MPA Program

If you want to lead a nonprofit, run for public office, or head a government agency, Fels can give you the tools to achieve your goals.

Our broad-based MPA (Master of Public Administration) curriculum in analysis, management, finance, and politics provides the framework for understanding today's challenges and allows you the flexibility to move between sectors.

Seven core classes cover the fundamental competencies needed for effective public leadership, a capstone will grant you the opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills, and perspectives you have mastered in the program, and four electives provide you the opportunity to study a particular policy topic or sector.

The Foundation (3 courses)

  • Public Economics
  • Statistics for Public Policy
  • Public Management

The Core Competencies (4 courses)

  • Policy Making and Public Institutions
  • Program Evaluation and Data Analysis
  • Financial Management of Government and Nonprofit Institutions
  • Public Communication

The Capstone (1 course)

The completion of a capstone project is one of the academic requirements for the Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. The capstone project represents a way for graduate students to apply their multi-disciplinary learning from the program to a specific public administration challenge(s) or issue(s). To successfully complete a capstone project, a student must receive a passing grade for her capstone paper and the associated briefing.

The student’s capstone paper resembles a policy memo that an administrative staff writes to decision makers and
stakeholders. The paper integrates and deepens the student’s learning from the program. More importantly, the capstone paper provides a way for a student to bring her/his learning and knowledge from the program back into their chosen career. The research focus should be one that is of great interest to the students as well as one a potential organization will benefit from. 

The Electives (4 courses)

Students can use their four electives to specialize in public finance, politics, nonprofit administration, or economic development and growth. Students may also take advantage of courses offered at other Penn programs, such as public finance courses at Wharton, social welfare courses at the School of Social Policy and Practice, education policy courses at the Graduate School of Education, or any other relevant courses offered in one of Penn's twelve graduate schools. 

The Experience

Full-time students are admitted into a cohort of 25-30 individuals with diverse interests and experiences. The intimate size of the cohort quickly fosters a sense of community between classmates and allows students maximum access to Fels staff and faculty members. The full-time track can be completed in four semesters. Students focus on completing the core requirements in year 1 in preparation for electives in year 2, with the summer free to pursue full-time internships, travel, or other opportunities. Many complete internships during the academic year and get involved with civic, social, or service projects at Penn or in the Philadelphia community.

The Students

Most students bring at least 2 years of full-time work experience prior to coming to Fels working on campaigns, in government, and for nonprofits. They have served in national service programs such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps or have spent time in the private sector. Our international students comprise approximately 30 percent of the class and include Fulbright Fellows, Thouron Fellows, and seasoned government employees.

Fall 2015 MPA Class List

Summer 2016 MPA Class List