Courses and Descriptions
Below are detailed descriptions of the graduate-level courses the Department offers. For a complete list of courses and to check course availability, please visit the Graduate Catalog website. For current and upcoming Public Policy (PP) course schedules listed by semester, please visit our Course Schedules page.
MPA and MPP Core Courses
PP 5314: Causal Program Evaluation (MPP Core)
Focus area: Public Policy
This course surveys the statistical methods and tools commonly used to evaluate causal claims about the impact of public policies and programs. The course will be structured around a series of in-class technical demonstrations and empirical exercises that require students to apply the tools they learn in class to evaluate public policies and programs. Lectures will complement the technical demonstrations and empirical exercises by providing the link between behavioral theory, statistical theory, and actual program evaluation. The course will survey various techniques used in making causal inferences about the impact of public policies and interventions. Specific topics include, randomized field trials, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity designs, difference-in-differences / fixed effects and propensity score matching.
PP 5325: Labor-Management Relations, Negotiation and Contract Management (MPA core)
Focus area: Leadership and Public Management
This course is designed as an overview of the fundamentals associated with collective bargaining in the public sector. The class is a graduate level discussion on these topics to familiarize the student with the fundamental tools necessary for labor-management relations, negotiation and contract management. Topics for discussion will include the statutory basis for collective bargaining, the collective bargaining process, impasse procedures, a review of the costs associated compensation mechanisms, health benefits and pensions, and contract management. The course will cover negotiation and bargaining procedures, techniques, and strategies, as well as alternate dispute resolution methods.
PP 5331: Quantitative Methods for Public Policy (MPA & MPP core)
This course is an introduction to the methods and tools used in applied public policy research. The course begins with a short review of fundamental statistical concepts including probability distribution functions, estimators, sampling distributions, and hypothesis testing. It then turns to estimation and inference in the simple and multivariate regression models. Additional topics include functional form in regression models, dummy variables, discrete dependent variables in regression and an introduction to panel data analysis. Students will become familiar with the Stata statistical software through several applications exercises.
PP 5340: Introduction to Public Policy and Management (MPA & MPP core)
This course focuses on the policy process, major policy domains, and ethics and decision making in public policy. Case studies serve as vehicles for improving writing and presentation skills. This course emphasizes professional writing in the context of policy and management memoranda.
PP 5342: Policy Analysis (MPP core)
Focus area: Public Policy, Social Policy
This course provides an introduction to the theoretical and empirical tools used in applied policy analysis. The course begins by considering the economic rationale for government intervention in markets including: externalities, public goods, asymmetric information, adverse selection, and equity considerations. The course then examines issues related to the funding provision of public goods and services including the theory and practice of taxation, fiscal federalism, voting on public goods and intergovernmental grants.
PP 5345: Project Management in the Public Sector (MPA and MPP core)
Focus Area: Executive Leadership
In today’s public sector environment, delivering projects on-time and within budget while maintaining a focused project scope is increasingly expected. Successful project management comes down to the effective management of the project scope, schedule, and budget. This course emphasizes the management of these items throughout the phases of a public sector project. It discusses theory, principles, tools and techniques needed for strong project management skills. This course also covers topics essential to developing and leading high-performing teams such as project leadership, building teams, and the dynamics of teamwork. It is organized around the phases of a project: initiation, planning and design, execution, monitoring and control, and closeout.
PP 5347: Applied Policy Issues (MPP core)
Focus area: Public Policy; Social Policy
This course provides an overview of substantive policy issues in the United States and integrates a variety of analytical techniques including regression analysis used in the evaluation of public policies. The principal objectives of the course are to 1) examine a broad range of substantive public policies such as education policy, housing policy, immigration and anti-poverty programs; 2) to develop analytical tools for understanding the intended and unintended consequences of policy interventions; and 3) to provide tools that will help students evaluate policies and make better informed policy decisions. The course is designed for students who plan to be practitioners and/or policy analysts, that is, who plan to analyze and make decisions about federal, state and local policies.
