The Master of Arts in Policy Studies Program requires students to complete 36 credits: 18 in the core, 12 in specialization/elective, and six in internship or thesis courses.

Students choose one of three specializations:

  • agriculture and food – issues/policy affecting agriculture and food production and distribution
  • environment and sustainability – issues/policy relating to sustainability questions and the environment
  • development – issues/policy related to socio-economic development, both domestically and internationally

Required Core Courses (18 credits):

Specialization Electives (12 credits): Students, in consultation with their advisor, choose elective courses in their specialization as appropriate to their program and career interests. For the M.A. in Policy Studies, applicable graduate business courses are also available as electives.

Thesis or Internship (six credits): Working with faculty advisors, students will choose to complete either a thesis or an internship:

  • Thesis Option – Appropriate for those considering further graduate study, students will research and present on a topic selected in consultation with faculty and their committee. Thesis students will apply the research methods learned during the coursework.
  • Internship Option – Completion of a 200-hour (minimum) internship with a policy organization, including completion and presentation of a reflective paper demonstrating the transdisciplinarity of the program. Students choosing to work as interns in such an institution will, on the other hand, be encouraged to study the particular set of policy issues in depth while also keeping abreast of the day to day concerns of the particular institution. Both the thesis and the internship are detailed more fully in separate thesis and internship manuals.

Core Courses

GPS 6010 Introduction to Policy Studies
This course provides an overview of the study of public policy by exploring three different approaches to policy analysis: the behavioral, economic, and interpretive approaches. It surveys the topics central to the tasks of policy analysis: how problems are defined, how information is collected, how the relative costs and benefits of policy are assessed, how policy solutions are formulated and adopted, how government and the market succeed and fail, how analysis is utilized, and how ethics informs policy analysis. The course also emphasizes the three challenges to those who would analyze public policy: the challenge of partisanship, the challenge of uncertainty, and the challenge of pragmatism.

GPS 6020 Political Economy
This course is designed for students to become familiar with both the historical evolution of and ongoing developments in the international economy. Students will gain an understanding of the foundational concepts and theories of international political economy which focus on political-economic relations among international actors such as states, global corporations, and international organizations. We will center our discussions on state power and world markets analyzing the political causes and consequences of international economic policies and outcomes on societies.

GPS 6030 Policy Analysis
This course is an introductory exploration of policy analysis. It assumes that the student already has some familiarity with the basic concepts and terminology of public policy and public administration. This course will provide you with both rapid and more complex methods of public policy analysis. It will cover important considerations in the process of policy analysis such as identifying data sources and weighing the utility of data; establishing criteria for analyzing policies; assessing policy alternatives; choosing among policies; and monitoring policy implementation.

GPS 6040 American Politics
This course provides student with a broad overview of the nature of politics in the United States.  National, state, and local politics are covered, as are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  Special attention is paid to the bureaucracy, lobbyists, and interest groups and their effect on policy formation.

GPS 6051 Qualitative Research Methods
This graduate course in qualitative methods is designed to introduce students to the traditions and research design of qualitative methods in the social sciences, and to provide a foundation for understanding them. It presents opportunities to learn, hands-on, the primary techniques of the major data collection methods in qualitative methods. Students taking this course will design their own research project from conceptualization to the finished product and presentation. The project will require data to be collected using qualitative methods. 

GPS 6052 Quantitative Research Methods
This is a graduate course that focuses on applying existing quantitative methods to make informed managerial decisions.