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Study Concentrations

In addition to core courses in policy analysis and research methods, economics, public policy and sociology, students in the interdisciplinary Public Policy Program complete courses in a particular concentration or track.

Students may select from five policy tracks: education policy, evaluation and analytical methods, health policy, public management, and urban policy; or two disciplinary concentrations: economics, and policy history (Ph.D. only).

Specific course requirements for each area of concentration are listed in the Graduate Student Handbook.

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Policy Concentrations

Education Policy

Education is an important policy area and a very large budget item for most state and local governments. Federal and state education policies are often on the frontiers of policy development. In the education policy track, students focus on various types of education policies made at every level of government, and learn about the multiple disciplinary and methodological perspectives on education policy. Students take courses such as education law, finance, civil rights and policy formulation. Dr. Dave Marcotte is the track advisor.

Evaluation and Analytical Methods

How do policymakers know if the programs they design and implement are having the effects intended? This is the focus of the evaluation and analytical methods track. Evaluation research can involve everything from large-scale assessments of the extent to which federal programs affect the quality of life for certain populations, to smaller-scale analyses of local programs. Students receive training in a variety of analytical methods, including statistics, operations research, and benefit-cost evaluation, and apply these skills to public policy and management issues. Dr. Marvin Mandell and Dr. Dave Marcotte are the track advisors.

Health Policy

Through disciplines such as sociology, political science, economics, and history, students in the health policy track study the critical problems facing our health care system. The department partners with agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Social Security Administration, and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to train students to understand the development, present operation, and future of our health care system. Students take courses such as health care finance and service delivery, the politics of health, and health economics. Dr. Adele Kirk, Dr. Nancy Miller and Dr. David Salkever are the track advisors.

Public Management
Public management is concerned with the skills and strategies that managers require to translate government policy into positive action. The public manager must understand not only organizational systems, but also how the political environment may shape or constrain approaches to management and implementation. The public management track introduces students to a toolbox of management skills drawn from professionals in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Students take courses in public management as well as budgeting, organizations and leadership, and program evaluation. Dr. Eric Zeemering is the track advisor.

Urban Policy

Many of the nation’s most serious problems, such as poverty, unemployment, crime, and inadequate education, are centered in our urban areas. The urban policy track combines analytic training with opportunities for applied research and real world experience. Operating in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area, one of the nation’s most strategic urban corridors, the program exposes students to urban issues in neighborhoods, cities, suburbs, and metropolitan areas. Students take courses in public policy, economics, environment, and history, learning to formulate questions about pressing urban issues, and contribute to the solutions. Dr. John Rennie Short is the track advisor.

Disciplinary Concentrations


In the economics track, students learn to apply economic analysis techniques to problems in fields such as health, public finance, human resources and international economics. Students are trained in the theory and application of microeconomics and econometrics, and in mathematical techniques to perform economic analysis. Students take courses such as benefit-cost evaluation, managerial economics, and forecasting to strengthen their analytic abilities and deepen their understanding of a wide range of policy areas. Dr. Tim Gindling is the track advisor.

Policy History (Ph.D. only)*
What policies influenced history, and how? The policy history track seeks to provide answers to this question, using interdisciplinary analysis of policy development and implementation. The policy history track includes a variety of social science analytical methodologies that are grounded in historical research. Courses examine the history of public policy through legislation, economics, civil rights, and science and technology. Policy history provides an avenue for understanding public policy shifts over time, and explores paths to comparative analysis for informing current debates. Dr. Marjoleine Kars is the track advisor.

*UMBC offers an M.A. in Economic Policy Analysis and an M.A. in History.

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