PP 5361: Theory and Management of Public Organizations (MPA core)
This course provides students with core management and behavioral concepts to effectively lead a public organization. It provides tools needed to understand organizational phenomena, solve organizational problems, and lead and manage individuals and groups. The course covers topics such as designing organizational structure, leadership, organizational culture, organizational politics, team dynamics, strategic planning, managing organizational performance, effective communication, and organizational change.
PP 5364: Public Finance and Budgeting (MPA core)
Focus area: Public Financial Management
This course covers the techniques, practices, and organization of the financial functions in governmental administration. Some topics include tools for analyzing revenue systems; analysis of specific revenues (such as income, sales, and property taxes); analysis of financial statements; costs concepts; budget cycles; and applied budgeting exercises.
PP 5365: Human Resource Management (MPA core)
Focus area: Leadership and Public Management
In this course students learn about public and nonprofit managers’ human resource management responsibilities. The course covers personnel functions such as job analysis and design, recruitment and selection, and performance appraisal. A portion of this course is devoted to understanding how to influence employees’ learning, growth and performance through motivation, effective communication and feedback, and professional development. This course also covers current issues within human resource management such as diversity at work, labor-management relations, and volunteer management.
PP 5370: Applied Research Design (MPA and MPP core)
This course will provide you with the application of the tools and methods of social science research. The purpose is to help you to develop the requisite skills to design and conduct high quality research. It will also enable you to be a better consumer and translator of research reported in the news media and in professional journals. Specifically, this course will help you to formulate research questions and hypotheses, conceptualize measures, choose the most appropriate research strategies as well as master the following key elements of statistics: descriptive statistics, probability theory, statistical inference, hypothesis testing, and correlation. The statistics in this class helps to prepare you for more advanced work in PP 5331 Quantitative Methods for Public Policy.
PP 5375: Economic Analysis for Public Policy and Management (MPA and MPP core)
This course applies basic microeconomic analysis to public policy and management problems. The principal goal of the course is to teach students economic reasoning so they can use the tools of microeconomic analysis to help untangle the complex policy problems they will confront as policy makers, policy analysts, and administrators. Some specific topics include supply and demand; budget constraints; utility theory; cost and production curves; the nature of markets; elasticity of demand, supply, and income; and application of economic tools to policy and management problems (cost-benefit analysis).
MPA and MPP Electives
PP 5303: Race and Public Policy
Focus area: Public Policy, Diversity and Inclusion; Social Policy
This course focuses on an examination of contemporary public policy through the lens of race. Students will begin by looking at the policy process, the racial and ethnic composition of the United States, the impact of immigration, and the malleability of race and ethnicity. Throughout the course, students will analyze past public policies that systematically disadvantaged African Americans compared to their White American counterparts through de jure discrimination and will discuss why policies designed to remedy the resulting disparities have seemed unsuccessful at closing the Black/White wealth gap. Finally, students will trace this gap to the public policy of slavery in the United States and brainstorm about ways how this gap can be reduced or eliminated through race-related public policy proposals regarding reparations for African American descendants of the enslaved.
PP 5304: Public Policy, Diversity, and Inclusion
Focus area: Public Policy, Diversity and Inclusion
This course is a management course that will focus on racial disparities, how to measure them, and how to address them. These examples will be extended to gender, and other domains with a history of exclusion, to obtain the broadest possible sense of diversity and inclusion. Laws and policies will be discussed as to how they changed over time and how they evolved from equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, to diversity and inclusion. Issues of measurement will be considered along with policies that organizations have devised to achieve diversity, and policies to maintain diversity and achieve inclusion. By the end of the course each student will develop a diversity and inclusion plan for an organization of their choice.
PP 5317 Capital Finance and Budgeting
Focus area: Public Financial Management; State and Local Government Management
This course is designed to familiarize students with the municipal bond market and to expose them to key public policy and management issues. Specifically, the course will focus on how the proceeds from municipal bonds are used, the types of securities and issuers, who the players are in the bond market, how prices are determined (including the municipal bond credit rating process), disclosure, and ethical issues in the industry. The course focuses on long term tax exempt public debt; however, there will be some discussion of short term debt.
