Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Master of Public Affairs

Policy Analysis


Preparation for a career in public affairs requires a sound grounding in policy analysis. All La Follette students receive instruction in the basic tools of policy analysis through the core courses. Students wishing to focus on policy analysis skills can take up to three advanced analysis electives: Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy, Benefit-Cost Analysis, and Public Program Evaluation. Other electives depend on whether the student is interested in developing general policy analysis skills (e.g., taking additional statistics courses) or analysis skills in a particular policy area (e.g., in educational policy).

Public/Nonprofit Management and Administration


Whether working in international affairs, any level of domestic government, or with the non-profit or private sector, a graduate of a public affairs school must have a strong grounding in management and administration. To focus on management, students can choose three or more courses from La Follette management courses and courses from other departments to focus on public management and administration. All Master of Public Affairs (MPA) students are required to take Public Management. In addition, students may select from the following public management electives: Public Budgeting, Nonprofit Leadership, Advanced Public Management, Performance Management, and Public Personnel Administration. Students can choose other electives such as negotiation, administrative law, and human resource management from the Business and Law schools.

Public Finance and Budgeting


The progressive income tax, unemployment compensation, and the Social Security System all had their roots in the work of University of Wisconsin faculty. This commitment to the development and analysis of public finance policies continues today at the La Follette School. La Follette School faculty are conducting research on a wide range of topics related to public finance and budgeting. These include public program evaluation, intergovernmental fiscal relations, and education finance. Students who concentrate in public finance and budgeting devise a course plan that consists of La Follette School electives and related courses from other graduate departments of the university, including Economics, Law, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Urban and Regional Planning, Consumer Science, Political Science, and the Business School.

Health Policy and Management


Regularly scheduled courses at La Follette and across the campus cover a breadth of health policy areas from perspectives that include public policy, economics, epidemiology, health services, safety, and ethics. Faculty who engage in health policy research advise students on electives to take that meet their interests. Students with health policy interests can consider pursuing the MPA/Master of Public Health dual degree. Wisconsin serves as an exciting laboratory for health policy, which means La Follette students have access to quality internships and jobs in this area. It is one of four states that offer low-income health insurance to all family members (BadgerCare); it is an innovator in offering health insurance to state employees; it has a health cooperative that attempts to coordinate health care for private firms; and it has a pool for high-risk individuals. There are many opportunities for students to attend focused events on campus each semester.

Homeland Security and Defense


This field offers a range of courses for students interested in studying homeland security, defense, foreign policy, intelligence, and international relations with a security focus. The policy area is especially relevant for students who seek to work in these areas for the U.S. government or for international agencies. The mix of courses reflects the different aspects of this topic — students can focus on the history, philosophy, and strategies of armed conflict; the politics of foreign policy; the role of international organizations; the experience of individuals amid conflict; and the causes of threats to international and homeland security. Students are also encouraged to consider the specific regional context in which security issues occur by taking courses that look at specific regional issues and by improving foreign language skills through one of the more than 80 internationally renowned language programs at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Energy and Environmental Policy


Since Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson inaugurated the first Earth Day in 1970, the environment has remained one of the most important and controversial arenas of public policy. More recently, heightened concern about the availability of energy resources and their environmental impacts has increased demand for leaders and analysts who can navigate the political, economic, scientific, and technological dimensions of these issues to inform critical policy decisions. In partnership with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the La Follette School offers students numerous opportunities to learn about and become active in energy and environmental policy. MPA students pursuing a policy focus in energy and environmental policy take advantage of the Nelson Institute, a recognized global leader in interdisciplinary study of environmental issues. Within the Nelson Institute, the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment pursues scientific and social scientific research on global environmental degradation and change. Students interested in energy and environmental policy pursue one of three options:
• the MPA with the selection of energy and environmental electives
• the MPA and simultaneously take six courses for the energy analysis and policy certificate through the Nelson Institute
• The MPA and a Master of Science from the Nelson Institute

Social and Poverty Policy


At the University of Wisconsin-–Madison, social and poverty policy issues have been prominent fields of research and instruction for decades, especially since the founding of the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the university in 1966. Part of the War on Poverty, IRP was funded by the federal government to support basic research on the nature and causes of poverty and on strategies and policies to reduce poverty. Since then, IRP has received a federal core grant to support these activities that has contributed to the hiring of numerous faculty members in a variety of social sciences disciplines who place social and poverty policy issues at the core of their interests. La Follette students with an interest in careers in social and poverty policy can choose their electives from public affairs, the School of Social Work, and the departments of Economics, Consumer Science, and Political Science.

