Academics

Program Overview

The MPA program is a rigorous, full-time program that takes two academic years to complete (four full-time semesters, with one summer course between the first and second years).

Total Credits 

The program requires a total of 45 credits (15 courses worth 3 credits each).  

Required Courses

Students are required to take a core sequence of 13 courses worth a total of 39 credits: 

  • Introduction to Public Policy
  • American Governance and Public Administration
  • Communication in Public Service
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics for Public Policy
  • Strategic Human Resources Management
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • Strategic Management
  • Public Budgeting and Finance
  • Program and Policy Evaluation
  • Internship
  • Leadership
  • Capstone

Elective Courses

Students are required to take 2 elective courses, worth a total of 6 credits. Electives build on MPA core courses and provide the opportunity for more in-depth knowledge and skill-building. Students may take electives offered by the MPA program, by other CCNY departments, or by e-permit at other CUNY campuses. Electives are subject to approval by the MPA program director. We encourage students to choose elective courses that align with their career interests and allow them to specialize in a particular topic or area of public service.

Course Schedule

Classes are held in the evening Monday-Thursday. Some classes take place in the 5:15-7:15 PM time slot, and some classes take place in the 7:30-9:30 PM time slot. Students must plan to be available for both time slots. The course schedule is pre-determined each semester and all students in the cohort take the same set of classes together. The program is full-time (no part-time option) and requires a commitment of approximately 40 hours per week.

Descriptions of Required Courses

Introduction to Public Policy
Covers important issues in the formulation and implementation of public policy in the United States with an emphasis on New York City. The course begins by examining the roots of US policymaking in genocide, slavery, capitalism, white supremacy, and the enduring legacies of these systems of oppression. Then, employing a policy framework that distinguishes between reformative and transformative policies, students assess the intentions, impact, and unintended consequences of policies on health care, criminal justice, environmental regulation, education, and housing.

American Governance and Public Administration
American government stands at its most fraught moment since the Civil War – and perhaps in its entire history. This course is intended to provide students with a deep understanding of American governance – its institutions, processes and procedures, their history, current configuration, and future.  It is the course’s goal that, by its end, students have the tools and perspectives needed to successfully navigate the currents of governmental change and public administration, whether you aim to do so as a political actor, administrator, analyst or advocate.

Quantitative Methods
The first part in a two-course sequence, this course introduces students to basic statistical methods and their application to public service. The course covers the essential elements of descriptive statistics, univariate and bivariate statistical inference, and an introduction to multivariate analysis. This course will focus on both the theory and application of various statistical tools and an introduction to data visualization. The course will emphasize data analysis, using the software package, Stata. The course will also explore the pitfalls of policy claims made with data as well as how data can be harnessed to achieve equity. An emphasis will be placed on the practical applications of these methods in management and policy.

Communication in Public Service
We need solid communication skills in public service to win hearts and minds. And with incredible skills in communication, students will be able to write that grant proposal, prepare that press release, pen that critical opinion editorial, present to colleagues, and distill and synthesize messy data into discernible and actionable material. Students will end the course better able to communicate in different settings, using various means. Thus prepared, they will be stronger in service to their communities and the nation in whatever area of the public sector they choose for a career.

Economics for Public Policy
Uses economic analysis to delve deeply into many of the most important and controversial public policy issues facing governments at the federal, state and municipal levels. Each policy issue is examined from the perspective of legislators and members of executive branches who must make decisions on issues with economic roots and possible economic solutions. Ideally, each policy issue discussed will be approached as though it is a business problem. Using economic theories, statistical tools and logic, potential solutions to policy issues will look at strategies, tactics, potential outcomes and the potential consequences of each of those outcomes. By the end of the semester, students will be able to speak confidently about major economic policy issues.

Strategic Human Resources Management
The purpose of this course is for students – as managers in a world of increasingly scarce resources – to understand the challenges and responsibilities they have in terms of managing human capital. Students will learn how strategic human resource management is a critical system within an organization that can move any team towards excellence. The need to attract the best people - keep them motivated, engaged and able to make a significant contribution to achieving the organization’s mission- is fundamental to success. Managers are responsible for selecting their team, developing them, managing performance and ensuring that they are engaged and feel rewarded for their efforts.

Advanced Quantitative Methods
The second in a two-part sequence covering mathematical and statistical concepts and methods used to design and conduct policy research, synthesize and describe data of all types, and support management decision making. The course focuses on applications rather than on theory and mathematical development. Topics including the scientific method, Measure of Central Tendency and Dispersion, Probability Theory, Hypothesis testing, Correlation analysis, Linear regression and Multiple regression.

