Master of Public Affairs (MPA)

An innovative, powerful one-year degree

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About the program

Become part of a small cohort of accomplished policy professionals from around the world. The Ford School's MPA combines training in rigorous applied policy analysis with the development of high-level public and nonprofit management, leadership, and communication skills, focusing on complex domestic and international policy issues. The program is designed for seasoned professionals with at least five years of policy-relevant experience in government, military, government affairs in the private sector, or the nonprofit sector—in the U.S. or abroad.

The 30-credit MPA offers two semesters of carefully designed, challenging coursework in economics, statistics, values and ethics, politics, policy writing, and management and leadership, with room for electives from across the University of Michigan tailored to students’ individual interests in public affairs. In the past, students have found elective courses in the Ross School of Business, School for Environment and Sustainability, Marsal Family School of Education, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Additionally, a new professional seminar in leadership and professional development is paired with the opportunity to receive executive coaching from a certified coach.

Our Alumni

Our MPA graduates are prepared for senior roles in a variety of governmental institutions and public agencies, in the nonprofit sector, and in the private sector, such as:

  • Leadership positions in government, nonprofit organizations, or within the government affairs team for an engineering firm or other for-profit business.
  • Leadership roles within governments around the world—in ministries of education, national security, environment, social inclusion, and more.
  • Senior level positions in U.S. local and state government, such as director of immigrant affairs for a major city, or a state budget director.
  • "Translational" roles as public affairs specialists working in nonprofits and communications firms, advocating on issues, and translating research into powerful campaigns.

Is a Ford School Master's of Public Affairs right for you?

Read more MPA alumni profiles here.

Sandy Su

MPA Alumni

Sandy Su (MPA ‘21)

“As a mid-career professional, I was keen to avoid a prolonged gap in my professional journey and sought a concise program that would equip me with the necessary knowledge and skills to chart a new course in my career.”
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William Selesky portrait

MPA Alumni

William Selesky (MPA ‘20)

“The coolest thing about my MPA experience was getting to know my amazing, diverse, talented cohort of fellow classmates. All the different perspectives, represented fields, countries, ideas - it was so, so cool. I am still in touch with several of my classmates and consider some of them good friends.”
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MPA curriculum

Our powerhouse Master of Public Affairs curriculum will...

  • Broaden your expertise on a wide range of domestic and international affairs in the public domain.
  • Deepen your understanding of public institutions and political, economic, and social processes and their implications for policy development and implementation.
  • Teach you the analytic skills necessary for objective policy analysis and evaluation.
  • Refine and deepen your leadership and management skills.
  • Enable you to explore and apply the roles of values and ethics in public policy design and decision-making.
  • Enhance your written and verbal strategic communication skills.

Program requirements

  • Statistics (PubPol 529, 3 credits)
  • Microeconomics (PubPol 555, 3 credits) OR Budgeting & Financial Planning (PubPol 715)
  • An additional quantitative methods course (3 credits)
  • Politics of Public Policy (PubPol 510, 3 credits) OR Values & Ethics (PubPol 580, 3 credits)
  • Negotiations (PubPol 583, 1.5 credits)
  • Leading Organizations (PubPol 582, 3 credits) OR Public and Performance Management (PubPol 586 & 587, 1.5 credits each)
  • Proseminar in Leadership & Professional Development (course number TBD, 2 credits)
  • Plus a minimum of 11.5 elective credits. Recommended electives include:
    • Intro to Policy Writing (PubPol 521)
    • Strategic Policy Consulting (PubPol 578)

Up to 9 credits of electives can be selected from other graduate programs on campus. The Ford School follows the Rackham Graduate School's policy on the assignment of credit hours.

Ann Lin

World-renowned faculty

Faculty expertise

The Ford School boasts a world-renowned faculty comprised of scholars from a variety of fields including economics, political science, sociology, social demography, law, psychology, social work, history, and science and technology studies.
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Barry Rabe

World-renowned faculty

Research & Impact

Ford School faculty are active researchers who are also heavily engaged in research translation, policy advising/design, and policy evaluation at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Students have opportunities to work with Research Centers while at the Ford School.
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MPA Professional Seminar

With the exciting new required MPA Professional Seminar, we offer leadership and professional development paired with the opportunity to receive executive coaching from a certified coach.

The pro-seminar is designed for the MPA cohort to learn from each other, build community and professional networks, and set intentions for career advancement. The course will take place over two semesters (1 credit in the fall semester and 1 credit in the winter semester).

A highlight of the seminar will be the Senior Leader Series: small group sessions–led by policy professional  leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors–in which students will analyze and discuss relevant case studies and leadership challenges.

In addition to their winter semester coursework, MPA students will also have the opportunity to work individually with one of the Ford School’s executive leadership coaches to enhance leadership presence, clarify and align values, and address personal leadership development challenges and goals.

Resources and community

Our MPA students will join a welcoming and diverse scholarly community. They will have ready access to all of the outstanding facultyacademiccareer, and personal support that is also such an important part of our longstanding, top-ranked, two-year Master of Public Policy degree program.

Some fellowship support is available for Master of Public Affairs students.

Headshot of Amy Beck Harris

Focus on leadership and management

Amy Harris will lead the Proseminar in fall 2024, where students will apply what they are learning in different contexts, with a focus on leadership and management.

Have any questions?