Master of Public Affairs (Mid-Career)

The Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree program is geared toward mid-career professionals who want to advance their skills in public and nonprofit leadership, management, and policy analysis at the local, state, national, or global level. Designed to stimulate personal and professional growth through concentrated work with dedicated peers, the MPA allows students to design a program that works best for them and their goals.

The framework of the MPA degree program is flexible and efficient. Classes are offered during the day, evening, some weekends, and during the summer. The program is adaptable to family, work, and other responsibilities. The majority of our MPA students take one or two classes at a time while working full-time, with most completing their degree in less than three years.

The MPA leverages the major areas of expertise at the Humphrey School. Learn more.

Positions Our Graduates Hold

Secretary of State, State of Minnesota
Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Human Rights
Director, Native American Training Institute, Bismarck, North Dakota
Executive Director, Pillsbury United Communities, Minneapolis
Regional Director, Eurasia Foundation, Moscow Regional Office, Russia


The MPA consists of a minimum of 30 semester credits: 12 credits of core (required) coursework, 14 credits of self-designed concentration, and 4 credits (required) of a Capstone Workshop.

Core (required) Courses (12 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. These 12 credits are offered in a cohort learning community with an integrated format that combines the best of intensive on-campus and online learning. Learn more about the cohort learning community.

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.

In consultation with advisors, you select areas to study that might include—but are not limited to—such things as Community and Economic Development; Integrative Leadership across Sectors; Disability Policy; International Development; Transportation Planning; Education Policy; Public or Nonprofit Leadership and Management; Program Evaluation; Food Systems Policy; Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy; Global Public Policy; Health Care Policy; Human Rights; Women and Public Policy.

Final Capstone Workshop (4 credits)
Although no formal thesis is required for graduation, the Capstone Workshop (PA 8081), 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 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.