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MA in Public Management Degree Details and Courses
This 36-credit Master of Arts degree is composed of 6 Required Core Courses and 6 Elective Courses. Within the Required Core Courses is the culminating experience of a Capstone.
Core Courses - Required
This course is designed to introduce students to the public policymaking process, to the basics of policy analysis, and to the substance of some of today’s major policy debates. The first half of the course focuses on establishing a framework in which to analyze public policy formulation within the United States. The class also reviews the tools for developing and implementing policy. The second half of the course turns to policy analysis of some critical contemporary issues. Building on earlier readings, we will study current debates in economic/tax policy, education, health care, social security, and national security. (Core requirement for the MA in Public Management. Elective option for Government. Analytics students)
This course focuses on financial aspects of public sector organizations and institutions. The objectives of this course include helping students (1) learn the basics of public sector accounting and the construction of their financial reports, (2) become more intelligent users of the financial statements of public sector organizations such as sovereign, state, and municipal institutions, and (3) better understand the factors that affect the financial condition and financial performance of such entities.
More specifically, the course focuses on (1) the financial reporting concepts and standards that are applicable to public sector organizations; (2) ratios and other summary indicators used by analysts to evaluate the financial condition and financial performance of public sector and nonprofit organizations; (3) the analysis and interpretation of financial statements of selected public sector organizations; (4) fundamental finance principles; and 5) basic principles of budget formulation.
Economic thinking provides an important set of tools for almost every aspect of public policymaking. This course aims to offer students a basic understanding of economics and its importance in public policymaking. The first half of the course will offer students an understanding of microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, including a discussion of when markets can work to achieve policy goals and when “market failures” call for government intervention. The second half of the class will use these economic tools and theories in order to survey several specific policy areas, including health policy, tax policy, and the national debt. (Core course for the MA in Public Management This course counts toward the Economic Security concentration (GSS). Elective option for Government Analytics students.)
(The purpose of the class is to help equip students to operate effectively in both the public and private sectors. The class will cover three major topics: (1) an overview of managing public and private organizations, with special attention to their differing missions, capabilities, and environments; (2) a survey of important relationships between the public and private sectors; and (3) the need for improved coordination between the public and private sectors to achieve important public purposes. Students will be encouraged to make the course an interactive one and to share their personal knowledge in the context of the issues discussed. Students will be expected to complete a significant paper on a relevant topic approved by the instructor. (Core course for the MA in Public Management and the MA in Government/MBA program)
The main purpose of this class is to train students to be informed consumers of quantitative studies, in addition to teaching the tools of basic statistical work. The emphasis in this class is on application and understanding of existing results, rather than on theory or derivations. The course material will cover basic descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, and data collection. The key learning objective is for students to finish the class with a better understanding of the statistical and econometric results they may encounter, both in papers they read in other classes, as well as in the course of their work. The second key objective is for students to have the skills to employ basic quantitative tools in their own work in the fields of public policy and global security studies. As much as possible, assignments and readings used in class will be drawn from the public policy and security fields. There is no mathematical or statistical pre-requisite for the class. (Core course for the MA in Public Management and the MA in Global Security Studies.)
This is the final required course in the MA in Public Management program, and students can only take the capstone course in their final semester and after having completed all the other core requirements (Students graduating in the summer semester must take the course in the preceding spring semester). In the semester prior to taking the capstone course and conducting the project, students identify a project topic. The adviser for the paper will be the faculty member teaching the course. To complete the course, students must write a 30- to 35-page capstone paper.
Elective Courses and the "Public Administration and Leadership" Focus Area
Select 6 Electives.
For your convenience, some Electives are presented as a collection of related courses within a Focus Area. These curated collections will help you to identify the targeted knowledge and experiences available to distinguish yourself in your field.
Once admitted, your academic adviser can help you to optimize your Elective course selections, or provide approval to pursue alternative Electives from a variety of AAP master’s degree programs, based on your educational objectives.
This program has curated three Focus Areas:
• Public Administration and Leadership
• Public Policy Evaluation
• Public Financial Management and Budgeting
The elective courses listed below belong to the Public Administration and Leadership Focus Area:
This course will assist leaders in identifying their personal approach to leadership; provide tips on motivating staff by building trusting relationships and shoring up their credibility; suggest influence and persuasion strategies that leaders need to employ when working with bosses, colleagues, direct reports, and critical stakeholders, including funding agencies; develop strategies to build effective work teams; and consider approaches to monitor organizational performance in an ongoing fashion.
