Public affairs courses are commonly offered within public affairs master's degree programs, though some schools do offer bachelor's degree programs in the field. Students enrolled in these programs may have the chance to specialize in a specific area of public affairs, such as international affairs, nonprofit and philanthropic studies, or social and economic policy.
Courses in public affairs teach the necessary knowledge for working in public service as, for example, town managers or directors of non-profit organizations. The curriculum generally focuses on the following concepts:
- Law and its impact on public affairs
- Economic theory and its application to public sector decisions
- The management and operation of public organizations
- Government budgeting and how it affects public affairs
- Analysis and explanation of public policy
- Management of public personnel
In addition, students may sometimes obtain certificates in particular areas of public policy by completing specific sets of courses. Students might also concentrate in areas such as health systems administration or public management. Finally, an internship may be required.
List of Courses
Legal Policies and Issues Course
This course covers the different aspects of how the law affects public affairs. Key topics may include administrative adjudication, regulatory processes, and ombudsmen. The Administrative Procedures Act may also be examined. This course typically comes in the first year of a program.
Public Policy Process Course
Developing policy is an important element of a public affairs career, and this course explains to students how policy creation works. Students examine the work of a public affairs professional in the policy process. Classwork may focus on the relationship between public affairs professionals and political actors in various policy areas.
Economic Analysis for Public Affairs Course
Through this course, students learn how to use the tools of economic analysis to interpret the behavior of government, consumers, and producers. Topics include sources of economic inefficiency and policy solutions. Case studies may be used to further understanding.
Financial Management Course
This course asks students to study the nature of public and nonprofit financial administration. Classwork focuses on principles of accountability for the management of funds. It also considers the investment of money and problems related to long- or short-term debt.
Public Human Resources Management Course
In this course, students analyze the structure and operations of public personnel systems, such as those in government agencies and public enterprise. The course emphasizes the relationship between public policy and personnel concepts, values, and operations.