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Plan of Study


Overview

The GC-PPME is a 12-credit graduate program designed to be completed in twelve months of continuous enrollment. Students should use this as a guide to develop a plan with the program director. The program uses the semester academic calendar.

Specific class meeting information (days and time) is posted on UMD’s interactive web service services, Testudo. Once on that site, select “Schedule of Classes,” then the term/year. Courses are listed by academic unit.

The program uses specific section codes for registration which are listed on the sample plan of study. Actual course offerings are determined by the program and may vary.

General Plan of Study

  • The four required courses are meant to be completed in succession within a 12-month period. While no course is a pre-requisite for another, the summative capstone course must be taken last. 
  • Those students who wish to take just a course or two, or who wish to work on a timeline of their own choosing are free to do so, so long as they complete all four courses with the capstone last.

Course Listing

  • Below is a listing of all program courses. For a detailed course description that includes pre-requisites or co-requisites, see The Graduate School Catalog, Course Listing as follows:
  • PLCY Course Descriptions
Type Course Number Course Title Online / Off-site Section Code Credits
Required TBA Applied Policy Analysis PGY* 3
Required TBA Evaluation-based Program Planning PGY* 3
Required TBA Improving Programs PGY* 3
Required TBA Capstone Field Experience PGY* 3

Paris, June 13-24, 2022, OECD

Applied Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation: Real-World Decision Making

Policies and programs can be improved when “policy analyses” are used to guide decision making. Such analyses systematically assess the nature and extent of the problem of concern and the key options available to address it, taking into account their cost, operational feasibility, likely effectiveness, ease of operations, and political support.

Theory, research, and evaluations inform the process, but, given the uncertainty of the knowledge base and limited resources for implementing programs, decision makers should also consider the social and ethical dimensions of their decisions. The end product is a report that lays out the findings and makes one or more recommendations based on the pros and cons of the key options.

Topics include:

  • Contemporary policy analysis in different political environments
  • Systematic analysis (including problem definition, option identification and assessment, and selection of recommendations)
  • Data sources, collection, and analysis
  • Evaluation methodologies (including qualitative studies, pre/post studies, interrupted time series, comparison groups, econometric evaluations, randomized control trials, and natural experiments)
  • Generalizability and causal, statistical, and policy conclusion validity
  • Assessing and synthesizing research and evaluations (including literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-evaluations)
  • Political and cost factors
  • Social and ethical considerations
  • Recommending options based on a decision-making matrix

Madrid, Fall (Dates TBD)

Evaluation-based Program Planning and Implementation: Using Evidence to Guide Decision-Making

Deciding whether and how to establish or modify a program is a multi-step process. First comes a series of “developmental evaluations”; they first gauge the need for the program, and then use a logic model (informed by theory, research, and evaluation) to develop the theory behind the program and an operational design to implement it, considering its likely effectiveness, costs, and benefits. Assessing the practical and political feasibility of the program is next, together with determinations of its evaluability. Finally, process evaluations document the program’s operations while also assessing its fidelity to the original design, modified, if needed, by the lessons learned as the program is initiated.

Topics include:

  • The role of formal evaluations in program planning
  • Logic models as a framework for the planning process (including inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes/impacts)
  • Developmental evaluations (including needs assessments, program theory assessments, feasibility evaluations, and evaluability assessments)
  • Preparing detailed operational designs
  • Economic evaluations (including cost, cost-efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit analyses)
  • Public/private partnerships to support program delivery 
  • Implementation and process evaluations

Milan, Winter (Dates TBD)

Improving Programs through Evaluation-Based Performance Measurement and Management

Even the best designed program can falter from poor implementation or management. The tools of evaluation can be used to measure program operations and outcomes (as they are operating) and to suggest possible corrective actions. The yardsticks for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of programs are performance targets and comparative effectiveness evaluations; they gauge relative performance and are guides for managing improvement. They can also reveal the need for more extensive change, in which case they lay the groundwork for policy reform.

Topics include:

  • Performance measurement frameworks (including logic models, the Balanced Scorecard, and the SMART method)
  • Using logic models to identify key elements of performance
  • Operationalizing performance indicators and targets
  • Using counterfactuals and performance targets to measure effectiveness
  • Comparisons across programs after adjusting for contextual differences
  • Collecting and analyzing data
  • Estimating program costs (including cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness)
  • Using the resulting data to improve performance though management techniques and program adjustments and restructuring

Virtual, Spring, 2023

Capstone Field Experience in Program Planning, Management, and Evaluation (PPME)

Students work with clients in public and private agencies (at the local, national, and international level) to execute real-world projects that apply the concepts and skills from the courses in the program.

Possible projects include conducting needs assessments, planning and/or developing programs, designing and/or conducting process evaluations, developing performance measures, planning impact evaluations, conducting case studies of programs, designing and/or conducting economic evaluations, and preparing research reviews and policy analyses.

Potential clients in the US, Europe, Africa and other regions will be identified by the instructors, but students may suggest other possible clients anywhere in the world.

The instructors will guide the students through a series of structured course products, including project description and methodology, findings and analysis, and draft and final papers. At the conclusion of the course, students deliver final presentations to the instructors and clients in a series of online sessions.

Virtual, Spring, 2023
Capstone Field Experience in Program Planning, Management, and Evaluation (PPME)

Students work with clients in public and private agencies (at the local, national, and international level) to execute real-world projects that apply the concepts and skills from the courses in the program.

Possible projects include conducting needs assessments, planning and/or developing programs, designing and/or conducting process evaluations, developing performance measures, planning impact evaluations, conducting case studies of programs, designing and/or conducting economic evaluations, and preparing research reviews and policy analyses.

Potential clients in the US, Europe, Africa and other regions will be identified by the instructors, but students may suggest other possible clients anywhere in the world.

The instructors will guide the students through a series of structured course products, including project description and methodology, findings and analysis, and draft and final papers. At the conclusion of the course, students deliver final presentations to the instructors and clients in a series of online sessions.

To enable students to remain in their home locations, this course will be fully online with both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (self-directed) components. Classes are on subjects related to preparing student reports, such as conducting interviews, preparing narrative outlines, developing search strategies, writing a policy report, and making formal presentations of findings and recommendations.

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