Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) involves the use of microeconomics to formally assess the costs and benefits of different projects or investments. CBA is required for major regulations in the United States and is frequently used as a key input into major policy decisions. Understanding its advantages and limitations, and being able to distinguish well-conducted from poor analyses, is an important skill for a policy analyst.

Policy Advocacy Evaluation: Designing Rigorous and Useful Evaluations

This class explores the important evaluation area of policy advocacy evaluation. As development practice shifts to focus on the structural drivers of poverty around the world, and seek long-term social and institutional change, interventions increasingly involve shaping policies, programs and social norms. This class examines the theoretical and practical challenges of measuring influence on policy deliberation and implementation. It explores emerging approaches developed to provide rigor and actionable insights about what works and what doesn’t.

Data Visualization and Storytelling

In our increasingly data-reliant and data-saturated society, people who understand how to leverage data to generate insights have the power to change the world. Data visualization and storytelling is a crucial skill for policy and data analysts, communications and marketing professionals, and managers and decision-makers within nonprofits, social organizations and the government. With the advent of visualization tools that do not require coding, data storytelling in the digital age is also an attainable skill set for people with varying levels of technical ability.

Designing Data Collection for Program Evaluation, Policy, and Management

Research is an important part of the policy process: it can inform the development of programs and policies so they are responsive to community needs, it can help us determine what the impacts of these programs and policies are, and it can help us better understand populations or social phenomena. This half-semester course serves as an introduction to how to ethically collect data for research projects, with an in-depth look at focus groups and surveys as data collection tools. We will also learn about issues related to measurement and sampling.

Introduction to Database Design, Management, and Security

The goal of this course is to train advanced students on the principles, practices, and technologies required for good database design, management, and security. An introduction to the concepts and issues relating to data warehousing, governance, administration, security, privacy and alternative database structures will be provided. The course concentrates on building a firm foundation in information organization, storage, management, and security.

Using Large Data Sets in Policy Research

This half-semester course will focus on the analysis of complex survey data. The focus will be on using secondary data of this type. Using Stata, we will discuss how regression analysis differs when using complex survey data as well as data-cleaning procedures, including trimming, variable transformations, and dealing with missing data. Students will produce a short memo, using real survey data, to analyze a simple research question.

Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis

Open only to students in the MSPP program. The goal of this course is to provide students with an introduction to key methods of quantitative policy analysis. We develop the statistical toolkit of regression analysis, reviewing the bivariate regression model and then continuing with multiple regression, and explore how these methods are applied to policy analysis in five benchmark techniques: randomized trials, direct regression analysis, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity, and difference in differences.

Social Impact Investment

This course provides an introduction to the impact investment landscape, the evolution of impact investment as an asset class and the opportunities and challenges for investors seeking meaningful impact investment vehicles. The course will also teach the process by which an investor performs financial due diligence on a social enterprise to render a responsible investment decision.

Performance Measurement & Management

All public and nonprofit organizations must assemble and report information on their performance. The need for performance measures goes beyond legal and regulatory requirements. To provide services effectively and efficiently, managers need information to make decisions. This course focuses on what performance measures are needed, how they should be created and what forms of communication are most effective.

Evaluating Programs and Policies

This course serves as an introduction to those evaluation tools most commonly used to assess the performance of programs, services, and policies in both the public and private sectors. Topics include needs assessment; explication and assessment of program theory; implementation and process assessment; research design, measurement, and sampling for outcome and impact evaluation; and the ethics of conducting program evaluation. The focus is on critical analysis and understanding of both the underlying programs and their evaluations.

Multiple Regression and Introduction to Econometrics

Multiple regression is the core statistical technique used by policy and finance analysts in their work. In this course, you will learn how to use and interpret this critical statistical technique. Specifically you will learn how to evaluate whether regression coefficients are biased, whether standard errors (and thus t statistics) are valid, and whether regressions used in policy and finance studies support causal arguments.

Performance Measurement and Management

All public and nonprofit organizations must assemble and report information on their performance. The need for performance measures goes beyond legal and regulatory requirements. To provide services effectively and efficiently, managers need information to make decisions. This course focuses on what performance measures are needed, how they should be created and what forms of communication are most effective.