The political scientist James McGregor Burns said “one of the most universal cravings of our time is a hunger for compelling and creative leadership.” Today, the craving for sound leadership is felt even more keenly than before, but examples of excellence in leadership are scarce. With both populism and authoritarianism on the rise globally and polarization at high levels domestically, it has become especially urgent to understand what true democratic leadership entails – both its power and its limits. This course will expose students to leadership models in America, starting with the founders and the conditions they set for future democratic leaders. In addition to examples of political leadership, students will study leadership in the area of social reform. Students will assess these models through primary readings, biographies, lectures, and film depictions. The course will help students to identify which models of creative leadership may be helpful in addressing current problems of contemporary politics
Conflict is part of organizational life. People in public sector agencies and nonprofit and for-profit organizations disagree over the meaning of regulations, the use of financial resources, office space, leave time, and many other issues. Managers must have the ability to diagnose disputes and to negotiate effectively to resolve conflicts. This course provides the theoretical background and conceptual framework needed for successful negotiation and mediation. Through presentations and discussions students become familiar with the tools necessary for conflict resolution in their agencies and organizations. Analysis of a party's interests, identification of the necessary style, awareness of communication skills, and planning and feedback are part of the process of becoming an accomplished negotiator.
This course introduces the student to the literature, theories and approaches to evaluating organizational programs, policies and procedures. Students will acquire a broad perspective on types of program evaluation, including formative and summative evaluation, process evaluation, monitoring of outputs and outcomes, impact assessment, and cost analysis. Students gain practical experience through exercises and assignments involving the design of a conceptual framework, development of indicators, analysis of quantitative and qualitative evaluation data, and development of an evaluation plan to measure impact. In addition, topics such as experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental study designs are introduced in the context of a variety of settings, including schools, welfare agencies, mental health organizations, criminal justice settings, environmental programs, nonprofit organizations, and corporations. Prerequisite: 407.709 Quantitative Methods
The goal of this course is to convey the history, size and impact of the nonprofit sector while providing the fundamentals of nonprofit formation and management. In the United States, nonprofits are intertwined with our country's legal and tax systems, delivery of basic human services, and social, educational, health, environmental, equity issues and far more. Today, successful nonprofits require strong management systems, including management of finances, human resources, information technology, marketing, performance measures and other operational needs. The course will help the student understand the current thinking on best practices in managing and improving nonprofit organizations and appreciate the interplay of environmental and organizational factors that influence managerial decision-making. This course uses a simulation pedagogy that engages students in actively conceptualizing and building fictional nonprofit organizations. This is a core course for the nonprofit management program.
470.774 Nonprofit Governance & Executive Leadership: Students will advance their understanding of self-governing nonprofit organizations by focusing on nonprofit boards' expectations, challenges, and opportunities and their executive leadership. This course covers the primary responsibilities of nonprofit boards according to law, custom, and best practices, and it includes ethical concepts, public attitudes, and contemporary legislative and regulatory issues. The course explores theories of effective governance and executive leadership. It examines how ethical considerations relate to perceptions of excellence and shape how staff and volunteer leaders manage people and money. In the discussions, there will be opportunities to explore the roles of boards in the context of the nonprofit environment. This is a core course for the MA in Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Management and Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
State politics and policymaking offer a fascinating contrast to the gridlock in Washington that gets all the media attention.
This is a particularly timely issue to study as most states gear up for the new legislative session. How are Biden’s policies affecting current debates in statehouses? What impact are the 2020 elections having on policymaking at the state level? How has the Trump presidency affected states? We will explore these questions and more in this class.
Focus Area Electives: Public Policy Evaluation
This course covers the ways in which analytics are being used in the healthcare industry. Topics include data collection opportunities created by the ACA and other laws, the use of analytics to prevent fraud, the use of predictive modeling based on medical records, the insurance industry's increasing use of data and the ethical issues raised by these practices. Prerequisites: none required (470.681 Probability and Statistics recommended)
This course examines the process of drafting legislation and the consequences of legislative language in the implementation and adjudication of federal policies. Focusing on the various stages of the legislative process, this course considers the expert and political sources of the legislative language in the U.S. Congress and the importance of language in coalition-building for policy passage. Examining the interactions of Congress with the other branches of government, the course also considers how presidents, the executive branch, and the judiciary interpret statutory language.
