MPA Curriculum

MPA students

The MPA curriculum includes six required core courses, listed below, that are designed to develop analytical tools for addressing public policy issues. The courses cover political analysis, quantitative methods, and economic and behavioral analysis.


Each MPA candidate selects a policy field in which to specialize:

I) International Relations;
II) International Development;
III) Domestic Policy; or
IV) Economics and Public Policy.


Certificates offer additional opportunities for specialization and include:


Policy workshops provide students with an opportunity to use the analytical skills they have acquired in the first year in the program to analyze complex and challenging policy issues, usually for real clients. Each workshop consists of eight to 10 students who work in teams to evaluate a policy challenge.


In January, at the end of the first semester, first-year MPA students are required to take part in a policy project called the Integrated Policy Exercise, or IPE.

The IPE requires students to apply the skills they acquired in the fall-term analytic courses. They are given briefing materials to review in advance and are then required to submit a comprehensive memo in response to a set of specific policy questions. The IPE is a trial run for the qualifying examination, or QE1. It is graded, but only to provide concrete feedback to each student.  


In early May, at the end of the first year, students are required to take a qualifying exam, the QE1, a graded exercise that closely parallels the IPE.

The QE1 requires an integrated use of analytical skills acquired in the core curriculum during the first year, and it also includes behavioral analysis of the policy issue. Recent IPE and QE1 topics have included Medicaid Expanion Legislation, Trans-Pacific Partnership, College Finance Policy, Healthcare in Califoria, and Working Poor Policies. 


Second-year students are required to take and pass a second qualifying exam (QE2) in May in their chosen field of concentration.

Degree Requirements


I. Six core courses required for all fields

  • WWS 501  Politics of Public Policy 

  • WWS 502   Psychology for Policy Analysis and Implementation 

  • WWS 507 b/c Quantitative Analysis

  • WWS 508 a   Econometrics: Applied (Session I, half-term course)

    or WWS 508 c Econometrics and Public Policy: Advanced (full-term) 

  • WWS 511 b/c  Microeconomic Analysis 

  • WWS 512 b/c  Macroeconomic Analysis 

II. Two gateway courses, one each in political and economic analysis for Fields I, II and III

Field I: International Relations

  • WWS 541   International Politics
  • WWS 542   International Economics
    or WWS 543  International Trade Policy
    or WWS 544  International Macroeconomics 

Field II: International Development

  • WWS 561   The Comparative Political Economy of Development
  • WWS 562b or 562c  Economic Analysis of Development

Field III: Domestic Policy

  • WWS 521   Domestic Politics
  • WWS 522   Microeconomic Analysis of Domestic Policy
    or WWS 523  Legal and Regulatory Policy Toward Markets
    or WWS 525  Microeconomic Analysis of Government Activity

Field IV: Economics and Public Policy

  • Requires at least five economics courses beyond the core curriculum 
  • A gateway course in political analysis (WWS 521/541/561) is strongly recommended.

III. A graduate policy workshop in the second year

IV. Qualifying Examinations:

  • IPE
  • QE1
  • QE2

V. Minimum average of 80 (B-) to continue for the second year and for graduation

VI. Approved summer internship between first and second years