MPA/ID Student

Electives and Policy Tracks

The goal of the second year of the MPA/ID is to broaden the students' knowledge in the field and to deepen their understanding of a major area of development practice. Students choose their six electives from the broad array of courses available at HKS or through cross-registration with other graduate schools at Harvard University or MIT. They apply the theoretical and empirical tools learned in their first-year core courses to a policy area which they have chosen based on their professional and career interests.

National and International Economic Policies

Students interested in careers in this area should focus on courses on macroeconomic policies, international trade and finance, financial sector policies, and public finance (taxation and public expenditures) with an eye to also deepening knowledge in the institutional, political, and administrative aspects of policy reform.

Sectoral Policies and Programs

Students interested in this area should keep in mind two aims in choosing their courses:

  1. Developing the general public sector management skills that are relevant across a range of sectors
  2. Deepening their knowledge of specific sectors of interest such as:
    • Sustainable development
    • Social policy (including poverty, health, education, and community development)
    • Global governance, conflict and human rights
    • Science, technology and development

Private Sector Development and Its Regulation

Students in this area should focus on courses in finance and financial policies, the regulatory environment (including privatization), competitiveness and industrial policies, and policy related skills such as leadership and negotiation.

Additional Electives

Additional electives may be chosen from the broad array of courses available at HKS or through cross-registration with other graduate schools at Harvard University or MIT.

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Faculty Feature

Professor Michael Woolcock

Michael Woolcock, in a new paper, explores how we define and approach 'failed states'. He writes, "First, on what defensible basis is any given country, at any given historical moment, deemed to be (or not to be) ‘fragile’? Second, if a defining characteristic of state fragility is low levels of capability to implement core responsibilities, how can international agencies best support domestic public organizations to acquire capability?" Read more of "Engaging with Fragile and Conflict-Affected States" on the HKS Faculty Working Papers website.

Professor Michael Woolcock is Lead Social Development Specialist with the World Bank's Development Research Group in Washington, D.C. He teaches the elective PED-308, Social Institutions and Economic Development.

Faculty Feature

Professor Ricardo Hausmann

“In developing countries, economic progress requires absorbing and adapting technology that exists in other places, which necessitates engaging with those that have it. By characterizing these interactions as pure exploitation, rather than as value-creating opportunities, the Open Veins mentality has been a real drain on the possibilities of so many in Latin America and elsewhere,” writes Ricardo Hausmann in a recent New Dawn article, The Open Drains of Latin America.

Ricardo Hausmann is Professor of the Practice of Economic Development and Director of Harvard's Center for International Development, the intellectual home of the MPA/ID Program. He teaches the popular elective PED-309: Development Policy Strategy.