program initiative of 2021-2022 is to address critical issues and policy responses in the Mekong Delta region.

Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (Fulbright University Vietnam) has opened the applications for Master of Public Policy Class of 2024 (MPP2024).

(Read the full announcement HERE)

The MPP2024 program will provide scholarship packages for various groups of applicants granted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.

For Policy Analysis concentration:

Full scholarship (equivalent to about VND 526 million/student) granted to:

  • Policy consultants and policymakers from public areas; lecturers and research fellows from public universities and organizations; or distinction graduates from universities inside and outside Vietnam.
  • Policy consultants and policymakers from public areas of Laos (applicants of Mekong-US Partnership – Master in Public Policy (MUSP-MPP) program).

Partial 50% scholarship (equivalent to about VND 263 million) granted to: Managers and executives from non-profit organizations, social organizations, and enterprises; lecturers and research fellows from private or international universities and organizations.

For Leadership & Management concentration:

Partial scholarships (40% tuition fees) are granted to admitted students to complete required credits. The remaining payable amount (equivalent to VND 252 million) accounts for 60% tuition fees.

Prospective students are middle and senior managers, managers in government agencies, enterprises, non-profit organizations and NGOs.

Scholarship for both concentrations is inclusive of tuition fee and fees for field trip (if any) and exclusive of lodging, course materials, extracurricular activities, Harvard course, and personal expenses.

Excellent candidates with financial constraints, from public sector or remote areas, or female candidates will be considered for financial aid.

This year, the Fulbright school will resume organizing the entrance examination for student selection with Quantitative skill and English tests for applicants of the Policy Analysis concentration after one-year hiatus caused by Covid-19. Applicants of the Leadership & Management concentration will be exempted from the tests.

For online application, please click HERE.

For details about MPP2024 admissions, please click HERE.

Application deadline:

  • July 24, 2022 for applicants from Laos under MUSP-MPP program.
  • August 4, 2022 for other applicants.

Built upon the heritage of Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, an initiative by Vietnam Program, Harvard University, Master in Public Policy (MPP) by FUV is designed to provide high-quality manpower for policy-making institutions and governmental bodies, NGOs, NPOs, private enterprises, research universities and institutions.

MPP program is directly offered and administered by Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), the first academic unit under Fulbright University Vietnam. FSPPM pioneers in developing and educating public policy programs with a view to advocating for a transformative public policy and management in Vietnam and the region – through its commitment toward excellence in teaching, research and civic engagement.

In July 2019, FSPPM is the first public policy school in Southeast Asia to be accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA, U.S.). Accreditation from the internationally prestigious network in public policy programs is a significant milestone projecting the school towards regional and international standards. Achieving the accreditation is a testament to the quality of education offered at FSPPM in par with other international programs.


The Admissions Office

Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management – Fulbright University Vietnam

105 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City


Hotline: 091-102-5103

Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) held the commencement ceremony for 47 students from the 2021 class of Fulbright’s Master in Public Policy (MPP2021). It is the second year the commencement ceremony took place in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic with a number of students joining virtually. All the faculty and students present at the ceremony gathered in the solemn yet cozy space of the school campus, sharing warm hugs and smiles as they ended a nearly two-year journey together with a lot of ups and downs.

The ceremony was held after several delays due to the complex development of Covid-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to take place in the summer of 2021 but was delayed until the final week of the year. One week before the event, many MPP2021 students took to social media to share their warm, sincere and heartfelt messages about their unforgettable journey with Fulbright.

Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Director of FSPPM, delivers his opening remarks.

While congratulating fresh graduates, Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Director of FSPPM, stressed that the past two years were challenging, witnessing the maturity of MPP2021 students and making them understand that maturity never comes easily. He expressed his hope that the graduates would take advantage of everything that comes their way as opportunities to grow up and contribute to the development of the community and the country in the post-Covid context.

Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam, congratulates MPP2021 graduates on their accomplishments.

Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam, praised MPP2021 graduates for not only overcoming the challenges of a rigorous, demanding, and international academic environment but also the challenges of a global pandemic. “We, at Fulbright, often say that the Class of MPP2021 is the Class of MPP in the years of Covid-19. The journey that you have overcome to be where you are today has been disrupted and challenged by the outbreaks over the last two years in our country,” she said.

The disruptions and challenges could be about the students’ learning schedules and experience on campus, their work environment and career opportunity, or worse, the choices that they had to make in the critical moments of tragedies that befell their life, she elaborated.