Education Policy


At the University of Wisconsin—Madison, education policy issues have been a prominent field of research and instruction for decades. The La Follette School has built upon this strong social science base, offering numerous opportunities for students to take courses in this area and to engage in research with faculty members studying education policy. La Follette School students with an interest in careers in education policy can choose their electives from many courses at the La Follette School and through other departments, including Economics, Social Work, Educational Policy Studies, and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. A thoughtful selection of these courses provides students with broad knowledge in this area.

City Management and Urban Policy


The effective governance of communities requires meeting a variety of policy and management challenges, and promises the rewards and satisfactions of problem-solving with neighbors and friends. Students interested in pursuing city management and urban policy analysis work with faculty in the La Follette School and in other programs such as the Law School, IRP and the departments of Urban and Regional Planning, Sociology, and Geography. Students interested in city management and urban policy can focus on a policy area within their MPA program at the La Follette School. They also can pursue a dual degree with the Law School or a double degree with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Students can also pursue a certificate in Transportation Management and Policy.

Master of International Public Affairs

Trade and Finance


Students who focus on trade and finance look at questions that include why nations trade, the consequences of trade, and the determinants of trade patterns. Newly prominent issues include the role of bilateral and regional trade agreements and international institutions in the world economy. Students in trade and finance study critical issues in regulation, including the stability of the international financial system, the ability of the global economy to accommodate potentially disruptive adjustments in current account balances, the role of central banks and exchange rate regimes, determination of balance of payments and exchange rates, policy coordination, and financial crises. Students of international trade and finance prepare themselves for a wide range of careers in government agencies, international organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, and multinational businesses.

International Development


By some standard definitions, fewer than a dozen countries would be counted outside the developing world. What is the appropriate role for the state, the indigenous private sector, international trade, and foreign aid in promoting economic growth and the prosperity of ordinary citizens in developing countries? This core question of international development has changed little since 2004. At the same time, the global context has produced new perspectives and greater efforts at coordination to address these issues among multinational businesses, international lending agencies, and governments of developed and developing countries. In the post-Cold War era, the problem of corruption has been more openly acknowledged as an obstacle to development. More recently, problems of development have also been viewed through the prism of global security. Key issues for students of international public affairs are the design and practical implementation of appropriate governance structures and economic incentive structures to realize development goals. Students look at these topics in core courses and electives taken at the La Follette School and other University of Wisconsin–Madison departments.

Energy and Environmental Policy


Environmental protection is one of the most intensive and extensive arenas of international regulatory cooperation, encompassing issues from cross-border disputes over shared waterways to multilateral frameworks for managing climate change, ozone depletion, and biodiversity. Heightened concern about the availability of energy resources and their environmental impacts has increased demand for leaders and analysts who can navigate the political, economic, scientific, and technological dimensions of these issues to inform critical policy decisions in a multinational context. Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA) students can take advantage of the university's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, a recognized global leader in interdisciplinary study of environmental issues. Within the Nelson Institute, the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment pursues scientific and social scientific research on global environmental degradation and change. Students interested in energy and environmental policy pursue one of three options:
• the MIPA with the energy and environmental focus for which they choose three or more energy and environment elective courses
• the MIPA and take six courses for the energy analysis and policy certificate through the Nelson Institute
• pursue a double degree:, the MIPA and an master of science from the Nelson Institute

Homeland Security and Defense


This focus takes advantage of courses in homeland security, defense, foreign policy, intelligence, and international relations from the Department of Political Science and from across the University. The policy area is especially relevant for students who seek to work in these areas for the U.S. government or for international agencies. The mix of courses reflects the different aspects of this topic — students can focus on the history, philosophy, and strategies of armed conflict; the politics of foreign policy; the role of international organizations; the experience of individuals amid conflict; and the causes of threats to international and homeland security. Students are also encouraged to consider the specific regional context in which security issues occur by taking courses that look at specific regional issues and by improving foreign language skills through one of the more than 80 internationally renowned language programs at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Regional Policy Areas


In place of a policy field, students can choose to focus their electives in a specific regional area. Students can take economic development, political science, language, and other courses in these areas: Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, East Asia, Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia. MIPA students who focus on a regional area are highly encouraged to continue their language studies as part of their graduate program.