Why a Master of Public Affairs?
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The framework of the Master of Public Affairs degree program is flexible and efficient. Classes are offered during the day, evening, some weekends, and over the summer. It’s adaptable to family, work, and other responsibilities. The majority of the Master of Public Affairs students take one or two classes at a time while continuing to work full-time. Because of this schedule, 90 percent of MPA students complete the Master of Public Affairs degree in less than three years. You can complete the program in one calendar year (fall, spring, summer, in that order) by attending the Humphrey School of Public Affairs full-time.
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs offers:
If career advancement, change, and rejuvenation or deepening your capacity to bring effective solutions to public problems is your goal, then the Humphrey School is the right choice. And the MPA is the right degree.
30 semester credits: 14-credits of concentration courses–you choose! + 16 credits of core courses
Self-designed Concentration (14 credits)
How will you answer the call to service? How will you combine your experience, education, and passion to make the kind of difference you know you can in the next phase of your career?
The concentration courses provide the knowledge base and skills you need and want to achieve your career goals. Your concentration can include courses from Public Affairs and from the 150+ graduate programs across the University of Minnesota. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
• Community and Economic Development
• Integrative Leadership Across Sectors
• Disability Policy
•Land Property Rights and Smart Growth
•Economics, International Development
•Non-motorized Transportation (biking, walking
•Nonprofit Leadership and Management
•Environmental Economics and Management
•Food Systems Policy
•Public Leadership and Management
•Geographic Information Systems
•Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy
•Global Public Policy
•Sustainable Energy Resource Stewardship
•Health Care Policy
•Women and Public Policy
Core (required) Courses (16 credits)
The Master of Public Affairs core curriculum focuses on leadership abilities, critical thinking and analytic skills, systems thinking and an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, and the ability to work and lead as part of a team.
Although no formal thesis is required for graduation, the Capstone Workshop, taken in or near the final semester, is a culmination of the student's learning through application to a community-based project. During the Capstone Workshop, students form into groups of 3-5 to serve as a consultant team for a community organization "client." Projects typically involve analyzing a public policy or management problem for a public, nonprofit, or private sector community client. The Capstone Workshop includes resarch, a written report, and a presentation to the client. Faculty, students, and the client contribute to evaluating the project deliverables and the quality of the team effort.
At the Humphrey School, you learn from your peers, faculty members, and practitioners.
As part of a cohort of other experienced professionals, you will have the advantage of a unique learning environment. Studying with professionals from other fields and lines of work will broaden your view of societal problems and potential solutions. Interacting with students from other nations will give you a new perspective on policy issues. And challenging-and being challenged by-the faculty members will spur you on to greater understanding of the questions your community and organization face.
We value people with a variety of interests who come from a broad range of countries and backgrounds, including elected officials; nonprofit directors and managers; educators; lawyers; community organizers; local, state, and federal government administrators; union officials; and business professionals, from private consultants to managers in international corporations.
Sample Jobs + Organizations of MPA Students
• Accountant, Hennepin County Internal Audit, Minneapolis
• Attorney, O'Neill, Grills, and O'Neill, St. Paul, Minnesota
• Captain, United States Army Reserve
• Chair, Minnesota State Council on Disability
• Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Human Rights
• Community organizer, Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition
• Council member, Minneapolis City Council
• Director, Native American Training Institute, Bismarck, North Dakota
• Director, Corporate Giving, Courage Center, Golden Valley, Minnesota
• Editor, BETA News Agency, Belgrade, Serbia
• Executive director, Pillsbury Neighborhood Services, Minneapolis
• Head of planning and statistics, Ministry of Energy and Mines of Eritrea
• Independent marketing consultant, 3M, St. Paul, Minnesota
• Regional director, Eurasia Foundation, Moscow Regional Office, Moscow, Russia
• Senior resident magistrate, Arusha High Court, Tanzania
• Software engineer, EDS Unigraphics Solutions, Arden Hills, Minnesota
• State Representative, Minnesota House of Representatives
• Water planning director, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board
Our faculty members bring a breadth of experience to each class. Most have significant experience outside of academia that informs their teaching, and many actively consult with local, national, and international organizations working on significant policy issues that promote the common good. The people you meet at the Humphrey School will form a strong network of mentors, advisors, professional contacts and, personal friends throughout your career.
