Theoretical Framework Modules

Module 1: Microeconomic Analysis

Advisors: Jonathan Morduch and Sewin Chan

This module overviews microeconomic models of behavior and decision-making that may be used for both empirical and theoretical research in policy, finance and management. After obtaining mastery of the fundamentals of the theory of the firm and consumer behavior, students proceed to focus on an area of applied microeconomics such as labor economics or development economics.

The following courses are required:

  • ECON-GA 1001 Math for Economists (offered in the fall semester)
  • ECON-GA 1003 Microeconomics (offered in the spring semester)


Students select one additional course in applied microeconomics to be arranged with the module advisors. Wagner’s MPA/MUP courses cannot satisfy this requirement. In the past, Wagner students have taken:

  • ECON-GA 1108 Income Distribution in the United States
  • ECON-GA 1603 Economic Development I
  • ECON-GA 1701 Labor Economics I

Module 2: Organizational Behavior and Organization Theory

Advisors:  Tom D’Aunno, Erica Foldy, Sonia Ospina

This module is intended for all doctoral students who will pursue the management field of study. It is also available for students who choose as one of their fields health management, international development or other, including a customized field, where issues of policy implementation, institutional reform and institutional development are central to the field’s body of knowledge. 

This module will introduce students to theoretical perspectives from the two broad literatures of micro organizational theory (also simply called organizational behavior) and macro organizational theory (also called organizational theory). These perspectives are by nature inter-disciplinary, as they have grown out of the fields of psychology, sociology, economics and political science, and continue to be influenced by those literatures, as well as anthropology, law, public administration, history, and others.

Students must take the two following courses:

  • MGMT-GB.3371 Organizational Behavior (OB) (Stern)
  • MGMT-GB.3387 Organization Theory (OT) (Stern)

And one additional course from the list below: *

  • MGMT-GB.3381 Advanced Research in Organizational Behavior (Stern)
  • MGMT-GB.3395 Cognition in Organizations (Stern)
  • MGMT-GB.3398 Strategy (Stern)
  • MGMT-GB.4301 Strategic management PhD Seminar (Stern)
  • PSYCH-GA.2216 Theories of Social Psychology (Social Psychology)

The two required courses are taught regularly at Stern, OB in the fall and OT in the spring of each academic year. Management students are strongly recommended to take these during their first year at Wagner. They can then take two additional management courses during their second year as requirements to prepare for their comprehensive examination. Other doctoral students interested in implementation but not specializing in management may take these courses at their own pace.

The suggested doctoral courses are from other schools, but the doctoral field exam requires familiarity with related literature addressing public service contexts. Students will work closely with appropriate management faculty and their advisor to insure preparation of that material. 

* These courses are illustrative and their availability changes, as faculty rotate doctoral teaching; other courses with comparable material may be substituted with a module advisor’s approval.

module 3: Political Institutions

Advisor: Tony Bertelli

This module is intended for students who are interested in the study of political institutions (1) in the United States (API) as well as (2) other individual countries or cross-national comparisons (CPI). Students who elect this module must take one of the following sequences of three courses, or gain the approval of alternatives from the module advisor.  The courses are provided as a doctoral-level sequence in the politics department.


Comparative Political Institutions (CPI)


The following course is required for all CPI students:

  • POL-GA.1500 Comparative Politics

Students must choose one of the following courses:

  • POL-GA.1550 Comparative Politics of Industrialized Democracies
  • POL-GA.1551 Comparative Politics of Developing Countries

Students must choose one of the following courses:

  • POL-GA 1300 American Politics Theories & Arguments
  • POL-GA.2590 Middle Eastern Government and Politics
  • POL-GA.3500 3501 Seminar in Comparative Politics* 


American Political Institutions (API)


Both of the following courses are required for all API students:

  • POL-GA.1300 American Political Institutions and Processes
  • POL-GA.1350 The Domestic Politics of the United States I

Students must choose one of the following courses:

  • POL-GA.2371 Public Policy
  • POL-GA.3300, 3301 Seminar in American Government and Politics*

*These seminars concentrate on different topics at different times and should be chosen only if they coincide with student interest. These seminars may have prerequisites and students interested in them should consult the Wagner faculty advisor for this module before enrolling.