Curriculum

Core courses—your public affairs foundation

The SPEA Connect online MPA curriculum begins with six required core courses—your foundation to move up in the public affairs field:

  • Public Management (V502)
  • Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (V506)
  • Public Management Economics (V517)
  • Law and Public Affairs (V540)
  • Public Finance and Budgeting (F560)
  • Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs (V600)

With the help of the faculty director, you will also design an advanced curriculum of at least six electives that is suitable for your professional goals. SPEA Connect offers four advanced curriculum areas: Public Management (PM); Nonprofit Management (NPM); Policy Analysis (PA); and Public Financial Administration (PF).

Learn about SPEA Connect Week—a voluntary, on-campus course

Potential degree pathways

The table below shows potential degree pathways through the MPA and denotes core (C), required (R), and elective (E) courses under each focus area.

 

 

MPA Focus Area

 Course#

Course Title

PM

NPM

PA

PFM

F560

Public Finance and Budgeting

 C

 C

C

V502

Public Management

C

C

C

C

V506

Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making

 C

C

C

V517

Public Management Economics

 C

C

C

V540

Law and Public Affairs

 C

 C

C

C

V600

Capstone in Public Affairs

C

C

 C

F526

Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations

 E

 

 

F542

Governmental Financial Accounting and Reporting

F609

Seminar in Revenue Theory and Administration

 

E

R

F610

Seminar in Government Budget and Program Analysis

 

F667

Seminar in Public Capital and Debt Theory

 

 R

I516

Public Management Information Systems

 E

 E

M561

Public Human Resource Management

E

 

 

M602

Strategic Management of Public and Nonprofit Organizations

E

E

E

M654

Public Program Management and Contracting

E

E

 E

N521

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector

E

N522

Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Organizations

E

N525

Management in the Nonprofit Sector

E

N534

International NGO Management

E

E

N557

Proposal Development and Grant Administration

E

E

E

E

N558

Fund Development for Nonprofits

 

E

 

 

P507 

Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs

E

E

E

E

P541

Benefit Cost Analysis

E

E

E

 E

P562

Public Program Evaluation

E

E

E

V512

Public Policy Process

E

E

 

V550

Communications for Public and Nonprofit Affairs

E

 E

E

 

V550

Crisis Communication and Risk Management (Hybrid On-Campus)

E

E

E

E

V550

Global Governance in the 21st Century

E

E

E

E

V550

Global Security in the 21st Century

E

E

V550

Marketing Management for the Public and Nonprofit Sectors

E

E

 

V550

Social Entrepreneurship

E

V550

SPEA Connect Week (Hybrid On-Campus)

E

E

E

E

V550

US Foreign Policy & African Development

E

E

E

V580

Readings in Public Affairs

*

*

*

*

V590

Research in Public Affairs

*

*

*

*

*By permission of the program director.

Explore the core courses and electives more in-depth

  • MPA Core Course Descriptions and Sample Syllabi

    Public Finance and Budgeting (F560)

    The fiscal role of government in a mixed economy; sources of public revenue and credit; administrative, political, and institutional aspects of the budget and the budgetary process; problems and trends in intergovernmental fiscal relations.

    Download sample syllabus

    Public Management (V502)

    Analysis of concepts, methods, and procedures involved in managing public organizations. Problems of organization, planning, decision making, performance evaluation, and management of human resources are considered. Cases are drawn from a variety of public services found at federal, state, and local levels of government.

    Download sample syllabus


    Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (V506)

    Noncalculus survey of concepts in probability, estimation, and hypothesis testing. Applications of contingency table analysis and analysis of variance, regression, and other statistical techniques. Computer processing of data emphasized.

    Download sample syllabus

    Public Management Economics (V517)

    This course focuses on applications of the principles and concepts of intermediate microeconomic theory and managerial economics to public-sector management decisions and policy analysis. The course utilizes case studies with the goal of giving students opportunities to recognize the economic dimensions inherent in the public policy problems and to develop an analytical problem-solving orientation.

    Download sample syllabus

    Law and Public Affairs (V540)

    Explanation of law in society and its influence on public-sector operations. Examination of some of the central substantive areas of the study of law, including regulatory processes, administrative adjudication, the Administrative Procedures Act, ombudsmen, and citizen rights, among others.

