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To succeed in the world of public policy, students need a solid underpinning of analytical and professional skills. Duke ensures our students are well prepared with the following core curriculum:

Microeconomic Analysis
(2 semesters)

The economics sequence deals with individual and policy choices in a world of scarcity. The first semester of the sequence introduces topics such as household consumption and production, the economics of information, risk and uncertainty, markets and market structure, behavioral economics, game theory, externalities and other types of market failure, and welfare economics. The second semester extends the analysis of market failure and introduces the economics of the public sector, regulation, non-market decision making, quantitative methods and microeconomic theory for analysis of economic policy, including cases and examples of cost-benefit analysis, public sector pricing, public utility regulation, pollution regulation and product safety regulation.

MPP or MPA Degree? In recent years, the MPA and MPP core curricular look increasingly similar. Generally, the MPA core curriculum emphasizes public organization, management and budgeting. The MPP often includes economics and quantitative courses, with policy analysis at the heart of its curriculum. But there are many exceptions to this general rule. Our advice is to carefully examine each program.

Political Analysis OR Globalization and Governance

The political analysis course explores the role of legislatures, interest groups, chief executives, and the bureaucracy in defining alternatives and in shaping policy from agenda formulation through policy implementation.

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The globalization and governance course focuses on the blurring of lines between the “international” and the “domestic,” and the increasing interconnectedness of nation-states and their peoples across a range of economic, political, security, societal and cultural issues. The course seeks to help students develop an analytic framework and historical context for understanding globalization and governance; understand core concepts, major political institutions, and political dynamics; and delve into some of the major policy debates.

Data Analysis, Statistics and Evaluation
(2 semesters)

The two-course sequence is intended to make students critical consumers and effective producers of statistical evidence presented in support of policy arguments. The first course devotes significant time to fundamental building blocks of statistics, including basic probability, inference, and hypothesis testing, which, in turn, support the study of multiple regression. Students learn to manipulate large databases, conduct sensitivity analysis, and present results. The second course presents experimental and nonexperimental methods for evaluating the effect of public programs, including topics in experimental design, regression analysis, and simulation.

Ethical Analysis

The course examines the historical and philosophical roots of normative concepts in politics, liberty, justice, and the public interest, their relationships to one another and to the American political tradition, and their implications for domestic and international problems.

Professor Kristin Goss

Policy Analysis
(2 semesters)

The two-course sequence emphasizes identifying pragmatic solutions to contemporary policy problems in a variety of settings and case studies. Teamwork, writing, professional development, and presentation skills are emphasized.

Management and Leadership
(2 semesters)

To satisfy this requirement, students may enroll in public policy management courses such as Public Management, Principles of Leadership, Public Budgeting, Foundations Strategy & Impact, or Negotiations. Management and leadership courses offered outside of the Sanford School at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke Law School, or UNC–Chapel Hill also may be accepted.

See our curriculum requirements by semester.