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Penn G-MPA: Three Course-Taking Paths

The Penn G-MPA is designed to fit all types of schedules. All 10 G-MPA courses are offered each and every semester. There are three distinct but intersecting G-MPA course-taking paths.

Path 1: G-MPA Course-Taker: One to Three G-MPA Courses

Maybe you are interested in certain course topics but aren't sure you want to take five courses and pursue either a certificate or a degree. No problem! Apply for admission as a course-taker, and if accepted, take as few as one G-MPA course or as many as three G-MPA courses in any semester.

Path 2: G-MPA Graduate Certificate Student: Five G-MPA Courses in One Concentration

Maybe you know right from the start that you want to take and complete at least five G-MPA courses and earn a Graduate Certificate in Global Public Administration. Great! In that case, apply for admission as a certificate student. In just one semester or over as many as four semesters, earn a certificate by completing the courses for one of the following three concentrations:

  • Concentration in Boundary-Spanning Leadership:
    G-MPA 6010; G-MPA 6020; G-MPA 6030; G-MPA 6050; and any other G-MPA course except G-MPA 6100
  • Concentration in Leadership and Problem-Solving:
    G-MPA 6040; G-MPA 6060; G-MPA 6080; G-MPA 6090; and any other G-MPA course except G-MPA 6100
  • Concentration in Strategic Leadership and Innovation:
    G-MPA 6020; G-MPA 6040; G-MPA 6050; G-MPA 6070; and any other G-MPA course except G-MPA 6100

Path 3: G-MPA Degree Candidate: Nine G-MPA Courses + Capstone Course

Maybe you are ready to take the plunge and earn your graduate degree by completing all 10 Penn G-MPA courses. Perfect! Apply for admission as a degree candidate, and in as few as two semesters (one year) or as many as eight semesters (four years), complete nine G-MPA courses plus G-MPA 6100, the capstone course for degree candidates, during your final semester in the program. In G-MPA 6100, you will complete an intellectually challenging, skills-stretching, closely supervised but independent research and writing project on questions posed by the course instructors. The topical focus of G-MPA 6100 may vary from year to year; currently, G-MPA 6100's topical focus is on global aging and eldercare in Asia.

Gateway Path: If you apply for but are rejected from the degree program, you may be offered the opportunity to apply for course-taking permission. As a course-taker, you may earn your way into the degree program by successfully completing Penn G-MPA courses.

Flexibility to Fit Your Schedule

Because the Penn-GMPA is designed with working professionals in mind, the program offers path transfer options that ensure you find the right fit! If you are admitted as a G-MPA course-taker and decide you would like to complete a certificate or the full degree, you may apply for the Graduate Certificate in Global Public Administration or the G-MPA degree in the Penn LPS application portal once you have completed two courses. If you are admitted as a G-MPA certificate-seeker and decide later you would like to complete the full degree, you may also apply for the G-MPA degree via the Penn LPS application portal. Note that no more than five courses completed as a course-taker or certificate-seeker may be transferred into the G-MPA degree program.

The 10 G-MPA Courses

What types of leadership have contributed to notable successes in addressing and ameliorating challenges to human well-being ranging from public health in Africa to economic development in Latin America, elder care services in Asia to carbon emissions in Europe, homelessness in the US to HIV/AIDS in Australia? In these cases, and countless others, the answer relates in part to cross-sector collaboration in the form of two or more organizations working together intentionally across sectors to achieve mutually beneficial, pro-social, and pro-civic outcomes. Drawing on the best interdisciplinary studies, this course is dedicated to helping students identify, delineate, and promote the conditions under which “boundary-spanning” and “bridge-building” organizational leaders arise, persist, and operate within and across each sector. In addition to classic and contemporary work by social and behavioral scientists who have made notable contributions to the field of public administration or public management, we focus particular attention on the work of scholars and practitioners from across the globe and in many different disciplines (social work, public health, urban design, and others) who are contributing to our basic and applied knowledge about “the built environment”—the concepts and skills needed to build healthy communities and meet such challenges as sudden pandemics, structural inequities, and slow but steady climate change.

Together with government and the nonprofit sector, the business, corporate, or for-profit sector has a profound bearing on human well-being. For socially responsible business leaders, the challenge is to formulate successful organizational strategies that sustain and grow the organization’s profits and market shares, and satisfy its employees, shareholders, and customers, while also benefitting, or at least not adversely affecting, wider communities, whether local, regional, national, or transnational. Especially when facing less scrupulous business competitors, aggressive government regulators, or adversarial nonprofit advocates, civic-minded business leaders grapple with this challenge every day. How can such leaders nonetheless formulate strategies to gain and sustain a competitive advantage at home or abroad? In this course, we explore the complexity and ambiguity of strategic management by examining real-world cases in which firms either failed or succeeded. Specific topics to be covered include performance measures, industry analysis, resources and capability analysis, business-level strategy, corporate-level strategy, and strategies for expanding into foreign markets.

Students are strongly advised to take this course prior to taking G-MPA 6070.

Over the last quarter-century, the nonprofit, independent, or social sector—also often dubbed the “third sector” in juxtaposition to government and business—has become an ever-greater presence in nations all across the globe. In tandem, nonprofit management, and the role of local, regional, national, and transnational social entrepreneurs, has become internationally recognized as a critically vital field of study and practice. Coinciding with the rise of the “third sector,” it has become increasingly clear that leaders in all three sectors must work across three different types of boundaries: interpersonal boundaries, which involve relations with persons who differ from oneself demographically and in other ways; institutional boundaries, which involve working across government, nonprofit, and business organizations; and international boundaries, which involve both individual and institutional engagements that are carried on across national borders. This course focuses mainly on nonprofit management and the latest and best empirical research pertaining to the second stratum of boundary-spanning leadership: the theory, policy, and practice of cross-sector collaboration, what purposes collaboration may serve, and the steps involved in initiating, sustaining, and evolving collaborative enterprises and governance.

