MPA/ID Student

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 Andrews, Campante, Frankel, Khwaja, Pande, Pritchett, 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 course on economic development provides 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 faculty and outside the school. Case studies and seminar topics include such diverse issues as economic growth, the management of financial crises, microfinance, education, child labor, trade policy, AIDS in Africa, pension reform, managing common property resources, and the design of decentralization.

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

Faculty Highlight

Image of Rohini Pande

Professor Rohini Pande is an economist and Co- Director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD). Her research examines how the design of democratic institutions and government regulation affects policy outcomes and citizen well-being, especially in South Asia. Her work emphasizes the use of real-world evidence to test economic models, often through large-scale field experiments in developing countries.

Professor Pande co-teaches MPA/ID core course PED-101 Economic Development: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Design.

Faculty Highlight

Professor Filipe Campante

“The up-and-coming folks (in Brazil) are now starting to pay more taxes, have come to expect more for them, and also realize that the public services they get are indeed horrible,” Filipe Campante, a professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and a Rio native, stated in the recent New Yorker article, “Middle Class Militants.” He teaches an MPA/ID core macroeconomics course, API-119; his research has focused on corruption, governance, polarization, fiscal policy, and political instability.