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

That philosophy is the driving concept behind our core courses. It's so central to our approach that core courses are the focus of the first year of our full-time master's degree programs and the foundational underpinnings of the curriculum for the Evening Master's Program.

"The Core"

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

The following classes make-up the core curriculum for our full-time master's degree programs. (As a part-time program for working professionals, the Evening Master's Program follows a different curriculum but conceptually the same foundation.)

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

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.

Statistics for Data Analysis 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.

Migration Image

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
Dan Black

Interim Deputy Dean for Academic Programs and Professor

Dan Black

Dan A. Black is a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. His research focuses on labor economics and applied econometrics.