What is the Capstone Workshop?
The Capstone Workshop, taken in or near the final semester, is a culmination of the student’s learning through application to a community-based project. During the Capstone Workshop, students form into groups of 3-5 to serve as a consultant team for a community organization “client.” Projects typically involve analyzing a public policy or management problem for a public, nonprofit, or private sector community client. Throughout the Capstone, groups meet to discuss issues with the client, developing the relationship that is necessary to successfully complete a Capstone Workshop. The Capstone Workshop includes research, a written report, and a presentation to the client. Faculty, students, and the client contribute to evaluating the project deliverables and the quality of the team effort.At what point do I take the Capstone Workshop?
The Capstone is intended as a culminating project to draw upon the knowledge and skills you have gained throughout your program. It should be taken in your final semester. With permission of advisers, under certain circumstances, it can be taken before the final semester.When are Capstones offered?
PA 8081, Capstone Workshop (3 credits), is offered fall, spring, and summer semesters. Most sections require concurrent registration in PA 5080 (1 credit), the Capstone Preparation Workshop.
- Spring semester – multiple sections of PA 8081 are offered, each one reflecting a particular area of focus, based on faculty expertise and loosely reflecting the traditional areas of concentrations offered for MPP and MURP students; MPAs select the section that most closely matches their interests and meets their scheduling needs; capstone groups will include a mix of MPP, MURP, and MPA students
- Fall semester – typically only 1-2 sections of PA 8081 are offered in the fall, and the focus of the fall capstones are very specific; capstone groups may include a mix of MPP, MURP, and MPA students
- Summer semester – the summer capstone is typically only taken by MPA students (because students in other degree programs are not typically enrolled in the summer); although there is only one section of PA 8081 offered in the summer, there are a large variety of client projects from which to choose; project options are usually presented during the Capstone Preparation Workshop (PA 5080) which meets the week before the capstone beginsIs PA 5080, Capstone Preparation Worshop (1 credit) required?
PA 5080 is considered one of the core requirements for the MPA. However, some Capstone instructors do not require this workshop in conjunction with the Capstone that they offer. If you choose a Capstone that does not require PA 5080, you will have 15 (instead of 16) credits in your core requirements area and 15 (instead of 14) credits required in your self-designed concentration.How do I plan ahead for the Capstone?
Most Capstones (PA 8081) are completed within one semester. Most Capstones also require the Capstone Preparation Workshop (PA 5080). The Capstone Preparation Workshop is completed in the same semester as the Capstone itself. In fall and spring semesters, the Capstone Preparation Workshop is conducted the first two Fridays (all day) of the semester. The summer Capstone Preparation Workshop is held three evenings (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) the week before the Capstone begins.
There are some notable exceptions:
- Global Public Policy Capstone – this capstone, offered in spring semester, requires that PA 5080 (the 1-credit capstone preparation workshop) be taken in the fall semester; work on this capstone experience is begun in the fall, although the registration (PA 8001) and completion of the capstone is in the spring.
- Engaging the Public in Policy and Planning Capstone -- also referred to as the “CHANCE” capstone because it is coordinated by staff in the Cedar-Humphrey Action Network for Community Engagement (CHANCE); this capstone requires a 3-credit registration in fall and a 3-credit registration in the spring (the extra two credits count toward the 14-credit self-designed concentration)How much time is required for the Capstone?
Typically, the fall and spring capstones average 6-9 hours per week, including class time, group meeting time, reading, writing, presentation preparation, etc. The summer capstone is condensed into a shorter time period and may involve more hours per week.How do I know which Capstone is best for me?
• Consider times/dates of the offering and the content of the capstone offering
• Review individual capstone descriptions
• Contact capstone instructors for more detailed information or syllabus
• Consider which client organizations and projects are the most relevant to your professional goals and self-designed concentration
• Meet with professional academic adviser in Humphrey Student Services (Katherine Murphy)
• Meet with your faculty adviser
• Talk to other students who have taken capstonesCan I do an individual paper instead of a Capstone?
Completing an individual paper instead of a Capstone has been approved only in very rare, very specific situations. Consult with your faculty advisor, with a faculty person that would advise your paper, and with your professional adviser in Humphrey Student Services (Katherine Murphy) to receive preliminary permission. Final approval must be given by the MPA director of graduate studies.
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