Ms. Thuy expressed her gratitude to all the graduates for they have chosen to not give up, to never quit trying, to never let go of their dreams and commitments. “You are the shining examples of what it means when we speak about the spirit of “Embrace the Uncertainty” at Fulbright,” she said.

Assoc. Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, MPP Program Director, delivers his speech.

Assoc. Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, MPP Program Director, said FSPPM itself has tested its limits and intentionally posed these challenging tests on the students during the last two years. “Together, we have learnt and explored new things in a changing world. Amazingly, these explorations made us more composed, confident, and aware of our inner selves,” he admitted.

He claimed the tough time also offered an opportunity for the Vietnamese government, businesses, and people to demonstrate their resilience; meanwhile, the class of MPP2021 is where all students representing different stakeholders in the society show their visions, their insights, and their attitude towards the rapidly changing world.

Just like in previous years, FSPPM named the graduation ceremony Commencement as they expected that it would begin a new chapter in the life of each graduate. Ms. Dam Bich Thuy hoped that the education at Fulbright had provided the students with the skills and confidence to confront the future ahead – the future many experts have predicted as uncertain, complex, volatile, and ambiguous.

In times of a global crisis due to Covid-19, we are reminded of the importance of public policy and management in our life, she commented, as the effectiveness of a good public policy and strong leadership from the government has been crucial to how countries across the world are combating the pandemic and will continue to be so in our efforts to recover and rebuild our economies.

More than ever, this is the moment for graduates of the Public Policy and Management Program at Fulbright to demonstrate your spirit of being a pioneer, to demonstrate your ability to create positive change for the world and the people around you… Your duty is to apply the valuable knowledge, the skills, and experience that you have learned from Fulbright, and turn them into meaningful actions that will help the people around you, the community, and our society, no matter where you are, or how you wish to take your career further,” she said.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan is the keynote speaker at this year’s graduation.

Traditionally during the FSPPM commencement ceremony, a keynote speech is delivered by someone who has social prestige and makes a considerable contribution to the public policy and management segment. Former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan is that one in this year’s graduation. He said he had great expectations of the Fulbright school’s graduates as the next generation of changemakers in Vietnam and told them to always incorporate the theories they had learnt in the rapidly changing reality to keep them deeply rooted in the Vietnamese context. He hoped they would nourish their talent and virtue on the mission to serve the country. After delivering his speech, the former Deputy PM participated in a Q&A session with MPP2021 students and shared about his own experiences and lessons in his economic diplomacy career with distinguished achievements.

Dao Thien Ly, a graduate of MPP2021-PA class, expressed her joy for overcoming all difficulties and challenges to achieve her goal on the educational path: the noble Master in Public Policy diploma granted by the Fulbright school.

Looking back on our journey, each of us sitting here cannot forget the nights we stayed up to complete all the assignments. The 8:20 deadline gave us goosebumps many times. Although we submitted our assignments, sometimes we forgot to press the turn-in button and received zeros. I am still shivered thinking about these deadline mishaps,” Ly said.

Dao Thien Ly, a graduate of MPP2021-PA class, delivers this year’s student speech.

She claimed that the diversified student base at Fulbright gave her the chance to learn from her classmates to acquire not only academic knowledge but also the attitude, manner, empathy, and mutual respect, and she thus became a better version of herself.

On behalf of MPP2021 graduates, I’d like to say we are committed to doing our best to be worthy of being a Fulbright student with knowledge, competence, and integrity, and we are ready to make a positive impact in any career field,” she said.

Thuy Hang

The Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management’s 2021 admission cycle started right when the 4th wave of COVID-19 in Vietnam began. In the face of such difficulties, the University has made timely adjustments to provide support to the candidates. In addition to previous changes such as expanding the eligibility of candidates, extending the application deadline, and simplifying some criteria, the University will also provide more generous financial support to applicants compared to previous years. These changes are expected to bring fairer and more open opportunities to candidates who demonstrate high potential and compatibility with the University’s training vision.

Specifically, in addition to criteria such as excellent personal achievements, coming from the public sector, or working in remote areas, etc., the university will provide additional financial aid packages for candidates from different industries, sectors, or areas severely affected by the pandemic. The package will be decided on a case-by-case basis, as well as depending on the number of satisfactory applications submitted to the program. To minimize limitations and interruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic, the school promises to support candidates to the best of its resources.

