MPA courses

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Beginning in fall 2019, the one-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree requires the following coursework and practicum.

Fall term

  • Statistics for Public Policy
  • Public Law and Public Process
  • Public Economics
  • An elective course chosen in consultation with your advisor

Spring term

  • Public Management and Leadership
  • Program Evaluation and Data Analysis
  • Public Finance and Budgeting 
  • An elective course chosen in consultation with your advisor

Summer term

  • Capstone Seminar
  • Summer internship with a relevant nonprofit or government agency, chosen in consultation with a career services advisor

Current MPA students

For those who matriculated into the program prior to the fall 2019 semester, you can review the course offerings and course requirements.

Course descriptions

The modern world is built on data. How can public managers, policymakers, and political leaders learn to use data to make informed decisions and improve public policy outcomes? This class covers the data and statistical tools students will encounter in the public sector. Students will also learn to use the R statistical computing language, which is widely used across both the public and private sectors.

How can—and how should—governments manage a market economy? To understand how to design and implement public policies, as well as lead public agencies, students need to understand the economic behavior of citizens, governments, and private entities, how they interact, and how this affects the design and administration of government programs.

How can you become an effective public manager? Technical skills in budgeting, organization, and management are not enough; you need to understand the social and political context of the organization and be able to effectively coordinate with relevant stakeholders to produce change. Working with real-world examples, this class helps students develop this competency.

How do citizens, interest groups, and elected officials work to turn ideas into public policies? What factors help to determine which policies succeed, and which fail? How does this process play out at the state, local, and national levels? This class gives students the tools to understand the policy making process and how they can most effectively advocate for changes in government policy.

How do we know if a given program is effectively achieving its goals? How can we compare which of several programs is actually producing the most benefit to society? Students learn the tools needed to analyze policies, with a particular emphasis on presenting the results of quantitative analysis effectively for a non-technical audience.

How do governments budget, tax, and spend? Students master the theoretical, empirical, and practical tools used to analyze government budgets and understand the political and economic forces that affect government spending decisions.


Working with their advisor, students select one elective class per semester in Fels or other Penn institutions related to their specific career goals. This flexibility allows students to dig deeper into particular policy areas of interest, to enhance their data analytic capabilities, or to learn other valuable skills for their future careers.


Students conduct an evaluation of a real-world challenge facing a government or non-profit entity, analyzing the problem and offering solutions. Through this capstone project, students synthesize what they’ve learned across their coursework to demonstrate their ability to produce change in the public sector.

Summer internship

Students work with our career services coordinator to find internship opportunities to put their knowledge to use and expand their network while completing their degree. 

Academic year internship (optional)

Students who are interested in additional work experience may consult with our career services advisor to identify an academic-year internship. While a summer internship is required to complete the degree, an optional academic year internship provides students with further opportunity to develop job-related skills and experience.


Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326

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