    Download sample syllabus

    Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs (V600)

    Interdisciplinary course designed to give students exposure to the realities of the policy process through detailed analyses of case studies and projects. Course integrates science, technology, policy, and management.

    Previous Capstone Projects:

    2014: Downtown redevelopment and minor league baseball stadium; South Bend, Indiana

    2015: Neighborhood redevelopment and economic development; Huntington, Indiana

    2016: Indiana trail development and grant writing; Huntington, Indiana

    2017: Downtown redevelopment and business plan; Spencer, Indiana

  • MPA Advanced Curriculum Electives

    The regularly offered courses for the advanced curriculum include:

    Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations (F526)

    This course emphasizes a thorough understanding of the language and key concepts of nonprofit financial management. A working knowledge of the basic analytical tools used in financial decision making for nonprofit organizations will be examined through the use of computer software. 

    Download sample syllabus

    Governmental Financial Accounting and Reporting (F542)

    An introduction to the fundamentals of accounting in business, nonprofit, and public sectors. Intended only for students without previous accounting courses. Primary emphasis is on municipal entity fund accounting, including the development and use of financial statements.

    Seminar in Revenue Theory and Administration (F609)

    This seminar examines the basic objectives and the political and economic aspects of tax administration. In the course of an examination of the interratlationships of tax policy, tax laws, and tax asministration, the course reviews the major economic issues raised by types of taxes and user changes. The seminar also examines the fundementals of tax legislation. Major emphasis is on state and local administration, although some federal problems will be covered. 

    Download sample syllabus

    Seminar in Government Budget and Program Analysis (F610)

    This is an advanced case-study-based course on the theory and practice of budgeting and financial management in modern governments. The practical dimension of budgeting process and procedure is examined in a more explicit way than in F560, including: application of basic principles and concepts; budgeting procedures, format and structure; their effects on outcomes; projecting revenues; multi-year fiscal planning; budget preparation and development; justification; analysis of capital budgets; and debt management

    Download sample syllabus

    Seminar in Public Capital and Debt Theory (F667)

    This seminar examines the options open to governments, especially state and local, and why they resort to debt finance. The issues raised by the alternatives are examined in detail. Among the topics are public authority debt, revenue bonds, methods of placement, lease-purchase finance, and maturity choice. In addition, management of idle cash balances will be considered.

    Public Management Information Systems (I516)

    This course focuses on the application of information systems concepts and tools to challenges and opportunities in the public sector. Topics covered will include current trends in information systems; managerial use of information systems; hardware, software, and telecommunications; systems development processes and practices; and strategic and policy issues in IS.

    Download sample syllabus

    Public Human Resource Management (M561)

    Analysis of the structure, operations, and design of public personnel systems, including government agencies and public enterprise. Relationships between public policy and personnel concepts, values, and operations considered.

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    Strategic Management of Public and Nonprofit Organizations (M602)

    Concepts, cases, and problem solving associated with the structure and process of strategic management in the public sector, broadly defined to include governmental and nongovernmental organizations.Concepts, cases, and problem solving associated with the structure and process of strategic management in the public sector, broadly defined to include governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

    Download sample syllabus

    Public Program Management and Contracting (M654)

    An examination of theories, concepts, and processes concerning multi-actor program implementation and alternative forms of service delivery. Focus will be on the problems and challenges public managers face in designing and managing contractual relationships, networks, and other complex implementation structures.

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    Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector (N521)

    The theory, size, scope, and functions of the nonprofit and voluntary sector are covered from multiple disciplinary perspectives including historical, political, economic, and social.

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    Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Organizations (N522)

    This course provides an overview of the human resource management areas necessary for the productive functioning of nonprofit organizations. Theories of motivation applicable to the management of staff and volunteers, and personnel topics of recruitment, selection, board-staff relations, compensation, training, and development are covered.

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    Management in the Nonprofit Sector (N525)

    An examination of nonprofit organizations and their role in society. Management issues and public policy affecting these organizations are discussed. Primary emphasis is upon U.S. organizations, but attention is given to the global nature of the sector.

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    International NGO Management (N534)

    This course takes an interdisciplinary, comparative perspective to achieve its primary goal: To help students engage in critical comparative analysis of the external environments in which NGOs function across different regions of the world in order to better “fit” internal organizational management processes to external constraints and opportunities.

