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Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Students in class around a conference table

Top 15% Graduate Public Affairs Program

The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree, offered through the Center for Public Administration and Policy, prepares students to lead and manage in public service while developing managerial, analytic, and normative evaluation skills.

The M.P.A. is available for full and part-time students and is offered on four campuses: ArlingtonBlacksburg, and Richmond, as well as online. Courses are in-person, hybrid synchronous (in-person/online), and online synchronous.

Full-time or part-time students are welcome!

Full-time students are able to complete the degree in two years. Part-time students must enroll continuously in at least one course (3 credit hours) per semester. The length of the degree for part-time depends on the pace at which required coursework is completed. A combined public administration and public policy program, the 39 credit hour curriculum includes, both, public management and policy courses. Students may take in-person or online courses.

M.P.A. graduates pursue their careers in public service in a wide range of organizations:

  • federal government
  • state government
  • local government
  • non-profits
  • private sector

The Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) is a unit within the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at Virginia Tech. CPAP, as a program, is the home of two degrees - an M.P.A. and a Ph.D.

Number of M.P.A. Students (Spring 2023)

Home Campus Blacksburg DC Metro/ Arlington Richmond Virtual/Online Total   
No. of Students 32 16 16 10 71  


Number of Full-Time Faculty Members

Number of  Full-Time Faculty



Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 Cohorts
  Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting to Graduation  
Total number of students in the ARY-5 Cohort 28 10
19 20 22  
Blacksburg 15 7 12 13 13  
National Capital Region
7 2 5 5 6  
Richmond 6 1 2 2 3  


Job Placement Statistics: 2021-22 Cohort

Type of Employer # of Blacksburg Alumni # of Washington D.C. Alumni # of Richmond Alumni # of Total Alumni
Federal Government 1 2
0 3
State Government 2
0 0
Local Government 6
0 1 7
Non-US Government 0 0 0 0
Non Profit - Domestic 2 1 0
Non Profit - International 0 0 0 0
Private Sector -Research/Consulting 1
2 0 3
Private Sector - Other 0 0
Obtaining Further Education 0
0 0 0
Military Service 0
0 0 0
Unemployment - Not Seeking 0 0 0 0
Unemployment - Seeking 0 0 0 0
Unknown 0
0 1
Total 12 5

Our students and alumni come from many states and countries. Some are full time students, and others study part time while working. All seek to advance their careers and promote good governance and capable and ethical public service.

Kristen Buzby, M.P.A. alum, Arlington campus
Each class I've taken allows me to apply what I've learned to my work in the federal government. The program's focus on multiple levels of government allows me to understand the linkages between the federal, state, and local organizations and provide better solutions in my work.

Kristen Buzby, MPA student
William Garrett, MPA student

William Garrett, M.P.A. alum, Arlington campus
The original attraction to the program was the availability of course work in the evening, through the Local Government Managers Certificate program. As a public safety employee, working an administrative Monday-Friday position, this was an ideal schedule for classes.

Isidoro Hazbun, M.P.A. alum, Arlington campus
As I’ve interacted more fully with the program’s curriculum, I’ve come to appreciate its focus on pragmatic solutions to public policy problems, as well as its exceptional theoretical footing. Combined, these two attributes make CPAP’s M.P.A. one of its kind. After I graduate, I would like to continue working on rainforest conservation issues and growing within my field and organization, potentially advancing towards a Ph.D. that would enable me to apply my field experience and the lessons learned in my M.P.A. to research.

Isidoro Hazbun, MPA student
Joseph Mills, MPA student

Joseph Mills, M.P.A. alum, Blacksburg campus
I was originally attracted to the M.P.A. program at VT because I saw it as a way to transition from a commercially-oriented career path towards one of public work. Since starting the program, the one thing that I have appreciated the most is the quality and diversity of students the program attracts. The program brings together a full range of students, from recently graduated undergraduates to career civil servants, and the result is a robust exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Jahangir Nejad, M.P.A. alum (2021), Arlington campus
Fairfax County offered a local government certificate program which made it easier to get my M.P.A. I have come to appreciate the challenges faced by public officials and how the role of staff in local government has evolved in the last 30 years. [The decision to obtain an M.P.A. at Virginia Tech] was a great decision and worth all the effort.

Regan Price, MPA student

Regan Price, M.P.A. alum, Blacksburg campus
I was originally attracted to the M.P.A. program at VT because of CPAP’s mission to promote good governance and ethical public service. The M.P.A. program has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of all dimensions of public administration and policy, including the theories and practical application of these concepts and approaches. I also have gained professional skills because of the M.P.A. program such as data analysis, presenting information orally, writing, managing people and systems, and a conceptual framework for addressing workplace and governance issues that is grounded in research.

