McGeorge School of Law

MPA & MPP Curriculum

The McGeorge School of Law Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a 30-unit program (with an optional 6-12 units in an area of concentration). Areas of concentration allow students to customize their degree based on their interests and career goals. To offer maximum flexibility, students may begin their MPA studies in either the fall or spring semesters.

The McGeorge School of Law Master of Public Policy (MPP) is a 48-unit program, with a deeply experiential focus, including a required area of concentration, and placement in an externship and internship within the first year. Please note that some concentration courses may only be available during daytime hours, and applicants considering the MPP will be expected to accommodate these courses. Graduate assistant research positions are also available to ensure students are offered every opportunity to develop their competencies with real-world issues and agencies.

Faculty bring to the classroom decades of experience in strategic leadership roles, either advising or managing public institutions. Classes are designed to promote student-faculty engagement as well as student-student collaboration. Coursework is based on the skills needed to be an effective policy professional. This includes: issue identification and analysis, data collection and presentation, organizational leadership, and professional communication.

Classes Taken by Both MPA & MPP
Classes Taken by MPA ONLY
Classes Taken by MPP ONLY
Course Descriptions

This course provides students with an overview of the American legal system, including the sources and development of law as well as the dispute resolution process. The course further focuses on developing an understanding of how lawyers read and analyze cases, statutes, and legal documents and provides an introduction to legal reasoning. A primer on legal research with a focus on locating and evaluating the weight of legal sources is also included. (MSL, MPP and MPA only)

Develops professional skills in writing and presentation. Exercises establish the high standards required in professional work in the public sector. Contrasts colloquial, advocacy and discipline-based academic communications vs. professional work products used in the making and implementation of public policies to clarify norms and the writing and presentation competencies required in these roles.

Sets public policy making and implementation in context of value conflicts, complexity and uncertainty as addressed in US democratic system of governance. Starts with structural design of US constitution (separation of powers, federal system, and limited government). Includes analysis of major changes in structures, powers and activities with emphasis on roles and responsibilities of public professionals. Establishes importance of analyses from differing perspectives: individual/household, communities (of place or interest), firms/organizations, public agencies and public interest, including intergenerational. Introduction to tools premised on rational public policy making and implementation. Major attention to tools of analysis and instruments of action that explicitly incorporate value conflict, complexity and uncertainty.

Develops competence in economic concepts and tools. Draws from microeconomics. Key concepts include efficiency, equity, opportunity cost, and the role of incentives, marginal analysis, competition, and market failure. Provides opportunity for students to discuss the effectiveness of various government programs and regulation or de-regulation strategies from an economic point of view.

Analysis and development of knowledge and skills relevant to complex organizational behavior in public and nonprofit organizations, including motivation, diversity, communications, decision-making, power, conflict, culture, and change. Explicit attention to strategic leadership, including responsibilities for organization structures and their internal and external relationships, managing human capital, group development and performance, and political and symbolic roles.

This course introduces students to strategies and techniques for interpreting and applying statutes and regulations in the modern administrative state. Topics include foundational issues important to public law, such as the legislative process, doctrines of statutory interpretation, the structure of administrative law, and the role of agencies in interpreting and enforcing statutory schemes.

Develops understanding of the role budgets play in state, local, and federal governance. Examines the politics of budgeting and the process of developing capital and operating budgets. Gives students hands on experience working with core budget and other financial documents, including budget change proposals, performance measures, comprehensive annual financial reports, and public agency actuarial valuation reports. Also explores the effect economic cycles and past government and voter decisions have on modern budget options.

Analysis and developing skills relevant to purposeful, enduring change of public policies and public institutions. Roles and strategies of policy entrepreneurs analyzed. Actions which strengthen policies are contrasted with those which weaken policies. Explicit attention not only to public executives, but also to strategies of elected officials, stakeholders, and advocacy groups. Identifying and understanding the articulation of a variety of tools, such as strategic communications or facilitated processes, as well as more specific policy tools, such as changed laws, new decision arenas, or changed financial incentives.

Introduces students to the use of analytics in managing organizations and implementation of programs or policies. Provides students with a solid foundation in descriptive and inferential statistics. Topics covered include: measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, hypothesis testing and confidence intervals, correlation, simple regression, and an introduction to multivariate regression. Develops competencies in identifying relevant analytics, collection of data including survey design, and making information usable for decision makers seeking to improve performance in achieving policy goals.

Integration of learning from courses taken through (1) self-assessment and (2) class analyses of relevant cases of both successful and unsuccessful public professionals, or (3) a project for an actual client. The goal is strengthening knowledge and competencies for sustained, long-term effectiveness. Much class work is undertaken by teams. This capstone course provides graduating students in the MPA and MPP programs an opportunity to apply learned theory to practice. This course is designed as a culminating experience in which students draw upon the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout the degree program. In this course, students will adopt the viewpoint of an upper level manager—an individual charged with diagnosing complex situations and resolving them in ways that enhance organizational performance. The class focuses on how public managers can position their organizations to achieve desired program outcomes through fundamental strategic management techniques.

Introduction to the importance and interrelationships of (1) values, fundamental to public action, and often contested as political actors interpret core values differently, (2) roles which are defined by institutions (e.g., department head, staff analyst, city manager) and (3) professional skills which support ethical behavior which is also effective in achieving desired public purposes.

Develops competence to use concepts and tools of public finance common to professionals in public policy arena. Examines substantive and procedural requirements related to various forms of public agency revenue sources in California, including taxes, assessments, fees and charges. Other topics include revenue estimation, capital facility financing, internal controls, and fund accounting and public investments. Attention also paid to institutions critical to public finance.

Students will perform on-site public policy work as externs under the supervision of field placement supervisors in government agencies or non-profit entities engaged in public policy processes. The Field Placement Director will help students find an appropriate placement, and must approve each student's registration. (P/F)

Enhanced societal capacity is an overarching goal of public policy. Today's quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, or use of natural resources, reflect past choices. Societal capacity to choose and to act will determine our futures and should be viewed globally. Progress here is not synonymous with "larger" or more "active" government as very important public purposes are achieved by actions which protect the liberty of or empower individuals, households, firms and communities. However, important societal purposes are achieved by public action which requires capacity derived from legal authority, technical competencies, fiscal resources, political support and networked relationships. Examination of a broad, global range of policy making and implementation tools, ranging from individual or family choice (e.g., in schools), through expertise (e.g., scientists) and a variety of techniques to learn from assessment of policy and program implementation, all analyzed from different perspectives.

Policy analysts seek to understand why public policy problems exist and what, if anything, could be done to address them. Program evaluators want to know whether and how well extant public policies/programs — designed in response to policy problems — are working. This course extends the statistical toolbox, introduced in PUB 233: Public Manager Analytics, used in policy analysis and program evaluation. By the end of the course, students should be able to estimate and interpret a variety of econometric models. Topics include: Hypothesis testing with multivariate regression, dummy variables, interaction effects, fixed effects, instrumental variables, time series, discontinuity models, and logistic regression.