Master of Public Affairs (MPA)

An innovative, powerful one-year degree

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Update, September 2023: We expect to open admissions for the MPA program this fall. Check this space, follow us on social, or sign up here for updates on when our application process will go live!


About the program

Be 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 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, policy writing, and management and leadership, with room for electives from across the University of Michigan tailored to students’ individual interests in public affairs.

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.

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.

Core requirements

PP 580: Values, Ethics, and Public Policy 3 credits
PP 522: Policy Writing 1 credit
PP 590: Mgmt/Leadership in Public Affairs 3 credits
PP 554: Economics for Public Affairs 3 credits
PP 529: Statistics 3 credits
PP 725: Capstone Project 5 credits
Subtotal of credits for core 18 credits
Electives 12 credits
Total credits 30 credits

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.


The program culminates in an experiential capstone project. Through a 5-credit course (PubPol 725), each student will complete a sophisticated applied project for a client external to the University of Michigan. 

Some examples of recent capstone projects include:

  • A multi-country analysis of different types of travel restrictions imposed on human rights activists as a strategy to quash their activities (Client: Human Rights First)
  • Policy development and implementation regarding work force development in Detroit (Client: Accenture consulting and City of Detroit)
  • Legal analysis of anti-data localization policies in the U.S. and other countries (Client: Amazon Web Services)

Students will enroll in PubPol 725 in the winter semester. With permission of the Capstone course instructor, students have the option of completing the Capstone Project by the end of the winter semester, or using the summer to complete the Project and then graduating in August, without incurring additional tuition costs. Be advised, however, that for international students, extending the Capstone Project over the summer may have implications for their immigration status. International students should thus consult with the University of Michigan's International Center before they decide to extend their Project over the summer, so they understand what the implications to their immigrations status may be.  

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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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 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.

Download the MPA brochure


More information

For prospective students, please use this calendar to schedule appointments.

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