The Master of Public Administration degree program consists of 40 credit hours: 32 hours of core courses (7 courses total) plus 12 semester hours (SH) of electives (8 semester hours if an internship is taken for credit). Full-time students can complete the requirements for graduation in as little as 1.5 years. The optional cooperative education experience adds six months of work experience and a two credit-hour course for a total of 42 credit hours.

All core classes are available online or offline, and students are welcome to move between modalities. Both the online and on-campus courses reflect Northeastern’s high standards for excellence and offer a dynamic, interactive experience. All online courses are asynchronous, so that students can complete coursework on their own schedules, but all work must be completed by specified deadlines each week.

Students can also opt to add a graduate certificate, which is usually completed by choosing relevant electives. The MPA program includes certificates in the following areas:

  • Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy, and Social Change
  • Urban Analytics
  • Urban Studies
  • Data Analytics
  • Information Ethics
  • Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Security and Resilience Studies
  • Public Policy Analysis

See our certificates page for details.


Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Co-op is a signature of Northeastern’s MPA program. This optional experience allows students to take on full-time employment (minimum 32 hours/week) in a role related to public administration.

Northeastern partners with local organizations in Boston, national partners, and global employers to help students find placements. Throughout the co-op program, MPA faculty and staff are on hand to mentor students on their work experience.

The two co-op cycles run from January-June or July-December. Students must also take a required online integration course. Electing to participate in the co-op program adds two semester hours to the degree, increasing the total hours required to complete the degree to 42.


Internship

Students are required to take an internship for 4 hours of course credit. However, students can waive this requirement if they have substantial experience or are fully employed in positions relevant to their careers.


Optional Healthcare Management and Policy Concentration

This concentration builds in-depth knowledge of health policy and health-sector management for students seeking careers in public health, community health, hospital administration, health-service management, healthcare policy development, and more. The concentration comprises three courses: one in health management, one in health policy, and a health elective. View our healthcare management and policy course options.


Master of Public Administration Course Descriptions

CORE COURSES

Quantitative Techniques

Studies the use of social science quantitative techniques, emphasizing applications of value to public-sector analysts and scholars alike. Introduces probability and statistical analysis. Topics include measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, sampling distributions and hypothesis testing, bivariate correlation, regression, and forecasting. Examines how to generate and interpret statistical analyses.

Analysis

Provides a systematic approach to understanding the origins, formulation, implementation, and impact of government outputs. Reviews key analytical concepts and competing theoretical perspectives. Considers both the political dimensions of public policymaking and the technical aspects of program design within the natural history of the policymaking process. Draws on case materials from a spectrum of policy areas.
Introduces the fundamentals of macroeconomics and microeconomics as well as the role of key economic institutions, such as the Federal Reserve. Includes analysis of government’s role in a market economy and introduces methods of economic analysis.

Administration and Management

Introduces students to concepts and approaches to analyzing significant factors and relationships in government agencies and public-oriented nongovernmental organizations as they function in their environments. Examines the legal and constitutional foundations of public administration, bureaucratic structure and administrative power, managerial accountability and ethics, human resource management, economics of organization, decision making, budgeting, implementation and “street-level” bureaucrats, and more recent developments in public administration such as performance management and public management networks.
Surveys governmental budgeting at the federal, state, and local levels. Surveys major revenue sources and expenditure responsibilities. Discusses budgetary processes and politics, as well as resulting policies. Considers both proposed and implemented reforms. Also introduces financial management practices including cash management, fund accounting, debt financing, endowment spending and control, cost allocation procedures, and tax expenditures.
Examines the problems and techniques relevant to effective management of a public agency in a complicated and often turbulent political environment. Topics include legislative relations, media relations, role of the courts, unions and advocacy groups, policy implementation and evaluation, and setting and working with high standards of integrity.
Offers an opportunity for student teams, in partnership with a local, state, or federal agency or nonprofit institution, to assess an urban or regional problem, produce a thorough policy analysis, and present it and recommended solutions to the agency or institution. Course readings focus on materials needed to assess the problem and provide solutions. This is a faculty-guided team project for students completing course work in urban and regional policy studies. May be repeated without limit.

ELECTIVES

MPA students have 12 SH in free electives, which can be applied to earning one of several graduate certificates, concentrated in a particular focus area, or selected as desired from a broad array of courses offered by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, other graduate programs in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and most other graduate level programs at Northeastern University. The selection of electives is done in consultation with the student’s advisor.

Students who complete an internship for credit will take 8 semester hours of elective credits.

OPTIONAL CO-OP EXPERIENCE

Provides eligible students with an opportunity for work experience. May be repeated without limit. Learn more about the co-op program in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Offers an integration course providing an opportunity for students on experiential placement to connect conceptual course material to experiential components. Students are expected to: interact with students from other disciplines, apply knowledge and skills across educational and experiential contexts; connect experiential components to different disciplines and domains of knowledge; and situate experiential components in the context of their own field and beyond. Requires department signature.

Concentration in Healthcare Management and Policy

Students select one course from each topic area.

