Learn More About Our Core Courses

The Clinton School’s Master of Public Service doesn’t elevate one academic discipline over another: We balance rigorous policy and data analysis with effective communication and intensive relationship-building. Your studies and field experiences intentionally build on one another – a reflection of the program’s interdisciplinary design and small class sizes.

The Master of Public Service (MPS) degree program is 46 credit hours and includes:

  • 20 core credits
  • 17 field service credits
  • 9 elective credits

The course descriptions below provide a general overview of the core courses; however, the details are subject to change. Elective options for the program are listed here.

MPS Core Course Descriptions:

This course provides students with analytical tools that enhance their skills in diagnosing problems and formulating solutions within organizations and communities. The underlying premise is that well-prepared public service leaders can increase their effectiveness in contributing to the well-being of their communities by equipping themselves with these analytical tools. Instruction will focus on evaluating community assets as a balance to assessing community needs. Underlying values of social justice and collaborative problem-solving provide a benchmark for these activities.

This course covers the history, contexts, and practices of public service. Students will define public service in a global context and reflect on their past and future roles as public servants. The course will explore the various roles public servants play and the various contexts in which they practice public service.

This course introduces students to the concepts and principles of field research and is taught in conjunction with their first semester of Practicum. Topics include the key components of collaborative field research, ethics in field research, developing a research focus and research question, conducting a literature review, gathering data and data management, and analyzing data and reporting.

Being an effective public service professional requires having the knowledge and skills to act in situations in positive and productive ways that allow for authentic participation by those who may be affected by policies, processes, and actions. This course focuses on the constitutive nature of communication to create and maintain equitable social worlds. Students will explore various theories of democracy, civic participation, and public issue and policy formation, analyze case studies to understand the complexities of creating and maintaining equitable social worlds and engage in exercises to develop effective facilitation skills.

This course provides an overview of three intersecting institutions, which will be useful when conducting public service in the global south, and democratizing societies. These institutions include the State, the market, and civil society. The course examines the interventions from colonialism to globalization assessing the efforts of Northern States, multilateral, and non-governmental organizations as they attempt to solve the challenges of poverty, disease, conflict, famine, and gender inequality in the Global South.

This course builds on the skills students gain in Program Planning and Development and Field Research in Public Service. The primary objective is for students to learn and apply tools that are frequently used to determine whether public policies and programs at local, national, and international levels are achieving their intended objectives. In this course, students learn how to use appropriate research methods to evaluate public and not-for-profit programs and entities (e.g., non-profit organizations, foundations, NGOs), how to develop strategies for doing an evaluation, and how to manage evaluation projects. Prerequisites: CSPS 7333: Program Planning and Development and CSPS 7334: Field Research in Public Service.

This course provides an overview of statistical methods and hands-on application of statistical tools to managerial decision-making in public service. Understanding statistical analysis and being able to work with data are important competencies of professionalism in public service. Course topics include research design, data collection, and measurement, descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, processes for selecting statistical tests and assessment of statistical assumptions, measures of association and other bivariate statistics, index variable construction, regression analysis, and an overview of other selected statistical and quantitative methods applied to social problems in public service. Students get hands-on experience through the use of statistical analysis software. Throughout the course, the emphasis will be on understanding the reasoning behind the methods and tests, the assumptions under which they are valid, and the correct interpretation of results.

To earn these credits, students will have the option of several courses related to the dynamics of social change. Current offerings include:

Offered at the Clinton School of Public Service

  • CSPS 7313: Dynamics and Complexities of Social Change
  • CSPS 7326: Philanthropy Leadership and the Nonprofit Sector
  • CSPS 7314: Advocacy in Public Service
  • CSPS 7310: Education Policy, Politics, and Pedagogy
  • CSPS 7310: Power, Privilege, and Oppression

Offered at the UA Little Rock School of Public Affairs

  • PADM 7331: Analyzing Social Policy and Inequality
  • PADM 7345: Urban Management and Community Change

Offered at the UA Little Rock School of Social Work

  • SOWK 7330: Human Behavior and the Social Environment (taught through the MSW program)

Offered at the UAMS College of Public Health

  • HPMT 5202: Food and Nutrition Policy
  • HPMT 5426: Racial and Ethnic Disparities
  • CSPS 7341: Practicum I
  • CSPS 7340: Practicum II
  • CSPS 7530: International Public Service Project
  • CSPS 7322: Capstone Proposal
  • CSPS 7320: Capstone