Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Fels Institute of Government is committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community, in public leadership and beyond, through our people, programs, and policy work.

Our community

Fels is dedicated to recruiting and supporting students from a variety of racial, ethnic, cultural, national, and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as students with various sexual orientations, gender identities, and physical abilities. We believe that it is vital for students to bring and experience different perspectives and beliefs, both in the classroom and in their future careers.


Average age for MPA/EMPA cohorts


First generation college students


Underrepresented minority


International students

Student-reported data for fall 2022 students, including MPA and Executive MPA

  • White 52%
  • Black 20%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 14%
  • Hispanic 6%
  • Multi-racial 5%
  • Other/Not reported 2%
  • American Indian/Alaska Native 1%

Socioeconomic diversity is important for a network of public leaders and professionals, and financial aid opportunities such as grants and loans help outstanding students from different income levels join our community. In addition, many Fels students choose to apply for fellowship opportunities that offer additional funding as well as additional experience; for example, the Public Leadership and Service Fellowship (PLAS) provides financial support during internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Our curriculum

Fels strives to create learning environments that are affirming, equitable, and inclusive, with a curriculum that highlights pressing social issues and a supportive classroom culture that nurtures dynamic and thoughtful discussions. Our experiential learning opportunities allow students to apply the knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom to social issues that disproportionately affect marginalized communities through capstone projects and internships both locally in Philadelphia and on a national and international scale. By completing real-world capstone projects and internships, Fels students make a difference in Philadelphia and around the globe. They address many issues disproportionately affecting marginalized communities, including equitable access to high-quality education, justice system and policing reform, healthcare access, voting rights, homelessness, child welfare, and food insecurity.

In the 2023-24 school year across the MPA and Executive MPA cohorts, students completed 54 capstone projects across diverse clientele/partners, including Food for the Hungry, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Education Trust, The School District of Philadelphia, The US Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, Crossroads for Women, and the City of Philadelphia. Fels MPA students also complete a required internship, many of which are at organizations making an impact on the local community. Fels also offers a paid Public Leadership and Service Fellowship (PLAS) to provide students funding to participate in unpaid internships that would otherwise be unattainable.

Our conversations

The Fels Racial Equity and Social Justice Conversation Series launched in 2020-21 with the goal of convening meaningful conversations on how public policy impacts racial equity and social justice—and what aspiring leaders can do to advance equity and justice. The Fels Racial Equity and Social Justice Series convenes conversations on how public policy impacts racial equity and social justice. The series includes discussions with elected officials, policymakers, and public sector leaders to examine how policy, legislation, and practice can further racial equity and social justice goals. Recent conversations included a discussion with Executive US Attorney for Community Engagement Ebony Wortham '22, founder of Rvesta Consulting Vaughn Ross, and Philadelphia Energy Authority President and CEO Emily Schapira. We met with Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia Executive Director Natasha Danielá de Lima McGlynn ’20 to discuss gun violence, a critical issue in our Philadelphia community that has disproportionately impacted people of color, and the specific actions students can take.

Our community at Penn

Across the University of Pennsylvania, initiatives, programs, and policies support efforts to foster inclusive excellence. See more at the Penn Diversity website.

Fels supports student-led initiatives, including the Women of Fels anti-racism and equity-focused lending library.

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