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MPA 801: Applied Analytical Methods

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MPA 801: Applied Analytical Methods l

Description: The aim of this course and more generally, the economics and quantitative stream in both the MPA and MIR programs at SPS, is to help you become better problem solvers. In this course, this aim will be achieved by boosting your ability to "crunch data" and testing hypotheses to help solve challenging problems. My aim is not to indoctrinate you with hip ideas or rehash opinions based on personal passions or political correctness.

More specifically, MPA 801/MIR 893 is an introductory level course that acquaints students to a variety of concepts and techniques essential to the quantitative analysis of issues that arise in a multitude of settings that professional students may encounter after graduating. This course is designed with two objectives in mind. First, this is a “ground up” analytical methods class. While some SPS students have some prior exposure to statistics, this class should be accessible to students who, for example, have never seen a sample mean or median. Second, this course provides sufficient background in analytical methods to prepare students for all of the upper level courses at SPS. Put together, this means that while some of the topics covered will be familiar, the pace and emphasis are substantially different from traditional undergraduate courses.

The course combines material typically found in an introductory course on probability and statistics with selected topics in cost benefit analysis. The course will also provide students with an opportunity to become proficient in the use of spreadsheet programs to analyze quantitative data. Please note that this course is highly cumulative – in the past, students who fall behind early in quantitative oriented courses have had extreme difficulty catching up.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain and utilize the concepts of time value of money, cost, present value and discount.
  • Obtain information from the World Wide Web relevant to answering questions related to basic economic indicators.
  • Summarize and interpret the data presented in a report.
  • Demonstrate your ability to frame a testable research question.
  • Understand the meaning of analyses using confidence intervals, test statistics, and p-values.
  • Demonstrate your ability to use Excel to produce results and your capacity to write about those results in a manner that is easily understood by a non-technical audience.
  • Understand the purpose and objective of cost-benefit analysis

Faculty: Steven Lehrer (Fall 2012)

Source: Syllabus on this page, downloaded from (accessed 3 February 2013, website no longer operative).

Teaching Topics Addressed in this Course, Organized by Public Policy and Management Subject


Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles provide a number of candidates for teaching topics to be developed:

  • Time Value of Money
  • Reaching Decisions with Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Describing Data 
  • Calculating Net Present Value and Summary Statistics in Excel
  • Normal Distribution and Sampling 
  • Political Culture and Political Parties
  • Statistical Inference and Hypothesis Tests
  • Bivariate Regression
  • Regression Prediction
  • Running Regressions in Excel 

Page created by: Ian Clark, 11 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.



































 Teaching Topics addressed in this Course

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 Subjects in which individual Topics are located

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MPA801 Syllabus, Fall2012, Steven Lehrer.pdfMPA801 Syllabus, Fall2012, Steven Lehrer

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