Public Affairs

public affairsMaster’s programs in public affairs and public policy train people for careers in government, the non-profit sector, academia and some parts of the business world. Programs vary widely in focus and method. Prospective applicants should research programs carefully to make sure they are suitable for their interests, needs, and abilities before making a commitment. Factors to consider are what concentrations a program is strong in (urban studies, international relations, health policy, public finance, etc.); what approach the program takes (does it stress quantitative analysis, theoretical work, case studies, etc.); and whether or not it will prepare you for further academic work. Programs with a strong professional focus may not be your best choice if you think you may someday want to go on to a doctoral program.

The following table lists some of the top rated public affairs programs at U.S. colleges and universities.

School Notes

Woodrow Wilson School
Princeton University
Robertson Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544

Tel: (609) 258-4836

Master of Public Affairs (MPA) (2 yr FT)
Favors applicants with grounding in economics or mathematics
App. deadline: Dec 15

Master of Public Policy (MPP – mid-career) (1 yr FT)
App deadline: Dec 15

Ph.D. offered

Est. GRE:
Quant 160
Verbal 163
Writing 5.0

Syracuse University Maxwell School
200 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244

Tel: (315) 443-2252

Master of Public Affairs (MPA) (1 yr FT)

Other masters and Ph.D. offered

App. deadlines vary by program. Contact the program for details.

Est. GRE:
Quant 155
Verbal 158
Writing 4.5

The John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tel: (617) 495-1100

Master in Public Policy (MPP 2 yrs FT)
Master in Public Administration (MPA 2 yrs FT)
Master in Public Administration (MPA – mid-career) (1 yr FT)
Doctoral programs also offered

App. deadline: Dec 4 (earlier applications encouraged)

Est. GRE:
Quant 156
Verbal 162
Writing 4.9

1315 E 10th St
Bloomington, IN 47405

Tel: (812) 855-2840

MPA (2 yr FT)
MPA/MS in Envir. Science (2.5 yr FT)
Doctoral programs also offered

App. deadlines: Dec 1 spring, May 1 fall

Est. GRE:
Quant 153
Verbal 155
Writing 4.1

Goldman School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley
2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320

Tel: (510) 642-4670

MPP (2 yr FT)
MPA (mid career, 1 yr)
Ph.D. also offered

App. deadline: Dec 1

Avg. GRE:
Quant 159
Verbal 162
Writing 4.5

The School of Public and International Affairs
The University of Georgia
204 Baldwin Hall
355 South Jackson Street
Athens, GA 30602

Tel: (706) 542-9660

MPA (2 yr FT)
Ph.D. also offered

App. deadlines:  Nov. 15 spring, Jul. 1 fall

Est. GRE:
Quant 154
Verbal 159
Writing 4.5

As our table suggests, a number of different degrees are offered in public affairs. Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) degrees train people for management careers in the public sector. They generally focus on organizational behavior and management, and on policy processes, and usually require two years of full-time study. A wide range of specialized degrees, such as the Master of Public Finance and Master of Public Health, are also available, as are joint degree programs that lead to both an MPA or MPP degree and a degree in law, business, public health, international relations, etc. (Students interested in international relations should also consult our international relations programs page.)

Many universities and colleges offer MPA and MPP degree programs that are tailored to the needs of working professionals. Part-time programs, which often offer evening and weekend classes, are one option. Accelerated degree programs for mid-career professionals, which can be completed in one year of intensive, full-time study, are another. Many programs also offer shorter-term certificate programs and non-degree study. Chances are, if you do your due diligence, you can find a program that nicely meets your needs!

Note: The table and graph were last updated in April 2016.