Accelerated Curriculum

Curriculum Requirements 

The Accelerated Master's in Public Policy and Administration program requires the successful completion of 13 courses. Students complete nine core courses with their cohort, three specialization courses with students of their specialization, and a final capstone project with their class. The three specializations available for the accelerated program are Public Administration, Public Policy, and Global Policy. You can click on the highlight links or read below for more information on the courses in each specialization.

Course Schedule

Courses begin with the start of the fall term and finish with the completion of the summer term. Students take two on-campus courses and one online course each term, except in the spring term, when students take two on-campus courses and two online courses each. Classes usually have three hours of content each week, and each quarter is 10 weeks long. This means students in the accelerated program attend three classes each 10-week term, except for in the spring term when students attend four classes instead of three.

On-campus and Online Study

The accelerated program is an intensive schedule, and the timing of the three to four courses students take each term usually means coursework for each class is due at the same time each week. In addition to submitting coursework for three or four classes on a weekly basis, students undertake both in-person and online study each term. In-person courses have set locations and times each week, while the online courses are asynchronously delivered and can be completed in multiple sessions throughout the week as long as the coursework is submitted by the stated deadline.

Writing Component

Not only is the accelerated program demanding in its course schedule and class delivery, the public policy and administration field involves a high volume of writing-heavy work. Real-world jobs in public policy and administration involve writing up solutions and policy memos after analyzing various issues, so students should understand that practitioners write as much as scholars within the field. Every course is a mix of theory and application, and the skills taught within the program mean students graduate with a versatile degree which can be used in both the private and public sector.

Core courses:


MPPA 401 Research Methods

This course provides students with a basic understanding of research design and qualitative and quantitative research methodologies frequently used in social science and policy research. In addition, this course explores the methods and tools essential to writing graduate-level policy papers within the framework of current topics in public policy and administration. The course content includes research design, research question formation, observation and interview based research methods, survey development and research writing. Students will have the opportunity to apply methods to pursue a policy-relevant research topic of their own design. An overview of publicly available quantitative data will be provided, and comparative policy research will be discussed. Students should expect a rigorous workload in this course.

MPPA 402 Elements of Public Finance and Budgeting

Public budgeting is one of the most important responsibilities of democratic governance. The budget defines policy, sets priorities, allocates scarce public resources, and distributes the burden of paying for public goods and services. The budget is inescapably both a political document and a management tool. The purpose of this course is to understand the complexities of the budget process and its central role in both democratic institutions and the profession of public administration. Students will be introduced to the public budgetary process and to key budget theories, practices, and methodologies. The budget structure and process will be reviewed as well as the role of the public administrator and other participants in the process. The course will also examine politics in the budget process and the role of interest groups in decision-making; more specifically, the role of politics in both establishing public spending priorities and in distributing the burden of taxes and fees. Lastly, students will learn about concepts and methodologies relating to program cost analysis and how the budget may be used as a management tool.

MPPA 403 Fundamentals of Public Administration

This course introduces graduate students to the discipline and profession of public administration. It reviews aspects of a dynamic and diverse field of study, focusing on techniques of traditional management anchored in a highly complex legal/political environment. As such, public law and politics are central to understanding how these factors shape the delivery of public and quasi-public goods and services. Considerable attention is devoted to understanding how the discipline emerged along with critical assessments of the various tools and techniques of administration that often affect decision-making. Various theoretical constructs are evaluated and tested in the context of real cases using principles of management, politics, and law. This three-pronged approach for analyzing complex issues in public administration elucidates the challenges and constraints faced by public organizations in general and administrators in particular. Public administrators, policy analysts, and those new to the discipline will find the course useful whether they are currently employed in government, nonprofit organizations, or new to the profession and seeking a career in government. The principles, theories, and concepts covered are applicable to federal, state, and local government administration.

MPPA 404 Microeconomics for Public Policy & Administration

Economics is about choice, and microeconomics is the study of resource allocation choices, beginning with how consumers and producers make choices. This course is aimed at developing student understanding of microeconomic theory, especially as it concerns the relationship between the market economy and public policy. Topics include consumer behavior and the theory of demand; production, cost, supply functions; choices under uncertainty, insurance; competitive equilibrium; subsidies, taxes, price controls; monopoly and monopsony; price discrimination and public utility pricing; monopolistic competition; general equilibrium theory and welfare economics; information theory; and public goods, externalities and market failure.