This course introduces students to key economic concepts such as scarcity, efficiency, and monopolies. In addition, it examines how efficiency is affected by distortions relevant to public policy, especially regulations, externalities, and incomplete information. From the macroeconomics side, we cover a variety of timely and timeless topics including the short-run and long-run effects of government debt. Students practice applying these concepts to the range of decisions that public sector leaders have to make in order to understand the trade-offs inherent in any public policy or program.

Many governments, businesses, and NPO/NGO leaders around the globe are drowning in numerical and statistical data. The challenge they face is not only how to organize, parse, and analyze the data, but also how to utilize it effectively and in real time. This course is uniquely designed to enhance your ability to use data effectively for real-time problem-identification, definition, decision-making, problem-solving, and, most particularly, program evaluation. In this course, students are introduced to key concepts, principles, protocols, and analytical tools and techniques relevant to the theory and practice of three separate but related problem-solving leadership skills: (1) forecasting general social, economic, and civic trends; (2) measuring government performance and results; and (3) evaluating particular social, economic, and civic programs. Students advance and apply these skills in relation to several cases.

In a world filled with multiple and competing human well-being needs, not all of which can be addressed or acted upon fully or at once, which human well-being goals or purposes ought to matter most, which problems ought to be considered most deserving of attention and action, and which goals, purposes, or problems should be treated as top priorities with respect to their claims on attention, resources, and action? In this course, students explore how, whether, and to what extent “effective leadership” is, ought to be, or can be made synonymous with “moral” or “ethical leadership,” and by which understanding(s) of “morality” and “ethics.” Through classic and contemporary readings and case studies, students explore several different philosophical and religious traditions that might usefully inform the moral reasoning of present or future leaders who seek to promote human well-being by solving local, regional, national, or global problems.

In today’s environment, it is increasingly apparent that success is driven by an organization’s ability to create and capture value through innovations, either technological or non-technological. Thus, the processes used by organizations to develop and foster innovations, the choices they make regarding how to commercialize their innovations, the changes they make to their business models to adapt to the dynamic environment, and the strategies they use to position and build a dominate competitive position all are important issues facing the organizations. Building directly on the learnings achieved in G-MPA 6020, this course identifies and analyzes various types of innovation by socially responsible business leaders and generates insights about how leaders can strategically manage innovation and implement their innovation strategies to maximize their likelihood of success.

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and addressing contemporary global public health challenges and problems in developing countries. Through lectures, readings, and case studies, students learn and apply such concepts or techniques as the measure of disease burden, health and human rights, health economics, and cost-benefit analysis. The main case study concerns certain acute public health problems in Africa. Globally, more than half of all children under age five who die of pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria reside in Africa. More generally, by many public health indices, including rates of life-threatening infectious diseases, access to healthcare delivery, life expectancy, and rates of foodborne illnesses, Africa faces huge and still largely unmet public health challenges. Millions of people in Africa die each year from diseases that can be prevented by access to certain medicines and mitigated by participation in particular programs. Focusing mainly on malaria in Africa, and with a special case-based focus on Tanzania, students describe, analyze, and evaluate multiple and competing anti-malaria approaches and programmatic initiatives.

Despite decreases in rates of extreme poverty across the globe since 2000, billions of people still live on the equivalent of less than US $5 a day, and food insecurity, untreated infectious diseases, and myriad other poverty-related problems have persisted and, in some cases, worsened. In this course, we explore perhaps the most visible dimensions of deep poverty: homelessness and inadequate affordable housing. We begin by examining the multiple and competing definitions of these threats to human well-being and different ways in which international bodies, national governments, advocacy organizations, and independent academic and other analysts have measured them. We then review the evidence on solutions to homelessness, looking at the history of addressing homelessness and what the research tells us does and does not work. We next proceed to examine each problem as it has variously manifested itself in each of five places: Hong Kong, India, Tanzania, Venezuela, and the United States. Students conclude with an effort to identify and assess public-private or “collaborative governance” programs, whether international, national, or local, that address homelessness and/or the inadequate or unaffordable housing problems in any two of those nations.

The elderly population of Asia is projected to exceed 900 million by the year 2050. In East and Southwest Asia, public health policies are just beginning to support "healthy aging in place," and pension systems are not yet well-developed. In this capstone course, students learn about global aging and explore the humanitarian, economic, and public health dilemmas posed by elder care in East and Southwest Asia. By 2040, China alone is projected to have more than 400 million people age 60 or older. Students do individual projects regarding how leading Chinese governmental bodies, ranging from national, provincial, and district-level ministries to the Chinese Communist Party, have defined the elder care challenge; promoted "public-private partnerships" (or "PPP") programs; advanced community-based "healthy aging in place"; addressed the need for more geriatric medical practitioners and nursing professionals; and more. The last segment of the course is a multi-week research and writing project in which students, in response to specific questions posed by the instructors, describe, analyze, and assess China's subpopulation of "three needs" elderly citizens, and identify, evaluate, and prescribe reforms to existing PPP elder care programs.