Curriculum in the MAPP Program

A herd of horses grazing

All students in the M.S. in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program take core courses that examine the changing roles of animals in society, teach students how to effectively evaluate research and policy arguments, and polish their communication skills. Students follow either a "research track" or an "applied track" and pursue their own interests by choosing from a flexible menu of electives and completing an individualized capstone project.

Applied Track students acquire a strong understanding of animal issues and the communication skills needed to implement and advocate for practices that enrich human-animal relationships and improve the health and well-being of people and animals. The capstone exercise for students in the applied track is a three-month mentored externship. Students work closely with an organization involved in animal issues, and reflect on their experience by preparing a research paper and participating in other scholarly and reflective activities.

Research Track students acquire research skills, sensitivity to the political, social, and ethical issues that drive research into human-animal relationships, and a sophisticated understanding of how policy and science interact. Autumn and spring classes in research methods and statistics prepare them for their capstone exercise, an independent research project that focuses on an area of interest shared by MAPP core faculty or faculty fellows.

Core Courses

  • Drawing on Cummings School faculty and outside speakers, Animals & Society uses lectures, discussions, student presentations, and written assignments to survey contemporary issues regarding animals and how those issues play out in public policy and community practices toward animals. These issues are explored through five modules: public policy, companion animals, research animals, farm animals, and wildlife. Each module examines the historical, social, ethical, political, legal and economic frameworks that influence how we perceive and treat animals.

  • This course focuses on the theories, analytical approaches and techniques of public policy analysis and provides students with an opportunity to critically examine theoretical frameworks in the context of animal policy. The course explores policy process, elements of policy design, and the relationship between social movements and political institutions. Through in-depth research in animal policy areas of interest to them, students will gain skills in policy analysis and familiarity with research resources. For the course, students will write a policy analysis case study and policy memos among other assignments.

  • This course will focus on exploring the academic research process and some of the most common research methodologies. Through this course, students will gain familiarity with the scope and limitations of various methods for gathering both quantitative and qualitative data. Students will develop the skills to design and carry out their own research as well as evaluate research carried out by others. Students will learn how to think critically about the research objective, select appropriate methodologies, and design and conduct thoughtful and useful analysis plans. We will also discuss many of the issues that surround “science”, including the bias and vantage point of the researcher and the role of ethics in science, as well as how to communicate about research.

  • This course introduces students to the basics of statistical methods and research design. Students learn to state hypotheses, evaluate sampling procedures, create and manage data sets, and carry out basic statistical testing. Examples are drawn from research in veterinary medicine, animal science, human-animal relationships, and animal ecology.


  • In this course, we will explore the changing legal status of animals and the unique challenges they pose to the legal system as something not quite "person" or "property." Drawing from cases as well as state and federal laws, we will examine how the law regulates animals across contexts and what legal rights and responsibilities we have towards them. The course will also take a closer look at animal cruelty laws and how the investigation process works from start to finish to understand the elements that go into building a criminal case. We will cover cases related to companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife including marine life as we explore the expanding field of animal law.

  • This course blends readings, lectures, practical experience, discussion, and student projects to develop student understanding of various perspectives and definitions of animal welfare, methods for scientific study and evaluation of animal welfare, the effect of policy and markets on shaping of practices, and current welfare issues in areas such as animal agriculture, sport, science, and education. Students will consider aspects of assessing welfare, including stress, physical health, mental states, and quality of life and will be introduced to methods of conducting welfare assessments.

  • How do our attitudes and perceptions of animals and their behavior influence our beliefs about, interactions with, and management of animals? How do our beliefs, values, and behavior impact animals, their behavior, welfare, and long-term survival? This course explores the human dimensions of animal behavior, examining human attitudes and behavior and their effect on animals. Students will develop an ethogram, write one paper, and conduct a small research study in a group as well as participate in class discussions.

  • This course will focus on applied behavior topics of common companion and farm animals. We will discuss animal body language and typical behavior and compare that to people’s perceptions of that behavior. Assessment of behavior and common problem behaviors will be reviewed along with effective management and modification techniques of those problems. Force-free handling and positive reinforcement training will be emphasized. We will examine abnormal behavior particularly as it relates to stress and poor welfare and design remediation, management, and modification programs to mitigate that behavior, with the goal of improving welfare. This course builds on topics covered in APP 1011 Principles of Animal Behavior and APP 1007 Wildlife in Captivity and relates to APP 1008 Introduction to Animal Welfare but it is not necessary to have taken any of those courses nor is this a repeat of those courses. This course will be a mix of lecture, discussion, and some hands-on work with animals. Students will design their own training program, based on positive reinforcement techniques using a clicker, implement them with an animal of their choice, and record their progress and outcome. There will be several smaller research and writing assignments as well. Students will gain an understanding of the typical behavior of select animals, assessment techniques and indicators of poor welfare, and effective strategies for working with those animals in a variety of settings as well as appreciate the role of human companions and caretakers in the expression and perception of animal behavior.

  • This lecture/discussion class examines the ethical, welfare, health, conservation, and policy issues surrounding the keeping of wildlife in captivity. Particular attention is paid to wildlife in zoos and aquariums, but wild animals in sanctuaries, backyards, research facilities, circuses, and other forms of entertainment also receive attention. The course features outside speakers, faculty- and student-run discussions, and weekend field trips to zoos and other facilities.

  • Students may receive elective credit for participating in a variety of community-service oriented activities, including animal shelter visitation, community cat clinics, support for the Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic, Tufts Paws for People, and the Tufts Pet Loss Hotline. Academic exercises matched to the service activities help illuminate the policy and practice context of the students' work.

Track Specific Courses

  • The course requires students to draft and revise documents targeted at diverse audiences, including letters to the editor, blogs, op-eds, fact sheets, legislative testimony, and formal comments on draft regulations and other proposals for government actions, and to develop skills in making presentations to the public, legislators, legislative hearings, and other forums.

  • Intended for advanced research track students and tailored to their interests, this course will focus on experimental design and analysis of survey data, exploring the use of analysis of variance (ANOVA) and regression models, factor analysis, and other advanced techniques using SPSS or an equivalent statistical package.

  • This course provides a more in-depth exploration of survey design, content analysis, and qualitative techniques such as interviews, ethnography, and focus groups. All students will produce a research proposal, which for research track students will lead directly to their capstone research project.

Capstone or Externship

  • For their capstone activity, students in the research track work independently with individual mentors to complete their research projects, with the expected outcome being an article that is potentially publishable in a peer-reviewed journal, or other scholarly product the dissemination of which will advance and inform animal policy or practice.

  • Students in the applied track complete their program by working at a government agency, legislative office, non-profit organization, or other entity that influences, makes, or implements animal policy or advances human-animal relationships. The students will analyze and synthesize their experiences in a substantial research paper and an oral report to classmates and Center faculty.