PP 5318 Financial Management for Public Organizations
Focus area: Leadership and Public Management; Public Financial Management
This course is designed as a survey of the principles, issues, and skills of financial management in the public sector. The focus will be on preparing students to be skilled consumers of financial information who possess the ability to analyze it and make sound decisions based on their analysis. This is not a government accounting class, but the development of the ability to understand accounting practices is an important part of the course.
PP 5326 Public Investment Analysis
Focus area: Public Financial Management
Students in this course will study investment theory and public financial management. Students will acquire an introductory understanding of financial instruments and portfolio theory, the theory and evidence on efficient markets, and proficiency in the key dimensions of investment decision making.
PP 5344 Social Policy
Focus area: Social Policy
This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to social policy. Students will examine the power structures that promote or deny policy, various theories put forth to understand how social policy decisions are made, and the underlying theories, logics, and social contexts that guide particular social policies.
PP 5346 Child and Family Policy
Focus area: Public Policy, Diversity and Inclusion; Social Policy
This course applies social science theory to the study of the family and is composed of three parts. The first covers the microeconomic tools and perspectives that will be utilized throughout the course. The second focuses on the theoretical models developed to inform our understanding of the family. A variety of topics will be covered including marriage and divorce, fertility, employment, and human capital. The final section will be devoted to the application of this theory in the policy arena. Subject matter in the application section will consist of, but is not limited to, income support, education, and child support policies. Domestic policies are the primary source for examples. Throughout the course, children and their outcomes are of particular concern.
PP 5348 Urban Planning Principles and Methods
Focus area: Urban Planning
Urban planning is an interconnected, complex, technical and political activity that focuses on the physical environment of cities and suburbs. This course is an introductory graduate-level course, intended to help students understand what urban planning is, why it is done, and who does it. The first portion of this course addresses the history of urban planning and urbanization in the United States and why, how and for whom government engages in planning and implementation. The course then examines several major substantive areas, like sustainability, affordable housing, transportation and urban design. The assignments are designed to develop professional analytical and writing skills. This course is most appropriate for those students who aspire to understand the planning function in a local government setting. Those who prefer to work in state government will also benefit from developing an understanding of the local planning function.
PP 5349 Public Procurement and Contracting
Focus area: Leadership and Public Management; State and Local Government Management
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles of contract formulation and administration in public procurement. The growing significance of contracting out and outsourcing in the public sector requires the availability of procurement specialists that are educated and comfortable with best practices in procurement activities from the identification of the need through the close out of contact activities. Students will learn about best practices for effective contracting relationships between the public and private and nonprofit sectors.
PP 5350 Urban and Regional Policy
Focus area: State and Local Government Management; Urban Planning
The course will explore the theories and empirical analyses used to explain how spatial economies function and generate public policy challenges. Students will develop an understanding of urban economies relevant to a range of substantive policy issues and skills in employing analytical frameworks and empirical techniques to investigate a set of policy issues faced by state and local governments. Various dimensions of contemporary economic change, including globalization, technology, information and telecommunications, poverty, income distribution, and race/ethnicity inequalities, as well as their effects on cities and regions, will be examined. Students should have had exposure to graduate course work in microeconomics and regression analysis prior to enrolling in this course.
PP 5359 Crisis Management
Focus area: Executive Leadership; State and Local Government Management; Urban Planning
This course will examine what happens when things go wrong, and explore ways to avoid catastrophe or at least be better prepared to deal with the consequences. Students will look at different types of disasters and understand what makes them so challenging, and learn about strategies to manage them. Concepts of threats, hazards, risk, safety, and resilience will be discussed along with what governments do and why they do it. Students will have a better understanding of what organizations and communities can do to prepare, and how these activities fit in to a national emergency management system.
PP 5363 Administrative Functions of Local Government
Focus area: Leadership and Public Management; State and Local Government Management; Urban Planning
In this course students will examine the characteristic functions of local government management, such as finance & administration, human services, parks & recreation, planning & zoning, public safety, and public works. The focus will be on understanding of the structure and role of local governments, learning about issues critical to the operation and effectiveness of local governments in Connecticut and elsewhere, and gaining an appreciation for current trends in public management thought and practice.
