Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

The online Master of Public Administration curriculum comprises 24 core units in institutions and organizations and analysis, and 16 elective units.

Core Courses

The following courses are required for all online MPA students.

Institutions and Organizations (8 Core Units)

PPD 540: Fundamentals of Public Administration (4 Units)
This course introduces students to the field of public administration. It examines the major intellectual and constitutional foundations of American government and public administration as well as current trends. It introduces a theoretical approach to the study of public administration that emphasizes the interactive relationship between individuals and institutions. This gateway course to the MPA program should be taken during the student’s first semester.

PPD 545: Public and Non-Profit Organizational Behavior (4 Units)
Students develop a better understanding of why people behave as they do in organizational contexts and how organizational behavior can be managed more effectively. The class focuses specifically on the kinds of behavioral styles and managerial processes required for contemporary organizations. Students will address personal, interpersonal, and group level factors that influence behavior.

Professional Integration (6 Core Units)

PPDE 506e: Professional Residency in Public Administration (1 Unit)
Skills in written reporting, professional briefings and social media for public administrators; effective engagement for stakeholders and constituencies; research, analysis and reporting on current policy or management cases.

PPDE 507e: Capstone Residency in Public Administration (1 Unit)
Development of enhanced skills in issue framing and options analysis in public administration for internal and external audiences.

PPD 546: Capstone in Public Administration (4 Units)
This capstone course for the Master of Public Administration program is normally taken during the last semester of study. The course provides students with an opportunity to apply the policy, political, organizational and operational skills taught in the program to the real-world challenges faced by public administrators. By synthesizing these skills, students can become equipped with the tools and techniques needed to address and resolve these challenges.

Analytics (10 Core Units)

PPD 503: Economics for Public Policy (4 Units)
Economic theory as applied to public policy. Concepts of efficiency and equity, analysis of market failure and policy interventions.

PPD 504: Essential Statistics for Public Management (2 Units)
Essential statistics for public managers and administrators; application of statistical methods in addressing public policy and management questions.

PPD 541: Public Financial Management and Budgeting (4 Units)
Financial management applied to public and nonprofit organizations; financial valuation, financial markets, budgeting, tax administration, debt financing, cost-benefit analysis and financial analysis.

Elective Courses

Online MPA students must select 16 units of elective coursework from the options below.

Management Electives (4 Units)

Please select at least one course

PPDE 648e: Performance Management (4 Units)
Concept and practice of performance management; examination of performance measurement; analysis and reporting practices for organizational accountability and improvements; performance design, indicators, utilization of information.

PPD 672: Collaborative Governance (4 Units)
Theory and practice of collaborative policy and planning processes involving stakeholders from public, private and nonprofit sectors. Leadership skills in the design and facilitation of multiparty negotiations and consensus-building.

PPD 673: Strategic Planning in the Public Sector (4 Units)
This course provides analysis/field application of action research models for strategic planning in public agencies. The design of effective public systems and the citizen and administrator roles in strategic decision-making are examined.

Analytic Electives (4 Units)

Please select at least one course

PPD 542: Program and Policy Evaluation (4 Units)
This course familiarizes students with policy and program evaluation concepts and techniques. Students develop skills in methods of collecting and interpreting policy research, program evaluation reports, and 8 policy analyses. Students will also become familiar with the limitations of statistical and other evaluation techniques. Students need to have satisfied the Statistics prerequisite before enrolling in this course.

PPD 554: Foundations of Policy Analysis (4 Units)
Introduction to public policy analysis; issue diagnosis and policy design; analytic reasoning and argumentation; the role of the public policy professional; ethical issues in policy analysis.

Additional Electives (8 Units)

Select from any management, analytic or additional option

PPD 651: Seminar in the Administration of Local Government (4 Units)
This course examines the administration of local government through research and case discussion. All levels of local government are reviewed: counties, cities, special districts, and school districts, although the focus is on issues faced by public executives in cities and counties. Students have the opportunity to apply the skills learned in core courses to develop innovative solutions to complex urban problems.

PPD 555: Public Policy Formation and Implementation (4 Units)
Political and organizational perspectives on policy-making process; agenda setting, policy design, adoption, implementation, evaluation, modification or termination. Policy leadership skills: negotiation and strategic mapping.

PPD 689: The Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy (4 Units)
This course examines the nonprofit sector and an array of public policy and management challenges from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students have the opportunity to define the boundaries of the nonprofit sector; review the history and evolution of the nonprofit sector; and examine the economic, political, and social rationale of the nonprofit sector. Also explored are philanthropy, public funding, and commercial revenues and their implications for nonprofit organizations and their management. Public policies toward the nonprofit sector and their implications for stewardship and accountability are evaluated.

PPD 628: Urban Planning and Social Policy (4 Units)
This course examines the intersection of urban planning and social policy, two areas that are inextricably linked. Some portions of the class focus on policy development and implementation, while others explore land use regulation and environmental influences on social outcomes.


Pre-Service students ONLY (less than 2 years of relevant, full-time work experience)

PPD 543: Internship Seminar (1 Unit) Pre-service students only
The goal of this seminar is to provide the critical link between your required internship placement and the academic program. We will explore management styles and workplace issues in the literature and in 9 practice. A primary intent of this seminar will be to mutually reinforce the educational value of your classroom experience and your internship. In class discussion and through assignments, you are encouraged to share your personal reflections on concepts of management as they relate to both academic theory and your own employment experience. This is a required course for pre-service students.