MPPA 405 Statistics for Research

This course introduces students to basic statistical concepts and methods that are relevant to public policy research and development. Emphasis is on the identification, use, and interpretation of statistical results rather than the theoretical development of statistical concepts and procedures. Topics include descriptive statistics (central tendency, dispersion, and data display); probability; probability distributions; inference (confidence intervals and hypothesis testing); correlation; bivariate regression; contingency tables and the chi-square test; statistical computing.

Students will do homework using the R language and RStudio. It is recommended that students take the free, facilitated workshop, R Learning Studio in the quarter prior to registering for MPPA 405 Statistics. Students should concentrate on Modules 1, 2, and 5.

MPPA 406 Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis

This course will present a comprehensive overview of program evaluation and policy analysis methods that are important for policy researchers and administrators. These methods help public policy and program analysts systematically value decisions, improve the decision-making process (and hopefully the resultant decisions), value inputs and outcomes, handle uncertainty, and compare aspects of public policy and systems that might not otherwise appear to be comparable. Specific topics covered in this course will include overall evaluation (qualitative and quantitative) design, logic models, implementation and outcome evaluation, decision and cost-benefit analysis.

MPPA 407 Scope and Theory of Public Policy

This course is an introduction to public policy concepts and the public policy process in the United States. It focuses on developing an understanding of what civic decision making and public policy mean and how public policy is made. This course is designed to give MPPA students a basic understanding of the dynamics, political processes, and theoretical frameworks of the public policy-making milieu in the United States, serving as a graduate level survey of the field of public policy. The course considers key theories and concepts including agenda setting, decision-making theory, and methods of analyzing policy outcomes.

Course materials will provide students with the analytical framework to explore why some problems reach the public agenda, why some solutions are adopted and others rejected, and why some policies appear to succeed while others appear to fail. This core course of the MPPA program should be recognized as an “advanced introduction” since the literature in public policy, broadly defined, is very large. It will examine policy making primarily at the national level, but will also look at examples at the state and local level.

MPPA 408 Public Organization Theory and Management

This course focuses on organization theory and management as it applies primarily to public organizations. The unique environment that public organizations face will be emphasized. Students will study a range of theories grounded in the traditional literature over time and leading to contemporary theories and modern application in the public sector. The course requires students to critically examine public organizations and leadership using theories and concepts studied during the class with a particular emphasis on collaborative systems.

MPPA 418 Ethics and Leadership

This course will examine relevant theory and research regarding ethics and leadership in public organizations and provide an opportunity for students to develop a personal foundation for ethical leadership. Students will also look at ethics and leadership from an organizational and systemic level while applying learning to normative questions and case studies.

Public Administration Specialization

This specialization prepares students to serve as managers on the local, state and federal levels, and in the nongovernmental organization and nonprofit sectors. Graduates leave with an improved ability to deal with the complex challenges and concerns that face public administrators. Our graduates are prepared to lead an increasingly diverse public workforce toward innovative solutions. 

Public Administration Courses:


MPPA 413 Foundations of the Nonprofit/NGO Sector

This course examines theories of nonprofit (NPO) and nongovernmental organization (NGO) development and operation. Broad trends shaping NPOs/NGOs, both nationally and globally, are studied from a variety of perspectives. Also, high level operational issues, such as governance and executive management in the NPO/NGO environment, are discussed.

MPPA 420 Disaster Management and Theory

Despite the saying that disasters strike when you least expect it, the reality is that much can be done to prepare for disasters. A disaster can be localized, or it can extend to the entire planet. Some are slow forming crisis situations, and some are sudden occurrences. Each situation can be met with preparation that includes policy development, organizational management, and leadership. Intergovernmental relationships are essential to meeting the challenges domestically, while international relationships and organizations are essential to meeting global challenges. These relationships and challenges will be studied using an analytical approach grounded in theories that support collaborative engagement and administration. Disaster management history, policy development, organizational management, and leadership will serve as the outline leading students to prepare for future disasters and current crises. 

MPPA 421 Administrative Law

This is an introductory master’s level course that focuses on public law generally and administrative law particularly. The course provides students with a thorough grounding in the broad functions of public administrative law with special emphasis on procedural due process and rule-making. Students will learn the genesis of administrative rules and their impact on private and public affairs and the reasons why Congress delegates so much authority to administrative bodies. In addition, students will critically examine the various oversight mechanisms designed to monitor and check administrative abuses. Students will become familiar with the federal register, the scope and power of administrative law judges, the impact of judicial review on agency decisions, and generally understand administrative law “in the context of the American political system.”

Public Policy Specialization

Students in this specialization will be able to understand the factors in public decision-making and policy formulation by honing their analytical skills and increasing their theoretical and practical knowledge in the field. Graduates are able to evaluate competing demands and lead toward innovative and transformative public policy solutions. 

