Through the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree program, young professionals and new college graduates learn the skills needed to transform an interest in public affairs into serious careers. The multidisciplinary faculty are nationally recognized experts in public policy analysis, public management and administration, and specialized policy fields that include social policy, public finance, urban planning, health management, and environmental policy.
With rigorous professional training across several disciplines, La Follette School MPA graduates take up positions as managers and analysts in government at all levels, in the rapidly growing nonprofit sector, and in private firms across the United States. Program brochure
The core courses, taught by the La Follette School faculty, help students to build their knowledge of the policy process, acquire skills in microeconomic and statistical analysis, develop competence in public management and public policy analysis, and apply their knowledge and analytical tools to real-world problems.
As MPA students build on their foundation through elective courses, they have great flexibility to pursue their intellectual interests and career goals, and to build expertise in specialized policy focus fields. Students can complete a single focus field of four or more courses, or two focus fields of three courses each.
Students can enroll in electives taught by faculty at the La Follette School and in the many strong departments, schools, and centers across the university. Through electives taught at the La Follette School, students may specialize in public management or policy analysis, and may augment their quantitative analytical skills.
MPA students are also encouraged to build proficiency beyond the core analytical requirements by completing at least one of the following: Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis, Public Program Evaluation, and Benefit-Cost Analysis.
In addition to the required core courses for their degree program, MPA students choose electives to develop specialized knowledge in policy fields that match their interests and career goals. Guided by faculty advisors, students typically choose electives that build on the expertise of La Follette School faculty across a number of well-established policy fields. Students can also take advantage of the wide range of courses offered throughout the university.
Some MPA students pursue advanced courses in policy analysis or public management (or both) in lieu of specializing in a policy area. Others choose to gain additional credentials through a dual degree, double degree, or certificate program. La Follette School MPA students may pursue dual degrees in law and public policy, offered with the Law School; or a double degree in Urban Planning and Public Affairs, offered with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. MPA students may also earn a certificate in energy analysis and policy, offered with the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
Building on the expertise of faculty at the La Follette School, students can choose to craft their electives to focus on one of the following areas:
Some students have more specific interests and take electives that meet their individual goals. Examples of individualized policy areas developed by MPA students in past years include: community development, criminal justice administration, educational policy and planning, financial administration, organization theory and policy process, personnel management, and risk management.
In developing an individualized policy field, MPA students typically elect courses from one of the following departments, centers, schools, and institutes:
Students are encouraged to strengthen their career preparedness and
broaden their placement opportunities by taking up suitable internships in
government agencies, international organizations or offices of
non-governmental organizations in Madison, elsewhere in Wisconsin, in
Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, and other major centers in the
United States or in other countries. Upon approval of the
career development coordinator and
associate director, students may earn up to three academic credits toward
their degree requirements.