How do we know which programs and policies are successful in improving society and which are not? How can we use assessments to help make programs and policies work better? Program evaluation specialists use applied research methods and other tools to determine how people can improve programs and policies, and which programs and policies are effective in addressing important social problems. Students in this program are preparing for or working in a career requiring program evaluation knowledge and skills.
The Program Evaluation MA courses are taught by seasoned evaluators who work in diverse settings and bring real-world experience to the classroom. They are leaders in the field who serve on evaluation association boards, author books and articles on evaluation theory and practice, and/or facilitate trainings for evaluation audiences.
The MA in Program Evaluation will provide you with the practical skills and real-world experience needed for a successful evaluation career. The program emphasizes professional development in the key areas of evaluation practice, including contemporary models and standards of professional evaluation practice; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method design and analysis; leading-edge communication and reporting strategies; and evaluation contracting and project management.
As part of the coursework for the Program Evaluation MA, you will complete a practicum sequence that provides the opportunity to further develop your evaluation skills by immersion in a real-world setting in which evaluations are currently being conducted. Settings include government agencies, human service organizations, educational settings, healthcare organizations, and for-profit and non-profit evaluation firms. If you are already working in a setting where evaluations are conducted, you will have the option to complete the practicum along-side a seasoned evaluator in your place of employment.
Graduates of this program possess the skills to develop evaluation proposals and contracts; design rigorous and culturally competent evaluations; collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative evaluation data; communicate findings to diverse audiences; and work successfully with stakeholders throughout the process of conducting an evaluation. With these skills, our graduates are prepared to work as an evaluation specialist in diverse settings such as foundations, human service agencies, school systems, hospitals, Inspector Generals offices, and independent evaluation firms.
Introduction to the history, professional roles and contexts in which evaluation occurs, professional standards, and leading theories of program evaluation practice.
Introduction to designing process and outcome evaluations, including how to engage stakeholders; developing a logic model; developing evaluation questions; using quasi-experimental and experimental designs in evaluation; and sampling and randomization.
Introduction to data collections methods commonly used in evaluation, including surveys, qualitative interviews, focus groups, structured observation protocols, qualitative observations, agency records, and secondary data.
Learn about foundational descriptive statistics and their applications and limitations; the logic of inferential statistics and their application in evaluation; the basics of correlation and regression analysis; how to select, conduct, interpret, and report analyses using SPSS; and data management.
Familiarizes students with commonly-used qualitative and mixed method designs and basic approaches to qualitative and mixed method data analysis.
Learn how to develop a dissemination plan, facilitate stakeholder meetings and workshops, generate actionable recommendations, display data, and present findings using multiple modalities.
Prepare to work alongside evaluation practitioners in a professional evaluation setting.
Learn about inferential statistics and quantitative data analysis in the evaluation context, including parametric and non-parametric statistics, handling non-normal and missing data, calculating effect sizes, and determining sample sizes. Build skills in conducting, interpreting, and reporting analyses in SPSS.
Learn what it takes to lead an evaluation from preparing the evaluation plan and budget to managing the evaluation team and stakeholders, facilitating use along the way, and delivering results and promised products within a budget, timeline, and agreed-upon expectations of quality.
Work alongside evaluation practitioners in a professional evaluation setting to gain first-hand understanding of how to apply the theory, methods, and skills learned in prior classes.
Admissions and Requirements
To be accepted to this program, you must have:
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
Taken the TOEFL
(Only required if English is not your native language)
A written personal statement
3 letters of recommendation
A minimum of three letters of recommendation from academic or professional contacts
Official transcripts from all previous schools
To apply to this program:
Complete a university graduate application (program code: 7735)
The official transcripts must be sent by the appropriate officials from each institution directly to the Department of Psychology at the following address: Program Evaluation Graduate Program, Department of Psychology, 316 Physics Road Rm 262, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
For non-US citizens without permanent residency status, have English language proficiency test scores (TOEFL or IELTS) electronically sent to the MSU Office of Admissions directly from the testing agency. MSU's TOEFL code is 1465. Do not have testing reports mailed to the university or Department of Psychology.
Fall 2020 (application and materials)
June 30, 2020
Spring 2021 (application and materials)
November 15, 2020
Summer 2021 (application and materials)
March 15, 2021
In State Tuition
Out of State Tuition
- Books/Materials (estimated)
The university reserves the right to make changes in the types, structures, rates for fees, and tuition. Every effort will be made to give as much advance notice as possible.
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