Started out as an educational cooperation project even before the normalization of Vietnam – US relations, for more than 25 years, the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management has always aimed to provide all Vietnamese citizens with opportunities to access modern knowledge equally. As we stick to the principle of “choosing not the best but the most suitable”, financial aid packages of the Fulbright School are always awarded to individuals with the potential to make positive changes to the future of their community and country. That’s why Fulbright is constantly updating not only our curricula but also the way we admit and financially support candidates who have the capability to be leaders – changemakers.


The Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management is accepting applications for the 2021-2023 Master in Public Policy Program, with two concentrations in Policy Analysis (PA) and Leadership and Management (LM). The scholarship is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State.

👉 See the detailed application guide for the Master in Public Policy Program 2021-2023:

✍️ Apply online:

⏰ Application deadline: September 5, 2021

📍 Learn about the Policy Analysis program HERE:

📍 Learn about Leadership and Management program HERE:

The two options for Master of Public Policy program at Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management – Policy Analysis and Leadership & Management – are designed to meet various needs of the students regarding the schedule, scholarship, and financial status. However, the two concentrations have one thing in common: the academic rigor that pushes students to graduate with the master’s degree they can be proud of. Depending on their background (public or private sector), students will experience the unique academic environment of each concentration in a different way, but in general, students are required to truly invest in their studying to get the equivalent reward.

From world-class education options

Policy Analysis (PA) is a concentration with an academic background in economics and policy teaching of which Harvard University’s top professors laid the foundation more than two decades ago at FETP (Fulbright Economics Teaching Program). This is the first Master of Public Policy program in Vietnam, and the only in Southeast Asia to achieve international accreditation by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Meanwhile, designed with a similar academic standard that combines Harvard’s up-to-date knowledge of economics, management and leadership, the Leadership and Management (LM) concentration is a special version tailored for middle and senior managers of all industries.

Therefore, FSPPM’s academic background and the quality of the Master in Public Policy program are suitable for those who are ambitious to pursue a graduate program that follows U.S. educational standards but is located in Vietnam.

Phan Thi Mong Thu, a student of MPP22-LM class, said: “The NASPAA-accredited training program and unique learning experiences are the main reasons for me to choose to study at FSPPM.

Meanwhile, Le Thi Oanh, a MPP22-PA student who decided to postpone her work at the Da Nang Department of Home Affairs for more than one year to study at FSPPM, said: “At Fulbright, I got a chance to experience an international-standard learning program in comprehension with Vietnam’s policy case studies. It is the combination of theoretical knowledge and case studies that made the class extremely enjoyable and interesting”.

To elaborate on this, FSPPM’s senior lecturer Nguyen Xuan Thanh said that FSPPM’s Master of Public Policy training program was formed by the school’s experience of over 25 years incorporating Harvard’s latest copyrighted knowledge of economics and management into Vietnamese context.

You will find in Harvard classrooms the knowledge of modern economics and management and case studies from different countries for reference. But a class that blends Harvard’s knowledge and Vietnam’s reality can only be found at FSPPM.

Vu Hai Truong, a student of LM22 class, said FSPPM’s MPP program is flexibly imported to suit Vietnam’s practical contexts.

The program that is designed to deeply rooted into Vietnamese context is a unique characteristic of FSPPM. It helps me apply the academic theories to my current work as well as relate more closely to the knowledge I gained here,” he said.

Time: The most valuable opportunity cost

With a 15-month full-time schedule, PA is the only concentration to receive full scholarships granted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State, exclusively for policy consultants and policymakers from public areas, lecturers, research fellows from public organizations, or distinction graduates from universities inside and outside Vietnam. A partial 50% scholarship is granted to managers and executives from non-profit organizations and social enterprises.

For in-office civil servants, especially those in managerial positions, the sacrifice of time and the suspension of work for studying at FSPPM must be taken into serious consideration. But it is obvious that serious investment in education would bring in good results in their career. The time investment for knowledge enrichment can be seen as venture capital for them to improve their professional capacity. The full-time learning experience offers an opportunity for students to realize the gaps of knowledge and the shortcomings of their professional skills so that they could improve themselves and identify the direction for their career paths.

According to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Thanh, there was a time in Vietnam when many public servants who wanted to pursue graduate studies joined graduate programs which allowed them to attend classes in just several hours after work. Although it seemed to be convenient for these public servants, these programs failed to offer an ideal academic environment where students could be deeply engaged in intellectual exchanges with the faculty and the diversified groups of classmates and be inspired to absorb new knowledge.

