About the Department

As a top-ranked school of public affairs, Maxwell offers a unique combination of assets, producing exceptional global leaders and practitioners.

The Public Administration and International Affairs Department (PAIA) at Maxwell instills and celebrates the values of public service. Our students, faculty, and alumni are dedicated to effecting lasting change, in an ever-evolving global society. PAIA offers a wide array of advantages unmatched among the world's public administration, policy and international relations programs.

Degree Programs

Efficiently structured and broadly applicable

PAIA is home to strong, highly esteemed professional degrees in public policy, administration, and international affairs — producing graduates with the fundamental public management and policy analysis skill set required by employers in domestic and international public, non-profit, and private sector organizations.

Visit our Degrees and Certificates page to compare all PAIA programs.

Faculty Strength

Accessible, dedicated educators

The core of our success is our talented and dedicated faculty, which draws students from around the country and the world, conducts cutting-edge research, and shapes policy debates at the local, national and international levels.

Nearly all Maxwell professors are full-time appointees, who live and work in Syracuse. Professors are regularly on campus and easily accessible, becoming mentors for our students. Professors regard students as junior colleagues, both during your studies and throughout your career.

Over one third of Maxwell’s faculty members teach Public Administration and International Affairs students. The resulting professor-to-student ratio is high, another explanation for the accessibility and collegiality between our faculty and students.

View the list of PAIA faculty.

Interdisciplinary advantage

Interdisciplinary scope drawn from across the social sciences

Maxwell is the only major graduate school of public affairs to offer its professional programs alongside scholarly programs in the social sciences. Public managers, policy analysts, and NGO experts share one roof with anthropologists, political scientists, economists, geographers, sociologists, and historians.

Faculty and educators sit within Maxwell's interdisciplinary research institutes, where professors and students from across the disciplines collaborate to address pressing public challenges.

This interdisciplinary approach creates curricular opportunities, such as joint and concurrent degrees, advanced study certificates, guest lectures and symposia, unique electives, research projects, student organizations, and experiential learning opportunities distinct to the PAIA programs.

But there are broader benefits, too. Maxwell prides itself on making deep connections between the conceptual and the pragmatic, while promoting dedication to citizenship, community, and the rigors of public discourse. Theoretical and practical notions are never far apart.

PAIA students benefit from a rich awareness of the social consequences of the careers they are about to undertake and emerge not only well-trained, but contemplative, conceptually flexible — in a word, wise. It is because of this advantage that Maxwell alumni distinguish themselves.

It all goes back to one simple difference: At Maxwell, doing public affairs and understanding public affairs are conducted in the same places, by the same people.

Gaining a World of Experience, Centered on Public Service

Every Maxwell student's academic career offers the opportunity to gain critical professional experience, conduct research on public and international matters, and  explore careers both domestically and overseas.  There are also opportunities for policy-relevant work and course attendance in Washington, D.C. through our Maxwell-in-Washington program, located at the prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Global Connections 

Students pursuing the MA in International Relations (MAIR) complete at least one required global internship, during their 16-month program. PAIA offers academic and practicum experiences in nearly 20 countries on five continents.  Most MAIR students will complete two professionally applied internships over two semesters of study.  In all cases, the internship component is integrated into the full program, and provides the opportunity to pair academic training with real-world experience and professional readiness.

Policy & Management Internships and MPA Capstone Projects

Master of Public Administration (MPA) students gain substantive experience through their summer Capstone Project applying public administrative concepts to contemporary challenges, demonstrating mastery of research and analytical skills, and mastery in advocating for desired policy outcomes. Working in teams, projects are designed so that each team can collect data, analyze data, and formulate recommendations for future action for public service organizations with very real, clearly defined needs.  

Students seeking a more traditional internship, may opt to complete the Maxwell MPA in an 18-month format. This still condensed time frame, allows students to obtain even further professional development by participating in a 3-month summer internship, while still benefiting from the MPA Capstone Project, which they complete over the fall term.  Summer internships can be completed in federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits/NGOs, international organizations, or related private-sector companies, within the US or abroad. 

Career Development and Alumni Connections

Launching a lasting career in public service

Employers trust Maxwell graduates to possess a strong foundation in skills, naturally. But they know also that a Maxwell alumnus brings a trademark blend of analytical know-how, broad-mindedness, perseverance, and ingenuity. Because of the special breadth of a PAIA education, Maxwell alumni obtain excellent positions, with real responsibility and influence.

Staff in the Palmer Career Center work with students to begin their post-Maxwell career. Many of the office's services are available, also, to alumni later in their careers; alumni sometimes come back for help. And they often return the favor, providing leads from all over the U.S. and the world. More than 500 organizations post their open positions with us throughout the year; that's more than 1,000 available positions.

Fiercely loyal to Maxwell, public service, and each other

One of the great, intangible benefits of a PAIA degree is joining the global community of fellow Maxwell graduates. The 7,000-plus graduates of Maxwell's professional degree programs, located in almost 150 countries, are not only talented, but are also kindred souls. They recognize one another's shared values and qualities.

PAIA's alumni naturally form a network, encouraged by the programming of Maxwell's Office of Alumni Relations, which organizes gatherings in cities around the United States and sometimes in key locations overseas. Our alumni also connect via the Maxwell LinkedIn group, supplemented by LinkedIn’s SectorConnect that allows students and alumni to connect within specific career fields.

Learn more about PAIA alumni and careers.