Gain the tools to analyze complex problems, cut through biases and assumptions—and get to the facts.

Addressing today’s global, interconnected challenges—and reaping the opportunities—takes rigorous investigation, critical thinking, and in-depth, interdisciplinary analysis.

Your core courses will prepare you to gather and understand the data of how things are, then figure out how to make them better.

You’ll gain the tools to critically examine data, cut through biases and untested assumptions, analyze complex problems, and follow evidence wherever it leads. The core curriculum draws on a variety of disciplines and fields, including economics, statistics, political science, and organizational theory, among others. You’ll learn the methods and theories of all these disciplines and will be able to use each one as an analytical lens to dissect and tackle problems.

Core Courses

Analytical Politics I: Strategic Foundations

Learn the normative foundations of policymaking; how strategic interactions give rise to social pathologies that create room for public policy to improve social welfare; and how technological, political, and institutional factors constrain policymaking and sometimes prevent good policies from being enacted. Methodologically, the course introduces basic game theory, which helps us predict and understand how people and organizations will behave in response to changes in the policy environment.

Analytical Politics II: The Policymaking Process (domestic and international offerings)

Build a set of analytical tools and concepts for understanding how political institutions and political agents generate public policy, and apply these tools in examining the American electoral and legislative systems, or in major institutions of democracy and non-democracy throughout the world. Topics covered include the relationship between political institutions and well-being and the role of political actors and institutional structure on policy formation. Lessons about political institutions and the policymaking process will be understood from the perspective of a policy entrepreneur, an individual or organization that develops strategy in order to advance policy change in legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.

Statistical Theory and Applications for Policy Research I & II

Gain a basic understanding of statistical analysis for policy research. Class examples draw on current events and policy debates and focus on the statistical concepts and tools used to study the association between variables, introducing students to regression analysis and its uses in policy analysis.

Principles of Microeconomics and Public Policy I & II

Learn the theory of consumer choice, the theory of the firm, and the concept of equilibrium. The course includes applications of economics to such policy issues as food stamps, intergovernmental grants, the earned income tax credit, sales taxes, and the minimum wage.

Decisions and Organizations

This course starts with a comparison of the normative framework that economists use to think about rational choice and the experimental evidence that psychologists use to argue that real-world decision-makers do not satisfy those normative criteria. Applications will be drawn from education, law enforcement, and agency level rule-making.

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Research

Death and the Great Migration

A new study finds that African Americans who left the South in the early twentieth century died younger than those who stayed