MPA Internship
During the summer between the first and second years of the program, all students work in an internship or other professional capacity in a social-mission-driven or other public service organization. They participate simultaneously in a summer practicum that combines job-embedded learning with practical skill-building to catalyze their development as practitioners of change. By infusing hands-on work experience, individual and group reflections, and career development goal-setting and benchmarking, the course engenders a live-action training environment where MPA students can grow into their careers, transforming idealism into tangible action.

Program and Policy Evaluation
Daily searches for management positions requiring monitoring and evaluation knowledge and skills populate a host of new opportunities at some of the world’s smallest and largest organizations and agencies. Whether to satisfy funding requirements or to improve ongoing program operations, the demand for measuring progress toward delivering outputs and achieving outcomes is ever present in the nonprofit and public sectors. To meet the demand, this course will familiarize students with the fundamentals of monitoring and evaluation, including foundational concepts, designs, and methods; data collection and analysis methods; and designing logic models, surveys, and evaluation matrices. 

Strategic Management of Public Organizations
In response to the inequities exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and the global uprising for racial justice, we’ve witnessed transformative change on a variety of levels over these past two years – personal, political, and cultural. We saw a dramatic turnover at the highest level of government, grassroots organizers calling for a radical re-imagining of public safety, departments of education pushing for a curriculum re-vamp, Lebron James, Aaron Rogers and Naomi Osaka in “Liberation Now!” jerseys, and elementary school students striking for climate justice. In this course, students explore the social justice ecosystem – the many players, their roles, strategies and tactics – all designed to advance equity and justice. Students also look inside to better understand how to foster progressive and collaborative leadership and inclusive and equitable organizations.

Public Budgeting and Finance
In simple terms, budgets are plans covering income and spending. But they are much more than that. Budgets are a statement of priorities for a government or organization and indicate expectations about the future financial situation of those entities. Budget documents and websites are also repositories of large amounts of data that can be used to conduct analysis. And they provide an indication about the success or failure of policies and programs. Knowing how to construct and interpret such information will contribute to the success of future public and nonprofit leaders. Being able to find such information and explain it to others is a very useful skill. This class covers the terminology, components, practices, documents, and methods of public budgeting and finance at all levels of government and in the non-profit sector. It emphasizes policy analysis—thinking through the available data, drawing conclusions, and communicating that information to a non-technical audience. 

Leadership in Public Service
Leadership can be learned through the practice of skills, through guided reflection and discussion, and through observation and analysis of everyday leaders in everyday situations. By the end of the course, students will understand models and theories of leadership and leadership development, learn to identify authentic leadership skills in themselves and in others, and understand how leadership operates in different professional settings and contexts.

Capstone
The capstone is the culminating experience for MPA students. The course integrates students’ experiential and classroom learning into a single project. Students work directly with a public sector or community-based partner (‘client’) on an organizational challenge to complete a complex, semester-long project that is of direct practical use to the client organization. This experience presents students with a real-world client management exercise to further develop and hone their analytical, communication and project management capabilities. 

Faculty

Fatima Ashraf
Fatima Ashraf teaches Introduction to Public Policy. She is co-founder of Green Squash Consulting and has in-depth knowledge of and experience with governments, NGOs, public and private foundations, and academia. She has identified opportunities for new policy initiatives, and developed policy proposals and strategic initiatives for the Office of the Deputy Mayor. She served as the chair of the Youth Violence Prevention Task Force, and as a data analyst at the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Professor Ashraf previously served as a special advisor to the Open Society Foundation. She holds a B.S. in Biology from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and MPH from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Ofronama Biu
Ofronama Biu teaches Quantitative Methods. She is a research manager for worker education at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in Public and Urban Policy from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School. Her research interests include labor market and workforce development policies and racial stratification. Professor Biu brings extensive experience in project management, program evaluation, partnership building, employer engagement, and direct service to participants. Previously, as a senior research associate at the Building Movement Project, Professor Biu worked on national projects focused on leadership, including Race to Lead reports, service and social change, and movement building, as well as place-based projects in Detroit and New Mexico. She was also a senior research associate at the NYC Labor Market Information Service at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she directed research projects on trends impacting the social services and middle-skill healthcare workforce. Meanwhile, she has co-founded a nonprofit organization that connects youth to media professionals for skill-building and mentoring opportunities. Professor Biu holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the NYU College of Arts and Science and a Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. Professor Biu can be reached at obiu@ccny.cuny.edu

Marissa Davis
Marissa Davis teaches Social Entrepreneurship. She is founder of Tallawah Consulting and host of the #TallawahTalks podcast. She has spent the last decade at the intersections of social entrepreneurship, law, public policy, and business, all in service of building bridges across sectors for the sake of nurturing more sustained social impact in historically disenfranchised communities. She previously served as a program manager on WeWork's Global Policy team in their headquarters and as a special advisor for Harlem Tech Village, an inclusive incubator and education lab for tech entrepreneurs in Harlem. Professor Davis graduated from Swarthmore College with Honors and received her Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard Kennedy School, with a concentration in social and urban policy.

