Core Curriculum

Build from a solid base

No matter what specific area of focus you choose (of which the possibilities are nearly endless), your MPA degree will rest on a broad, firm foundation—a group of 10 core courses comprising 24 credit hours. These core curriculum courses will help prepare you as a leader in your field, with an impressive toolkit of analytical and project management skills. You’ll also gain a firm understanding of the public policy process in both U.S. and international contexts, the management of public and other institutions, and the social equity implications of public policy decisions.

Core curriculum

The O’Neill School MPA curriculum prepares future leaders to face vexing societal challenges. The foundational core addresses universal topics of social equity, climate change, ethical responsibilities, racial injustice, and diversity. Through these courses, you’ll learn leadership-focused, applicable skills needed to put knowledge into action.

Curriculum highlights:

  • Emphasis on data- and evidence-based problem solving, decision-making and policy-making
  • Course-level focus on social equity and justice
  • Leadership and project management courses and training workshops
  • Wide array of diversity in all courses across authors, readings, case studies, session topics, and guest speakers
  • Capstone project with the option for an immersive international experience working with global clients in their home country
  • A choice between an international or a domestic context on public institutions, or both
  • The necessary economics, law, budgeting, and finance skills needed for professional success

“Choosing the O'Neill School for a grad certificate and MPA was the best professional decision I've ever made. The coursework was incredibly relevant, and the faculty are top tier. There's a reason it is so highly ranked.”

Elizabeth Crist Darby, MPA’15
Director of Organizational and Vendor Management, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration


Knowledge with transferable skills

The fundamental skills you'll develop through your MPA core are transferable—not just to positions in public affairs or public policy, but among a wide variety of professional fields.

MPA core courses (24 credits):

  • Managing and Leading Public Affairs (3 credits)
  • Social Equity and Justice (1.5 credits)
  • Designing and Managing Complex Projects (1.5 credits)
  • Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (3 credits)
  • Evidence-based Decision Making (1.5 credits)
  • Public Management Economics (3 credits)
  • Rights and Responsibilities: How Law Shapes Public Affairs (1.5 credits)
  • Public Policy Process (3 credits)*
  • Comparative and International Policy Process (3 credits)*
  • Public Finance and Budgeting (3 credits)
  • U.S. or Global Capstone (3 credits)

*Students can choose to take Public Policy Process or Comparative and International Policy Process