If you want to lead a nonprofit, run for public office, or head a government agency, Fels can give you the tools to achieve your goals.
Our broad-based MPA (Master of Public Administration) curriculum in analysis, management, finance, and politics provides the framework for understanding today's challenges and allows you the flexibility to move between sectors. Seven core classes cover the four fundamental competencies needed for effective public leadership, one finance elective provides the opportunity to build on budgeting and accounting skills, and four electives provide you with the opportunity to study a particular policy topic or sector.
Students can use their four electives to specialize in public finance, politics, nonprofit administration, or economic development and growth and complete the requirements for a Fels Certificate in one of these areas or can take an array of classes covering different topics. Students may also take advantage of courses offered at other Penn programs, such as public finance courses at Wharton, social welfare courses at the School of Social Policy and Practice, education policy courses at the Graduate School of Education, or any other relevant courses offered in one of Penn's twelve graduate schools. In some cases, students may be able to import graduate level courses taken during previous graduate study.
Full-time students are admitted into a cohort of 30-35 individuals with
diverse interests and experiences. The intimate size of the cohort
quickly fosters a sense of community between classmates and allows
students maximum access to Fels staff and faculty members. The full-time track can be completed in three or four semesters. Students focus on completing the core requirements in year 1 in preparation for electives in year 2, with the summer free to pursue full-time internships, travel, or other opportunities. Many complete internships during the academic year and get involved with civic, social, or service projects at Penn or in the Philadelphia community.
Most students bring at least 2 years of full-time work experience prior to coming to Fels working on campaigns, in government, and for nonprofits. They have served in national service programs such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps or have spent time in the private sector. Our international students comprise approximately 20 percent of the class and include Fulbright Fellows, Thouron Fellows, and seasoned government employees.
Current Fels Class List
This course will build on the fundamentals taught in the introductory budgeting unit to help build students’ competence in budgetary analysis. Using detailed data from a major city as a course-long case study, and incorporating Excel skill-building exercises, students will develop a hands-on understanding of budgets by working through such factors as: economic drivers of fiscal performance, revenue analysis and forecasting, including tax policy considerations; expenditure analysis and projection, with an emphasis on workforce costs; and capital budgeting and financing. Students will also be introduced to key fiscal policies, budget monitoring and performance measurement, and the development of effective budget communications for various audiences.
Ancient Greece and Rome produced a sizable body of literature concerned with the making and preserving of constitutions and on how well different constitutions worked in different circumstances. The authors explained the causes of constitutional stability and revolution in considerable detail, and they showed how both might be brought about. Much of this literature was preserved through the Middle Ages and Renaissance into modern times, and it was highly influential in the controversies surrounding the birth of the modern liberal republics. It offers a reasoned approach today to those who want to anticipate what their constitutionmaking attempts are likely to achieve. This course looks to the constitutionmaking tradition as it developed from classical antiquity forward in an attempt to understand the causes of relative success. Students read representative Greek and Latin texts in translation and trace the influence of this tradition into modern times, ending with contemporary constitutionmaking efforts in Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
Topics covered in this course include auditing principles, performance audits, and financial audits. Students will become familiar with generally accepted government auditing standards, what they mean, how they are applied, and the value they bring to the public.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and an elective requirement in the Certificate in Public Finance program.
This course is designed to impart the elements of a successful political campaign for public office. It will focus on the grassroots campaign and how it is planned, organized, executed, and funded. Local practitioners will augment course sessions to provide interaction between the student and those who have successfully run campaigns, raised funds, and been elected.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
This course examines how different strategies of ownership affect the performance of programs. The course explores the different forms of privatization, including asset sales, deregulation, and public-sector contracting; ownership and managerial behavior; state-owned enterprises and mixed-ownership enterprises; US and overseas experience; and techniques and politics of privatization. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration, Certificate in Public Finance, and Certificate in Economic Development and Growth.
This course explores the role of media in politics and discusses strategies for using media resources for greatest effect. The design of the course allows for a flexible workshop format and includes guest lectures by media experts and politicians. The course also provides regular opportunities for students to implement what they have learned through in-class media trainings, mock editorial board interviews, governing and campaign strategy scenarios, and political advertisement assessments. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
This is a skill-based course, teaching students how to conduct market studies and to determine operational, physical, and financial feasibility of urban and economic development proposals. It gives specific attention to feasibility studies for retail, hotel, industrial, and office development projects. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Economic Development and Growth programs.
