Spring Semester 2011

Now that I’m a theoretical two weeks into the Spring Semester, it’s time to provide my first update.  I say “theoretical” because the University was closed Wednesday and Thursday of the first week of classes due to inclement weather.  So I’ve attended my Tuesday class twice, but my Wednesday and Thursday classes only once so far.

Here are this semester’s courses and my initial impressions:

PUBP 720: Managerial Economics and Policy Analysis – This is a fundamental microeconomics course.  It’s a prerequisite course in the PhD program and a mandatory course in the Master’s programs, so it’s very popular.  The room is packed, but I think I’m going to enjoy it.  The professor’s philosophy is to keep the readings short and assign problem sets as students learn more by doing.

PUBP 804: Multivariate Statistical Analysis in Public Policy – I’ve got my work cut out here.  This is the follow-on to the PUBP 704 prerequisite course I took last semester.  There’s definitely a heavy emphasis on the use of STATA and I think this will be my most challenging class.

PUBP 805: Public Policy Systems and Theory – This is another follow-on course and shares similarities with PUBP 730; a prerequisite course I also took last semester.  So far, this has to be my favorite course.  We will be covering the political environment, agenda setting, policy theories, and their application.  There is a lot of reading involved: we will have read eight books by the time the semester is over.

PUBP 850: Professional Development – This is the seminar course for all SPP PhD students.  We take it in our first year of study.  It shares some similarity with last semester’s PUBP 801 course in that there will be numerous guest lecturers, but the course emphasizes scholarly research, professional development, and ethics and professional norms rather than 801’s focus on a research proposal.

All-in-all, it’s a course load of 11 semester hours, so I’m still full-time.  I’m also still working full-time, but keeping my fingers crossed that I get accepted to a program in which I’m able to reduce my working hours to 20/week while attending classes full-time.  Announcements were supposed to have been made in January, but as of yet my status is unknown.

Finally, there is an important bit of news to share about the Arlington facilities.  Until this semester, the School of Public Policy has had different homes around the Fairfax and Arlington campuses, but never a building specifically built for the School.  Until now.  Founder’s Hall is the new home of the School of Public Policy and is definitely state of the art.  Way to go Mason!  For a brief history of the Arlington Campus, click here.


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