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Degree Requirements and Courses

Master's in Public Administration

Degree Requirements and Courses

The MPA program is a rigorous, full-time master's program that requires two years and fifteen courses (13 core and 2 elective), including a full-time internship in a public sector organization. It stresses team-work, initiative, creativity, and problem solving. It demands rigorous effort and superior performance from students.


Total Credits: 45 (each course worth 3 credits)

Required Courses: 39 credits / 13 courses

  • Public Policy
  • American Governance and Public Administration
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Communication and Public Service
  • Strategic Management 
  • Public Budgeting and Finance
  • Strategic Human Resources Management
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • Internship
  • Leadership
  • Economics for Public Policy
  • Program and Policy Evaluation
  • Capstone/Thesis

Elective Courses: 6 credits / 2 courses

Electives build on MPA core courses and provide the opportunity for more in-depth knowledge and skill-building. Students may take electives offered by the MPA program, by other CCNY departments, or by e-permit at other CUNY campuses. Electives are subject to approval by the MPA program director.  

We encourage students to design curriculum tracks by choosing elective courses and internships that align with their career interests, in order to develop expertise in a specific area of public service work. The following are three examples of tracks students have chosen in the past: 

  • Social Innovation. This track focuses on innovative and sustainable ways of addressing social needs and social change, traversing the nonprofit sector, the private sector, and government. Students with this focus often apply for the Social Innovation Changemaker Scholarship (see our scholarships page), take an elective course in Social Entrepreneurship, and collaborate with the Zahn Center to develop their projects.
  • Public Policy and Research. Students interested in policy analysis, research, and program evaluation are advised to focus on developing deeper knowledge and skills in statistics, econometrics, and empirical research design. Such students often aim for careers in think tanks, policy advising, government oversight, advocacy, national political advising, or budget and economic analysis. 
  • Communications and Public Relations. Students develop their ability to communicate strategically to diverse audiences through diverse media. This is an ideal track for those interested in public relations, fund raising, training, international negotiations, consulting, human rights, advocacy, and political campaign work, as well as senior management roles. 

For more detailed information about the course requirements, financial aid options, logistics, and other aspects of the program, please read our student handbook.

Description of Required Courses

PSM B1700: Public Policy
Covers important issues in the formulation and implementation of public policy. Examines how academics and practitioners evaluate the effectiveness of public policies. Looks at approaches to governance, ethics, economics, and the sociology of mobilizing public power around an area of concern. Students apply what is learned to models of policy making and analysis.

PSM B1805: American Governance and Public Administration
Focuses on the structure and processes of governments in the US and the US political system. Covers constitutional theory, federalism, and the role of media, the president, and the Congress. Examines the role of political participation. Also examines the history, theories, concepts and practice of public administration in the the US.

PSM B1877: Quantitative Methods

This course will cover mathematical and statistical concepts and methods used to communicate about policy, describe data of all types, and support management decision making. The course focuses on applications rather than on theory and mathematical development. The course makes extensive use of Excel.

PSM B1730: Communication and Public Service
Covers methods and principles of effective communication in public service. Students learn about strategic communication and about writing press releases, policy memos, grant applications, annual reports, and testimony. The course involves extensive opportunities for students to polish their skills with practice and feedback. The course stresses adapting methods to achieve management goals. 

PSM B1600: Strategic Management of Public Organizations
Covers the analytical techniques that public and non-profit managers use to increase the value their organizations produce. Topics include: planning, decision making, leadership, organizational behavior, and resource management. The course will also cover performance management, human resource practices, technology management, and ethics in public service.

PSM B1610: Public Budgeting and Finance
Covers the methods, terminology, and processes associated with the management of financial resources in government and the non-profit sector. Topics include the politics of budgeting, budget reform, budget structure, cash and debt management, accounting, tax evaluation, and financial reporting. Students will examine and evaluate a variety of budgets and financial reports.

PSM B1620: Advanced Quantitative Methods
Covers the basic elements of how to find, synthesize, and interpret different types of data, both quantitative and qualitative. The course will provide an introduction to the use of statistical software such as Microsoft Excel, SPSS, and STATA. By the end of the course, students will be able to create a simple database, run basic statistical analyses, and prepare and analyze univariate and multivariate regressions. 

