Course Offerings

Below is a list of the courses offered in the Department of Public Policy for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program.  The courses are broken down into the following categories:

  • Core Courses: classes which must be taken by all students in the MPP Program
  • Concentration Courses: classes which are specific to the concentrations of educational policy, environmental policy, and public management

Core Courses

POL 500 Public Institutions & the Policy Process (3 Credits)

Institutional, political, and normative context of the public policy process. The course introduces students to public policy as a concept and process, the major models of public policy, and the foundations of policy analysis. Students gain an introductory understanding of public policy that serves as a foundation for further study.

POL 510 Public Management (3 credits)

Reviews the responsibilities of a public manager, including an introduction to the specific areas of public management. Topics include organizational structure; strategic planning; management decision-making; staffing, training, and motivating employees; leadership development; budgeting, program design, implementation, and evaluation; ethical considerations for public managers, and providing support to policymakers.

POL 530 Policy Analysis (3 Credits)

Prerequisites: POL 581, or permission of instructor

Chronological examination of the main frameworks, theories, and models of the policy process. Focus areas include the assessment and evaluation of public policy and policy outcomes. Seminal empirical works provide the context for understanding the major academic literature in policy analysis, aiding students in developing their own policy analysis skills.

POL 540 Microeconomics for Public Policy (3 credits)

Development of microeconomic theory, applications, and price policy. Covers the theory of price determination, resource allocation, income distribution, and welfare economics, with particular emphasis to public policy issues. Perfectly competitive markets and models of imperfect competition are covered, including applications of game theory. Theory is integrated with public policy questions.

POL 541 State and Local Public Finance (3 credits)

Explores the major economic decisions of subnational governments regarding taxation and expenditures. Considers how these decisions affect the allocation of both private and public resources. Focuses on constraints imposed on state and local governments that are not placed on the federal government, including the requirement of annually balanced budgets. Includes a detailed examination of economic and other data available on state and local governments, a review of existing relevant laws and policies pertaining to state and local public finance, and an examination of issues involving public goods and externalities in the particular context of states and municipalities.

POL 580 Statistical Analysis (3 Credits)

Prerequisites: POL 581, or permission of instructor

Prerequisite for POL 585

Understanding and applying major statistical tools associated with public policy. Focus is on quantitative methods of policy model building. Includes the following statistical analysis techniques: descriptive statistics, normality, non-parametric statistics, linear and non-linear multiple regression, time series and panel analysis. The goal is to develop the student’s capacity to statistically examine a policy question.  

POL 581 Research Methods for Public Policy (3 Credits)

Prerequisite for POL 530, 580, and 585

Research-based course that reviews the process of applied research design, secondary data research techniques, appropriate techniques and sources for Internet research, and the use of mixed methodological strategies in applied policy research. The course requires students to conduct independent policy research within this framework and it requires students to produce a final research paper on a policy issue selected by the student.

POL 585 Applied Policy Research Seminar (3 Credits)

Prerequisites: POL 580 and POL 581, or permission of instructor

Developing a public policy research proposal. As a capstone completion course, students collect, analyze, and interpret data results based on a self-determined research question acceptable to the course instructor. The goal of the course is to apply the methodological and statistical techniques developed in earlier courses and prepare a policy analysis product.

POL 599 Public Policy Internship (1 or 3 Credits)

Prerequisite: Must complete a minimum 9 hours of coursework in the MPP (encouraged to be in final year of coursework); written permission of internship director required to register

A policy-related internship tailored to each student's career preferences or academic interests. The selection of an internship venue will occur in consultation with the student's MPP advisor and with the approval of the MPP Internship Coordinator. The Internship venue is usually selected from a pre-approved list of local, state, and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector businesses. Note: The field work component of the internship (2 credits) is waived if an individual has at least 2 years substantial and relevant work experience in a policy making or public management position, although students must still enroll in the academic course component (1 credit) of the internship to graduate.

Details on internship requirements available here.

POL 611 Administrative Law (3 Credits)

Overview of the major concepts of administrative law. Students are introduced to the foundations of administrative law, sources and limits of administrative power, agency rulemaking and adjudication, and the process of judicial review. The goal of the course is to provide students with a foundation of administrative law principles, as well as the role those principles have in influencing public policy.


Educational Policy Concentration Courses

POL 511 Organizational Behavior in Educational Settings (3 credits)

This is an interactive skills building course designed to improve managerial and team performance in educational settings. Students will address concepts, principles, and practices associated with effective leadership and sound management of individuals, groups, teams, and organizations. The focus is on organizational contexts and dynamics of school processes and outcomes, promoting shared responsibility and civic engagement, and the importance of collaboration in decision making processes.

POL 531 Program Evaluation (3 Credits)

Practical application of appropriate social science research methodology to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of public and non-profit sector programs and policies. Covers a broad range of topics including how to develop an evaluation plan, how to design various types of evaluations such as process, impact, cost-benefit, and cost-effectiveness evaluations, and how to manage evaluation projects.

POL 542 Law and Education (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide a comprehensive review of the law and jurisprudence that governs public (and private) education in the United States. Topics will include an analysis of Education as a fundamental right and as a unique governmental function of the Federal and state governments; the constitutional powers, prerogatives and limitations that these governmental entities have for carrying out public education and regulate the private sector; and the rights and duties of parents, students, teachers and administrators inside and outside the schools.  Special attention will be given to the various roles Law has played and continues to play as an agent of social change and in shaping educational policy and practice in the United States.  In so doing, students will study how the idea of providing an equal educational opportunity has evolved through the courts and legislation from equality to equity and from equity to adequacy, and from simple opportunity (access) to meaningful access (fair chance) and then to results in student attainment.

