curriculum

BSPA Curriculum: The courses examine how the public sector, along with the nonprofit and private sectors, use the policy process to effect change. Course offerings are flexible with options in-person, hybrid, and online. A majority of classes are small with 20-25 students and all are taught by accomplished scholars with doctorate degrees from major universities, as well as, practitioners with current and previous leadership roles in the field.

The Curriculum is engaging and relevant. It provides:

  • Proficiency in analysis, negotiation, rhetoric, as well as, qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Courses that specialize in areas of interest including community development, education, environmental sustainability, health care, housing, immigration, and social welfare.
  • Tools and knowledge to effectively lead, understand policy, and communicate while implementing practical solutions to challenging issues.

The BSPA requires 120 credits: a minimum of 30 public affairs credits and another 90 credits from the CUNY Pathways general education curriculum. In the Pathways curriculum, the recommended college option for BSPA students is a liberal arts minor. Minors relevant to public affairs include law, environmental sustainability, information studies, and survey research. BSPA students are not eligible to double major.

PAF 3010 Policy and Politics [REQUIRED]
3 hours; 3 credits
Introduces the student to the fundamentals of policy making in the American political system. Examines the institutions and processes that produce public policy in the United States at the national, state, and local levels (specifically in American cities). Addresses the social, cultural, and economic environments in which policy formulation and implementation take place. Provides the student with the basic conceptual and methodological tools of policy analysis.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3005 Public Service in New York City
3 hours; 3 credits
Events, personalities, and popular culture have shaped public service in New York City. This course examines the impacts of events such as the Draft Riots and 9/11, the influences of prominent mayors and administrators, and the effects of New York-focused movies, music, and television shows. It identifies models of public service to emulate.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3015 Qualitative Studies of Communities [REQUIRED]
3 hours; 3 credits
The course will examine the history and fundamentals of survey research, including the survey research process and its uses by government, business, non-profits, and the media. The course will cover survey methodologies including telephone and web surveys. Students will learn how to evaluate surveys, put research findings to use, and get hands-on experience designing, executing and analyzing a brief online survey.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3020 Ethics and Civic Engagement
3 hours; 3 credits
The course identifies the nature of ethical problems faced by citizens and those entrusted with the public interest. It explores alternative forms of ethical analysis. Students will have the opportunity to apply these analytic frames to specific problems related to public policy.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3040 Information and Society
3 hours; 3 credits
This course surveys the nature, production, values, and uses of information in historical perspective; the latest developments in information technology; the ways information is produced and disseminated, and how they affect business, politics, media, science, arts, and culture; the growth of the information society; and major information policy issues in contemporary society.
Cross-listed with COM 3040 and LIB 3040.
Prerequisite: ENG 2100
PAF 3100 Nonprofit Administration
3 hours; 3 credits
The purpose of the course is to provide an understanding of the nature and function of management in nonprofit organizations. Emphasis is placed on the processes of defining goals and objectives, organizing and staffing for maximum productivity, and dealing with the important aspects of the nonprofit environment.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3102 Economic Analysis of Public Policy [REQUIRED]
3 hours; 3 credits
This is a course in economic theory and its use for understanding and addressing public problems. Applications are drawn from current policy debates in areas such as the environment, health, and labor markets. Relevant analytical tools, including benefit-cost analysis, are introduced. Students analyze and write from an economic perspective through in-class activities and out-of-class assignments.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150 and ECO 1001
PAF 3103 Economics of the Public Sector
3 hours; 3 credits
The focus of this course is on the role of the government in the economy. It addresses the reasons for and consequences of government intervention, including the theoretical and empirical examination of whether and when intervention improves economic efficiency and social welfare. Students will learn about and analyze education and environmental policies, social insurance programs such as Social Security, social welfare, income and property taxation, and other means of financing government activities.
Prerequisite: PAF 3102
PAF 3105 Principles of Survey Research
3 hours; 3 credits
The course explores the history and fundamentals of survey research, including the survey research process and its uses by government, business, nonprofits, and the media. Different methodologies are covered, including telephone and web surveys. It reviews how to evaluate questionnaires, put research findings to use, and get hands-on experience designing, executing, and analyzing an online survey.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3106 Public Opinion Polling
3 hours; 3 credits
This course is an examination of public opinion in the American constitutional and political framework. The emphasis is on the public's capacity for expressing its political views, the place of attitudinal research in the social sciences, and the uses of opinion polls in public, nonprofit, and private decision-making. The class will learn about the role of public opinion in the advocacy and analysis of public policy.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3108 Public Campaigns and Advocacy [REQUIRED]
3 hours; 3 credits
In this course students will create and manage persuasive campaigns for a range of government and nonprofit organizations in fields such as healthcare, education, and environmentalism. Students will study theories of persuasion and social influence, and classic media campaigns such as public service announcements against drunk driving and ads for political candidates. Through such studies, students will learn how to apply principles of persuasion to influence diverse audiences in contemporary contexts involving issue advertising, election drives, the Internet, social media, and movement communication.
Prerequisite or co-requisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3201 Public Communication and Organizations
3 hours; 3 credits