This course will take a brief look back at the first major period of federal intervention in cities between the 1930s and the 1960s to see what lessons are relevant to today's efforts to revitalize downtowns. The course will provide an overview of the changing role of downtowns, how and why they have evolved, diversified and been redeveloped and how they are repositioning themselves in a new regional and global context. There will be a focus particularly on the role of business improvement districts in the United States, Canada and a few international cities, how they relate to municipal government and redevelopment efforts, the types of services they provide, and the possibility that their roles could be transformed and expanded in a renewed federal era.
This course provides students with the knowledge required to understand government operations in relation to the market economy. In theory of supply and demand, students explore the pricing mechanism, price elasticity, and the effects of price controls on markets. Efficiency is examined in connection with competition and again in connection with equity, and market failure is considered as a reason for government intervention. Cost-benefit analysis is examined in the context of selecting among public investment alternatives. The course also assists students in addressing issues connected with local public goods and economic development.
This course is a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and a pre-requisite requirement for the Certificate in Public Finance and the Certificate in Economic Development and Growth.
This course analyzes and challenges strategies for encouraging economic growth nationally and in states and metropolitan areas, with the goal of helping students become effective practitioners of the art. After reviewing key concepts and context, the course will ask students to evaluate and make choices about economic strategies and investments in a political context. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and a core requirement in the Certificate in Economic Development and Growth program.
The course is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the primary financial management issues and decisions that confront senior management in nonprofits and government. Students will examine financial analysis techniques from both a practical and strategic perspective as they examine operating and capital decisions. The objective of the course is to allow the student to understand how managers integrate the various discrete financial decisions within a broader framework that allows them to analyze, develop and execute a coherent overall financial strategy.
This course satisfies a core requirement in the Certificate in Nonprofit Administration program and an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certficate in Public Finance programs.
It is also an approved elective in PennDesign’s Certificate in Urban Development.
This course provides students with concepts and tools that can help nonprofit organizations better achieve their organizational objectives by securing the resources necessary to do so. Students will, for example, learn how to assess an organization's fundraising capabilities, conduct an annual fund drive, solicit grants from corporations and foundations, conduct prospect research, cultivate and secure major gifts, design planned giving instruments to meet the needs of donors, carry out a capital campaign, and set up information technologies to track fundraising efforts and assist you in the stewardship of gifts. The course is also designed as a study guide for taking (and passing) the examination required to become a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and a core requirement in the Certificate in Nonprofit Administration program.
This course will provide students with knowledge of the complete foundation
grant-writing and management process, from researching potential funders
and cultivating relationships, to developing and writing proposals, to
stewarding awarded grants through evaluation and reporting. Students
will gain an understanding of the role of and strategies behind
foundation funding in philanthropy, as well as hands-on grant-writing
skills. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Nonprofit Administration programs.
Infrastructure is widely acknowledged to be critical for economic success, and infrastructure investments are promoted as leading to economic growth, either at the local or national level. Yet, investments in telecommunications, transportation, energy, or other infrastructure do not always yield the hoped for public benefit. This course will help answer the question: Under what circumstances does infrastructure investment contribute to economic growth, and how do we know? Because government resources are limited, advocates often must be creative to find sufficient funding to get desirable projects completed. This course will also help answer the question: How do we pay for the infrastructure projects we want to build? The course will illustrate approaches to answering these questions using case studies of past and proposed investments.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration, Certificate in Economic Development and Growth and Certificate in Finance programs. It is also an approved elective in PennDesign’s Certificate in Urban Development.
Leading Nonprofits is designed for those who have a practitioner’s interest in the leadership and management of nonprofit organizations and their intersection with the private sector. Leading Nonprofits takes the student through the process of starting a nonprofit to managing and leading non-profits through key decisions and stages of development. Leading Nonprofits also facilitates the learning of essential tools to conduct in-depth analysis of a non profit's effectiveness and utilization of best practices. Students will develop a unique framework for understanding the role and function of the Social Sector comprised of Nonprofits, Social Enterprise, Public and Private Collaborations and Partnerships. Students will also develop practical tools to apply this understanding to strategic management, leadership, and public policy decisions, and will learn new competencies within this emerging field.
This course satisfies a core requirement in the Certificate in Nonprofit Administration. It is also an approved elective in PennDesign’s Certificate in Urban Development.