Bridging the divide between political science theories of policymaking and the actual workings of the policy process in the institutions of national government, this course examines the individual contributions of each of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government as well as the interactions and struggles between those branches. How do these various institutions set the policy agenda, develop and deliberate policy alternatives, make authoritative policy decisions, and implement those decisions? In what ways are the interactions between these institutions best considered conflict or cooperation? Also, how do outside actors and institutions -- the media, interest groups, public opinion, parties and campaigns -- affect policymaking in these various institutional settings? Drawing on the Constitutional design and historical development of these institutions as well as contemporary practice, this course examines the purposes, processes, and outcomes of policymaking from an institutional perspective.
This course examines how states (primarily the United States) and other political entities harness military capabilities to pursue of policy objectives. It exposes students to levels of strategy—grand strategy, strategy, operations, and tactics—in a national security context. The course will then focus on the practical implications and unique characteristics of military strategy. Students will critically examine topics such as civil-military relations, land warfare, naval warfare, theories of airpower, insurgency and counterinsurgency, and nuclear warfare. The goal is to understand the embedded assumptions of the various theories, the characteristics of the military capabilities animated by them, and, through discussion and case studies, the strengths and limitations of each.
Since World War II, American trade policy has been implemented through agreements with a growing array of foreign governments to encourage global economic integration by lowering barriers to international trade. The course will begin with a look at the foundation of this approach to trade policy at the end of World War II and the relationship the Roosevelt and Truman administrations saw between integration and security policy. It will then introduce students to the American trade regime of the early 21st century and the WTO, and examine the ways the U.S. governments has adapted this regime to regional challenges arising from relationships with Japan, China, and the Muslim world, and to policy issues, like resource dependence, sanctions and export controls. The course will have a midterm exam on America’s trade regime and the concepts that have shaped it, and a final paper, in which students will examine an issue of their choice in depth. (Recommended elective for MA in Public Management)
This course examines the nexus of energy, natural resources, and the environment with conflict, war, terrorism, crime, development, diplomacy, politics, and technology. Students critically examine the ways that increased competition for environmental and energy resources, strained resources, and changing conditions can threaten national security. The course also examines how such threats may be mitigated.
(Core course for the MA in Global Security Studies)
Focus Area Electives: Public Financial Management and Budgeting
In the wake of the financial crisis, bank bailouts, and stimulus plans, the relationship between American economic power and national security is especially salient. In this course, students investigate core topics in international political economy, analyzing the security implications of each. Topics include trade relations, international finance, monetary relations, poverty, and development. (Core course for the MA in Global Security Studies. Recommended elective for MA in Public Management)
The federal budget process is an enormously complex mixture of administrative routines and mechanisms designed to bias decisions, avoid blame, or reduce conflict. This course explores the structures of federal budgeting in terms of its varied goals and in the context of the wider governing process. The course will review the budgetary process in both the executive and congressional branching, as well as the interaction of those two systems. In order to gain understanding of the difficult policy choices and political pressures policymakers face, students will be asked to do a simulation of a budget process within the executive branch. The role of entitlements, scoring issues, and tax policy will be examined in the context of the debate over budget policy. The course will start with a short primer on finance theory. (Recommended elective for MA in Public Management. Elective option for Government Analytics students.)
Benjamin Franklin famously observed that "nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Since Franklin's day, however, both the form and prevalence of taxation has undergone a dramatic global transformation. This course will review the history of U.S. federal taxation and delve into the practical mechanics of taxation. It will provide students with an understanding of the processes, institutions, and political influences that shape tax policy. Finally, it will examine alternative methods of taxation and consider what the future may hold for federal tax policy.
This course will provide an overview on project management as it pertains to nonprofit work. The course will teach students how to manage the five aspects of project management: project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation, and closure. Students will learn the full project cycle from start to finish, drawing on actual examples of projects funded by a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations, and foundations. The course will also utilize templates relevant to project management for students to use as a resource in the field. The class will touch on issues relevant to project management such as project scope, objectives, stakeholders, planning, financial tracking, grants compliance, and closing. Elective course towards the Project Management, Evaluation and Leadership track for the Masters in NGO Management.
From the perspective of a nonprofit leader, this course provides a solid foundation in understanding key financial tools such as audits, financial statements, budgets and tax documents. Using these tools, students will analyze and assess the financial transparency, accountability, and health of various national and international organizations, determine the financial strengths and weaknesses within those organizations, learn how to use that information in the decision-making process, and finally, practice making informed recommendations to organizational leadership. This course is not designed to make students financial experts or practitioners. Instead, it is designed to enlighten students on key financial management concepts that improve their ability to be informed leaders, participants, and donors in the nonprofit sector. Students will also explore the responsibilities and consequences of international nonprofits engaging in activities in the US, as well as implications for US nonprofits operating abroad. This is an elective course for the Certificate in Nonprofit Management.