Core Requirements

The core requirements of the MPA degree form a balanced foundation of courses with three areas of focus: policy analysis, public management, and public context. Through these courses, students acquire:

  1. concrete skills and knowledge in policy analysis that will assist our students with developing an analytical framework and skills with which to better analyze public policies/processes to determine the best solutions for improvement,
  2. skills and knowledge in program management preparing them to implement programs and put into practice the solutions defined as best through careful analysis, and
  3. an understanding of the public sector and institutional context.

All programs designed to meet larger public policy and management goals must occur in a public (organizational/economic/societal/political) context, and an understanding of the dynamics at work in these settings is critical for successful implementation.

These core skill sets prepare our graduates for a variety of leadership and managerial positions across sectors, both domestically and internationally.

Core Courses

Public Affairs Colloquium (1 credit)

Public Budgeting (3 credits)

Public Administration and Democracy (3 credits)

Public Organizations and Management (3 credits)

Economics for Public Decisions (3 credits)

Introduction to Statistics (3 credits)

Quantitative Analysis (3 credits)

MPA Capstone (combined course):  Executive Leadership & MPA Workshop (6 credits)


MPA Capstone: Executive Leadership & MPA Workshop Project Course

The MPA Capstone is completed as a combined course exploring key concepts in leadership alongside a practical team project completed for a public sector organization.  The objective of Executive Leadership is to prepare students to enter the world of leading, partnering and following in complex organizations. The first week will focus on groups skills, team-building and dynamics, communication and project management; setting the stage for the four-week team project. After the projects are completed, students will further explore a variety of dimensions of leadership.

  • Interest-based negotiation, negotiation on networks and groups
  • Managerial mediation as leadership
  • Working with the media
  • Ethical leadership
  • Persuasion and advocacy as leadership
  • Collaborative problem solving as leadership
  • Entrepreneurship and creativity as leadership

MPA Workshop projects are designed to allow students to apply public administration concepts to contemporary challenges; demonstrate mastery of research and analytical skills; and demonstrate mastery in advocating for desired policy outcomes.  Students will work closely with their public sector clients, collect data, analyze data, and formulate recommendations for future action (including implementation / strategic management plans) to address the very real and complex challenges these organizations face.  

We partner with a variety of public sector organizations across all sectors and policy areas.  Past Workshop clients include: the Partnership for Public Service, the Women's Foundation of Oregon, NASA, the City of Syracuse, the US Department of Justice, RAND corporation, the Congressional Management Foundation, the City of Philadelphia, the YWCA of Greater Syracuse, the Institute for Defense Analysis, NY State Public Service Commission, Save the Children, Onondaga County, the US General Services Administration, the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group, the Buffalo Public School District, Upstate University Hospital, Congressional Research Service, and USAID. 

Students complete the MPA Capstone in the summer term (May/June) unless opting for the 18-month MPA which incorporates a summer internship. These students complete the MPA Capstone in their final fall semester.


More information on the MPA degree requirements can be found in Syracuse University's Graduate Course Catalog