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As a complement to the MPP core curriculum, students are required to specialize in a Policy Area of Concentration (PAC) or a Concentration. Students are encouraged to explore different areas that interest them and ultimately asked to choose one area in which to specialize. MPP candidates develop expertise in their area of choice through a variety of required and elective courses and through a policy-oriented seminar which culminates in the Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE). This exercise asks students to examine an existing public or nonprofit sector problem presented by a real-life client organization
Students in most PACs and Concentrations will declare their interest in the fall of their final year when electing their PAE seminar. However, students electing the Concentration in International and Global Affairs (IGA) or Social and Urban Policy (SUP) are encouraged to declare their Concentration early due to the more extensive set of requirements (see below for more detail).
Concurrent degree students fulfill a reduced set of coursework requirements for their chosen PAC/Concentration, but must complete a PAE to obtain an MPP degree. Joint degree students with Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School will complete a program-specific joint seminar and a capstone exercise.
Following are the areas in which MPP students can specialize:
Courses in BGP examine the organizational relationship between business and government, how they seek to influence one another, how governmental policies influence the decisions of firms and industries and vice-versa, and economic issues in an increasingly integrated global economy.
Courses in DPI focus on the conduct and institutions of politics as well as governance in the United States and elsewhere. These courses cover topics such as: the workings of the presidency and Congress; the role of the media; the nature of political life in different regions of the world; and the political, historical, and normative analysis of policy issues.
The IGA concentration provides intensive training to students preparing for careers addressing international and global challenges and governance, including international security, human rights, energy security, environment and resource systems, public health, and information systems.
Courses in ITF focus on macroeconomic policy-making by analyzing the economics, law, and politics of financial markets, international monetary economics, international trade policy, and other topics such as capital mobility, financial crises and choice of exchange rate regimes.
Courses in PED focus on the political economy surrounding major policies for economic and social development, examining issues such as how political analysis can improve policy analysis; how political relationships and bureaucratic influences shape policy decision making and the allocation of public resources; the design and implementation of public finance; and the determinants of growth, volatility, and inequality.
The SUP concentration draws together a set of policy domains—health, education, labor, poverty, crime, housing, urban land-use planning, and urban economic development—that share a common concern with promoting a sustainable and improving level of well-being for all members of society, and especially for those vulnerable children, elderly and adults who live at society’s margin. A particular focus of this concentration is policy-making and governance in urban areas since cities concentrate both opportunities for prosperity and challenges of sustainability and social inclusion.