Experiencing the school’s cultural and academic environment is a very important thing in ensuring learning quality. Students can learn from the faculty, their classmates, and even from the way a class is organized,” he said.

Ngo Nguyen Thao Vy, a lecturer from Ho Chi Minh City University of Law, is currently a student of PA22 class. She still cannot forget the “panic attack” when she got introduced to Quantitative Methods, one of the best courses offered by the PA concentration at FSPPM. In the first class, students were exposed to a lot of English terms and Thao Vy struggled to finish the first assignment of this course.

I even doubted myself for pursuing this course and wondered if I could survive the first two semesters. Despite having certain achievements in the field of legal studies before, I feel so small in the “sea” of new knowledge. When I felt like a lonely eagle struggling to figure things out, I got help from the instructors and teaching assistants. When it came to the third assignment, I grasped the meaning of the course and identified the methods I could apply in legal analysis journals that I will write later,” she recalled.

Thao Vy claimed that only a few schools in Vietnam can push students’ boundaries like Fulbright, where students unleash their full potential under the pressure of assignments and readings with near-Harvard standards in a short period of time.

“What contributes to the success of MPP program at FSPPM is that while the same training model and methods can be applied in other educational institutions, the enthusiasm and understanding of the faculty have helped to inspire students who had the intention of giving up to return to a more serious learning cycle.”

From a short-term training program on applied economics for government officers to a Master of Public Policy program, over the past 25 years, FSPPM has seen a huge number of students majoring in Policy Analysis. Among more than 1,500 alumni from 62 out of 63 provinces across the country, about 62.3% are from the public sector.

In an attempt to diversify on-demand training, this year, FSPPM allows distinction university graduates to apply for the MPP program without being required to have two years of working experience like before. It aims to encourage research-oriented students and students who plan to pursue postgraduate studies while taking advantage of the NASPAA-accredited graduate program.

LM – the concentration characterized by high applicability

Leadership & Management is a concentration introduced by FSPPM just several years ago. It has a curriculum based on modern economics, policy, and management with Harvard standards. The program is tailored based on the demand of the market, with prospective students having solid career backgrounds and practical experience from the public and private sectors, social organizations, education, and research institutions.

This concentration offers more flexibility than Policy Analysis in terms of teaching and learning methods: it can be a part-time program, suitable for students who hold managerial positions in companies and organizations and cannot leave their jobs to dedicate their full-time study at FSPPM. The courses of this concentration are characterized by high applicability, suitable for decision-makers in companies and organizations.

Trinh Thi Diep Thu, a student of LM22 class and an officer from the Ministry of Transport, said: “To compare with other graduate programs offered by public universities, the MPP program at FSPPM is more practical, open-minded and professional. The distinctive value of this program that I earn is the deep understanding of how the society works and communicates and I can apply agile thinking at work in a public office.”

Vu Hai Truong, a student of LM22 class, recalled a “bad experience” at work as an NGO officer. He got the approval from leaders of a local government in Vietnam to arrange a team of doctors and medical staff in the U.S. to the Vietnamese province to provide ophthalmology treatments and distribute medicine and glasses for local people. But at the last minute, the local leadership canceled the decision, causing losses to those involved and affecting his reputation.

After studying here at FSPPM, I realize the importance of the interaction between NGOs and policymakers, and I understand that such incident happened because I did not know how to reach out to local authorities, to negotiate and work with them.”

Vu Minh Anh, a student of LM22 class, shared his view that learning at FSPPM helped a businessman like him to interact and have empathy with those from the public sector and social organizations.

“Today, all issues need an interdisciplinary approach, so this is an opportunity for me to learn their analytical frameworks and their way of thinking to have empathy and efficiency at work. Being introduced to different perspectives has humbled me and helped me become more understanding with policymakers…”

Although the teaching and learning methods are flexibly designed to be suitable for students’ time budgets, the program’s training quality is still ensured. Because of the condensed schedule (every 6-8 weeks, students gather to spend 9 consecutive days studying on the campus), the lectures are designed more concisely and more effectively. Since they have to absorb a huge amount of knowledge in such a short time, LM students will touch on the most important topics and spend time on discussions, debates, and exchanges with instructors and classmates, cutting down the time spent in class for theoretical subjects that can be done through readings.

“The huge amount of knowledge, the case studies, and teamwork under the pressure of time will help students practice discipline and make specific plans for the best learning experience at Fulbright,” lecturer Nguyen Xuan Thanh concluded.