Students are taught in this course to understand and apply communication skills in public affairs. The class provides cutting-edge tools for deliberation and speech in organizational environments, focusing on: professional styles and habits, audience analysis, institutional adaptation, political argument, rhetoric, media training, and the innovative use of technologies. New perspectives and practical skills will be acquired for engaging public issues.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3301 Models of Service Delivery
3 hours; 3 credits
The principles and problems of delivering urban services and the design of alternative service delivery systems are introduced in this class. The particular focus is on how well government serves the public, what kind of information is needed to answer questions about the effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and quality of services, and how to make service delivery more responsive to the public.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3343 Building Cities: Markets and Government
3 hours; 3 credits
This course introduces the major concepts behind the public regulation of urban land use. The course examines how market forces and the public sector shape every aspect of urban development, through policies, plans, regulations, and investment. It considers the tension between the market and government regulation. Students will learn how to analyze a community's land use structure and assess its strengths and weaknesses in order to develop policies that improve public welfare.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3375 Housing and Community Development Policy
3 hours; 3 credits
Examines the housing and community development system and its problems, including neighborhood change. Also, traces the evolution of government programs and policy-making with a focus on New York City. Housing needs, homelessness and community reinvestment issues are considered. Case studies of housing revitalization and neighborhood redevelopment accompany course readings and lectures.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3401 Quantitative Methods for Policy and Practice [REQUIRED]
3 hours; 3 credits
This course focuses on the use of quantitative information and analysis to understand, interpret, promote, critique,
and inform the implementation of programs and policies. Real world cases are examined throughout. Students use
Excel to analyze data with various methods, such as simple regression.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150 and STA 2100
PAF 3402 Policy Analysis
3 hours; 3 credits
This course examines the arguments and analysis used to identify problems, develop policy solutions, and make decisions in the public and nonprofit sectors. Students consider the range of policy goals, alternative policy approaches, and various analytic methods for determining the impacts of policy proposals and for making recommendations.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3403 Advanced Quantitative Analysis
3 hours; 3 credits
This course expands students' ability to understand, apply and produce quantitative analysis in aid of policy and practice. Real world cases are examined throughout, with an emphasis on developing and applying critical thinking skills. Students use Excel and a statistical software package to analyze data with various methods, such as multiple regression.
Prerequisite: PAF 3401
PAF 3442 Cities and Sustainability
3 hours; 3 credits
An analysis of ongoing and current public policies and programs that affect the greening of cities. The focus is on the historical evolution of land uses in New York City and the environmental sustainability of its neighborhoods and economy.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3710 Reforming Education
3 hours; 3 credits
This course examines the history and politics of American school reform. Students will consider the competing purposes often ascribed to public schools and study educational policies at local, state, and federal levels. Particular attention will be paid to urban education and issues of race and class.
Prerequisites or corequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 3810 Arts and Public Life
3 hours; 3 credits
Students will explore how art and arts organizations function in the political, economic, and cultural context of the United States. Through a variety of innovative learning experiences, including field work at museums and other venues, students will grapple with the challenges of leading, funding, and promoting art in public life.
Prerequisites or corequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 4199 Selected Topics
3 hours; 3 credits
Issues of special interest will be examined. The subject matter is determined by instructor.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 4401 Capstone [REQUIRED]
3 hours; 3 credits
Students will apply advocacy and analysis concepts and skills learned as Public Affairs majors to produce a project or paper on a policy solution or topic of interest.
Prerequisite: 18 PAF credits
PAF 5000 Independent Study
Hours and credits to be arranged.
This course is an individualized course of study under the direction of a professor.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150. By application only. Instructor permission required.
PAF 5001 New York State Legislature Internship
15 credits
This course introduces students to lawmaking and constituent services. Each intern is assigned to an elected member of the New York State Senate or Assembly. Students must reside in Albany for a full semester, attend classes taught by professors-in-residence, prepare a research paper, contribute to policy forums, and participate in a mock legislative session. By application only.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 5452 Public Affairs Internship
Hours to be Arranged; 3 credits
This course requires students to work in an approved public or nonprofit organization. It bridges the gap between theory and practice. By application only.
Prerequisite: ENG 2150
PAF 6001H Honors Thesis I [PERMISSION REQUIRED]

3 hours, 3 credits
The honors thesis is a major research project accomplished under the direction of a professor.
Prerequisite(s): A minimum of 18 credits in public affairs at the 3000 level or above. Open only to students who have earned at least a 3.5 GPA in public affairs and a 3.5 cumulative GPA and who have submitted an application prior to the fall semester of their senior year that has been approved by the prospective mentor, the associate dean of the School of Public Affairs, and the chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Honors.

PAF 6002H Honors Thesis II [PERMISSION REQUIRED]
3 hours, 3 credits
The honors thesis is a major research project accomplished under the direction of a professor.
Prerequisite(s): A minimum of 18 credits in public affairs at the 3000 level or above. Open only to students who have earned at least a 3.5 GPA in public affairs and a 3.5 cumulative GPA and who have submitted an application prior to the fall semester of their senior year that has been approved by the prospective mentor, the associate dean of the School of Public Affairs, and the chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Honors.