MPA/ID candidate Lucila Arboleya

Core Courses

The MPA/ID Program requires two years (four terms) of full-time study at HKS. The first year is dedicated to courses especially designed for this program, which introduce students to the main economic, quantitative, political, and managerial tools needed by analysts and leaders in the area of development. A chronological listing of the MPA/ID core courses and degree requirements is available from the Office of the Registrar.

MPA/ID core courses are taught by our top professors. In the first year, MPA/ID students can expect to be taught by an experienced team including professors AbadieCampante, Frankel, Khwaja, LevyPande, Pritchett, Rodrik, and Walton. The rigorous core of required courses includes the following course sequences:

  • The microeconomic analysis sequence covers consumer and producer theory, risk and behavior under uncertainty, general equilibrium, game theory, welfare economics, and economics of information.
  • The macroeconomics sequence presents growth theory, intergenerational models, consumption, savings and investment, models of short-run fluctuations, monetary and exchange rate policy in the small open economy, and theories of financial crises.
  • The quantitative methods sequence introduces students to the tools of quantitative and statistical reasoning used to address policy problems, including optimization, probability theory, experimental design, the linear statistical model and its extensions, and econometric specification and testing.
  • The courses on economic development provide a graduate-level overview of the theory of and evidence on economic development from a policy-oriented perspective, covering topics like economic convergence and patterns of development, productivity and technological change, poverty and inequality, health and education, demography, industrialization, international integration, and recent economic history.
  • The institutions in development course explores the effect of institutions on economic development, drawing on theoretical and empirical insights from a variety of disciplines. The course focuses particular attention on the provision of basic public goods such as sanitation, law and order, and the maintenance of natural resources.
  • The course on management in a development context introduces students to critical concepts in organization theory, public management, and the practice of development to enable them to understand the individual, structural, and systemic underpinnings of good management and governance.
  • MPA/ID students are required to take a course in either good governance or democratization (the list of approved courses that satisfy this requirement varies depending on course offerings). The good governance courses cover the theories, conceptual tools, and comparative methods useful for understanding the principles and problems of good governance. The courses on democratization examine the evolution of democracies in different countries over extended periods of time, focusing on the conditions under which democracies have expanded or contracted.

The course on applications and cases has two objectives: to illustrate the application of concepts and techniques learned in other MPA/ID core courses and to introduce the variety of issues and challenges facing low- and middle-income countries. In the context of case studies drawn from a range of countries and sectors, each week will involve both a specific application of a case and a visiting speaker from the worlds of ideas and practice in development, drawing both from Harvard faculty and outside the university. Case studies and seminar topics include such diverse issues as growth diagnostics, the management of financial crises, climate change, education, gender issues, trade policy, pension reform, managing common property resources, and the design of decentralization.

These complementary courses enable students to combine high-level economic and empirical analysis with a sophisticated understanding of institutional realities and possibilities.

Faculty Highlight

Jeff Frankel

“Discussions in Beijing between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping – the leaders of the world’s two largest carbon-emitting countries – produced an unexpected, groundbreaking bilateral agreement on greenhouse-gas emissions,“ writes Jeff Frankel in a new piece on Project Syndicate. “A loose system of individual commitments, in which each country unilaterally sets emissions targets, can help build trust and momentum for a more inclusive successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which many hope will be forged at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. But if such a system is to work, general agreement would need to exist about what constitutes a fair target for each country. Then advocacy groups and researchers could compile scorecards that would show which countries are meeting the standard – and shame those that are not.” Emissions Reduction by the Numbers, November 14, 2014.

Jeffrey A. Frankel is James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth. He served as a Council of Economic Advisers Member in the Clinton Administration, where his responsibilities included international economics, macroeconomics, and the environment.  Professor Frankel teaches the MPA/ID core course API-120 Advanced Macroeconomics for the Open Economy I.

Faculty Highlight

Professor Filipe Campante

In a Faculty Working Paper titled "Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan," Felipe Campante and David Yanagizawa-Drott, professors of public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School, conclude, "[Evidence] suggests that SWB [subjective well being] increased not only due to possible direct benefits of the practices itself (socialization, time devoted to prayer and reflection, time spent with family and friends), but also to a reduced focus on the material and monetary aspects in life and work. In light of such a possibility, it may not be that puzzling that longer Ramadan fasting makes people 'poorer, but happier'.”

Professor Campante teaches an MPA/ID core macroeconomics course, API-119: Advanced Macroeconomics for an Open Economy II; his research has focused on corruption, governance, polarization, fiscal policy, and political instability.

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