In a system of representative government, organizations and individuals with interests at stake often seek the support of a government relations professional. This course addresses government relations from the varying perspectives of the current or aspiring professional, the client, and the government official. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
This course explores how people get elected to public offices in city
government. Success in getting elected may depend as much upon political
institutions, processes, and people as upon the issues, interests and values
that appear to be at stake. This course studies both, with special attention
to a set of congressional and local government contests in the Philadelphia
area. We will focus on the tools needed to run for a big city office in the
21st century, and feature guest appearances from media consultants, press
secretaries, pollsters, and other political professionals to help you learn
how to use these campaign tools properly.
This seminar will focus on the six stages of project risk management articulated in the best practices standard developed by the Project Management Institute. These include: (1) Risk Management Planning; (2) Risk Identification; (3) Qualitative Risk Analysis; (4) Quantitative Risk Analysis; (5) Risk Response Planning and (6) Risk Monitoring and Control.Although the management processes involved in some stages may appear easy to understand, their implementation always requires appreciation and commitment to the costs and the complexities of risk management by the leadership of the organization.
Class follows the Organizational Dynamics class schedule and meets on the following Saturdays: January 23, February 6, February 20, March 6, March 20, March 27, April 10, and April 24.
This course will focus on the theory and practice of managing public sector investment assets. The course will examine cash management, pension fund management, project and construction fund investment vehicles, longer-term asset management and other aspects of treasury management.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Public Finance programs.
This course provides students with the concepts and tools that nonprofits need to market their programs and services. It emphasizes applications, and students will complete a marketing plan for a nonprofit organization or government agency of their choice. Students will learn how to conduct competitive analyses, benchmarking, and market segmentation; explore ways to conduct research on client needs; exploit opportunities for social entrepreneurship and product development; and design effective web and direct marketing tactics as part of an overall promotion and packaging strategy. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and a core requirement in the Certificate in Nonprofit Administration program.
How can leaders manage performance and make decisions that lead to desired outcomes such as less crime, better education, or lower unit costs? This course examines the various ways that public sector organizations can use data to plan strategically, manage risk, and monitor performance. Students will learn about the theory behind performance measurement and risk management, as well as the benefits, challenges, and limitations of performance management. This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and an elective requirement in the Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Certificate in Economic Development and Growth programs.
This course examines the policy development process including: the interaction of branches of government; policy analysis; information; constituencies; and management of a policy development office. The objective of this course is to provide an understanding of the development of governmental policy, both at the macro level and from the viewpoint of persons who are in supporting roles to the major actors in the process. The formula employed to achieve this objective consists of a combination of readings, lectures, discussions, and activities that are designed to blend conceptual and practical skills.
This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration program.
At one time or another, each of us has said something like, "I know what to do to make some really effective changes in this organization, but the politics make it almost impossible to get anything done." The sense is that although there are changes that should be made to improve organizational performance, politics (internal, external, or governmental) simply obstructs our ability to make a difference. Frustrations notwithstanding, politics is anything but an impediment; it is the art and science of coordinating individuals, departments, management, markets - the entire organizational environment – to effect a balance of objectives and methods. Congressman Brady and Dr. Gale will explore and assess the foundations of organizational politics--change, exit, voice, loyalty, and valuation of relationships--and discuss the use of politics to promote effective change.
This course is designed to orient students to the constraints that characterize leadership and management in the public service. The course traces the origins of these constraints, illustrates their durability, and suggests ways in which public agents may deal with them more effectively. Key historical documents and recent classics are examined for their bearing on contemporary views on topics such as the public goods argument, the role of science in governing, individualism and the theory of rights, factions and interest groups. The main areas of inquiry are the environment of public service, policy analysis, politics, and political realism.
This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of budgeting and accounting for government and nonprofit managers. The course is divided into two units. The first unit covers budgeting concepts and skills, culminating in a real-world budget simulation. The second unit will cover basic accounting principles and financial statement literacy, so that students are able to evaluate the fiscal health of public sector organizations. The unit culminates with a final project requiring students to analyze the City of Philadelphia's CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report). This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration, Certificate in Public Finance, and Certificate in Economic Development and Growth programs.
In this course, students focus on bureaucracy and related institutional features of government. Differences in organizational culture are examined along with their implications for public managers. Students establish an understanding of leadership issues including incentives, performance, accountability, and program management. Four areas of inquiry are pursued: bureaucracy, centralization and decentralization, performance, and privatization. This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
This course provides students the opportunity to learn the theory and practice of public speaking in a wide variety of contexts. Students will learn various speaking styles and techniques through the study of other speakers and a practicum.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
The purpose of the course is to study the theory and application of certain key quantitative methods utilized in financial and fiscal decision-making in state and local governments: defining and measuring efficiency and equity; statistical analysis, multivariate analysis, linear and multiple regression; inter-temporal decision-making; and cost-benefit analysis. Primary emphasis will be on understanding the context and quantitative basics of these methods to prepare students for effective careers in state and local governments. Each student should have a basic understanding of market economics, the roles of government in our market economy, accounting/budgeting basics, and the Philadelphia metro area economy and government.
