School launches graduate degree at the intersection of engineering, law, policy

Samantha Chavanic
August 20, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new professional master of engineering degree in engineering, law and policy (MELP), housed in the Penn State School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP), has launched. The first academic offering of Penn State’s Law, Policy, and Engineering (LPE) initiative, the aim of this degree is tailored to meet the growing demand of members of the technical workforce seeking to accelerate their careers in industry, government, non-government organizations and nonprofits. 

Interested students may apply now to join the program’s first cohort in spring 2022. Applications for fall 2022 are also being accepted. 

The MELP degree leverages strengths from across the University, drawing from the College of Engineering, the School of International Affairs and Penn State Law at University Park. According to Sandra Allain, LPE director and professor of practice, the 30-credit, non-thesis residential degree will prepare students from diverse engineering backgrounds to become innovative leaders of change by enhancing their technical and professional skills to address societal changes and the rapid progress of technology and globalization. 

“The MELP program provides students and professionals with a STEM background the unique opportunity to explore the human and social dimensions of engineering, science and technology,” Allain said. “It provides practical hands-on interdisciplinary training through experiential learning opportunities where MELP students leverage their undergraduate degrees and professional expertise to expand and integrate their technical knowledge with new professional skills across science and technology, their regulatory and policy frameworks, systems thinking, and ethics. MELP graduates will be innovative thought leaders and change makers; they will be the engineers of the future and for the future.”

Master of Engineering in Engineering, Law, and Policy

As an interdisciplinary professionally focused graduate program, the master of engineering in engineering, law, and policy provides students from diverse engineering and technical backgrounds with the necessary knowledge to understand the convergence between engineering, law, and policy and successfully develop and implement technology-based strategies and solutions.

Penn State College of Engineering

Through the development of increased technical, policy and regulatory skills, Allain said, MELP students will acquire the necessary attributes required by today’s well-rounded engineering and technology executives, scientists, analysts, researchers, program managers, consultants, entrepreneurs, regulatory and compliance officers and policy advisers. 

“In Penn State’s College of Engineering, educating tomorrow’s change makers is critically important,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “By uniting the three distinct, but intertwined disciplines of engineering, law and policy under one graduate degree, the LPE initiative will continue to advance its position as a leader in this newly emerging field that combines science and technology with government affairs and regulation. The new MELP degree exemplifies our collaborative efforts to impact and improve the global community.” 

Designed to be completed during one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study, the MELP degree combines previously existing courses from engineering design and international affairs with newly created courses focused on private and public law fundamentals; engineering, law and policy systems; and engineering, law and technology policy. With 21 credits of required coursework and nine credits of elective courses, the MELP degree offers flexible options to meet the needs and interests of a diverse audience of undergraduate engineering students and practicing engineering professionals. MELP students may choose to focus on technical focus areas including environmental, nuclear energy and nuclear security, computer and network security, autonomous vehicles, energy, telecommunications, biological and agricultural, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing, biomedicine and healthcare technology, among others. 

“MELP graduates will acquire the tools to communicate science, technology and emerging trends effectively to policymakers, regulators and decision makers to inform public policy,” Allain said. “MELP graduates will inform engineering design, research development and innovation based on existing ethical, policy and regulatory frameworks. Graduates from the MELP program will be equipped to impact public policy, lead change and differentiate themselves among the STEM workforce by navigating the convergence of law, policy and engineering for business growth, public interest and social impact.”

To learn more about the MELP degree, its requirements and how to apply, visit


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 23, 2021