Most full-time MPA/MPP programs require two academic years to complete (four semesters) and also 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.
Some schools allow qualified students to earn an MPA/MPP jointly with another professional degree in law, business, or public health. Students must be separately admitted to the other degree program, and it may take additional semesters of study to complete both degrees. For example, a joint degree with law often takes three academic years to finish, including one year of course work done entirely within the law school. This longer course of study is less than what would be required to complete both degrees independently.
Under the broad label, “Master of Public Affairs,” almost all MPA/MPP programs in the United States are ranked every three years by U.S. News and World Report. At this time, the public must pay a fee to view more than the top three ranked programs on the magazine’s website. The sponsors of PublicServiceCareers.org do not endorse these rankings as a reliable source of information about where to apply for a professional MPA/MPP. Persons interested in earning an MPA/MPP should consider a wide variety of factors including program focus, cost, and connections to career options. At this time, there are no other sources of rankings.