The Murphy Institute at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) in collaboration with the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and participating unions offer a unique opportunity for City employees. The undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in Public Administration and Policy provide students with an opportunity to focus specifically on government agencies, the budgetary process, the delivery of social services, and the development of public policy.

These programs are ideally suited for students who are pursuing or advancing careers in government or in the non­profit sector. Many graduates work as senior administrators for social service agencies with the federal, state, or municipal governments. In this capacity, they oversee and improve public programs in such areas as housing; welfare; transportation; community health; emergency services; economic development; and parks, recreation, and cultural affairs. Other graduates get involved in the electoral process and/or policy analysis and development.

Students who complete the program may apply their certificate credits towards the BA in Urban and Community Studies or MA in Urban Studies degree program offered by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. For more information about the Urban Studies BA and MA degrees and other certificate programs, click HERE.


Julman Tolentino
Public Administration Program Coordinator

1 Centre Street, 24th floor
New York, NY 10007

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education at CUNY SLU provides free services through our CUNY Days: Adult College Access Program for adult learners who are interested in continuing their education but are feeling confused or unsure about the college selection and application process.


SLU’s full-time and consortial faculty includes some of the nation’s most prestigious scholars: collectively, they have authored over 70 books, many of which have had a significant impact on public policy and public opinion on both the national and local level.

SLU’s faculty also includes many accomplished practitioners who deal with some of the City’s most pressing problems and issues. SLU’s adjunct faculty has included NYC’s Comptroller and the head of the NYC labor movement. Others have included the NYS Commissioner of Labor and a Borough President.

Undergraduate Certificate in Public Administration and Public Policy

16 credits are required for the certificate.  Students must complete 16 credits from the following courses.

Public Administration (4 hours/4 credits)

This course examines the growth, structure role, and methods of local and federal bureaucracies and their impact on American society. It introduces students to the subject of bureaucracy in American government and surveys the major areas of study in Public Administration, including the context of public administration, the meaning of federalism, and intergovernmental relations. In addition, the course addresses decision-making, leadership, policy implementation, budgeting, personnel management, performance management, legal and regulatory constraints, ethics and accountability. Students become knowledgeable about the roles and functions of public agencies and acquire a grasp of current issues and controversies concerning public bureaucracies and public policy.

Government, Politics and the Policy-Making Process (4 hours/4 credits)

This course explores the policy-making process in a range of public institutions and introduces students to the approaches, methods, tools, and techniques of decision-making. The role of conventional political institutions, as well as alternatives to conventional politics, are studied.  In the process, students identify official as well as unofficial political actors, including those in the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government; social and political activists; the media; and the public. Finally, the course examines several models of the policy-making process.

Public Issues and Public Policy (4 hours/4 credits)

This course provides an overview of the major problems facing American cities and examines the federal, state, and local policies that address urban poverty and inequality. Students explore a range of economic and social policies, including taxation; minimum wage; social security; immigration; education; the environment; crime; social welfare; discrimination and civil rights. Students also examine the political and intellectual debates over policy initiatives to regulate social and private life. Finally, students discuss pluralist and elitist perspectives on public policy and policy debate. Readings include diverse and sometimes clashing points of view and often emphasize developments in New York City.

Research Seminar on Public Policy (4 hours/4 credits)

This course is a seminar in public-policy analysis, including full class sessions as well as supervised independent research. The seminar focuses on a single topic, such as healthcare, housing, or criminal justice, which changes each semester. Using a task force model, students survey the literature in the topic under consideration and work in teams to work on particular aspects of the social problem and policy. The task for each team is to identify, analyze, and evaluate an existing policy or set of policies related to the selected topic. Students develop criteria for evaluation and assemble data to support an argument concerning the viability and effectiveness of policies under examination. The goal for each task force is to recommend modifications or alternatives to existing policy and/or policy implementation that effectively address the needs and concerns of various constituencies and interest groups in the decision­ making process. During the term, task force groups make oral presentations based on their research. Each group presents a final report that incorporates policy analysis and policy recommendations. In preparation for the task-force project, the seminar provides an overview of the topic under examination and will review methodologies for policy analysis.

