Course Information

All courses are delivered entirely online by accomplished and respected evaluation professionals.

To earn a master’s degree in program evaluation, students complete all eight core content courses (PSY 880, 881, 882, 883, 884, 885, 887, 888) and a three-semester practicum sequence (PSY 886, 889, 889). Full-time students who begin the program in the fall semester earn their degree in only 16 months (four consecutive semesters). Alternatively, students can create a customized, part-time plan of study. This option works well for students working full-time and taking one or two courses per semester. 

To earn a graduate certificate in program evaluation, students complete four of the eight core content courses (12 credits). Certificate students are required to take 1) PSY 880: Foundations of Evaluation; 2) either PSY 881: Evaluation Design or PSY 884: Qualiative and Mixed Method Evaluation; and 3) any two of the other core content courses not already completed.  

Anyone interested in taking one or more of the core content courses as a non-degree seeking student for professional development should contact us regarding course availability and apply for Lifelong Education status through the university. 

 

Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020 Course Offerings

  • PSY 880: Foundations of Evaluation Practice

    Course Description

    This course is designed to introduce students to the history, professional standards, and leading theories of program evaluation practice. Students will explore professional evaluators’ roles and the contexts in which program evaluation occurs. By the end of the semester, it is expected that students will be able to:

    • Explain what program evaluation is and what program evaluators do.
    • Identify how professional evaluation practice standards are used to determine the quality of an evaluation process and its products.
    • Describe the basic tenets of the central theories of program evaluation practice.
    • Compare and contrast theoretical approaches to evaluation practice.
    • Identify how theories are used to inform practice decision-making.
    • Describe the state of research on evaluation theory and practice.

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 880

  • PSY 881: Evaluation Design

    Course Description

    In this course, students will be introduced to the evaluation design process; learn how to engage stakeholders in crafting evaluation designs; study the  fundamentals of designing exploratory, process, and outcome evaluations; and learn how to select an evaluation design that best meets a client’s information needs. 

    By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

    • Select an evaluation design that meets clients’ informational needs 
    • Identify and engage stakeholders in planning an evaluation design 
    • Develop an appropriate sampling & recruitment design for an evaluation 
    • Design a needs assessment 
    • Construct a logic model and/or theory of change 
    • Design a process evaluation 
    • Determine program evaluability 
    • Design an outcome evaluation 
    • Determine when ongoing program monitoring is appropriate

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 881

  • PSY 882: Evaluation Data Collection Methods

    Course Description

    In the data collection phase of an evaluation, evaluators gather credible evidence to answer the evaluation questions within practical, time, and resource constraints. This course will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to use various data collection tools commonly used in evaluation. By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

    1. Understand why and how to protect human rights when conducting evaluations. 
    2. Explain the criteria used to judge the quality of quantitative and qualitative data and apply strategies for maximizing data quality when planning and conducting evaluation data collection. 
    3. Write survey questions for a given evaluation. 
    4. Find an existing measure of a construct of interest in a given evaluation. 
    5. Design a self-administered questionnaire to collect data for a given evaluation. 
    6. Use cognitive interviewing to improve a questionnaire for a given evaluation. 
    7. Design a qualitative interview protocol for a given evaluation. 
    8. Conduct a qualitative interview to collect data for a given evaluation.
    9. Plan a focus group for a given evaluation. 
    10. Develop a focus group question route for a given evaluation
    11. Write fieldnotes based on direct observations of a setting.
    12. Design and test a structured observation protocol for a given evaluation. 
    13. Assess the usability of agency records as a data source for a given evaluation. 
    14. Identify potential secondary data sources and assess their appropriateness for a given evaluation. 
    15. Demonstrate an ability to work effectively with colleagues to complete team-based tasks. 

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 882

  • PSY 883: Statistics for Evaluators I

    Course Description

    Students in this course will learn about quantitative statistics, data management, and data analysis in an evaluation context. This course will focus specifically on foundational descriptive statistics and their applications and limitations in program evaluation. Students will also receive an introduction to the logic of inferential statistics, and their applications in evaluation. Student will build practical skills in conducting, interpreting, and reporting corresponding quantitative data analyses, in a widely used statistical software program (SPSS).

    By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

    1. Describe the logic, limitations, and application of descriptive and inferential statistics in an evaluation context
    2. Given a quantitative evaluation, identify which descriptive and inferential statistics should be used
    3. Given quantitative evaluation data, create an SPSS database and codebook and enter, clean, and manage data in SPSS
    4. Given a quantitative evaluation, identify which descriptive statistics should be used; obtain said statistics from SPSS, interpret, and write-up results for an evaluation report
    5. Identify specific evaluation contexts in which you would use bivariate correlations and multiple regression, and conduct bivariate correlation and multiple regression in SPSS
    6. Interpret and describe the results of bivariate correlation and multiple regression in SPSS for an evaluation report

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 883

  • PSY 884: Qualitative and Mixed Method Evaluation

    Course Description

    Qualitative and mixed-method designs and data analytic approaches are essential for process and outcome evaluation. This course will familiarize students with qualitative and mixed method designs that are commonly used in program evaluation. Students will learn basic approaches to qualitative and mixed method data analysis. By the end of the semester students will be expected to:

    • Identify strategic themes and key traditions in qualitative research
    • Construct evaluation questions that are appropriate for qualitative research designs.
    • Use a range of data collection techniques to gather qualitative data
    • Implement basic procedures to analyze and interpret qualitative data
    • Use verification strategies and quality criteria to ensure quality in qualitative studies
    • Describe common approaches to mixed methods analysis and identify challenges associated with conducting mixed methods studies