POL 561 Public Finance in Education (3 credits)

This course will provide an overview of how education is financed in the United States and the national, state and local strategies used to support education.  Using Massachusetts as an example, students will examine the various revenue sources that states use to fund  educational services, how these funds are allocated (state funding formulas), the resources it provides to schools and school districts,  and the way districts and schools finance and budget their operations (school budgeting and accounting practices).  Students will also discuss some of the key financial issues shaping the future of public education in the country and the states, along with a discussion of several major policy issues shaping its future.

POL 570 Social, Historical and Philosophical Foundations of American Education (3 credits)

In this course students will gain a historical and philosophical understanding of change in American Education from the colonial times to the present. They will analyze the interdisciplinary nature of the foundations of education with a focus on the intersections of culture, knowledge and power. The course will examine various schools of thought such as perennialism, essentialism, progressivism, social reconstructionism and scientific management and their nexus with dynamics of change and innovation in American Education, such as the politics of disciplinarity, comprehensive schooling, child driven curriculum vs. society driven interests, outcomes driven curriculum, (in)equality challenges, bilingual education, special education, school choice, vouchers, and homeschooling.

POL 611 Administrative Law (3 Credits)

Overview of the major concepts of administrative law. Students are introduced to the foundations of administrative law, sources and limits of administrative power, agency rulemaking and adjudication, and the process of judicial review. The goal of the course is to provide students with a foundation of administrative law principles, as well as the role those principles have in influencing public policy.


Environmental Policy Concentration Courses

POL 562 Environmental Policy (3 credits)

Exploration of the decision-making process that defines and underlies environmental policy. Course focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of environmental policy in the context of historical, political, and socio-economic institutions. Students utilize case studies to understand and critique environmental policies from a variety of public policy perspectives.

POL 611 Administrative Law (3 Credits)

Overview of the major concepts of administrative law. Students are introduced to the foundations of administrative law, sources and limits of administrative power, agency rulemaking and adjudication, and the process of judicial review. The goal of the course is to provide students with a foundation of administrative law principles, as well as the role those principles have in influencing public policy.

POL 661 Environmental Law (3 Credits)

The major policy implementation and legitimization stages typical of environmental law and regulation development. The course views environmental problems from the policy perspective, utilizing legal frameworks as a conceptual tool to view government intervention of environmental problems. Students gain understanding of the ways the law establishes frameworks within which policies must be developed and must interact, and the roles of policy professionals in the several stages of development.

POL 663 Ocean Policy and Law (3 Credits)

Law and policy issues in the context of the marine environment. The course surveys coastal zone management, offshore resource management, marine pollution, and domestic and international ocean policy. Students are offered a broad perspective on legal and administrative issues affecting the oceans worldwide.


Public Management Concentration Courses

POL 510 Public Management (3 Credits)

Reviews the responsibilities of a public manager, including an introduction to the specific areas of public management. Topics include organizational structure; strategic planning; management decision-making; staffing, training, and motivating employees; leadership development; budgeting, program design, implementation, and evaluation; ethical considerations for public managers, and providing support to policymakers.

POL 531 Program Evaluation (3 Credits)

Practical application of appropriate social science research methodology to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of public and non-profit sector programs and policies. Covers a broad range of topics including how to develop an evaluation plan, how to design various types of evaluations such as process, impact, cost-benefit, and cost-effectiveness evaluations, and how to manage evaluation projects.

POL 536 Regional Economic Development Policy (3 Credits)

An examination of why cities and regions grow or fail to grow, and what, if anything, state and local policymakers can do to facilitate economic growth. Course focuses on major theoretical approaches to understanding regional competitiveness and the nature and efficacy of common policy approaches adopted by state and local governments to promote economic development in cities and regions.

POL 541 State and Local Public Finance (3 Credits)

Explores the major economic decisions of subnational governments regarding taxation and expenditures. Considers how these decisions affect the allocation of both private and public resources. Focuses on constraints imposed on state and local governments that are not placed on the federal government, including the requirement of annually balanced budgets. Includes a detailed examination of economic and other data available on state and local governments, a review of existing relevant laws and policies pertaining to state and local public finance, and an examination of issues involving public goods and externalities in the particular context of states and municipalities.

POL 611 Administrative Law (3 Credits)

Overview of the major concepts of administrative law. Students are introduced to the foundations of administrative law, sources and limits of administrative power, agency rulemaking and adjudication, and the process of judicial review. The goal of the course is to provide students with a foundation of administrative law principles, as well as the role those principles have in influencing public policy.

POL 661 Environmental Law (3 Credits)

The major policy implementation and legitimization stages typical of environmental law and regulation development. The course views environmental problems from the policy perspective, utilizing legal frameworks as a conceptual tool to view government intervention of environmental problems. Students gain understanding of the ways the law establishes frameworks within which policies must be developed and must interact, and the roles of policy professionals in the several stages of development.


 

Note: This is not a comprehensive listing of all concentration area courses. Not all courses listed here are offered regularly.

For a schedule of course offerings for the upcoming academic year, please click here.