Xuân Linh – Thuý Hằng

On the morning of October 26th, 2020, Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, Fulbright University Vietnam hosted a ceremony to welcome the Master of Public Policy cohort of 2020-2022 (MPP 2022), with over 80 new students in attendance.

During his opening speech, Dean of Fulbright School of Public Policy Management, Professor Pham Duy Nghia emphasized the long partnership between Fulbright Economics Trading Program, now FSPPM, and the United States. For 25 years, FSPPM has grown alongside the US-Vietnam bilateral relationship, with the support of the Vietnamese government and the U.S. State department to train effective policymakers, devising sound policies in the economic, political, and social context of Vietnam.

To individuals, more knowledge means greater freedom. And at the national level, a good public policy identifies mechanisms for effective management of resources and impartial distribution of public welfare,” said Mr. Nghia. This role has never been more important than in the context of the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the devastation wrought by floods along the coasts of Vietnam.

This sentiment was echoed by Marie C. Damour, U.S. Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, who attended the inauguration. In her words, “in our uncertain times, one thing is clear: we need policymakers and leaders that can rise to the challenges of our uncertain times, and find new ways of thinking and new approaches that can improve policy and improve lives.”

Students were filled with excitement and anxiousness in equal measure during the ceremony, with the promising but arduous journey ahead. The new cohort includes many students who will balance family life, careers, as well as studies, a challenging task, especially this year, as acknowledged by Mr. Nghia.

And yet, as Dr. Le Thai Ha, Director of Research at FSPPM explained in her closing remarks, at Fulbright, students are never alone. Convocation marks their entrance in a new community, where everyone will learn from their peers as much as from their teachers, where students were selected based on their strengths and rich experiences, in their lives and in their work. Here begins a new journey for the future policymakers, entrepreneurs, elite faculty and researchers, connected by a shared commitment to the betterment of Vietnamese society, who can support each other on their way to success.

“The most unique aspect of this school compared to other international learning environments is the friendship and compassion among colleagues, teachers and students, and fellow students. It is a valuable asset that will stay with you beyond graduation,” Dr. Le Thai Ha concluded.

Dean of Fulbright School of Public Policy Management, Professor Pham Duy Nghia

Ms Marie C. Damour, U.S. Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Dr Vu Thanh Tu Anh

Dr. Le Thai Ha, Director of Research at FSPPM

The Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) held the graduation ceremony for 54 students from the 2020 class of Fulbright’s Master in Public Policy. The graduation ceremony took place in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic with a number of students taking part online. All the faculty and students present at the ceremony gathered in the solemn yet cozy space of the school campus with their hearts filled with emotions as they ended a nearly two-year journey together.

Just like in previous years, FSPPM leaders and faculty named the graduation ceremony Commencement as they expected that FSPPM students will set off on a new journey for the next strides in their career and life after enriching their knowledge and academic skills with Fulbright’s master program.

Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, MPP Program Director, reminded participants of many generations of FSPPM students who got the access to a modern education to become leaders, economic experts, managers, policy analysts, and responsible citizens who contributed their parts to the country’s reform efforts.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Duy Nghia

He said that the 54 graduates of MPP19 and MPP20 classes this year would follow that same invaluable tradition of the school to represent new balancing forces in the society, including an increasingly reforming public sector, a dynamic private economy and a diverse civil society that increasingly reflect the interests and aspirations of the people.

Dr. Tran Thi Que Giang, FSPPM Faculty member, told students there are two sides of a degree scroll: its front honors the name of the new MPP20 Master, while its back embodies the entire journey leading to this honor.

“It symbolizes the journey of every student, hard wired with the obsessive 8:20 deadline, filled with challenging exams and essays, happy and sad memories with friends, teachers, schools, and family during his or her study time. The front of the degree is indeed a continuity. We all know today is called Commencement, or a new start, a new journey that follows the one just has been passed.

“The value of the degree you are about to receive today, is not just the knowledge you have learned, because knowledge is never static but changing and requiring constant updates. More importantly, these are the habits, methods, and thinking that have been harnessed, experienced, and practiced with intensity, instilling the core values in each and every Fulbrighter that resonate through our ability to self-learn, to think critically and constructively with evidence, through the spirit of public service, integrity, and professionalism.”

Dr. Tran Thi Que Giang

Với nhà trường, di sản các học viên để lại đó là nguồn cảm hứng và tạo động lực cho giảng viên cũng như lãnh đạo trường trong việc thiết kế, điều chỉnh, xây dựng khung chương trình, đổi mới từng môn học hay từng bài giảng.

