Program Curriculum

Core Courses

BPOLST 500 - Policy Process
BPOLST 501 - Public Finance and Budgeting
BPOLST 502 - Statistics for Policy Studies
BPOLST 503 - Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation
BPOLST 504 - Management & Organizations
BPOLST 506 - Capstone Research
BPOLST 508 - Capstone Project

BPOLST 500 - Policy Process (5 credits)

This course focuses on political and institutional aspects of public policy process. We will examine reasons for public policy, how they are articulated and negotiated, who formulates public policy, what generic policy instruments are chosen, and how policies are implemented.

We will employ multiple ways of learning to build a broad knowledge of current policy issues across policy arenas and government levels. We will focus on development as a public policy goal. This will allow us to study a host of economic and social policy issues related to stimulating development and/or resulting from development. Through your individual research project and our case studies, you will gain detailed knowledge of the process of defining the public policy problem, identification of key stakeholders, institutions that could address this problem, and policy instruments that could be implemented.

BPOLST 501 - Public Finance and Budgeting (5 credits)

Analysis of government expenditures and revenues. Economic theory is used to examine key public policies in such as areas as health, education and labor. Emphasis is on policy rationales and impacts regarding efficiency and equity. Accounting concepts necessary for budgeting analysis are also developed.

BPOLST 502 - Statistics for Policy Studies (5 credits)

This course is the first in a series of two courses offered through the MA in Policy Studies program intended to train graduate students with becoming producers of information, i.e. a policy researcher. This course begins your training by surveying important aspects of the conduct of research into social scientific questions. This course lays the basic foundation for both academic and practical investigation. There are many benefits to taking this class that go beyond merely understanding statistical relationships.

There are several important goals tied to this course:

  • You will gain an understanding of research and statistical analyses and their intrinsic relationship to policy concerns.
  • You will be able to call upon a wide variety of skills to analyze data, including descriptive statistics, statistical inference, the meaning and analyses of using confidence intervals, test statistics, and p-values. Throughout your academic and policy career you will build upon your "tool kit."
  • You will become more sophisticated in learning how to model data.
  • This class will put you in an excellent position to create innovative capstone projects in your second year.
  • You will become proficient with using SPSS 13.0 and Windows Excel programs. These are important job skills that you can offer an employer, or take with you to use in further graduate study.
  • And finally, this class will help strengthen your competency in becoming a policy analyst in the Policy Studies program in both academic and policy arenas.

This class will provide you with information that will allow you to conduct further study on your own as you navigate your way through choosing and executing future research projects in upcoming classes, and most importantly, your capstone project.

BPOLST 503 - Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation (5 credits)

Public sector across levels of governance is under increasing pressure to provide better services with fewer resources. Policy analysts and public managers, therefore, need to be able to prioritize what services will be offered and evaluate whether the programs designed to provide such services have been effective and efficient. This course focuses on methods and approaches used in policy analysis and program evaluation.

We will examine and apply most commonly used interdisciplinary approaches and methods for evaluating policy impacts and outcomes, including, but not limited to cost-benefit analysis, randomized field experiments, quasi-experimental assessment, and participatory assessment. In addition, we will examine the role of policy analysis and program evaluation in democratic governance.

BPOLST 504 - Management & Organizations (5 credits)

Within this course students will have the opportunity to learn how organizational cultures, processes and resources frame the options open to leaders and managers in public, private and non-profit organizations, and how, in turn, an organization's leaders and an organization's strategies, perspectives, and patterns of resource management shape potential organizational responses to a variety of policy issues and problems. The larger global and regional challenges confronting organizations also require organizations and managers to learn new skills and to think differently and strategically about their non-profit, public and private sector organizations and their environments. Further, the course seeks to help students who will play important roles in such organizations to learn the leadership and resource management skills they will utilize in their professional careers.

Through the integration of theoretical and analytical frameworks with case studies, field experiences, applied research, discussions, workshops, and on-line skill-building modules, students in this course will learn to reflect and act as organizational leaders concerned with approaching and managing a variety of contemporary problem-solving issues and policy-related concerns. Major materials for this course will be provided through case studies, quantitative and qualitative skills modules (available on-line as well as for in-lab practice and discussion), and applied field experiences in regional organizations (including at least two of the three principal types of organizations concerned with policy issues - public, non-profit and private).

BPOLST 506 - Capstone Research (5 credits)

In the penultimate core course in the Master of Arts in Policy Studies, students will be conducting directed research in preparation for writing their final capstone project research paper. Aside from two workshops, there is no group seminar portion of the class; students meet one-on-one with their capstone advisors. Some students will be engaged in formal internships, while others will be conducting independent research. Faculty capstone advisors will consult with each other and the students to provide basic guidance as students move through the process of gathering and preparing data and evidence for the project.

BPOLST 508 - Capstone Project (5 credits)

The last core course in the Master of Arts in Policy Studies is devoted to final preparation of the capstone project. Students will meet regularly to share research findings, read chapters, and address problems and issues of final presentation. The course culminates in the final presentation of their work in front of an audience of peers, faculty, outside site supervisors, interested scholars, and community practitioners.