“In the past three decades, the global citizen sector, led by social entrepreneurs, has grown exponentially. Just as the business sector experienced a tremendous spurt in productivity over the last century, the citizen sector is experiencing a similar revolution, with the number and sophistication of citizen organizations increasing dramatically. Rather than leaving societal needs for the government or business sectors to address, social entrepreneurs are creating innovative solutions, delivering extraordinary results, and improving the lives of millions of people.” Ashoka
This course provides students with concepts and tools that can help them both build a sustainable and profitable business and create social impact. Students will learn how to assess the feasibility of a social enterprise through the application of impact, blending mission with profits, potential for large scale impact, and organizational strength and capacity criteria. Students will learn how to identify and measure social impact, design and create social sector business plans, calculate social return on investments (SROI) and unit costs, identify and development markets (includes social media and networks), assess risks, leverage start-up capital and influence policy toward leveraging public resources.
Students will use these applications in business engagements, networking in the social sector, and field assignments during the semester. Students will be paired with a social sector organization and leader in the Philadelphia region to apply concepts and tools learned in the course to the organization. Students will present the organization with a social enterprise analysis and article that presents an opportunity to be published in the nationally recognized and respected Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal.
This course fulfills an elective requirement for the Master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Certificate programs.
Social Innovations Lab (SIL) is designed for social entrepreneurs who want to fine tune, pilot, and potentially seed their social innovation. The Lab nurtures social enterprise models from ideas to implementation, increasing blended value—social impact and financial sustainability. The Social Innovations Lab provides a low-risk opportunity to test, vet, and bring to implementation, strong ideas across the social sector, social enterprise, and government. The Lab’s goal is to increase the chances that the strongest ideas of Social Innovators will take root, attract the needed capital, and ultimately have a significant social impact regionally, nationally, and internationally.
The SIL focuses on fine-tuning an innovation through best practices research and consultation, pilot testing the model in the real world, and seeding the idea with real investors.
INNOVATING Leaders in government, social investors and philanthropists are demanding new social enterprise models that are cost effective, financially self-sustainable, adaptive to feedback and metrics, with clear outcome accountability measures, and the potential for large-scale impact.
TESTING Social sector-oriented nonprofit leaders and managers from the nonprofit, government and for-profit sectors need a way to test new innovative ideas and models to determine whether the ideas are effective, sustainable or scalable before they fully launch them. Executing ideas without testing them can be socially and financially costly and has the potential of negatively impacting the groups the model was designed to serve.
SEEDING Innovative models that have been vetted and have the right talent have a much greater likelihood of success and need to be matched to partners, seed funding and investors, and talent. Without the right connections, great ideas can be lost.
The Social Innovations Lab is taught within a cross-sector, low-risk, high-return, data-rich, and cooperative environment.
CROSS-SECTOR The Social Innovations Lab is an attractive option to both funders and social sector organizations.
LOW-RISK The objective of The Social Innovations Lab will be to take great ideas and test them in a low risk and low cost environment.
HIGH-RETURN Foundations and investors, as well as nonprofit, government and private organizations can sponsor an individual or team, who are motivated to solve social problems and create significant social impact outcomes: large investments can be wisely made.
DATA-RICH Impact measuring of lab participants’ innovations will provide the foundations for sector-wide standards, shared research, strong case studies, robust theories of change, and sustainable business models.
CO-OPERATIVE We will bring together a diverse group of players who will learn from each other, leverage resources and knowledge from each of their individual disciplines, and build connections that will deliver results long after the lab has ended.
This course will provide an in-depth synthetic and critical analysis of the global economic crisis of 2008-2009. The goals of the class are to provide: a) an understanding of the causes of the crisis, b) an overview of the onset of the crisis, including its similarities and differences with past crises, and c) a critical appraisal of the policy response to the crisis, including financial bailouts, monetary policy, fiscal policy and emerging regulatory reforms. The class will take both a US and a global perspective, and will conclude with an outline of the aftermath and general lessons to be drawn.
