public affairs

Master’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.

Master of Public Affairs (MPA) (2 yr FT) Master in Public Policy (MPP) (1 yr, mid career)
Favors applicants with work experience
App. deadline: Dec 1Ph.D. in Public Affairs offered

Est. GRE:
Quant 162
Verbal 163
Writing 5.0

Master of Public Affairs (MPA) (1 yr FT)
Other masters and Ph.D. offered

App. deadline: Feb. 1

Est. GRE:
Quant 155
Verbal 158
Writing 4.5

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 3GMAT also accepted. No GRE or GMAT required for mid career MPA

Est. GRE:
Quant 160
Verbal 164
Writing 5.0

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

App. deadlines: Dec. 1 spring, Feb. 1 priority fall, May 1 final fall

Est. GRE:
Quant 154
Verbal 156
Writing 4.3

Goldman School of Public Policy

Admissions Office
Notes

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

App. deadlines: Dec.3, Feb. 4, Apr. 1 (Applicants are encouraged to apply by R2 deadline.)

Est. GRE:
Quant 160
Verbal 164
Writing 4.8

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

App. deadlines:  Fall: Jan. 15 (assistantship) Jul. 1 (final) Spring: Nov. 15 Summer: May 1

Est. GRE:
Quant 155
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!

Please note the data and graph were last updated in November 2018.