Course Curriculum

NEC’s curriculum provides a way for students to achieve their cherished lifelong learning goals.

The Masters of Arts in Public Policy – online program consists of ten courses for a total of 36 credit hours. It is possible to complete the program in less than two years. You will take two online, seven-week courses per semester, focusing on one course at a time. Below is a listing of the core courses and the capstone project:

Origins of American Democracy - 4 credits
This course will investigate the intellectual and practical beginnings of democracy in America. It will analyze the bedrock documents that guide our government, and examine the history of electoral politics in the United States.

Class, Poverty and Race in America - 4 credits This course is a study of the persistent issues of class, poverty and race in America and how they compromise the pursuit of the “American Dream” of equality and opportunity. The “War on Poverty,” the Civil Rights Movement, welfare reform and educational inequalities will be examined.

Economic Analysis - 4 credits
This course is an analysis of economic phenomena (prices, taxation, market values) from the perspectives of economic institutions (government, markets) and the decisions that they make. Topics covered will include the role of government and markets in advancing the public good, effects and limitations of government economic policies, and analysis of the effects of economic decisions on the institution and the public.

Environmental Politics and Policy - 4 credits
This course will address the following questions: Are we facing an unprecedented environmental crisis or are environmental problems exaggerated? Has political discourse helped to shape sound environmental policies in the public interest or mainly served as an arena for a battle of special interests? What has been the role of environmental organizations and other institutions in environmental politics? What environmental issues are most likely to receive more attention in political debate and how might this debate unfold?

America and the World - 4 credits
Now, more than any other time in our history, policy decisions made by the United States cast an enormous shadow around the world. This course will look at the impact and perception of American policy abroad. Among the topics examined will be unilateralism versus multilateralism, American attitudes toward the UN, the recent loss of American prestige and power abroad, soft power versus hard power, and rising challenges to American power.

Public Policy Analysis - 4 credits
This course covers the analytical basis of how public policy decisions are analyzed, including planning, forecasting, cost-benefit analysis, political analysis, and impact assessment on individuals and groups. Case studies of policy formulation and implementation in the United States regarding current public policy issues will be discussed and analyzed.

Governmental Policy Makers - 4 credits
The framers of the U.S. Constitution designed a government in which all three branches – legislative, executive, and judicial – play indispensable roles in the formulation of public policy. This course will examine the way in which this complex institution fulfills its essential role, both in design and in practice. This course will explore current issues and trends in the operation of government from the perspective of its original design and its evolution since 1787. Students will have the opportunity to consider the purpose of government as well as the relationship between seats of power within the federal system and the people from whom their authority is theoretically derived. The course will focus on the differences between the theory of government operation and its practice and the motivations and concerns that have driven the organization of government, from the ratification of the Constitution to the present day. This course will also examine the growing role of the executive branch, not only in implementing the policies enacted by Congress, but also in setting the policy agenda for the nation. Institutional tensions between the executive and legislative branches will be studied, as well as key events and decisions that have further defined the power of the Judiciary. By the end of the course, students should have acquired increased perspective on how the design for making policy for the United States has endured, and how the relationship between the government and its people has evolved within that original framework.

Campaigns and Elections - 4 credits
This course is a study of the election process, including the positioning of candidates, interaction with the media, campaign finance and law, party politics, and building a voter base of support. Students will manage a hypothetical campaign from its inception to a mock election. Guest presentations by successful candidates and campaign managers will be a central focus of the course.

Research Methods - 2 credits
This course will provide an overview of graduate level research for the capstone project in both the Master of Science in Management and the Master of Arts in Public Policy. Students will learn about the various methods of research in the discipline, research design, and proper formatting and writing of formal papers. Specific focus will be placed on topic development, developing a research outline, conducting a literature review, constructing an annotated bibliography, and proper citation styles that make use of the Chicago Manual of Style (for MAPP students) and the APA style (for MSM students). This course will provide all students with the tools to do research and will also prepare them for the final capstone project to be developed in the subsequent Strategic Capstone course.

Strategic Capstone - 2 credits
The Strategic Capstone has two main components: a research phase and a final project report and presentation phase. Students draft their problem statements and research ideas during a research methods course, and then produce the research, arguments and solutions that will be used to approach solving the problem. Each student will undertake a major investigation of a real and substantial challenge that exists either in the workplace or as a matter of public policy. The project may be related to the student’s own experience or in a field in which the student hopes to secure employment. Developed in a problem-and-solution format, the student is expected to use extensive research into best practices and associated methodologies. The product of this work is a comprehensive written plan for implementing the solution. The report is also submitted as a PowerPoint presentation with accompanying notes, demonstrating the student’s ability to convey the significance and the results of research and planning to key stakeholders in the problem-solution set that the student has investigated.