Core Curriculum


Topics and concepts covering the MPP/MPA core and organized into Atlas courses

As described in Atlas Core Curriculum Project, this page displays the results of our efforts to derive a reasonably complete list of topics and concepts that could be regarded as the common core of leading MPP and MPA degrees.

As explained in MPP/MPA Core Competencies, our analysis draws on NASPAA Competencies and UNDESA/IASIA Standards, as well as the syllabi of required courses in the four Reference Programs and syllabi of additional Specimen Courses. The MPP/MPA Core Learning Outcomes associated with this core curriculum can be used to generate Atlas Examination Standards, which will include all topic-level learning outcomes, a grading rubric, and sample assessment questions for all 120 topics in the core.

The table below lists 12 groupings of core topics and concepts and a corresponding Atlas 12-topic course or 6-topic module (see Atlas Courses), each grouping being associated with a core competency and one or more core Subjects. The 12 Atlas courses cover all 120 core normed topics and all core concepts and terms (see Defining Core and Normed Topic Model).

Atlas Courses
MPP/MPA Competencies
Atlas100 Governance and Institutions Understanding democratic institutions and processes Governance and Institutions
Atlas101 Policy Analysis and Process Applying policy and management analysis concepts Policy Analysis and Process
Atlas102 Economic Analysis Applying economics and statistics concepts Economic Analysis
Atlas103M Macroeconomic Policy Applying economics and statistics concepts Macroeconomic Policy (6 topics)
Atlas104 Quantitative Methods Applying economics and statistics concepts Quantitative Methods
Atlas105 Social, Environmental, and Global Context Understanding the socioeconomic, political and global contexts Socioeconomic and Political Context; Environment and Sustainability; Global Context
Atlas106M Public Financial Management Managing financial resources Public Financial Management (6 topics)
Atlas107 Implementation and Delivery Applying policy and management analysis concepts Implementation and Delivery
Atlas108 Analytic Methods and Evaluation Applying analytic methods and evaluation concepts Analytic Methods; Evaluation and Performance Measurement
Atlas109 Leadership and Communication Leading and communicating in public management Leadership Skills; Communication Skills
Atlas111M Ethics Understanding democratic institutions and processes Ethics, Rights, and Accountability (6 topics)
Atlas112M Management of Human, Information, and Technology Resources Managing human resources and managing information resources and information technology Human Resource Management; Information and Technology Management (6 topics)
Multi-subject clusters

The 48 core topics and their associated concepts covering the five inter-related core subjects dealing with governance, institutions, policy analysis, process, strategy, implementation, leadership and communication are displayed on a single table for comparative purposes at The Governance-Process-Strategy-Leadership Cluster.

The 42 core topics and their associated concepts in the five most quantitative of the core subjects (Economic Analysis, Macroeconomic Policy, Quantitative Methods, and Analytic Methods and Evaluation) are displayed on a single table for comparative purposes at The Economics and Methods Cluster.

Together, these two multi-subject clusters cover 90 of the 120 core topics and their associated concepts.

Alignment with executive education courses

Given the professional nature of the MPP and MPA degrees, there should be a high degree of alignment between the topics and concepts and the content of training courses that public and nonprofit organizations utilize in their professional development programs for analysts and policy-oriented managers. The Atlas editors welcome interchanges with such organizations, as described in How Practitioners Can Help. An initial list for discussion purposes can be found at Using the Atlas to Develop Executive Education Offerings.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 4 June 2017.

Image: Aragon Law Firm, at, accessed 9 March 2016.