Leaders need to know how to express themselves with clarity and conviction—in a meeting with five people or in a public forum with five hundred. Whether you’re writing for yourself or someone else, this course will provide the basics of speech writing and give you the opportunity to write, revise, and deliver a variety of different speeches. You will also be given the opportunity to answer audience questions after your speeches.
The emphasis will be on preparing and giving longer speeches where a prepared text or speaking notes would be advisable. In this performance course, you will examine and learn from great speeches—from the classics down to the present. Your speeches will be videotaped and you will receive feedback from both the instructor as well as your peers.
This course presents students with statistical tools for government administration and public policy evaluation. The foundations of statistical description and inference are emphasized and the course builds the skills students need to become critical consumers of statistical information. An integrated laboratory component provides training in the use of general statistical software.
This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration program.
The purpose of the course is to provide a detailed understanding of finance in the public sector with a focus on investment banking. The course provides students with a broad-based and technical overview of public finance and municipal bonds as well as a thorough understanding of the business aspects of public finance. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration program and a core requirement in the Certificate in Public Finance program.
Before the universities established public-service programs in the twentieth century, many Americans prepared themselves for public life by studying Greek and Latin authors in school and college. In this course, using English translations, students survey an eighteenth-century classical curriculum and trace its influence in the political activity of Madison and others who guided the development of American governmental institutions.
This course offers an exploration of how legislative action, government policymaking, and citizen advocacy influence plans for the investment of public capital in distressed urban downtowns and neighborhoods. A special emphasis this year will be the Obama Administration’s response to the foreclosure crisis and the implementation of neighborhood reinvestment strategies by state and local governments.
This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs. It is also an approved elective in PennDesign’s Certificate in Urban Development.
This course will take a holistic approach in exploring the critical issues that impact how your organization recruits, hires, develops, and assesses its pool of talent. Students will examine a range of economic, legal, social, technological, and political factors that affect the management of today's workforce, with attention paid to the particular challenges facing public and nonprofit sector leaders. There will be special focus on organizing volunteers, working with unions, providing effective professional development opportunities, and other human resource strategies that drive better results. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Nonprofit Administration programs.
What does it take to get elected to office? What are the key elements of a successful political campaign? What are the crucial issues guiding campaigns and elections in the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century? This class will address the process and results of electoral politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Course participants will study the stages and strategies of running for political office and will discuss the various influences on getting elected, including: campaign finance and fundraising, demographics, polling, the media, staffing, economics, and party organization. Each week we will be joined by guest speakers who are nationally recognized professionals, with expertise in different areas of the campaign and election process. Students will also analyze campaign case studies and the career of the instructor himself. Edward G. Rendell is the former Mayor of Philadelphia, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and former Governor of Pennsylvania. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
Today’s organizations are highly complex workplaces; made up of traditional and interconnected departments, professional and technical employees with wide variations of education and training, and are spread out geographically and intellectually. The class intends to explore the interplay between all these elements by introducing the students to the basics of organizations and challenge them to explore their own beliefs and approaches. The course will equip the students with the various organizational theories and the current scholarship on organizational management. To put theory within a practical framework, the course will systematically go through all of the various aspects of leadership and management such as governance, mission/vision, strategic planning, day-to-day management (workforce issues, technology, and finance), conflict management, change management, and crisis management. Organizations of all types (non-profits, for profits, corporations, governmental and quasi-governmental) as the subject is best understood through multiple lenses. While the class does not have a prerequisite, it is intended for more advanced masters students or for individuals with considerable work experience especially in management roles and comfortable with self directed academic work.
This class explores how city administrators and legislatures have addressed the critical issues facing urban America today, including fighting urban blight and transforming neighborhoods, public school funding, public financing of sports stadiums, reducing the tax burden, public health issues like smoking bans, legislative redistricting, crime and safety issues, campaign finance reform, economic development issues like tax increment financing, race relations, welfare reform, public transportation, and how to reverse job and population losses. The overriding goal is to place in context the various ways that elected officials approach complex issues, towards a more realistic understanding of how to influence a proposal as it works its way through the process towards implementation. This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.
This course explores ways to provide women with practical, real world skills—political and community organizing, communications, fundraising, advocacy and media experience—that will enable them to achieve meaningful political, economic, and civic participation in the life of their countries. The course is designed to give the theoretical background and tools to put together an insightful international training to politically empower women.
This course satisfies an elective in the Master of Public Administration, Certificate in Nonprofit Administration, and Certificate in Politics programs.