Public Policy Courses:


MPPA 419 The Strategic Policy Environment

The purpose of this course is to provide students an opportunity to study public policy in a holistic fashion while at the same time focusing on development, implementation, and the evaluation of public policy. This is accomplished by critically analyzing public policy theory and practice alongside a case-study driven examination of public policy successes and failures. The course maintains an emphasis on strategic public policy development, implementation, and evaluation.

MPPA 432 Intergovernmental Relations

This course is designed to develop students’ practical understanding of American intergovernmental relations and intergovernmental management. The course is structured to examine contemporary relationships between U.S. federalism and public policy making processes at the federal, state, and local levels. Students will analyze how various theories of intergovernmental relations apply to key areas of public policy making — federalism and the courts, fiscal federalism, and regulatory federalism. Students will engage in action-oriented learning to synthesize theories of intergovernmental relations and institutions to recommend policy programs and appraise future policy reform.

MPPA 438 Environmental and Climate Policy

Climate and environmental issues are among the most complex and consequential arenas of 21st century public policy. This course will study major US environmental laws and how the courts interpret them, explore efforts to reach international consensus to tackle global environmental threats, compare frameworks for environmental protection regimes, and consider federal natural resource protections. Students will also study the main programs to protect US surface waters and air quality, as well as examine how the US federal system addresses issues as diverse as energy policy, transportation, and land use planning. The international climate regime, including the primary scientific sources of climate change data that set the parameters for international climate policy, is examined. The class will discuss current international accords, the role of nations, youth activists and businesses and evaluate emerging issues that will shape climate solutions.

Global Policy Specialization

This specialization introduces students to key issues addressed by global policy, such as development goals, the environment, financial regulation, nuclear proliferation, democratization and state-building. Graduates build the tools, training and knowledge necessary to lead policy development in an increasingly interdependent world while engaging various governments, private industries, non-governmental organizations and international organizations. 

Global Policy Courses:


MPPA 440 International Institutions

This class examines several prominent international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization. The course will focus on both policy controversies and broader theoretical analysis. Students will address why each organization was created, its institutional structure, and current problems confronting each organization. The effects of international organizations on world politics will also be examined. Some of the key questions that will be addressed are: How do IOs foster interstate cooperation and state compliance? How do IOs shape state interests and identities? Why do IOs often fail? How should we think about the pathologies of IOs as global bureaucracies? How do IOs influence NGOs and their strategies? Particular emphasis will be placed on students' ability to think critically, both about the nature of problems that face states as well as development of global governance mechanisms.

MPPA 450 Global Economic Policy

The goal of this course is to give students the knowledge, tools, and confidence to understand, craft, and advocate for incentives and economic policies. Students will be able to apply macroeconomic principles, draw conclusions about the relevance of economic incentives, and explain in substantial detail the current debates covering such topics as economic systems, international trade, monetary policy, global resource allocation, and development economics. While a working understanding of undergraduate-level microeconomics is helpful, and it is recommended students take 404 Microeconomics first, the content of this course will cover these areas in sufficient detail for students without any background. Previously titled International Macroeconomic Policy.

MPPA 490 Special Topics: Demography, Global Health and Policy

Demography is the formal study of population size/structure and factors associated with its change (i.e., fertility, migration, and mortality). Developing a theoretical and technical understanding of demographic tools can provide a better understanding of population dynamics and how this influences national and global health, as well as regional and national policy. This course provides such a framework by drawing upon seminal readings from demography, economics, public health, and sociology. We will examine issues relating to global aging, old-age dependency ratios, and social policy with respect to Italy, Japan, and the U.S. We will explore fertility and family planning polices with respect to Finland and Sweden. We will also discuss fertility by focusing on China and India. The course will also introduce health policy concepts relating to health care systems/access/disparities with respect to the U.S. and developing countries.

About the Final Project

As their final course, students undertake a capstone project with their cohort in which they integrate the knowledge they have gained in the core curriculum in work assigned by the instructor. Students are guided by faculty in exploring the body of knowledge on public policy and administration while contributing research of practical value to the field.

MPPA 498 Capstone Project

The capstone project course is the culmination of the MPPA program and demonstrates to faculty a student's mastery of the curriculum and core competencies in the public policy and administration field. Working both in small groups and individually, students complete a comprehensive project chosen in conjunction with their instructor. Students are individually assessed and graded throughout the duration of class. Students should retain all course material from previous classes in the program, including textbooks, to successfully complete assignments.

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