Omar Freilla
Omar Freilla teaches Public Economics. Freilla is a serial trailblazer, social entrepreneur, and movement builder with a passion for building structures for community self-determination and regenerative economies. His work is grounded in his experience growing up in the South Bronx, a child of Dominican immigrants, within a network of community organizers. He founded Green Worker Cooperatives, the oldest Black-led worker cooperative development organization in the US. He has pioneered multiple approaches to cooperative development that have resulted in New York City now having the largest concentration of worker cooperatives in the US. He is the creator of the Co-op Academy, the first business accelerator for worker cooperatives in the US. His latest initiative is Collective Diaspora, a new global network of Black cooperatives and Black-led cooperative support organizations from across the African diaspora.

Ryan Hallock
Ryan Hallock teaches Program Evaluation. Since being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Hallock has focused on helping nonprofit organizations build their monitoring and evaluation capacity, including at the World Federalist Movement and International Crisis Group. He currently works at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in the Research, Evaluation, and Data Analytics Department. Professor Hallock holds an MPA from the City College of New York and expects to earn an M.A. in program evaluation from Michigan State University in December 2019.

Carl Hamad-Lipscombe
Carl Hamad-Lipscombe teaches Communications in Public Service. Carl is a policy strategist, organizer and movement leader who has worked at the intersection of immigration, criminal law reform and racial justice for nearly 20 years. Previously, Carl led national policy, communications and research initiatives as Deputy Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and managed philanthropic investments in prosecution reform, indigent defense and access to counsel at Arnold Ventures. A Bronx native, Carl’s vast experience also includes time as a public defender at The Bronx Defenders; leading advocacy and communications efforts for local and national coalitions focused on workers’ and immigrant rights; coordinating a citywide nonpartisan voter engagement table; and working as a security guard and street vendor. Carl earned a B.A. in philosophy and urban policy at Brooklyn College, a law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and studied urban planning at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Jeff Holland
Jeff Holland teaches Public Budgeting and Finance. He worked in the Projections Unit of the Congressional Budgeting Office for 26 years, overseeing data compilation, writing, and production for a large part of CBO’s most widely read publications. He now serves as the Vice President of Research at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a non-partisan organization dedicated to addressing long-term fiscal challenges to ensure a better economic future. Professor Holland received his MS in Public Administration and Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and BA in Economics and Urban Studies from the University of Maryland.

Eric Horvath
Eric Horvath teaches Capital for Good, an elective course. Horvath is the director of capital strategies at Common Future, a national nonprofit focused on eliminating the racial wealth gap and building an economy for all, where he leads the organization’s work on innovative capital products designed by and for BIPOC communities. He is also a partner at The Sankofa Group, a BIPOC-led impact advisory firm. Before Common Future, Eric worked at Transform Finance, leading its national work to empower activists and organizers around non-extractive finance, as well as in philanthropy, where he administered several millions of dollars in program-related investments. Outside of work, Eric is deeply committed to local progressive politics and mentoring students of color through Big Brothers Big Sisters and his academic affiliations. Eric holds a BA from Fordham University, MPA from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and is currently completing an MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Janet Kyle
Janet Kyle has more than 20 years of experience in the private, public, and non-profit sectors driving organizational change through strategic talent management. She holds a Master of Arts degree from The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies and a Master of Science degree from Pace University's School of Education. She teaches Strategic Human Resources Management.

Gara LaMarche
Gara LaMarche teaches Leadership. LaMarche is the former president of the Democracy Alliance (DA), providing overall leadership, strategic vision and management capacity for the organization. Prior to joining the Alliance, he served as Senior Fellow at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and previously, as President and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies. At Atlantic, he led the foundation’s efforts to embrace a social justice framework for grantmaking, and spearheaded the largest-ever grant made by a foundation for an advocacy campaign – over $25 million to press for comprehensive health care reform in the U.S. Before joining Atlantic in 2007, he served as Vice President and Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations (OSF), launching the organization’s pivotal work on challenges to social justice and democracy in the United States. A longtime advocate for human rights at home and abroad, he has held various positions with Human Rights Watch, PEN American Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). LaMarche is also a frequent commentator on progressive issues in the news and has taught courses on philanthropy, public policy, and non-profit leadership.

Lenny Portorreal
Lenny Portorreal teaches Strategic Management. Portorreal is an experienced Project Manager with 12 years of experience working in a large Investment Bank and in NYC Government. She graduated recently with an MPA in International Health Policy & Management from NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. She also holds Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Economics & Management from the Colin Powell School of Civic & Global Leadership at the City College of New York. Her recent work includes process improvements, adapting and training on the Scrum methodology, and training on effective team work, with a deep interest in management and organizational behavior. 

Last Updated: 08/08/2022 15:36