PA 881: Cost-Benefit Analysis is an elective course for second-year graduate students in the La Follette School’s two master's degree programs – the Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA) and the Master of Public Affairs (MPA). It provides the conceptual foundations and skills that prepare students to be sophisticated consumers and producers of cost-benefit analysis.
The semester-long course covers the basic concepts and techniques for estimating the social benefits and social costs of proposed public policies. Students work in teams on projects for clients in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors, contributing to the University of Wisconsin–Madison's outreach mission and to the Wisconsin Idea.
Student groups work interactively with the client under the direction of a La Follette School faculty member. Students analyze existing data, search for data and information in the research literature, and collect some information through interviews with experts. Usually the short timeframe precludes surveys or the collection of substantial amounts of original data.