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 884

  • PSY 885: Communicating and Reporting

    Course Description

    For evaluations to meet their aim of improving social programming and informing program and policy decisions, evaluators have to communicate findings effectively and promote their appropriate use. In this course, we will cover principles of effective communication and reporting. Students will learn how to develop a dissemination plan, facilitate stakeholder meetings and workshops, generate actionable recommendations, display data, and present findings using multiple modalities. By the end of the semester students will be expected to:

    1. Identify relevant audiences for an evaluation’s findings
    2. Facilitate workshops to elicit stakeholder values and reflections on findings
    3. Create a basic dissemination plan
    4. Develop effective data displays
    5. Present findings in diverse oral and written formats
    6. Demonstrate knowledge of innovative methods for presenting evaluation findings

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 885

  • PSY 886: Evaluation Practicum Preparation

    Course Description

    To fulfill the requirements for the MA degree in Program Evaluation, students must complete 12 credit hours of practicum (PSY 889) over the course of two semesters. Practicum involves working alongside evaluation practitioners in a professional evaluation setting, applying the theory, methods, and practice skills learned in the classroom. This course prepares students for the practicum in two ways. First, the course is designed to guide students through the process of securing a practicum placement, and second, it teaches students to think critically about ethical challenges and action when working in the evaluation profession.

    By the end of the semester students will have:

    • Developed a compelling resume and cover letter
    • Identified and made verbal contact with potential practicum sites
    • Interviewed for positions at potential practicum sites
    • Selected a site and identified an on-site supervisor to oversee your practicum experience and evaluate your performance
    • Negotiated terms for the practicum with the on-site supervisor and submitted a draft learning contract to instructors
    • Provided on-site supervisor with draft of learning contract
    • Signed a learning contract with the on-site supervisor

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 886

  • PSY 887: Statistics for Evaluators II

    Course Description

    Students in this course will learn about inferential statistics and quantitative data analysis in an evaluation context. This course will build upon material from Evaluation Statistics I. The course will cover additional inferential statistics and will introduce students to other statistical tools and data analysis issues, such as handling missing data, using statistics to determine sample size and match comparison groups, and non-parametric statistics. Student will build practical skills in conducting, interpreting and reporting corresponding quantitative data analyses, in SPSS.

    By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

    1. Apply ethical standards to quantitative data management, analysis, and reporting
    2. Understand the logic, limitations, and application of inferential and non-parametric statistics in an evaluation context
    3. Identify specific evaluation contexts in which you would use t-tests, ANOVAs, and various non-parametric statistics, and conduct them in SPSS
    4. Interpret and report the results of t-tests, ANOVAs, and various non-parametric statistics
    5. Calculate the effect size of an intervention
    6. Conduct a power analysis to determine sample size or power to detect an intervention effect
    7. Address missing and non-normal data
    8. Given an evaluation, choose the appropriate statistical analysis and write an analysis plan

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 887

  • PSY 888: Evaluation Management

    Course Description

    It’s one thing to do an evaluation by yourself, or to have a role on an evaluation team. It takes a very different set of skills to direct or manage an evaluation from start to finish. This course puts students in the driver’s seat and engages them in thinking about what it takes to lead an evaluation, from soup (preparing the evaluation plan and budget) to nuts (orchestrating the pieces; facilitating use along the way; and delivering the results and promised products within a budget, timeline and certain expectations for quality). Students will learn the business aspects of evaluation management, such as writing evaluation proposals, negotiating and managing contracts, estimating and managing costs, and delivering results on time and within a budget. Students will learn the technical aspects of management, such as assuring quality of data collection and processing, facilitating use of evaluation processes and products for learning, obtaining IRB approval, and working with advisory groups. Students will learn relationship management such as leading an evaluation team, managing client relationships, verbal and nonverbal communications, and running effective meetings. The course focuses on the application of basic project management strategies to the management of program evaluations. Course content is divided into the four phases of project management: (1) planning, (2) executing, (3) controlling, and (4) closing.

    By the end of the semester students will be expected to be able to:

    • Reflect on how their own career aspirations fit within the field of program evaluation management by:
      • Assessing their own level of program evaluation management expertise
      • Discussing the differences between structures and processes of managing evaluations within different contexts
    • Remember the basic concepts of project management and apply them to managing an evaluation project
    • Apply the planning and initiation concepts of evaluation management by:
      • Writing an evaluation proposal with tasks, timeline and budget components
      • Estimating evaluation costs
      • Developing evaluation contracts with both clients and evaluation team members
    • Apply the control aspects of evaluation management by:
      • Assessing the data quality of organization
      • Discussing ways to assure high quality data collection, entry, analysis, reporting and storage
      • Completing a full set of Institutional Review Board application forms
      • Discussing how to manage IRB reporting requirements when a project violates human subjects protections
    • Value the importance of relationships and communication both with the evaluation team and with the stakeholders when managing an evaluation by:
      • Conducting a stakeholder analysis
      • Discussing how to develop and work with Evaluation Advisory Groups
      • Conducting effective meetings
      • Developing a lesson plan for facilitating discussions related to evaluation use
      • Experimenting with verbal and nonverbal communications

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 888

  • PSY 889: Evaluation Practicum

    Course Description

    Program Evaluation Practicum is a two-semester supervised practical application course in which students 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. This course provides students with the opportunity to further develop their evaluation skills by immersion in a real-world setting in which evaluations are currently being conducted. Settings might include government agencies, human service organizations, educational settings, healthcare organizations, and for-profit and non-profit evaluation firms. Placements may be with internal or external evaluation entities.

    MSU Course Catalog Description: PSY 889

 See additional course information on the

Program Evaluation Website.