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Courses and Degree Requirements

Public Service Management - The MPA Program at CCNY

Courses and Degree Requirements

The MPA program prepares students for management jobs in government agencies and non-profit organizations. It is a rigorous, full-time master's program that requires two years and fifteen courses (45 credits). Graduates have gone on to jobs with the New York City Council, the Harlem Children's Zone, and the White House. Others have started their own non-profits. 

Students move through the program with the same cohort of 20 to 25 classmates. Cohorts become supportive communities of learners. Students form friendships that last beyond the program and become important for career advancement. The small size of the program also promotes more individual and group attention from faculty and staff.

We are located in the celebrated and culturally rich neighborhood of Harlem, New York, on one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. We offer an unwavering commitment to excellence, social relevance, and above all, student success.

Program Summary:  Frequently Asked Questions

Application Deadline:   For Fall '16, is March 15, 2016

Spring Admissions:  No Spring Admissions 

Non-Matriculated Students: are not allowed to take classes in the program

Schedule of Classes: Classes are late afternoons and evenings. Students must be free at least two afternoons and two evenings each week for classes

Time Commitment: Program requires 12 hours per week for classes and 24 hours per week outside the classroom for study, reading, research, group work, and events

Total Credits Required for Degree: 45

Duration of Program: Most students take two full academic years to complete the program

Degree Awarded: MPA

GRE: Not Required for Admission

Minimum TOEFL: 500 (pBt), 61 (iBt)

Minimum GPA: No minimum, but suggested 3.0 or above

For More Information: ;212-650-5095 or write to us at :

Student Services: career services, financial support, internship placements, mentoring, policy briefings, tutoring

Location:  The celebrated and culturally rich neighborhood of Harlem in New York City.  Find us at 138th and Convent Ave.  

Tuition and Fees

The Princeton Review continues to list City College as a "Best Value" college. In addition to the College's competitive tuition, the MPA program adds value with a full range of student services, its own tuition assistance, paid internships and other benefits. (See current tuition and fees.)


Required Courses: 39 credits (each course 3 credits)

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

Elective Courses: 6 credits

Total Credits: 45

Curriculum Tracks

Curriculum tracks provide students the chance to build expertise in particular public service functions such as policy analysis and communications. Students choose electives from a pre-determined list. Those electives build on MPA core courses and provide the opportunity for more in-depth consideration of specific topics.(Read more.)

Description of Required Courses

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. sample syllabus

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. sample syllabus
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. sample syllabus

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. sample syllabus

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

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. sample syllabus

PSM B1720: Economics for Public Policy
Teaches the basic economic models that underlie most economic discussions of public policy and that are common knowledge to those in the field. Examines how scarce resources are allocated within or in lieu of markets. sample syllabus

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. sample syllabus

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 US. sample syllabus

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 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. sample syllabus

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. sample syllabus

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.
sample syllabus

Description of MPA Electives

PSM B1710: Policy Frameworks and Target Populations: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class
Critically analyzes policies and the assump;tions that underlie their formulation and executin. Covert the trad-off and plitical compromises in policyt history that may affec how political adversarier frame or publicly portray policies and targe populations. Explores race class and other issues as a consideration in leadership.  sample syllabus

PSM C3208: Administrative Law and Ethics
The primary goals of this course are to: (a) introduce students to the role that ethics and morals should play in the lives of public administrators in various capacities, (b) provide tools and strategies for identifying and addressing ethical issues in professional life, and (c) introduce fundamental legal concepts regarding administrative law and the administrative process. sample syllabus

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 in which the sector is embedded in the United States. This course focuses on both subjects, with the aims of deepening your knowledge (theoretical and practical) of key issues that relate to nonprofit management and fundraising and of strengthening your skills as a practitioner in public service. sample syllabus

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. Students examine various types of writing to inform, persuade, and address crises. Students will learn how to adapt messages to diverse audiences. 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 and annual reports, and other written and verbal communications practices. Students will also learn about the use of websites to engage all constituents and present the organization in a positive light. Communications ethics will be discussed. Verbal communications, such as contact with the press, will be included as well.

PSM B1802: Urban Youth Policy
This course examines the frameworks that inform public policy aimed at effecting educational and social outcomes for "urban youth" in New York City and in the United States. Urban youth are often but not always poor, black, Latino, and marginalized. We will examine issues of class, race, ethnicity, and gender and how all of these classifications impact policy decisions. Students will be asked to think critically about how we define "urban youth" and what role policy can and should play in changing the trajectory for our most vulnerable populations.



"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 of the US



"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



"Having my degree from this program, I can give students the support they need and help them achieve the success they deserve."  

Natalia Trujillo, MPA '12, Assistant Director of the MPA Program at the Colin Powell School