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University of Colorado Denver

School of Public Affairs

Masters of Public Administration Requirements

The Program on Domestic Violence is a formal concentration within the Masters of Public Administration Program (MPA). The following describes how the concentration is implemented within the SPA structure. All MPA courses, exclusive of the required domestic violence concentration courses are available online.

Course Requirements

The program is designed to be a minimum of 36 credit hours. The course requirements will be as follows:

a. Core Required MPA Courses

Students are expected to complete all 6 (18 semester credit hours) of the following core MPA course requirements:


PUAD 5001 Introduction to Public Administration
PUAD 5002 Organizational Management and Behavior 
PUAD 5003 Research and Analytic Methods
PUAD 5004 Economics and Public Finance
PUAD 5005 Policy Process and Democracy
PUAD 5006 Ethics and Leadership 

*For more information please see the  SPA courses page and UCD Catalog.  


b. Required Concentration Courses

Students are required to complete 4 courses specific to the Program on Domestic Violence concentration (12 semester credit hours). Each of these concentration courses is in the intensive/cohort format. These courses include:

PUAD 5910: Women and Violence: a Sociological Perspective
This course is on violence against women, but includes violence against girls, and will also make comparisons regarding violence against men and boys.  The ideological approach in the course is feminist.  That is, the course lectures and reading materials will attempt to address the issue of violence against women (and girls) in terms of how gender inequality is related to the violence against women (and girls).  The feminist approach the professor takes is to incorporate the intersection of sexism and other forms of oppression, such as racism, classism and heterosexism.  The topics covered will focus on sexual assault (including incest) and battering, but will also include sexual coercion, sexual harassment and stalking.

PUAD 5920: Psychology of Violence Against Women

This class addresses the contributions and the limitations of current empirical and clinical psychological literatures about domestic violence. Domestic violence workers will become more able to distinguish among mental health professionals in regard to their readiness to work effectively with DV clients. Mental health professionals will obtain an understanding of the needs of domestic violence agencies and their clients. This class focuses primarily on the effects of domestic violence on women and children and on their psychological needs. The class is appropriate for students whose primary interests concern perpetrator treatment.   The class begins with a brief introduction to the necessary concepts of developmental psychopathology and empirical research. Initially, contemporary research about DV perpetrators is addressed to identify implications for assisting victims. Regarding the central focus on women and child victims, topics include theories about the effects of violence, psychological assessment, crisis and open-ended interventions.  

PUAD 5930: Battered Women and the Legal System
Battered women intersect with the legal system in many different arenas.  The class is geared toward those who will provide legal advocacy for battered women.  This course will analyze a variety of issues surrounding battered women and their experiences in the legal system, including legislative trends and the responses of the criminal and civil court system to domestic violence (law enforcement agents, prosecutors and judges).  The course will also explore battered women as defendants and women convicted of killing their abusers.  This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of (a) the major developments in statutory and case law; (b) the role and responses of law enforcement agents; (c) the function of the courtroom work group; (d) the role and process of victim advocacy.

PUAD 5940: Domestic Violence Advocacy and Social Change
This course shall provide students with an understanding of different models of social change and the various strategies of public address, including social movements and campaigns that accomplish social change.  We will specifically explore the rhetorical strategies, tactics, strengths and weaknesses of contemporary movements such as the civil rights movement, the black power movement, the women's movement, the gay and lesbian liberation movements, public health campaigns and the battered women's movement.  We will then ask how might the battered women's movement develop successful public discourses that advocates their cause, transform public policy, and build or reform public institutions such as the justice system? Skills provided: understanding of successful modes of public address and tactics of activism that produce changes in public policy and reform institutional practices.


c. One Elective Course

With the assistance and approval of their faculty advisor, students choose one elective. The course should support the students academic and/or career goals, with a preferable focus in Nonprofit, Public Management, or Policy (3 semester credit hours). Examples of potential courses include:

PUAD 5110 Seminar on Nonprofit Management
PUAD 5140 Nonprofit Financial Management
PUAD 5150 Understanding and Achieving Funding Diversity
PUAD 5220 Human Resources Management
PUAD 5160 Nonprofit Boards and Executive Leadership
PUAD 5130 Collaboration Across Sectors
PUAD 5440 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
PUAD 5460 Political Advocacy
PUAD 6950 Masters Thesis (typically, a thesis takes 6 hours, 3 of these would be elective hours) 

Please see  syllabi of previous courses.


d. Cohort Sessions


To strengthen the educational experience for program participants, build leadership skill, enhance knowledge and integrate domestic violence and management learning, all students are required to participate in cohort sessions equivalent to 10-15 hours of training per semester throughout their two year program of study. In the cohort sessions students build upon their course work by developing analytic skills, recognizing and adapting to power imbalances in public policy debates, identifying and transforming social and cultural practices that legitimate and recreate issues of power and privilege that makes domestic violence possible, and producing programs for clients.

e. Capstone Course or Masters Thesis


Students are required to complete a capstone experience.  The student must successfully complete a capstone project or masters thesis in order to complete all requirements for their MPA degree.


This three (3) credit hour course typically takes place in the final semester of a students program of study.  Students will develop practical applications of the theoretical and historical knowledge they have acquired in previous courses.  Each student is required to devise a capstone project.  Capstone projects may involve some of the following: creating a public relations campaign for a battered womens shelter, directing a fund raising campaign, or developing a lobbying effort for a legislative bill. The requirements for the capstone project are consistent with SPAs requirements. That is, a main advisor from the SPA faculty, a second reader from the SPA or domestic violence faculty and the client will serve as the advisory committee for the students project.  The client is the individual at the site for whom the student will be conducting the project.  The final product will be a paper (graduate level quality) and an oral presentation to the advisory committee. The Advanced Seminar provides students with the opportunity to pursue a research option for those who prefer a pure research project, but students are encouraged to pursue the client-oriented option in order to practice their research skills with a public agency or organization.

Masters Thesis

Students may also complete a Masters Thesis per requirements established by the School of Public Affairs in lieu of a capstone project.

f. Internship Requirements

Those students who do not have sufficient work experience (at least one year in a management level position and one year of domestic violence related work) will be required to complete an internship.  Internships consist of a semester long work experience (no less than 300 hours) at a work site.  The work site should be a place where the student gets an inside view of domestic violence/ management/policy development.  This may include: battered womens shelters, legislator who is interested in violence, an association of domestic violence programs, etc. | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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