Health Management

Covers key issues and introduces management principles in health organization management. Offers students an opportunity to apply important theoretical ideas, such as systems thinking and organizational learning, to meet challenges effectively, to learn how the healthcare workplace functions, and how to manage in these workplaces. Emphasizes case-based learning, critical thinking, and evidence-based management using individual and group projects. Introduces cutting-edge tools in areas such as work redesign, performance management, brand enhancement, and quality improvement. Addresses the management imperatives of today’s healthcare organizations and how to implement strategies and programs to meet those imperatives effectively. Intended for anyone interested in working or managing within the healthcare industry, including the field of public health.
Offers students an opportunity to understand general business strategy concepts as they relate to the healthcare industry. Explores how to analyze market opportunities and challenges as they apply to various healthcare organizations, such as hospitals, physician organizations, and nursing homes. Presents and discusses analytical frameworks for making strategic decisions, drawing on different disciplines, including economics, management, and psychology. Strategic issues include mergers and acquisitions, vertical integration, joint ventures and alliances, performance-control systems, and organizational design.
Examines concepts and topics related to the design and management of supply chain operations in the healthcare sector. Focuses on activities and functions such as inventory control, order fulfillment, logistics, procurement, managing processes, relationship management, and information technology systems. Introduces various tools and techniques that enhance effective supply chain operations in healthcare organizations.

Health Policy

Examines contemporary healthcare policies, programs, and politics. Discusses the structure of the healthcare system and its costs, efforts to develop universal health coverage, the spread of managed care, and related topics.
Reviews the history of healthcare reform in the United States and the various policymaking associated with it, including the recent Affordable Care Act. Analyzes the causes and consequences of U.S. health system change over the past century, covering events such as efforts for single- payer healthcare, the rise of the medical-industrial complex, employer- sponsored health insurance, and Medicare and Medicaid. Analyzes current system trends shaping future reform efforts such as the use of artificial intelligence and retail thinking in healthcare delivery. Introduces students to organizational, economic, and sociological theories for studying healthcare reform and offers students opportunity to apply course learning in practical ways. Of particular interest to doctoral and advanced master’s degree students wanting to study and work in healthcare.
Uses basic economic concepts to illuminate the many factors that shape health, healthcare, and the healthcare system in the United States. Examines the role of these concepts in explaining the challenges faced in achieving three core goals of the healthcare system: increasing access, limiting cost, and improving quality. Explores how policy makers, market participants, and others can remedy access, cost, and quality deficiencies. Illustrates how economic concepts can be applied to the study of health and health behaviors.
Offers students an opportunity to obtain practical knowledge concerning the planning, organization, administration, management, evaluation, and policy analysis of health programs. Surveys what we know and think about public health administration and policy and what we do in practice. Introduces the main components of public health policy and administration using notable conceptual frameworks and case studies. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.

Health Elective

Explores the role of economic, social, and individual factors in explaining racial and ethnic health disparities and examines intervention approaches to eliminate them. Topics include genetic and social constructions of race and ethnicity, measuring race and ethnicity, and the differences in prevalence and patterns of disease across groups; cultural and structural factors that affect healthcare delivery, such as discrimination, racism, and health status; and public health approaches to prevention and improving healthcare delivery.
Offers students an opportunity to obtain practical knowledge concerning the planning, organization, administration, management, evaluation, and policy analysis of health programs. Surveys what we know and think about public health administration and policy and what we do in practice. Introduces the main components of public health policy and administration using notable conceptual frameworks and case studies. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.
Introduces the field of environmental health, which encompasses concerns related to physical, built, and social environments. Discusses the tools used to study environmental exposures and diseases. Examines environmental health hazards, the routes by which humans are exposed to hazards, various media in which they are found, and disease outcomes associated with exposures. Offers students an opportunity to become familiar with methods used to conduct environmental health research and with the federal and state agencies responsible for protecting environmental health.
Seeks to educate students about the role of advocacy in public health while providing tools and support to address current healthcare issues. Provides information and theory about advocacy, education, and community organizing in public health practice and skills geared toward direct application. Covers various techniques related to developing and conducting an advocacy project within a community setting. Offers students an opportunity to develop, communicate, and refine a community-based advocacy program. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.
Focuses on social epidemiology, which is defined as the study of the distribution and determinants of health in populations as related to the social and economic determinants of health. Includes theories, patterns, and controversies, as well as programs and policies that can be applied to address health inequalities. Readings include articles that situate one dimension of social epidemiology with articles addressing the empirical patterns, address prevailing theories and controversies regarding the causes of the inequalities, as well as address interventions or policies that may be applied to address the inequalities.
Presents an overview of global health issues and focuses on less economically developed countries. Covers measures of disease burden; demography of disease and mortality; Millennium Development Goals (under the auspices of the United Nations); infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria and their prevention; vaccine utilization and potential implications; chronic diseases; tobacco-associated disease; nutritional challenges; behavioral modification; mother and child health; health human resources; and ethical issues in global health. LAW 7630 and PHTH 5230 are cross-listed.
Focuses on the aspects of urban development and life that impact the health and well-being of city residents. Offers students an opportunity to learn about the impact of migration patterns, built environments, occupational stratification, and other cultural and community contextual factors that impact health status and healthcare access. Examines the level of overall health and healthcare found in urban populations, particularly the urban poor, and the disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and elsewhere. Considers public policy approaches for addressing the unique health issues of urban areas. Examines urban health issues both from a national and international perspective. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.
Explores individual, interpersonal, and social influences on health. Offers students in public health an opportunity to learn the application of the social and behavioral sciences. Examines foundations of public health, including prevention and the prevention paradox, theories of disease causation, and public health ethics. In addition, multilevel influences on health are examined, including behavioral theories and social determinants of health. Throughout the semester, attention is paid to disparities in health. Finally, we examine strategies to reduce health disparities, such as education, interventions, and policy-level changes, and discuss their relative effectiveness. Requires permission of instructor for students outside designated programs.

Master of Public Administration

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