As for FSPPM, these Fulbrighters’ legacy is the inspiration and motivation for the faculty and school leaders to design, adjust and build the teaching framework as well as make reforms to each subject or lecture.

“You are the ones who contribute to build, preserve and spread the values of Fulbright school. Without your active participation, the classes would have been less exciting, the teachers would have been less enthusiastic. Without your involvement, the values of Fulbright school would have stayed here in these four walls and never been known by the society and community,” Giang emphasized.

Traditionally during FSPPM graduation ceremony, a keynote speech is delivered by someone who has social prestige and makes considerable contribution to the public policy and management segment. Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, a National Assembly member, is that one in this year’s graduation. He shared his personal story about how he kept updating knowledge and his thinking to make further progresses. He told students if they failed to enrich their knowledge, change their mindset and learn new things, they would not do their jobs well and would lag behind in this rapid changing society.

Overcoming challenges

In his congratulations sent to new MPP holders online, Dr. Ian Bickford, FUV Provost, emphasized the values practiced at Fulbright and FSPPM, including a commitment to public service and social responsibility.

“And education, we believe, is the bedrock of service to others and responsible citizenship,” he said.

Dr. Ian Bickford joining the Commencement virtually

Dr. Bae Yooil, FSPPM Lecturer, said the difficulties stemming from Covid-19 pandemic over the past few months had given him some enlightenment.

“I realized again how blessed it is to be in a good community. I learned again how much our students relied on each other, taking classes, doing group projects and writing theses in tight schedules. You became real brothers and sisters while studying at FSPPM,” he said.

According to Dr. Bae, it may be said that the purpose of studying public policy is to understand decisions that affect people’s daily lives and learn how to solve problems. However, one of the goals of public policy education he wants to emphasize is cultivating good citizens, good community members, and good society.

Vo Thanh Trung, a graduate of MPP2020-LM class, expressed his gratitude to the leaders and lecturers of FSPPM for their dedication and patience, guiding students throughout the three semesters.

“The profound lesson we all went through was resource allocation. For me, the takeaway is that the relationship between Resources and Effectiveness is nonlinearity. This is most evident when we faced the impact of the acute respiratory infection pandemic, severely disrupting our thesis progress. With thorough consideration, Dean of the school made two decisions. The first one, which increased implementation duration, allowed us to significantly increase the quality of research. The second decision, definitively ending the execution period, created the highest efficiency for the whole process.

“We have been facing the barrier of thinking every day, being afraid of differences in thoughts, subjective or fear of changes. With the knowledge acquired from Fulbright school, we are overcoming those barriers, full of inspired thinking, to take on the responsibility of being the leaders of change.”

MPP Graduate Vo Thanh Trung

Ho Bao Tram from MPP2020-PA class said she had received a great deal of added values at FSPPM.

“I have been greatly expanding my knowledge, broadening new perspectives, and learning to approach problems more calmly from various dimensions. Specific memories or stories may fade away, but I believe that the core values learned from the school, including integrity, discipline and spirit of service, will always accompany us.”

MPP Graduate Ho Bao Tram

The Ministry of Education and Training recently published statistics on higher education in Vietnam for 2017-1018 and 2018-2019. There were 36.476 master’s students graduating in 2017-2018, an increase of 1.792 compared to the previous academic year. Graduation data on master’s degrees was not included in the 2018-2019 report. The capacity for master’s level education in Vietnam decreased by 9.433 comparing to 2017-2018, down to 97.134 students, while admissions experienced only a slight decrease, from 45.032 students in 2017-2018 to 42.160 students in 2018-2019.

Employment statistics in the first quarter of 2019 illustrates an average graduate-level worker earns approximately 13.5 million dong per month (~USD 580), which is 43.5% higher than undergraduate-level workers. With this income gap, what are the factors limiting young people from pursuing the graduate education that will offer them a satisfying and higher pay job?

In the public sector, a graduate degree can provide promotion opportunities. Nevertheless, pursuing higher degrees to advance competencies and improve working performance is not an option favoured by all. Many decide to follow a less savoury track – bribing for grades and buying degrees, degrading the higher education environment as well as its credibility in the process.

A Master’s degree: Affordability vs. Accessibility?

