Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Master of Public Administration (MPA)

MPA students work in groups

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree prepares students to take leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. The MPA degree is multidisciplinary and designed to provide graduate professional education for individuals who wish to prepare themselves for administrative and/or policy careers in public, nonprofit, national security and criminal justice systems. In addition to a solid core curriculum covering essential problem-solving and decision-making skills and diverse elective choices, students with less professional experience participate in internships with public and nonprofit agencies. Many School of Public Affairs students, already established in the public sector in mid-level management, bring a stimulating real-world perspective to the classroom.

Students in the MPA program should expect to complete the degree in no less than one and a half and no more than six years; the average is about three years. Just fewer than 140 MPA students were enrolled in the program during the 2019-2020 academic year.


The Master of Public Administration program provides high-quality graduate education for current and future leaders in public, nonprofit, and private sector organizations, here and abroad, to prepare them for excellence in public service.

To accomplish this mission, we strive to meet the following goals:

  • Advance public service through improving the quality leadership of public, nonprofit, national security and emergency management and criminal justice systems.
  • Teach students from diverse backgrounds to work collaboratively to meet societal challenges ethically, with compassion, vision, analytic rigor, and practicality.
  • Foster strategic leadership skills: critical thinking and decision-making, effective communication, creative problem-solving, knowledge management, multi-sector understanding, and global citizenship.
  • Support and model civil public discourse, citizenship, responsibility, and respect.
  • Facilitate a process of lifelong learning that evolves and adapts to the changing nature of the field and continuous development of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required.


Graduates of the MPA program will have the following competencies, as enumerated by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), our accrediting body:

  • The ability to lead and manage in public governance
  • The ability to participate in and contribute to the public policy process
  • The ability to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
  • The ability to articulate and apply a public service perspective
  • The ability to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

Are you wondering if the MPA is the right degree for you? Find how NASPAA defines a Master of Public Administration degree, information on schools, statistics on salaries and careers, and more at MPAMPP.

Find out more about quality in public affairs education.


MPA Alumna Profile: Susan Edmondson, CEO, Downtown Partnership

Resources for MPA Students