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    Proposal Development and Grant Administration (N557)

    This course provides the opportunity for each student to develop a complete proposal through participation in the entire grant application process. The integration of case studies, visual media, printed materials, and class discussions provides students with practical knowledge for writing successful proposals.

    Download sample syllabus

    Fund Development for Nonprofits (N558)

    Important aspects of the fund raising process in nonprofit organizations are covered, including techniques and strategies for assessing potential sources of support; effective use of human resources; process management; theory to underlay practice; analysis of current practice; practice standards; and discussion of ethical problems.

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    Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs (P507)

    Focus on analytical models and their use in solving problems and making decisions in the public sector. Discussion of standard approaches to modeling and estimation of parameters.

    Download sample syllabus

    Benefit-Cost Analysis (P541)

    A course applying benefit-cost analysis to public and environmental policies. The first part of the course develops the foundation of benefit-cost analysis. The second part of the course consists of case studies applying benefit-cost analysis to actual policy decisions.

    Download sample syllabus

    Public Program Evaluation (P562)

    Examination of how the programs of public agencies are proposed, established, operated, and evaluated. Discussion of the role and conduct of research in the program evaluation process. In addition, techniques of effective evaluation and analysis are discussed.

    Download sample syllabus

    Public Policy Process (V512)

    An examination of the role of public affairs professionals in policy processes. Focuses on relationships with political actors in various policy areas.

    Communications for Public and Nonprofit Sectors (V550)

    This course is dedicated to strategic communications and public affairs. You will navigate the theoretical predicament of the human condition of communication and persuasion. You will be provided with readings that contain a breadth of examples of organizations who have achieved successes and failures with their target audiences. These readings will provide criteria for successful communication strategies, including press releases and analysis of contemporary communication channels. 

    Download sample syllabus

    Crisis Communication and Risk Management (V550)

    Global Governance in the 21st Century (V550)

    Global Governance in the 21st Century is designed to familiarize students with the processes by which governments, international organizations, NGOs and other non-state actors join hands to find solutions to these problems. Among other themes the course will focus on the historical evolution of global governance, theoretical and institutional foundations of global governance, the role of states, intergovernmental organizations, international laws and regimes, NGOs, and other non-state actors in global governance. 

    Download sample syllabus

    Global Security in the 21st Century (V550)

    This course exposes students to the dynamics of war or armed conflict as the primary threat to international security. Focus on non-traditional sources of insecurity such as terrorism, poverty, climate change, transnational criminal gangs, illegal arms trafficking, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Globalization has substantially neutralized the protections previously provided by geographical barriers against distant threats to the security of nations. Therefore, the course is expected to help students to gain strong appreciation for the intersection on national and international security in the 21st century.

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    Marketing Management for the Public and Nonprofit Sectors (V550)

    Marketing Management for Nonprofit Organizations has been structured in three parts. In the first students explore the concept of marketing and the extent to which it might be appropriate to the nonprofit context. The second stage of the course has been designed to reflect the structure of a typical marketing plan. Students study the information requirements for a plan and the range of methodologies that may be employed to capture this information. The course concludes with a consideration of a number of specific nonprofit contexts, such as; social marketing, arts marketing, fundraising, education and healthcare marketing.

    Download sample syllabus

    SPEA Connect Week (V550)

    SPEA Connect Week offers a client-based consulting opportunity. Students develop innovative solutions for issues unique to an organization. After completing this course, students will know how to work productively on a complex project as part of a diverse group, requiring students with very different backgrounds and skills to work together in a collaborative learning format. Students also improve and enhance project management skills and understand how to coordinate complex project elements and deliverables across multiple groups. Learn more about SPEA Connect Week

    US Foreign Policy & African Development (V550)

    The course will address diverse dimensions of US-African relations, with particular attention devoted to African Command (AFRICOM), the role of African countries in the US-led Global War on Terror (GWOT), and a major dilemma of US foreign policy toward Africa/the Global South. The course will pay particular attention to Washington’s political friendship (patron-client relations) with African regimes whose conducts are in conflict with American democratic ideals.

    Download sample syllabus

    Readings in Public Affairs (V580)

    Readings on selected topics in public affairs.

    Research in Public Affairs (V590)

    You’ll consult with a faculty member to create a research project related to your interests.