PSM B1810: Strategic Human Resources Management
Teaches the knowledge and practical skills that public managers need in managing employees. Topics include managing teams, discrimination and labor law, working with unions, motivating employees, privatization, recruitment, the aging workforce, and performance evaluations. Particular emphasis is given to developing human resources practices that support core organizational mission and objectives.

PSM B1640: MPA Internship
Students complete 400 hours of professional-level work in a government agency or non-profit organization. (Read more.)

PSM C3105: Leadership in Public Service
This course assumes that leadership can be learned through the practice of skills, through guided reflection and discussion, and through observation and analysis of everyday leaders in everyday situations. By the end of the course, students will understand models and theories of leadership and leadership development, learn to identify leadership skills in themselves and in others, and understand how leadership operates in different professional settings and contexts.

PSM B1720: Economics for Public Policy

The class explores how the concepts and methods of economics and finance can help managers make ethical and effective decisions. Students apply economic concepts and methods, including cost-benefit analysis, to policy issues such as equal pay, immigration, and health care. Students enhance their critical reasoning and numeracy, become competent consumers and communicators of economic analysis, and develop data analysis and presentation skills. 

PSM B1816: Program and Policy Evaluation
Covers the techniques and methods used in public administration for evaluating the effectiveness of programs and policies. Includes performance measures, cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness and efficiency analysis, surveys and working with survey data, case study, experimental design, present value analysis, and indexes.

PSM B9900: Capstone
The Capstone course requires students to apply what they have learned in other courses to the analysis and evaluation of real-world problems. Course is taken during the last semester of the MPA program.

Description of MPA Electives

PSM B1710: Policy Frameworks and Target Populations: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class
Critically analyzes policies and the assumptions that underlie their formulation and execution. Explores race, class, and other issues as a consideration in leadership.

PSM C3104: Nonprofit Management and Fundraising
Effective nonprofit management and fundraising require an understanding of the diversity of the nonprofit sector and of the broader political and economic environment of the sector. This course focuses theoretically and practically on key issues that relate to nonprofit management and fundraising, resulting in the strengthening of your skills as a practitioner in public service.

PSM C1812: Building the Social Enterprise: An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
This course will examine the technical aspects and the economic-social impacts of building, leading, and growing a venture aimed at achieving a net profit and net social good. While lectures will be an essential part of the course, classes will be conducted as a laboratory and students will develop their original ideas into project plans or business plans that are actionable in today's market.

PSM B1818: Strategic Communication
This course builds on PSM B1730 Communication and Public Service. It covers methods of effective communication for government agencies and nonprofit organizations using both traditional and social media platforms. Projects will involve managing the flow of communications both required and discretionary, including the role of strategic planning, procedures for disclosure of financial and other sensitive information, proper use of press releases, writing of op-eds, managing donor communications, annual reports, and other written and verbal communications.

PSM C1818: Gun Violence and Public Health
More U.S. residents have been killed with guns since 1968 than died in all the wars since the country's founding. Addressing this crisis means solving tenacious public health problems in the realms of science and of politics. This course reviews the causes of gun violence and the empirical foundations of efforts to address it - whether through legislative intervention, programs, or environmental/physical design. The course considers obstacles to the rigorous study of gun violence as well as innovative approaches in the fields of epidemiology, health policy, medicine, criminology, and economics. It places all of this in the political and legal context that shapes our collective actions.  


"I am forever grateful for the training and opportunities I received while an MPA student.  My experience prepared me well for the competitive job market."

Chukwudi Onike, MPA '14, Program Associate, Rockefeller Foundation




"In the MPA program, I was able to  work on real-world problems. New York City was my classroom."

Wataru Nakai, MPA '11, Program Director, New York Governor's Office on Storm Recovery



"With all that I learned in the MPA program, I was able to realize my dream and start my own nonprofit."

Sandy Guillaume, MPA '13, Co-founder of Community Action for Social Justice


"The contacts I made while interning for Congress helped me land a job on graduation. I wouldn't be here without the opportunities the MPA program made possible."

Preeya Saikia MPA '14 Executive Assistant, Executive Office of the President


"I am thankful everyday that the MPA program took a chance on me.  I do richly rewarding work now because of the support and the encouragement of the program."

Mohamed Jallow, MPA '11, Senior Management Specialist, RTI International



"With the MPA's location in the Colin Powell school, I had extensive access to accomplished faculty and extraordinary policy leaders from around the world .  I don't think I could have matched that experience at other programs."

Evan Mastronardi, MPA '15. Budget Coordinator at the Colin Powell School