Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Core Courses

Summer Core Courses

During the Summer Core, MPA students will take 14 units of required courses taken in person and taught on the Berkeley campus. This list is subject to change.

 PUB AFF 201: Public Policy Challenges

This course is designed to introduce mid-career professionals to three things:  a typology of “kinds of problems” that confront those leading organizations; a sampling of major problems confronting leaders in the next decades; and a sampling of solutions to problems confronting leaders. It introduces the rest of the Berkeley MPA summer core program with examples of the kinds of problems that modern leaders must confront and the kinds of solutions that must be devised. The course features at least one article or book by a GSPP faculty member in each session except the last.

 PUB AFF 215: Economics for Public Policy Makers

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the ways in which microeconomic analysis is brought to bear on public policy issues. You will learn (1) to identify the relevant economic questions concerning policy issues of interest to you, (2) to comprehend the economic arguments that bear on these issues, (3) to evaluate these arguments in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, and (4) when to utilize specific tools and methods from microeconomics to address the policy issues.

PUB AFF 225: Policy Communications 

The Goldman School equips students to speak truth to power. In this course, the goal is to focus on the art and science of persuasive oral communication in policy. This course equips students with the best practices of oral communication and provides them with a safe space to find their voice. We focus primarily on persuasion.

PUB AFF 235: Research Methods for Policy Leaders

This course presents an introduction overview of quantitative and qualitative research methods and an introduction to the research process in public policy decision‐making.

 PUB AFF 245: Inferential Statistics for Policy Makers

In this course, we are going to study the use of research methods, statistics, and probability theory in public decision making. We will begin with case studies of important public policy topics where key decisions depend on the interpretation of results from empirical research or on probabilistic assessments of the likelihood of various outcomes. We will then study the basics of probability theory, statistical sampling, hypothesis testing, and inferring causality.

PUB AFF 255: Risk and Decision Models

This course examines mathematical models useful in policy analysis and management through a series of exercises and hands-on experimentation. It assumes knowledge of basic economics and introductory statistics. 

 PUB AFF 265: Financial Management and Budgeting

This course discusses methods for making organizations perform with an emphasis on managerial and financial accounting. Procurement, quality assurance, and performance evaluations of employees are also discussed. Managerial accounting is a set of tools used by managers for planning, implementation, and control. Financial accounting is a set of tools used by managers and outside observers for reporting on and analyzing an organization’s financial health.

 PUB AFF 283: Leading People and Organizations

This course is designed to help students develop their skills for leading and managing large groups, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and public advocacy, with the goal of achieving positive social change. Materials include case studies, analyses, and works from several disciplines. This course will provide higher-level topics of leadership strategy, visionary management, and professional communication styles. It will examine specific tools useful to be effective in the public sector and will explore techniques of negotiation that increasingly occupy the time of more prominent and influential public leaders.

 PUB AFF 285: Ethical Issues for Policy Leaders

The objective of this course is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of ethical arguments in the process and substance of policymaking. Those who seek to govern well inescapably confront questions of value in their political, professional and personal choices. The discussion of ethical dilemmas is designed to provoke analytic reflection on the moral challenges and responsibilities for public policymaking in a democracy. The focus is on the many and often competing obligations, commitments and values that should guide public actors, as well as on the public principles that guide the design of good public policy.

 PUB AFF 287: Strategy, Innovation and Leadership in Public Organization

This course focuses on creating and implementing change within public organizations through the application of strategic planning, innovation and leadership. We will discuss where new ideas come from and how they can be generated, evaluated and implemented. The methods developed in other parts of the summer curriculum become the support for proving that new ideas are good ideas (or for finding out that they are bad ideas). We will explore how each method can be useful to a leader (both formal and informal) at various levels within a public organization through case studies and real world examples. The course will introduce leadership themes which will be explored further in PUB AFF 283: Leading People and Organizations.

Fall Semester Core

PUB AFF 202: Policy Analysis Toolkit

Offered online or on campus
This course will equip students to utilize a powerful, eight-step method for analyzing public policy problems and formulating recommendations for addressing them. Students will examine specific policy examples and learn to apply this method to the social challenges they wish to concentrate on in their own work.

Spring Semester Core

PUB AFF 207: The Capstone

Offered online or on campus
The Capstone Project will require that each student conduct a thorough analysis of a major policy question facing a real world organization, applying the interdisciplinary methods, approaches, and perspectives studied in the MPA Core courses.