Academics

The MPA program is a rigorous, full-time master's program that requires two years and fifteen courses (13 core and 2 elective). It stresses teamwork, initiative, creativity, and problem-solving. It demands strong effort and superior performance from students.

Coursework

Total Credits: 45 (each course worth 3 credits)

Required Courses: 39 credits / 13 courses

Introduction to Public Policy
American Governance and Public Administration
Quantitative Methods
Communication and Public Service
Strategic Management
Public Budgeting and Finance
Strategic Human Resources Management
Advanced Quantitative Methods
MPA Practitioner Lab
Leadership
Economics for Public Policy
Program and Policy Evaluation
Capstone/Thesis

Elective Courses: 6 credits / 2 courses

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 at either 4:50 PM - 6:50 PM or 7:15 PM - 9:15 PM on weekdays. Students should plan to have class three or four evenings per week. The program requires a commitment of approximately 40 hours per week.  

For more detailed information about the course requirements and other aspects of the program, please contact us at mpa@ccny.cuny.edu

MPA Practitioner Lab

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

Description of Required Courses

PSM B1700: 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.

PSM B1805: 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.

PSM B1877: 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.

PSM B1730: Communication and 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.

PSM B1600: 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.

PSM B1610: 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. 

PSM B1620: 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.

PSM B1810: 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.

PSM C3105: 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.

PSM B1720: 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.

PSM B1816: 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. 

PSM B9900: Capstone
Capstone is the culminating experience of the MPA program and is designed to synthesize the technical knowledge and managerial skills that students have gained in the program. It is a real-world client management exercise in which students work as consultants for an organization over several months, collaborating closely with their classmates under the guidance of a faculty facilitator, to design and execute a complex, semester-long project that is of direct practical use. 

Description of Past MPA Electives

SUS 7700S: Environmental justice (EJ)
Environmental justice encompasses the grassroots social movements, government policies, and academic disciplines that reject environmental racism -- experienced as the disproportionate and unjust exposure to environmental hazards faced by people of color -- and works towards equal protection, community involvement and healthy living environments for all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. Numerous studies have shown that race, not income, is the deciding factor in exposure to environmental toxins where people live, work, play, and learn. Polluted environments in the U.S. lead to premature death, avoidable illness, and disability, especially among people of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx descent. Since its origin in the 1980s and 1990s in Black communities, the EJ movement has grown to include the voices and perspectives of Indigenous, Latinx, and other marginalized communities that have endured centuries of environmental and economic exploitation. This course will provide an overview of environmental justice past and present, focusing on cities in the United States. Students will be encouraged to lean into their strengths and interests to cultivate and practice their own voice in matters of environmental justice.

PSM B1710: Policy Frameworks and Target Populations: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class
Critically analyzes policies and the assumptions that underlie their formulation and execution. Explores race, class, and other issues as a consideration in leadership.

PSM C1812: Building the Social Enterprise: An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
This course examines the technical aspects and the economic-social impacts of building, leading, and growing a venture aimed at achieving a net profit and net social good. While lectures are an essential part of the course, classes are conducted as a laboratory and students develop their original ideas into project plans or business plans that are actionable in today's market.

PSM C1813: Social Mobility & The American Dream
The American Dream says that anyone who works hard enough can move up in society. Yet the reality of social mobility in America tells a more complex story. In this interdisciplinary course, we will examine the historical narrative about what the American Dream means and how this differs from what evidence and public policy has proven to increase social mobility. This course will provide a deeper understanding of our complicated history behind mobility and a very practical knowledge of how to both talk about itt and create it in today's polarized times. 

PSM C1818: Gun Violence and Public Health
More U.S. residents have been killed with guns since 1968 than died in all the wars since the country's founding. Addressing this crisis means solving tenacious public health problems in the realms of science and of politics. This course reviews the causes of gun violence and the empirical foundations of efforts to address it - whether through legislative intervention, programs, or environmental/physical design. The course considers obstacles to the rigorous study of gun violence as well as innovative approaches in the fields of epidemiology, health policy, medicine, criminology, and economics. It places all of this in the political and legal context that shapes our collective actions.

PSM B1818: Strategic Communication
This course builds on PSM B1730 Communication and Public Service. It covers methods of effective communication for government agencies and nonprofit organizations using both traditional and social media platforms. Projects will involve managing the flow of communications both required and discretionary, including the role of strategic planning, procedures for disclosure of financial and other sensitive information, proper use of press releases, writing of op-eds, managing donor communications, annual reports, and other written and verbal communications.

PSM C3104: Nonprofit Management and Fundraising
Effective nonprofit management and fundraising require an understanding of the diversity of the nonprofit sector and of the broader political and economic environment of the sector. This course focuses theoretically and practically on key issues that relate to nonprofit management and fundraising, resulting in the strengthening of your skills as a practitioner in public service.

PSM C3177: Data-Driven Decision-Making from Policy to Practice
Is it possible to draw “objective” conclusions from the data available through social media, the press, government and corporate statistics and other data sources? Do you know the biases that drive your decision-making and actions? This course examines cases to familiarize students with real-world operational problems managers confront under conditions of uncertainty and the use of research and empirical evidence in the policy-making process. The course is organized into three modules: artificial intelligence and machine learning, child abuse, and efficient delivery of public services at the federal and municipal levels. 

PSM C3210: Essential Skills for the Public Actor
Critical thinking, strategic communications, and networking are extremely important skills to have when working in any sector, including the public, private, and non-profit. The public sector includes government at all levels, elected and appointed positions. The non-profit sector includes c3 and c4 organizations of various types and structures such as service providers, independent schools, think tanks, training institutes, and foundations. The private sector includes any for-profit entity from corporations to small businesses to consulting firms. This course examines the three skills and applies them to the three sectors.

PSM C3212: The Art of the Impactful Story
Examines the technical and creative elements of a clear and impactful story. We will explore the art and origins of storytelling. Writing techniques, organizers, and exercises will assist students as they navigate the writing process. This course will introduce story structure, we will read theories behind impactful delivery, and have weekly opportunities for practical application. This course is designed for innovators working to communicate meaningful and complex messages to motivate actions or beliefs. Students will enhance their understanding of story and improve their ability to deliver an impactful discourse.

Chukwudi Onike

"I am forever grateful for the training and opportunities I received while an MPA student.  My experience prepared me well for the competitive job market."

Chukwudi Onike, MPA '14, Program Associate, Rockefeller Foundation

Wataru Nakai headshot

"In the MPA program, I was able to  work on real-world problems. New York City was my classroom."

Wataru Nakai, MPA '11, Assistant Director of Recapture Operations and Systems, New York Governor's Office on Storm Recovery

Sandy Guillaume headshot

"With all that I learned in the MPA program, I was able to realize my dream and start my own nonprofit."

Sandy Guillaume, MPA '13, Co-founder of Community Action for Social Justice