Master of Public Affairs (Mid-Career)

Three students sitting in chairs in Mondale Commons

The Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree program is geared toward mid-career professionals with 10+ years of work experience who want to advance their skills in public and nonprofit leadership, policy, and program analysis, and the use of research data for evidence-based decision-making. Designed to stimulate personal and professional growth through concentrated work with dedicated peers, the MPA allows students to design a program that aligns with their career goals at local, state, national, and international levels. 

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.

View Master of Public Affairs application requirements

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Class profile

MPA Class Profile: 2023-24

  • Incoming Students: 30
  • Minnesota Residents: 93%
  • International Students: 3%
  • Gender: Female: 53%, Male: 47%  
  • Domestic Students of Color: 23%
  • Average Age: 42
  • Average GPA: 3.63
  • Percent of Class total: 17%

MPA Career Statistics: Class of 2022

27 graduated, 25 known reported (93%)

  • Known employed or continuing to further degree: 100%
  • Government employment: 36%
  • Nonprofit employment: 40%
  • Private sector employment: 24%
  • Academic staff: 0%

Prospective applicants: please note that all applications are reviewed holistically, and profile numbers should not be viewed as admission cutoffs. Please contact the Office of Admissions with any questions about candidacy.

Note: These numbers reflect the most recent data available; due to rounding, percentages may not always add up to 100 percent.


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 development, critical thinking, policy/program analytical skills, using research methods in 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.

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.

Collaborative approach: cohort learning community

The Master of Public Affairs (MPA) and Certificate in Public Affairs Leadership (PAL) cohort learning community offers 12 credits of the MPA core courses in an integrated format that combines the best of intensive on-campus and online learning. These 12 credits make up the entire curriculum for the PAL certificate. The program starts with an intensive, introductory three-day session in August, followed by Friday/Saturday gatherings once a month between September and May. This schedule enables students to participate in coursework even if they live far from the Twin Cities and continue full-time employment while enrolled.

Students in the cohort learning community complete the 12 credit requirements with the same peer cohort. Because this learning experience is integrated, students form strong relationships with each other and the faculty, participating in personal growth, creative problem solving, and honed application. Courageous conversations, circle practice, research methods, and policy memo writing are all tools shared with other members of the learning community. Additionally, the cohort enables you to be part of the Humphrey community, even when you're not physically present. Students benefit from networking opportunities with Humphrey-wide faculty, alumni, MPA and PAL peers, and international fellows; full access to support staff in Career and Student Success; and access to the School's website, podcasts, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Deep Connections Online and In Person

Although face-to-face classroom time is less frequent, students create a close connection with each other during the August introductory session, and stay connected to others through regular online discussions about readings, and project updates. Monthly meetings (all day Friday and Saturday) enable the group to focus intently on policy/program analysis, leadership development, action learning projects, equity and inclusion, and qualitative/quantitative analysis training.

MPA 2023–24 session schedule

Orientation Session:

  • August 1, 2023

Weekend Sessions:
Weekend sessions take place once per month between late August and late April. 

  • August 24-26, 2023
  • September 15-16, 2023
  • October 13-14, 2023
  • November 10-11, 2023
  • December 1, 2023
  • January 19-20, 2024
  • February 16-17, 2024
  • March 15-16, 2024
  • April 12-13, 2024
  • May 3-4, 2024

MPA 2024–25 session schedule

Orientation Session:

  • August 14, 2024 (online)
  • August 26, 2024

Weekend Sessions:

  • September 5-7, 2024
  • September 27-28, 2024
  • October 25-26, 2024
  • November 22-23, 2024
  • December 13, 2024
  • January 24-24, 2025
  • February 7-8, 2025
  • March 7-8, 2025
  • April 4-5, 2025
  • May 2-3, 2025