When you choose a Field of Concentration at SPIA in your application, you are essentially choosing two classes. Every incoming Field III (Domestic Policy) MPA takes SPI 521: Domestic Politics in the first semester, which is currently taught by Dr. Frances Lee. In the second year, you are required to take a domestic economics course. This year, the majority of second year Field III students are taking SPI 522: Microeconomic Analysis of Domestic Policy with Dr. Amy Craft. Beyond those two required Field III classes, you are free to pursue electives that fit your interests. Some of the more popular electives for Field III are practitioner-led classes like Legal Skills for Policymakers, State and Local Finance, Federal Budget, and Challenges in State and Local Health Policy.
A strength of the Field III program is our classmates’ variety of interests and experiences. Because our classes are relatively small, we can learn from our peers about how the lecture concepts apply in different policy areas. Which means that when we talk about federal cost benefit analyses, you get Sophie Graham’s explanation of quality-adjusted life year based on her experience in healthcare consulting and TJ Sell’s explanation of the relationship between government and for-profit colleges during education economics.
Our class has a weekly newsletter, which includes ‘gas ups’, or notes of appreciation, for classmates. In that spirit, I am including a few comments below on how people have added to our classes and made all of our experiences here better:
- “Francis has added a lot to my field III experience since he brings in a unique perspective on how Puerto Rico is treated differently than US states so often but is still limited by federal policies in such complex ways! I've learned a lot from him.”
- “It is very insightful to hear from people who worked on Capitol Hill, like Isaiah and Juan Carlos, and understand some of the tradeoffs they have to consider when writing legislation.”
- "Sherrod's legal background as a JD/MPA student has been a great resource in Field III courses and discussions. His contributions have helped me understand how past legal action and key court cases shape our current policy landscape."
If you are part of SPIA’s Field III cohort in the class of ’23 or ’24, you will have a different group of classmates and perspectives. One constant will be that SPIA is great at creating a collaborative environment and making sure that we learn from each other. SPIA and Field III will give you the tools to learn about the policy issues you are passionate about while you are here, but you will also learn things you had not planned, about topics that might not be your focus. As a Field III pivoting into domestic work, the opportunity to learn from other MPAs has been the most valuable part of my education here and is what makes Field III, and SPIA, special.
*Photo courtesy of Bridget Kelly. Taken during Climate and the Coasts Policy Workshop, Fall 2021.