Which public policies are doing what they're designed to do, and which could do their job better? The Public Policy Analysis specialization gives you tools to make these evaluations and play a leading role in evaluating and creating policy that better serves the public good.   

You'll learn the analytical and quantitative skills you’ll need to create and assess policy responses to important public issues and urban problems. And you’ll graduate ready to address big questions: How can cities create and implement policies for growth and development? What are the next steps to solving global poverty? Which policies are most effective at minimizing racial disparities? How can education policy improve the performance and equity of US educational systems?


Below is an overview of the required coursework. For detailed information, view the program checksheet

DEGREE CORE requirements

Students must complete the following courses:

CORE-GP.1011, Statistical Methods
CORE-GP.1018, Microeconomics
CORE-GP.1020, Management and Leadership
CORE-GP.1021, Financial Management
CORE-GP.1022, Introduction to Public Policy

Specialization Requirements

Students must complete the following courses:

PADM-GP.2140, Public Economics
PADM-GP.2171, Evaluating Programs and Policies

Students must also choose and complete one of the following courses:

PADM-GP.2411, Policy Formation and Policy Analysis
PADM-GP.2902, Multiple Regression and Introduction to Econometrics


Focus areas

Focus Areas are optional groupings of courses to help you choose electives. You can go deeper in your specialization and develop more advanced skills by choosing electives within the specialization-related focus areas below. To pursue depth in a focus area we suggest completing 9 credits. To pursue breadth, you may also choose electives across focus areas. 

A career in policy needs an entry point; it needs pathways for depth; and it needs breadth to sustain it. An entry point is just that, the job that gets you into an organization or field, whether it is at the start or midway through a career. Along with many other aspects of your degree and experience, the policy specialization provides the core analytical, conceptual, and communication skills relevant in a wide array of policy positions. A pathway for depth is a set of skills, frameworks, or knowledge that builds upon the foundation of the degree core and specialization requirements and is particularly helpful for career progression. The policy specializations focus areas listed below are examples of these. Breadth is important because as your career develops you are unlikely to follow a linear path; you might jump from policy analysis, to advocacy, to evaluation, and back again. So it helps to experiment beyond your base. If you have tried some courses within one policy specialization focus area, you could try another policy focus area.

Policy Advocacy and Creation

Creating policy through direct advocacy, working for advocacy or interest groups, or mission-driven organizations, e.g., political, social interest, etc. (potential titles and roles: interest-group advocacy, lobbyist, think-tank analyst, legislative or committee staffer, government relations for the nonprofit or private sector)

PADM-GP.2106, Community Organizing
PADM-GP.2186, Leadership and Social Transformation
PADM-GP.2407, Advocacy Lab
PADM-GP.4186, Leadership and Social Transformation
PADM-GP.4450, Strategic Communications for Advocacy

Policy Design and Implementation

Design of policy based on economic, political and institutional, or contextual analysis (potential titles and roles: policy analyst, staffer for office holder, public office staff roles, program officer, program manager, urban and regional planner, local government manager, consultant) and policy implementation, considering how policy parameters and choices interact with institutional, technical, and behavioral constraints (additional job titles include: user experience for public services, services officer or manager, policy innovation coordinator)

PADM-GP.2139, Behavioral Economics and Public Policy Design
PADM-GP.2149, Cost-Benefit Analysis
PADM-GP.2165, Policy Implementation: How Plans, Policies and Projects are Put into Action in the Government
PADM-GP.2203, Economics of International Development
PADM-GP.2441, The Economics of Education: Policy and Finance
PADM-GP.2472, Climate Economics
URPL-GP.2608, Urban Economics
HPAM-GP.4830, Health Economics: Principles
PHD-GP.5908, Doctoral Seminar in Policy: Inequality and Poverty

Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation

Analysis of policy outcomes, synthesizing the literature, prospective analysis of policy proposals, and ex post evaluation of program and policy impacts form the core toolkit of the policy analyst (potential titles and roles: policy analyst for government, nonprofit, think tank or consulting firm; program evaluator)

PADM-GP.2875, Estimating Impacts in Policy Research, and PADM-GP 2172, Advanced Empirical Methods, are strongly recommended courses in this focus area.

PADM-GP.2170, Performance Measurement and Management
PADM-GP.2171, Evaluating Programs and Policies
PADM-GP.2172, Advanced Empirical Methods
PADM-GP.2875, Estimating Impacts in Policy Research
MSPP-GP.2905, Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis
PADM-GP.4501, Designing Data Collection for Program Evaluation, Policy, and Management
PADM-GP.4502, Using Large Data Sets in Policy Research
PADM-GP.4504, Introduction to Database Design, Management, and Security
PHD-GP.5905, Qualitative Research Methods

Data Science

Understanding, analyzing, presenting, and managing data (potential titles and roles: policy or data analyst, data scientist, data manager, database manager, fundraising officer/ manager, researcher, consultant). 

PADM-GP 2172, Advanced Empirical Methods, and PADM-GP 4503, Introduction to Data Analytics, are strongly recommended courses in this focus area.

PADM-GP.2172, Advanced Empirical Methods
PADM-GP.2505, Advanced Data Analytics and Evidence Building
PADM-GP.4119, Data Visualization and Storytelling
PADM-GP.4147, Large Scale Data Analysis with Machine Learning I
PADM-GP.4148, Large Scale Data Analysis with Machine Learning II
PADM-GP.4501, Designing Data Collection for Program Evaluation, Policy, and Management
PADM-GP.4502, Using Large Data Sets in Policy Research
PADM-GP.4503, Introduction to Data Analytics for Public Policy, Administration, and Management
PADM-GP.4504, Introduction to Database Design, Management, and Security
PADM-GP.4505, R Coding for Public Policy
PADM-GP.4506, Python Coding for Public Policy

School-wide Focus Areas

In addition to the courses in the specialization-related elective focus areas above, to gain a breadth of knowledge and skills you may also wish to choose electives from across course offerings, including from the school-wide focus areas or a different specialization. Relevant school-wide focus areas for you to consider as a Policy student include, Environment and Climate Change; Health Policy and ManagementInequality, Race, and PovertyTransportation; and more


The Capstone Program, a year-long consulting or research project that's required for all Policy specialization students, puts you out in the world, resolving a problem or conducting an analysis for a client organization.

Students must complete the following courses:

CAP-GP.3401 & 3402 Capstone: Advanced Projects in Policy, Management, Finance, and Advocacy I & II


CAP-GP 3148 & 3149 Capstone: Advanced Research Projects in Quantitative Analysis I & II