PP 5366 Executive Leadership
Focus area: Executive Leadership (MPA Executive Track)
This course is designed to help students improve their skills, behaviors and techniques in three areas: Effective Leadership, Negotiations, and Strategic Planning. In each one of these three areas, students will complete a series of readings and activities and simulations. The goal is to enhance student skills in these three areas, and to empower them with tactics and techniques to enhance their ability to achieve outcomes for their current and future employing organizations.
PP 5368 Performance Management and Accountability
Focus area: Leadership and Public Management; State and Local Government Management
This course will focus on the practical aspects of performance management and accountability including: measurement development, operationalization, data collection and compilation, various aspects of reporting, basic performance diagnostic and problem-solving techniques, linking performance, budgeting and planning, cost measurement and performance management, performance based contracting and performance monitoring, how performance measurement supports program evaluation, and performance measurement and data democracy.
PP 5373 Budgeting in Public Service Organizations
Focus area: Public Financial Management
In this course, students will explore various public budgeting and financial management issues facing decision makers. The budget represents an organization’s priorities, and as such, is arguably its most important policy document. Further, budget approaches send strong incentives through an organization—for good or ill. As a result, the budget process is where policy and management intersect. In the end, students will be familiar with important public budgeting issues, understand different budget and finance concepts, and be able to construct and analyze simple budgets using Microsoft Excel.
PP 5374 Topics in Financial Management
Focus area: Public Financial Management
This course is focused on familiarizing students with the core areas of local government financial management. Topics covered include accounting and financial Reporting, budgeting, debt management, investment management, compensation and benefits, risk management, and procurement. The course features lectures, discussion, and the comments of professional experts. Readings come from the research literature and from the Government Finance Officer’s Association.
PP 5397 Special Topics in Public Policy: Introduction to Health Policy
Focus area: Social Policy; Public Policy
This course provides an introduction to the theoretical backgrounds and frameworks to think about the health care market and the role of public policies in this market. The first part of the course examines the market for health care, where health care is considered as a good that can be purchased in a market. Then we discuss various issues in economic modeling of the health care market, with special attention to asymmetric information, externalities and health insurance. In the middle of the course we explore different examples of established health care systems around the world. Finally, we focus on various issues involving public health insurance in the United States and survey broad topics related to the development and implementation of health policy, such as mandates, tax policy and pharmaceutical regulation.
Nonprofit Management Courses
PP 5319 Program Development and Evaluation
This course is geared toward professionals who are engaged in, or preparing to enter, the nonprofit sector. The course will focus on program development and program evaluation, their interconnectedness, and how that interconnectedness can support nonprofit professionals in increasing program effectiveness. Topics include program planning frameworks, program development, performance measurement, performance management, data collection, and evaluation.
PP 5323 Leading and Governing Nonprofit Organizations
This course examines the strategies and skills of leading and governing that support the building of a healthy and sustainable nonprofit organization that meets the needs of its community and stakeholders. A strong focus is placed on applying leadership skills that build the organization, engage with the community and manage strategic partnerships. In addition, a strong emphasis of the course focuses on developing effective nonprofit governing boards operating practices and cultivating the key working partnership with the CEO.
PP 5324 Grant Writing and Government Contracting
This course will provide the student with the core understanding and approaches to researching private and government grants to fulfill the work of a nonprofit. The course provides a strong grounding in grant and proposal writing that supports the usage of program outcomes, financial, and qualitative data to “tell the story” of a nonprofit and its case for financial support. The course also provides a strong foundation in the skills essential to responding to RFPs for government contracts for service provision, along with examining the pros and cons of contracting with government agencies. In addition, the course will focus on the holistic organizational system approach to responding to grants and government contract RFPs, along with collaborative multi-agency collective strategies which can strengthen proposals and the impact of final deliverables.