The journey to higher education is a profitable investment for those aiming quality, high income employment. However, the investment is not negligible. A master’s degree does not represent the same affordability for everyone. Cost of a master’s degree is not limited to tuition fees; it also involves expenses such as books or room and board. Most importantly, there is a cost in the students’ time.
To pursue the “life-changing” opportunity to succeed, many individuals seek out bank loans as a solution. Uncertain about the future, students may concurrently face substantial debts, and thus find themselves spending portions of their income paying off these debts afterwards.

Some master’s programs, aiming to eradicate financial barriers to enhance accessibility, offer financial aids and scholarships. For example, at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM), thanks to funds from the US Department of States, students pursuing a Master of Public Policy will receive a 100% scholarship for the Policy Analysis Major, and a 50% scholarship for the Leadership and Management Major.

As Mr. Vo Thanh Trung, an MPP student majoring in Leadership and Management at FSPPM, relates, “even with 50% scholarships, the majority of my fellow students still find tuition and a course to Harvard Kennedy pose significant financial barriers to full participation in the program”

The most expensive opportunity cost for students is time. Not many are willing to sacrifice their current jobs and promotion opportunities to pursue an uncertain future. Moreover, many companies will not easily allow their employees to attend a long-term program.

“I have been following MPP program in Policy Analysis at FSPPM for 10 years. I had asked my employers about 10 times before finally making it to study at the school. I applied and re-applied every year, but my companies were not able to make suitable arrangements. And after 15 years of working experience, I finally succeeded in pursuing my education,” said Mr. Tran Quang, Deputy Head of Soc Trang Provincial People’s Committee Office.

Mr. Tran Quang – MPP 21 student majoring in Policy Analysis

The amount of time a student is expected to spend on a master program is not limited to the 2 years of official training, but also to dedicate time to prepare for entrance exams, especially for those who follow programs in other counties. Standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT require extensive preparation. Furthermore, those whose proficiency in English is insufficient will need to allocate even more time to study for English tests.

Nevertheless, the biggest obstacle is educational quality. In terms of rigor or qualification level, not all master’s programs are created equal. It is also not the case that all master programs help enhance the students’ knowledge and professional skills they will need in their future career. An international executive program may not ensure one’s success if the knowledge is not applicable with their working and living environment in Vietnam.

“I find it a privilege to have studied in the US for my master’s and bachelor’s degrees. Being back in Vietnam, however, I failed. I realized that I lacked practical knowledge of practices and procedures in Vietnam. What I learnt in the US only exemplified American scenarios, thus distancing me from the reality in Vietnam,” shared Mr. Nguyen Tuan Anh, currently working at the Department of Industry and Trade.

Mr. Nguyen Tuan Anh – MPP 21 student majoring in Leadership and Management

Therefore, despite having 2 degrees from US universities, Tuan Anh still decided to follow the MPP program in Leadership and Management, Class of 2021.

What is the solution for future masters’ students?

Graduating with a master’s degree is a dream of many young people. However, there is a disparity between dreams and reality.

“Success is not an effortless achievement; it is also not accessible to all. Success is a necessary reward for those who dare to take risks and make sacrifices,” remarked Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Executive Professor at FSPPM. “The mission of educators is to prepare students with the necessary knowledge and skills that will assist them through future risks so that their sacrifices will be worthwhile.”

Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh introduces the Public Policy Scholarship Program 2020 in Hanoi

With the goal of helping many young people have the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree, FSPPM School has launched many new initiatives to help reduce barriers to access. In addition to the Policy Analysis major, which requires students to study full time within 15 months, two years ago, FSPPM introduced the MPP program in Leadership & Management, with part-time training over a period of  18 months. Every two months, the Leadership & Management students gather for one session, each lasting for 9 days from Saturday to the following Sunday, helping busy students organize their workload to accommodate their learning.

“The curriculum of the MPP program in Leadership and Management is very accessible for professionals like me. I can still go to school while sustaining my current job. It is fortunate for me to work at a company that supports its employees’ learning and self-developing opportunities. Hence, I was greatly supported to follow the study program. To be honest, I used my leave for school days at FSPPM. Therefore, if I efficiently plan my workload, it will not negatively affect my work while going to school,” shared Ms. Le Thi Kim Hong, Legal Director, Representative Office of GlaxoSmithKline Pte Ltd in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ms. Le Thi Kim Hong – MPP21 student majoring in Leadership and Management

Admission requirements such as entrance exams and interviews are essential in FSPPM’s effort to ensure educational quality. Besides, with student outcomes placed at the center of the school’s education philosophy, FSPPM strives to offer students an internationally accredited education of utmost academic quality which prepares them with the proper knowledge and mindsets for their future careers in multidisplinary fields.

