Policy, Planning and Administration Concentration

Policy, planning and administration concentration

The PP&A Concentration is a program of study that builds on the Foundation curriculum and prepares students for leadership in human service organizations.  The PP&A Concentration is methods-based and focuses on knowledge and skills required of PP&A practitioners to carry out a variety of roles in government, nonprofit, and community organizations.  Students adapt course assignments and use their field placement experiences to pursue their interests in a particular field of practice, population group, or social problem.  In addition, students may use their electives to enroll in an interdisciplinary specialization within the University, e.g., Non-profit Leadership, or Healthcare Administration.

The PP&A Concentration is maintained and developed by the Policy Committee, a subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee.  The Policy Committee is composed of full-time faculty members with teaching assignments in the PP&A curriculum.  Students and part-time faculty members serve on the Policy Committee on an ad hoc basis.  The Policy Chair administers the PP&A program and chairs Policy Committee meetings.

The primary desired outcome of the PP&A Concentration is empowerment---the empowerment of practitioners to facilitate changes in the structures and processes of organizations, communities, and society.  These changes are intended to contribute to (a) a just distribution of resources and opportunities, (b) the ability of officials and the citizenry to understand and respond appropriately to the human condition, and (c) the provision of opportunities and resources to troubled or disadvantaged people to help them cope with personal and social barriers to the betterment of their condition. 

Such empowerment requires that practitioners in leadership roles have the ability to carry out several major tasks:

1.  Analyze groups, communities, organizations, and social problems, programs, and policies,

2.  Plan, develop, implement, evaluate, change, and administer human service programs, organizations, and policies,

3.  Facilitate, manage, and influence interpersonal, intergroup, and inter-organizational relations.

These tasks are carried out by practitioners who serve a variety of roles:

1.  Managers, supervisors, team leaders, and coordinators of service programs,

2.  Program planners and evaluators,

3.  Organizational specialists, including staff developers and trainers, equal employment opportunity officers, information systems managers, and budget and policy analysts,

4.  Chief executive officers, executive directors, or administrators within human service organizations,

5.  Community developers and organizers, and client advocates.

In the PP&A Concentration, five principles guide the mastery and performance of these tasks and roles:

1.  Responsiveness to service beneficiaries,

2.  The obligation to promote change in organizations, communities, and society that contributes to the development of a just society,

3.  Effective delivery of services,

4.  The facilitation of the work of direct service practitioners,

5.  The necessity to consider diversity in PP&A practice decisions.



 You can find descriptions of the below coursework in the most current catalog at https://wmich.edu/registrar

  • SWRK 6430: Leadership and Management in Human Services
  • SWRK 6450: Administration in Human Services Organizations
  • SWRK 6670: Program Planning
  • SWRK 6690: Advanced Seminar in Planning and Administration
  • SWRK 6700: Seminar in Social Policy Practice
  • SWRK 6770: Field Education in Social Policy, Planning and Administration
  • SWRK 6790: Advanced Field Education in Social Policy, Planning and Administration



  • Demonstrate effective leadership skills in human service organizations, including application of leadership theories, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and decision-making techniques.
  • Facilitate effective group processes and critically think about how to best work with project teams, committees, boards, volunteers, professional interdisciplinary teams and funding entities.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct multidimensional assessments of policies, organizations and communities.
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze, formulate and design policies impacting organizations and communities.
  • Demonstrate effective assessment, advocacy and political skills in legislative, judicial and administrative policy processes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to understand global issues influencing social and economic processes and to advocate effectively and promote social and economic justice in local communities and organizations.
  • Engage in organizational change, manage conflict and demonstrate critical thinking and creativity in problem solving related to organizations, special interest groups and funding entities.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply social work values and ethics in policy, planning and administration practice and demonstrate attitudes and behaviors that are consistent with the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics.
  • Demonstrate understanding of personnel, supervision and program staffing issues and human resources management.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct public testimony and presentations related to policy, planning and administrative processes as it impacts consumers, agencies and communities.
  • Demonstrate ability to develop and manage budgets as well as understand financial reports and audits in human service organizations.
  • Demonstrate program planning processes that includes an assessment of problem and needs, formulation of goals and objectives, design of service programs and integration and coordination with other community efforts resulting in a fully developed and detailed funding proposal.
  • Develop an understanding of organizational collaborations, joint ventures, mergers and affiliations and the resulting impact on communities.
  • Develop an understanding of strategic planning, including: mission, values, organizational goals and their interrelationship with other community-based programs.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of fund development techniques such as: annual campaigns, capital campaigns, endowments, grants and special events.
  • Develop an understanding of major governmental and private funding and regulatory systems, including federal, state, local, foundations and third-party reimbursement (including contracts).
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different organizational structures, rules, regulations and governance for non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, public agencies and faith-based organizations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess and critically think about outcomes and evaluate programs.
  • Demonstrate understanding and sensitivity with diverse populations, including women, minorities, consumers of service and other groups in policy, planning and administration practice.
  • Demonstrate understanding, sensitivity and cultural awareness to the social and economic impact of poverty and other social injustices.
  • Demonstrate an understanding and sensitivity to how organizational change should embrace staff and consumers of all cultures.
  • Demonstrate understanding and skill in use of print and electronic media to influence or persuade public attitudes, policy and programs.