PP 5328 Business Functions of Nonprofit Organizations
This course examines the principles, issues and skills of financial management and accountability in managing the financial resources of a nonprofit. Topics include variance analysis, nonprofit accounting, financial statement and ratio analysis, forecasting, cash flow analysis, internal controls, and other key financial tools. A strong focus is placed on developing your proficiency in the use of financial data for organization and program decision-making, and to communicate and work with organization stakeholders (governing boards, funders and community) in using financial data and tools.
PP 5329 Nonprofit Advocacy, Government Relations, and Law
This course will provide students with a comprehension of the legal landscape, rights, and obligations in which nonprofit organizations operate in the United States. A second pillar of the course is the examination of advocacy practices of nonprofits with government in support of its client communities, and the support community voice and action in civil discourse and grass roots action with government and other stakeholders. The course will also the review of the legal and tax implications related to advocacy, lobbying, and political activity of nonprofit organizations.
PP 5336 Fund Development and Nonprofit Sustainability
This course will provide the student with the important skills to address the key questions and practical applications of developing funding to support the financial requirements for nonprofits to meet their mission. Key to this learning objective will be the development of the skills needed to create a fund development plan that uses diverse funding strategies to meet nonprofits’ long-term financial sustainability requirements. We will examine essential aspects of key philanthropic funding methods: general fundraising, annual fund, major gift, capital, planned giving campaigns, and the demographic dynamics of giving. The course will also investigate the growing usage of new revenue development methods; such on-line giving, earned-income enterprise, social impact bonds, and other developing methods of funding for organizational sustainability.
Survey Research Core Courses
PP 5376 Applied Quantitative Methods
A review of basic statistics, designed to develop an intuitive and practical understanding of statistical techniques that will enable students to understand, evaluate, generate, and present data. The course will review the following key elements of statistics: descriptive statistics, exploratory data analysis, probability theory, statistical inference, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis. By the end of the semester, students will have basic facility with describing a data set, using it to make inferences about the world, and to begin analyzing management, public policy, program evaluation, or public opinion issues.
PP 5377 Qualitative Methods in Public Policy
This class covers the qualitative research process from development to reporting. Students explore a variety of qualitative research paradigms (ethnography, case studies, applied research, and critical studies), analyze a research question and propose qualitative research plan, construct qualitative instruments, and apply a variety of qualitative research skills.
PP 5379 Principles and Methods of Survey Research I
The foundational course in the Graduate Program in Survey Research (GPSR). This course provides a comprehensive review of survey research methods, and prepares students in the fundamental skill areas necessary to design and conduct survey research projects. These areas include survey research design, questionnaire construction, and scientific sampling.
PP 5383 Principles and Methods of Survey Research II
This course introduces students to the art and science of designing survey questionnaires. Special attention will be paid to the psychological and social processes that may influence the survey response in unanticipated ways. This will enable the student to assess and minimize the risk of eliciting response effects that might lead to biased results. Drawing on theory from psychology, sociology and linguistics, topics covered include: question wording and order effects, response options, the interview setting, and the interpretation of survey responses. We will also discuss issues of questionnaire translation, inter-cultural response comparison, and scale construction.
PP 5385 Attitude Formation
Students will examine theories of attitude formation and attitude change paying special attention to the psychology of the survey response. This course begins with a psychological look at the historical conundrum of Converse’s (1964) non-attitude claim. It investigates different models of attitude formation which political scientists have devised to explain Converse’s findings. We will discuss where individuals get their political attitudes from: parents, peers, and/or political events. Based on our understanding of attitude formation, we will discuss ways in which survey respondents may interpret the questions that policy researchers ask of them and how this may influence the results of research.
PP 5386 Survey Research Analysis and Reporting
This course focuses on the development of research reports and report-writing. Topics include: using graphics to present survey findings, preparation of a full-length survey research findings report, preparation of executive summaries of survey findings, reporting survey methods and technical aspects of survey findings. This course is writing-intensive, as students will prepare research reports throughout the semester.
PP 5389 Capstone on the Future of Survey Research
Capstone research on problems and opportunities in the survey research industry for students nearing completion of the Master of Arts in Survey Research program. Technological developments and innovations over the past decade have presented the survey research industry with a wide number of both challenges (such as the generalizability of samples) and opportunities (such as marrying survey data with mega-data). This course explores these changes and their implications for the future of survey research through intensive student-directed research, discussion and presentation.
