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 Campante, 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

Rohini Pande

Making Microfinance More Effective

“For the 2.5 billion people who live on less than $2 per day, shocks such as illness, crop failures, livestock deaths, farming-equipment breakdowns and even wedding or funeral expenses can be enough to tip them, their families, or even an entire community below the poverty line. A major challenge for international development efforts is determining which financial tools provide durable buffers against such setbacks,” writes Rohini Pande with Dean Karlan, Rebecca Mann, Jake Kendall, Tavneet Suri and Jonathan Zinman in Harvard Business Review

Rohini Pande is the Mohammed Kamal Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. She co-directs the Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) Initiative at CID and co-teaches the MPA/ID core course PED-101  Economic Development: Theory and Evidence (with Dani Rodrik).


Faculty Highlight

Matt Andrews

Doing Development Differently (DDD)

 “In many developing countries the capability of the state to implement its policies and programs is a key constraint to improving human development. Many reform initiatives fail to achieve sustained improvements in performance because organizations pretend to reform by changing what policies and organizational structures look like rather than what they actually do.

To escape the trap of stagnant capability and increasing frustration, new conceptual models of state capability that go beyond the transplantation of the 19th century Weberian state are required. The BSC team is exploring the potential of a new Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach.”

Originally from South Africa, Matt Andrews teaches the MPA/ID core course MLD-102-A Getting Things Done: Management in a Development Context which builds on the work of the Building State Capability project at CIDHis research focuses on public sector reform, particularly budgeting and financial management reform, and participatory governance in developing and transitional governments.

His book Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action co-written with Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock was published in February 2017 and is available for free download under the Creative Commons license. 

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