Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Top-ranked, 1-year program for bright futures in public service

A recognized leader in the field for more than 90 years, the Maxwell School's Master of Public Administration (MPA) is an intensive, 12-month professional graduate degree program that provides students with the skills, knowledge, and network they will need to be successful professionals and engaged citizens serving the public good across national and international government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

A conveniently structured 18-month option exists for students seeking an MPA program with a traditional internship component. Internships are completed over the summer term in federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits/NGOs, international organizations, or in related private sector companies within the US or abroad. These internships build on the skills-based approach, already a hallmark of the 12-month MPA, and can focus on any of the eight public policy areas of study. Recent internships placements include:  the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (DC Office), Near-East Foundation, Open Data Watch and Compost-Tech in Liberia.  Projects focused on skill development in the areas of Monitoring & Evaluation, Data Analysis, Strategic Planning, Financial Analysis and Forecasting, and Advocacy/Communication.  

Our MPA program meets the growing need to advance public policy, enhance public management, and bridge the private and public sectors.  Its curricular focus is grounded in a comprehensive view of public service education that equips our students with the skills needed to implement effective policy; manage organizations with diverse stakeholders; and apply rigorous, evidence-based analysis to inform decision-making. Our students move on to successful careers, making an impact by serving the public good, finding jobs in national, state, local, and international government, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit companies throughout the US and around the world.

Our efficiently paced, highly regarded MPA is consistently top-ranked in reputational surveys of our peers:

  • #1 in public management and leadership,
  • #2 in nonprofit management,
  • #2 in public finance and budgeting, and
  • #4 in international global policy and administration. (US News & World Report, 2020)

Maxwell helped Nicole develop the quantitative and qualitative skills she uses today advancing childhood nutrition, climate, and sustainability policies for the world’s largest food company.

Nicole Young Collier

~ Nicole Young Collier ’00 MPA

Director of Government Relations, Nestlé

Skill-Based Curriculum

The core requirements of the MPA degree are balanced along three lines: policy analysis, public management, and public context. The nine core courses include a concerted focus on public affairs, public budgeting, public administration and democracy, public organizations and management, economics for public decisions, and executive leadership and policy politics.

In addition to the core courses, students choose one of eight specialized Areas of Study, providing in-depth coursework in following areas:

PAIA faculty focus on professional skill development as an integral component of the courses they teach.  Through course assignments, students learn not only valuable key concepts, but practice the professional skills necessary for career advancement.

This integrated approach, while imbued throughout the curriculum, is particularly evident in the summer MPA Capstone: Executive Leadership & Project Course.  This combined course focuses on several key concepts in leadership; as well as further skill development in team building and dynamics, communication and project management.  The capstone experience includes a four-week team project, partnering with a variety of public sector organizations, that requires students to fully utilize the public management and policy analysis knowledge and skills gained throughout their time of study.

For students seeking even further professional development, an 18-month option of the Maxwell MPA allows for the completion of a summer-long professional internship, while still allowing for the ability to complete the combined MPA Capstone: Executive Leadership & Project Course over the fall term.  

Expert Faculty

Our renowned faculty conduct groundbreaking research and shape policy debates at local, national, and international levels. Nearly all Maxwell professors are full-time tenure-track appointees who are regularly on campus and easily accessible. Visit our PAIA faculty page to learn more about these prominent educators and researchers.

Career Outcomes

95% of the most recent cohort secured employment within 6 months of graduation. They are employed across sectors and around the world:  in federal, state and local government (33%); private sector (27%); domestic nonprofit (25%); international government and NGOs (15%); or choosing to continue their studies through a Ph.D. program.

Visit our Employment Statistics page for more information on where our students work after graduation.

Our Areas of Study pages highlight the important integrated approach that the Maxwell School takes in integrating students' studies and activities in the program with their career goals. This well-rounded approach to the program leads to strong employment outcomes and a worldwide network of alumni forever dedicated to upholding the Athenian Oath to leave the world a better place.

Flexible study options that fit your career goals

Our Executive MPA provides a flexible program for midcareer public service professionals looking to advance or change their careers.

We also offer a range of dual degree programs, such as MPA/MAIR, MPA/Economics, MPA/JD, that allow students to customize their educational experience to meet their future goals.

Our elite Atlantis Program involves post-graduate work at two universities, the Maxwell School in the United States and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany.

The online Executive MPA offers students the opportunity to learn from Maxwell School’s faculty of leading public affairs experts, without relocating. Complete your degree in as few as 15 months through live, weekly classes. 

How to apply

Visit our Admissions section for information about application requirements and deadlines, cost to attend, and financial aid.