Graduate Certificate in Public Administration and Public Policy

12 credits are required for the graduate certificate. Students must complete 12 credits from the following courses.

Public Administration (3 hours/3 credits)

This course examines critical issues confronting government and public administration. Readings and discussions cover a broad range of topics and include comparisons of public and private bureaucracies as well as current proposals for rethinking the role of government. Students analyze theoretical questions of public administration and address the real-world experience of public sector employees, both managers and staff.

Students evaluate academic literature on current and future trends in public-sector labor relations, including material on performance management and the Government Performance Results Act, as well as “post-bureaucratic” models of the public-sector workplace. In this process, students examine such key managerial issues as evaluation of employee performance; motivation of employees; organizational justice; diversity management; training and staff-development; union-management relations; and collective bargaining. The course concludes with a participatory workshop on managing in the public sector, in which students draw on both their practical experience and the scholarly literature discussed in the course.

Social and Economic Policy in the United States (3 hours/3 credits)

Students in the course focus on specific urban issues such as poverty, welfare, housing, healthcare, public education, and urban crime. This course explores the economic and political aspects of critical social issues, discussing a range of policies and policy alternatives that address these issues at both the national and local levels. To provide a framework for these discussions, we examine the relationship between government, the economy, and the variety of policy approaches historically employed to address social issues. The course concludes with an analysis of the public-sector labor force and the future of municipal unions. While the main focus of this course is on municipal issues and policies, students examine both federal and local policies for economic growth, seeking to understand the relationships between national and local economic policy.

Policy Analysis (3 hours/3 credits)

This course introduces students to theories and techniques of policy analysis and helps them acquire the basic skills necessary to do analytic work. The course begins by defining policy analysis and the various social models that underlie differing analytic and evaluative frameworks. It examines the institutions, interests, and forces that shape policy debate and affect “delivery” of policy initiatives.  Students explore several models of analysis and consider their limits as well as their strengths. They explore the role of government in implementing public policy and allocating resources. In that process, students address a key question: How do the interests of social groups combine with access to the political process to determine who gets what and when? Finally, students examine case studies of public-policy analysis in three selected areas of study.

Research Methods Seminar (3 hours/3 credits)

This course examines research methods used to produce accurate data on a range of important public policy and public administration issues. Students learn the importance of formulating research questions; the range of methodologies that can be employed; the tools of research methodology and how to utilize them. They also learn how to analyze data in order to produce research reports in which conclusions are supported by reliable data.  In this seminar, students discuss the theoretical and operational issues critical to doing research and develop tools and techniques for conducting both quantitative and qualitative research. Students critique and evaluate specific research studies and make presentations, posing questions for group discussion. Finally, students develop an operational familiarity with computer-based programs for statistics and data analysis. Several class sessions are scheduled in a computer lab for training students in the use of software for statistical analysis (SPSS).

Practicum: Analysis of Public Policy Issues (3 hours/3 credits)

This practicum is designed to give students the opportunity to develop and execute an independent project for a real-world “client”- a public employee working in a decision­ making capacity who has volunteered to work with students on this project. Students work in groups. Together with a client, each group identifies an issue or problem the client wishes to address. The students’ task is to research and analyze the issue, and propose a series of recommendations in the form of a “client memo” that is organized, written, and argued persuasively. To assist students in the completion of the memo, the course is organized in several steps: finding a client; identifying and refining the client’s issue or problem; and selecting an appropriate analytic method to address the issue. The course is divided between class meetings and independent, supervised research. Class discussions, based on readings, explores relevant public policy and public administration issues and examines a range of appropriate research methods and analytical approaches. During the semester, groups meet independently with the instructor to assess progress and discuss research problems. At intervals during the term, students make oral presentations, based on their research. The final client memo is presented and discussed in class.