Survey Research Electives
PP 5332 Advanced Quantitative Methods
This course covers a number of basic and advanced statistical methods for public policy and survey research. Students will review some of the basic concepts of statistical analysis, study methods for hypothesis testing appropriate to frequency counts and percentage, discuss methods to analyze data in interval and ratio scale format, and study quantitative methods for conducting and analyzing multiple regression. Students will also explore minimizing error through scale construction and the use of exploratory factor analysis. The end of the course will provide a very brief introduction to the basic ideas underlying confirmatory factor analysis.
PP 5341 Public Opinion and Democratic Processes
This course will theoretically and empirically explore public opinion and assess its place in American democracy. It will examine both the sources of political attitudes in democratic citizens and the role of those attitudes (public opinion) in campaigns, elections, and governance. Students will review research on the current state of public opinion as well as discuss the place of public opinion in politics in historical context.
PP 5382 Project Management in Survey Research
This course will explore the application of project management techniques to the management of survey research projects. Students will examine the relationship between survey design and survey management, how to plan a survey research project in a variety of industry sectors, learn how to develop and implement a project budget, manage project contracts and lead a project team.
PP 5384 Political Polling
This course examines the roles of opinion polling in the various dimensions of American politics. Students explore the value provided by polls as well as their negative effects, assess the survey techniques used to gauge American political opinion, and review the approaches that are used to analyze poll results. Additionally, this course examines how polls (1) gauge what Americans know and don’t know about politics, (2) document the values and core beliefs of citizens (3) provide an understanding of election outcomes (4) monitor the performance of the economy and of political actors and institutions (5) reflect public opinion on social and domestic issues as well as foreign policy problems.
PP 5387 Surveys for Market Research
This class explores the application of survey research methods in the market research industry. How are surveys used by companies to better understand consumer markets? To develop new products and services? To measure customer satisfaction? To define market segments? To price products and services? To expand and improve sales and market share? In addition to exploring the use of surveys to address these questions, the course will provide an overview of the market research industry including the job market for research professionals. Also, the course examines the key elements in the conduct of market research survey projects: proposal writing, questionnaire design, and sampling.
PP 5388 Introduction to Multipopulation Survey Research Methods
This course provides an introduction to methods for designing multilingual and multicultural survey research projects. It will also introduce some of the key considerations for designing multinational surveys. Students will be introduced to unique methodological considerations for multilingual/multicultural studies throughout the project lifecycle, including: sampling, questionnaire design, fielding, data interpretation and analysis.
PP 5397: Special Topics in Public Policy
- Applied Survey Analysis with R
This one-credit short course is an introduction to R. Students will manage a data set in R, define missing values, and create new variables. Students will also run frequency tables and crosstabs, conduct chi-square-tests in R and build scales assessing Cronbach’s alpha. Further, we will compare means in R using t-tests and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Students will learn how to specify OLS regression models and dichotomous or ordered logit or multinomial logit for categorical dependent variables that typically exist in survey data sets.
- Applied Survey Analysis with SPSS
This one-credit short course provides an introduction to SPSS. Students will manage a data set in SPSS, define missing values, and create new variables. Students will also run frequency tables and crosstabs, conduct chi-square-tests in SPSS and build scales assessing Cronbach’s alpha. Further, we will compare means in SPSS using t-tests and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Students will learn how to specify OLS regression models and dichotomous or ordered logit or multinomial logit for categorical dependent variables that typically exist in survey data sets.
- Applied Survey Analysis with Stata
This is a one-credit short course that gives an introduction to Stata. Students will manage a data set in Stata, define missing values, and create new variables. Students will also run frequency tables and crosstabs, conduct chi-square-tests in Stata and build scales assessing Cronbach’s alpha. Further, we will compare means in Stata using t-tests and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Students will learn how to specify OLS regression models and dichotomous or ordered logit or multinomial logit for categorical dependent variables that typically exist in survey data sets.