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Department of Public Administration & Policy

Math & Economics Boot Camp

The objective of Boot Camp is to improve your math and economics skills while you get to know your peers.

Boot Camp is tailored exclusively for incoming MPP students wishing to prepare for the advanced economic and mathematical requirements of that degree, as well as for those MPA students committed to pursuing a policy analysis concentration (i.e., taking PUAD 601 and/or 670 in their first semester at AU).

Math & Economics Boot Camp is held in August, the weekend before Fall Orientation for three full days (Friday - Sunday). Dates for the 2015 Boot Camp will be released in late Spring 2015.

Contact Kevin Nesline, nesline@american.edu, with questions.

Please refer to the 2014 Syllabus for examples of course content.


  • Greek notation
  • Operators
  • Order of operations
  • Basics of probability
  • Logs
  • Exponents
  • Properties of expected values
  • Equation of a line
  • Tangencies


  • Manipulating mathematical equations
  • Solving equation(s) with one or two unknowns, including equations with logs & exponents


  • What is economics?
  • Microeconomics vs. Macroeconomics
  • Positive vs. Normative analysis
  • Opportunity cost
  • Thinking on the margin: Marginal benefit and Marginal cost
  • Comparative advantage vs. absolute advantage
  • Low-Hanging Fruit Principle
  • International trade and specialization
  • Excessive specialization?
  • What is a market? What are prices?
  • Supply, demand, and market equilibrium
  • Using algebra to answer economic questions


Professor Alison Jacknowitz, director of the MPP program, and SPA prof. David Pitts at SPA boot camp. (Photo: Bill Petros)

First SPA Boot Camp Reinvigorates Skills

Public administration, policy master’s students brush up on math, economics.

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