“I am not sure yet whether I will get a promotion at work after graduation, but I am sure that I have had my knowledge “promoted” at Fulbright. Learning from peers and professors, I have acquired an interdisciplinary, analytical and critical mindset to arrive at the central values of all issues. I find the knowledge I have gained at Fulbright indispensable for my present and future job where I strive to become an effective and inspiring leader,” said Ms. Nguyen Thi Bao Tran, an MPP student majoring in Leadership and Management, and the Secretary of Tinh Bien Town’s Party Committee (An Giang).

However, financial barriers have been the greatest concerns of students majoring in Leadership and Management at FSPPM. “Sustaining a school in public policy following NASPAA accreditation involves varying costs,” explained Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh. In other countries, costs of admission to universities of similar quality average approximately 600 million dong per student (~USD 25,900), excluding additional expenses. Additionally, NASAPAA requires partner institutions to scale up their programs, diversify courses, and enhance teaching quality. These requirements thereby necessarily direct FSPPM’s resources to sustain educational quality.

“Tuition fees with 50% scholarship still concern students who depend on personal financial resources. However, this investment is worthwhile for the knowledge and experience a student can get from their study. Furthermore, a 50% scholarship from prestigious Fulbright University Vietnam has greater value as an encouragement than it is as a monetary ‘quantification’,” shared Ms. Le Thi Kim Hong.

“At present, FSPPM still offer full and partial scholarships to students, thanks to support from the US Department of States. But we are still looking for alternatives because this fund is finite. We hope that students will always appreciate efforts that the school has been making and honor values that a Master’s in Public Policy at FSPPM offers.”

It is undeniable that a master’s degree while have varying impacts on a career. A quality master’s program does not only develop students’ knowledge and skills, but also offers students meaningful relationships with talented individuals from various professions and across the country. Yet, since there are always sacrifices on the journey to success, fore-planning and careful considerations are essential.

Truong Thi Thach Thao

In the last week of May, 19 graduate students enrolled in Fulbright’s first class of Leadership and Management concentration (LM 2020) defended their theses after 18 months of coursework.

LM students are particularly geared towards pragmatism. With over 60% of students coming from private and NGO sectors, graduation theses for LM are oriented towards practical application. To fulfill graduation requirements, each thesis can take the form of either a policy analysis paper, or a capstone project on topics chosen by students, then completed under faculty guidance. Accordingly, research topics can be real-life challenges facing the students in their workplace or business projects. Applying theoretical knowledge and analytical frameworks learned at FSPPM, students re-evaluate the problems at hand from a scientific approach to discover or invent innovative solutions to these problems.

Backed by real-life experiences, LM students combine their respective expertise with analytical approaches to evaluate, validate and draw conclusions for better performance in workplace. Insider knowledge help them to navigate around distractors and stay focused on the core issues at hand.

For example, in Nguyen Thi Ngoc Diep’s research project, “Evaluating the impact of livelihood support programs for vulnerable women: A case study on Beauty for a Better Life Program by L’oreal Foundation”, the recent graduate investigated and analyzed the effectiveness of vocational training programs initiated by the cosmetics giant, L’oreal Group, for disadvantaged women in Vietnam. During its10 years of operation, the program successfully trained 2500 women, boosting income and securing jobs for program participants. The initiative combined individual desires for a more sustainable occupation with L’oreal’s needs to both promote its brands and extend its customer base.

MPP Graduate Nguyen Thi Ngoc Diep

Dedicated to traditional and cultural values, Mr. Vo Thanh Trung, CEO of Lune Production, is the producer behind many great performances such as A O Show and Teh Dar, renowned productions weaving together Vietnamese tradition and contemporary dance. One of his main concerns is to preserve Vietnamese culture, but also promote it to the wider word. His research project explored national policies preserving cultural heritage and recommended a sustainable model in which the central government coordinates the participation of private sector and civil society alike.

MPP graduate Vo Thanh Trung

Even though these LM theses tend to be practical, with simplified research techniques, they are remarkable feats of hard work and dedication by graduates. Some capstone projects can even be considered small scientific research projects of their own right. LM students were also appreciative of their advisors’ efforts in guiding them to the final results. “I am particularly indebted to Fulbright lecturers for watching every step of ours. Their timely encouragement and constructive yet honest feedback on our shortcomings help us grow up academically and personally,” shared Nguyen Huynh Thu Truc.

MPP graduate Nguyen Huynh Thu Truc