Program Structure

Most full-time MPA/MPP programs require two academic years to complete (four semesters) and require a summer internship between the first and second year. Often the first year is devoted to completing required core courses. The second year may include concentration courses, electives, and a “capstone” project. Such capstones usually are student-directed group efforts to respond to the problems presented by an outside client.

Part-time and mid-career MPA/MPP programs also have core and elective courses, but may allow students to design flexible plans for completing all the requirements. Mid-career programs may omit the internship and/or the “capstone” requirement, recognizing the prior work experience and accomplishments of the students.

Many MPA/MPP programs also offer executive education programs. These degree and certificate programs are intended for experienced professionals seeking high-level positions in government and nonprofit organizations; courses are often offered on weekends or in concentrated units taken over a period of weeks rather than semesters.

Joint Degree Programs

Some schools allow students to earn an MPA/MPP jointly with another graduate degree, such as law, business, or public health. Some joint degree programs offer opportunities to pursue part of the degree in another country. Students must be separately admitted to the other degree program.  Many schools that offer joint degrees double-count some courses, so that completing both degrees takes less time than if the degrees had been pursued independently.  For example, a joint MPP/MBA would take 3 or 3 1/2 academic years to finish, rather than four.