Fall Term, Year One: Tools for Analysis and Background

Introduction to Public Policy

This introductory course provides an overview of the field of policy analysis and policy studies and addresses key issues in contemporary public policy. Using a case-based, interactive approach, the course introduces students to the policy making process, including problem definition, prioritization, decision making, interest group alignment and implementation. A primary objective of the course is to familiarize students with a classroom environment that emphasizes discussion and dynamic interaction between teacher and student and among the students themselves.

Microeconomics for Public Policy

The course introduces the key principles of microeconomics, such as demand, supply, market equilibrium, the theory of consumer behavior, and production theory. The course also considers key themes in the formulation of public policy like efficiency and equality, cost benefit analysis, market failure, and the role of the state in developing, transitional, and integrating economies.

Macroeconomics – Theory and Policy Applications

The course covers the fundamentals of macroeconomics and develops analytical skills needed to analyze macroeconomic conditions in developing countries.  The emphasis is on practical applications rather than theoretical models. Students study relationships among key macroeconomic variables and the capacity of fiscal and monetary policy to achieve macroeconomic stability in the short and long period.

Quantitative Methods

The course presents commonly used methods for estimating economic relationships among observed variables and testing hypotheses about those relationships. The objective of the course is to introduce students to the power of statistical and econometric methodologies as well as their limitations. The goal of the course is to help students become sophisticated consumers of statistical information.

Law and Public Policy

The course examines the interactions of public policy issues and the law. It deals with debates over the role of law in economic development, focusing on how legal institutions can be developed to correct market failures. Major building blocks of a legal system, including property law, contract law, criminal law, and the legal process, are also discussed to highlight their importance for the formulation and implementation of public policies.

English for Public Policy

This is a required course to help students gain the level of proficiency in English needed to use English language source material and to pass the language assessment that is required of all postgraduate students in Vietnam. Students who achieve a minimum score on the English component of the FETP admissions test may place out of this course.

Spring Term, Year One: Core and Specialized Policy Analysis

Development Policy

Development Policy reviews core topics in development economics and explores emerging issues such as the role of institutional change in the growth process. The course addresses topics relating to economic growth, poverty reduction, inequality, environmental sustainability, and social policy. The course considers common “myths” about development that are not supported by careful consideration of the evidence. Students are encourage to test theoretical propositions using all available evidence, including official statistics, case material and direct observation.

Public Sector Economics

The course considers the role and scale of the public sector, the mobilization of state resources, and public sector expenditures.  The course focuses on principal policy options for the design and implementation of public finance in open economies, emphasizing the utilization of theoretical and applied techniques for the identification and assessment of the impact of alternative taxation policies on growth and equity.

Financial Analysis

Financial Analysis introduces the fundamental concepts and techniques for valuing financial assets and making corporate financial decisions. The course emphasizes real-world practice of financial theories and models through case studies based on the Vietnamese context. Topics covered include present value analysis, portfolio theory, capital structure, cash flow valuation, derivatives and risk management.

Local and Regional Development

This is a course on competitiveness and economic development, taking a bottom-up and microeconomic perspective. The course’s objective is to address the question: How does a constituency (national government, sub-national government, region, cluster, industry association and others) build up its competitiveness to achieve the development goals? The course will make an extensive use of case studies, drawn from both the HarvardBusinessSchool and the Fulbright School case library. The course also involves a team project in which the team assesses the competitiveness of and makes recommendations for a particular constituency.

Public Governance (half course)

Public Governance introduces core legal concepts relating to public policy and the role of institutions in public governance. The course emphasizes debates relating to institutional reforms, distinguishing between the traditional Vietnamese state management system and effective public governance in a modern market economy. The principles and practice of effective regulation are also viewed from the perspective of Vietnamese institutions.

Research Methods for Public Policy (half course)

The course reviews and summarizes the methods, models, and tools used in the analysis of public policy. The course considers critical issues related to public policy that students have studied during the first year of the program, enabling them to systemize their knowledge. At this time, students will be equipped with solid methodological grounding needed to undertake thesis research.

Applied Econometrics (half course)

This is an optional course that provides additional instruction in econometrics for students who will use more advanced quantitative methods in the preparation of their master’s theses. Topics covered in the course include time series analysis, panel data, policy impact evaluation using natural experiments and instrument variables, and forecasting.

English for Public Policy

A continuation of the first term English language proficiency course.

Philosophy and Theory

This course, required by the Ministry of Education and Training, covers fundamental philosophical and theoretical concepts. It is taught by the philosophy facultyat the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City.

Summer Term, Year One: Advanced Policy Analysis, Management and Leadership

Development Finance (half course)

This course discusses approaches to developing a well-functioning financial system to support economic development in an open, transitional, and developing economy. The course will consider the development experience and financial crises of countries in the region in order to draw lessons and implications for Vietnam. Institutional approaches and case studies will be used extensively. 

Trade Policy (half course)

Trade Policy introduces students to the theory of international trade from the classical comparative advantage model to the modern trade theory. The course discusses in great detail international trade and institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, that shape trade policies and resolve disputes. Economic, legal, and political factors relating to trade are reviewed, along with their implications for Vietnam’s economic development.

Appraisal of Public Investment

This course provides students with practical techniques to evaluate the financial and economic feasibility of a development project. The first part of the course deals with the construction of cash flow statements emphasizing the importance of analyzing projects from the viewpoints of all stakeholders and using different investment criteria. The second part of the course deals with detailed estimation of economic costs and benefits and discusses the importance of social, political, and regulatory issues in shaping development projects. The course draws heavily on case studies based on actual investment projects from Vietnam and other contexts.

Public Management and Leadership (half course)

Public Management provides analytical tools for use in the policy implementation process and in managing the activities of public organizations. Key topics include strategic management, performance measurement, organizational networks and structure, process management, leadership, and change. The course also considers the responsibilities and role of leadership in the political, economic, and social context of Vietnam. Guest lectures by public and private sector leaders/managers will provide students with real world examples of leadership and management strategies.

Fall Term, Year Two: Policy Research

Policy Seminars and Preparation of Thesis Outline

As a condition of graduation, all students must complete a master’s thesis. Students are expected to analyze a specific public sector problem and recommend policies and approaches to implement these recommendations. Every student will be assigned a faculty advisor. During the semester students will participate in policy seminars organized by thesis topic. These groups will meet weekly to provide an opportunity for students to share the results of their research and receive feedback from classmates and faculty.

Spring Term, Year Two: Policy Research

In the final term of the program, students work independently on their master’s theses under the supervision of a member of the Fulbright School faculty.

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Public policy education and research for Vietnam

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