Master in Public Affairs (M.P.A.)
The curriculum of the M.P.A. program includes five required core courses that address skills and techniques needed for the systematic study of public policy problems. The courses cover political analysis, quantitative methods, and economic and behavioral analysis. Each M.P.A. candidate selects a policy field in which to specialize from among the School's four fields of concentration: International Relations, Development Studies, Domestic Policy, and Economics and Public Policy. Students may also take courses leading to a joint degree in Public Affairs and Law (M.P.A./J.D.), or with other professional degree programs, by special request. Certificate programs in Demography through the Office of Population Research (OPR), Health and Health Policy (HHP) in conjunction with the Center for Health and Wellbeing, Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP); and most recently, Urban Policy (UP) or Urban Policy and Planning (UPP) offer additional areas of specialization among the four fields of concentration.
A unique hallmark of the School's curriculum is the collaborative approach to planning elective courses and graduate policy workshops by faculty field coordinators, first-year students, and administrators. This enables the School not only to draw upon the strengths of its faculty, but also to adapt to the most pressing issues of domestic or international affairs and be highly responsive to the individual and collective interests of students. The School's resources also enable it to offer high-profile appointments to visiting scholars and policy practitioners who complement the academic and professional expertise of the faculty.
At the end of the first semester, students take part in a policy project called the Integrated Policy Exercise (IPE). The IPE requires students to synthesize the skills they acquired in the fall-term analytic courses. Recent topics have included: rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina; medical malpractice liability and tort reform; cotton tariffs and U.S.-China relations; SUVs and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; smallpox vaccinations; and prescription drug coverage for seniors. Students are given briefing materials to review in advance, and are then required to respond to a set of specific policy questions in the form of a comprehensive analytical memorandum.
In May, at the end of their first year, students are required to take the Qualifying Examination (QE1), an exercise that closely parallels the IPE. Like the IPE, the QE1 requires an integrated use of analytical skills acquired in the core curriculum during the first year. Recent topics have included: living wage campaigns; mercury emissions reduction; immigration policy reform; air transportation security; oil drilling in the Arctic; and California's electricity market.
Second-year students complete a qualifying exam (QE2) in their respective field of concentration in lieu of a master's thesis or independent project.