M.P.A. alumni employers include local, state, and national government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private sector firms. A small sample of employers of our graduates include:

  • Alexandria City 
  • Arlington County
  • Booz Allen Hamilton 
  • Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition 
  • Charlottesville City 
  • Emory University 
  • EY Consulting 
  • Fairfax County 
  • Giant Eagle Foods
  • HCA Florida Hospital
  • Henrico County
  • Montgomery County
  • Nantucket Yacht Club
  • Old Dominion University
  • Percipio Consulting Group
  • Prince George’s County, MD
  • Richmond Performing Arts Alliance
  • Town of Warrenton 
  • University of Virginia
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
  • U.S. Office of Management and Budget
  • Virginia Department of Planning and Budget 
  • Virginia Tech

M.P.A. students have completed internships with a number of different employers, including local, state, and national government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private sector firms. A small sample of these internships inlcude:

  • Virginia House of Delegates Campaigns
  • Office of the Virginia Governor
  • Virginia Tech Housing and Resident Life
  • VT Office of Sponsored Programs
  • VT Associate Dean for Academic Programs
  • VT Office of State Government Relations
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • United States Department of Transportation
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
  • Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
  • Town of Big Stone Gap, VA
  • Town of Surf City, MA
  • Town of Nahant, NC
  • Town of Strausburg, VA
  • City of Roanoke, VA
  • Roanoke County, VA
  • Smyth County, VA
  • Floyd County, VA

Our Curriculum

The first of a sequence of two; provides theoretically grounded but practical knowledge on behavioral skills necessary for the public manager. These include the ability to lead, to supervise, to organize, and to communicate in public settings and in agencies serving the community and society.

The second of a sequence of two, teaches the techniques and technology necessary to manage public organizations efficiently and effectively and to be held accountable for administrative actions and programs. The general objective of this course is to develop an understanding of the organization as a complex system and develop skills in tools and processes used to manage the system and deal with the complexity. Topics include systems methods and approaches, program and project management, strategic planning, and tools to support decision-making.

This course surveys the basic concepts and practices of contemporary public budgeting at all levels of government, and considers the historic and contemporary relationships between and among the budget process; its political and economic contexts; the actors involved in setting budget priorities (whether public officials or citizens); and public policy and administration.

This course surveys the key personnel processes of public organizations, the contrasting norms and behaviors of participants, their impacts on policy, and their implications for democracy.

This course is one of the core requirements in public policy for both the Ph.D. and MPA programs in the Center for Public Administration and Policy. It provides an introduction to the traditions, assumptions, and diverse perspectives of the field of public policy inquiry. Explores the processes of policy-making and techniques of policy analysis in and for government, critiques the literature, and examines relationships with other fields and topics of public administration.

This course examines the theory and practice of public policy design and decision-making. The course combines an introduction to the basic tools of policy analysis – cost-benefit and multi-attribute analysis, decision-trees, and other analytical techniques – with consideration of the conflicting values and limitations on rationality that define policy decision-making in the real world. Prerequisites for entry in this course: Completion of PAPA 6214, 6514, and of an undergraduate or graduate Introductory Statistics course.

This course is intended to introduce students to (1) the multiple relationships that exist between theory and evidence in the pursuit of knowledge about public administration and public policy and (2) useful tools needed to make practical application of that knowledge at the strategic level of decision making in large, networked public organizations. Prerequisite: Statistics The core focus of this course is to help you develop a mindset about what might be termed “strategic methodology,” a personal sensitivity for the use of theoretical perspectives, evidence and systematic inquiry to help you contribute to strategic decision making at the policy level.

This course is designed to complement the materials in PAPA 5315, Behavioral Skills for Managers, and PAPA 5316, System Skills for Public Managers. The premise is that in order to understand and apply the skills of public administration and the systems within which administrators work, it is essential to understand the dynamics of public administration and democracy. The course covers the origins and development of the administrative state and surveys major theoretical approaches to public administration. The problem of values in administration, the political environment of bureaucracy, and questions of ethical behavior in administration are discussed.

This course provides a critical analysis of claims to justice and surveys major perspectives on ethics and public life. The course places a particular emphasis on the role of public managers and the ethical challenges of public administration in a constitutional democracy. The course combines readings of moral and political philosophy with examination of present-day cases, and invites students to subject their own views to critical examination.

9 credit hours selected from courses in CPAP, SPIA, or the University.

PAPA 5904: Project and Report

The final course prior to graduation from the MPA program, students in this course assemble and present a portfolio of work completed while enrolled in the program. This portfolio serves as both a self-assessment and as a representation of the best work students produce through their core courses. Students must be sure to illustrate achieving mastery of all parameters defined in the CPAP Policy Guide. Students must pass this course prior to graduating from the program.

An accelerated BA-MPA program is available to Virginia Tech undergraduates enrolled in Public and Urban Affairs majors. For details regarding program completion requirements see here.

Thinking about applying? Talk to us!

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis, but apply early for priority consideration. We highly value offering a tailored educational experience. Our CPAP advisors will be able to answer any questions you may have about the degree and whether it meets your professional and academic needs. They can also guide you through the application process.

  • Bio Item
    David Bredenkamp
    David Bredenkamp , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Richmond | Email: | Phone: (804) 977-3503

  • Bio Item
    Stephanie Davis
    Stephanie Davis , bio

    Collegiate Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Blacksburg, Thomas Connor House | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-7302

  • Bio Item
    Matthew Dull
    Matthew Dull , bio

    Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 6-040 | Email: |

  • Bio Item
    Adrienne Edisis
    Adrienne Edisis , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 6-034 | Email: |

  • Bio Item
    Karen Hult
    Karen Hult , bio

    Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) PhD Program Director, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) Editor, Administration & Society | Office: Blacksburg, Thomas-Conner House | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-5351

  • Bio Item
    Eric Malczewski
    Eric Malczewski , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Blacksburg | Email:

  • Bio Item
    Professor Sharon Mastracci
    Sharon Mastracci , bio

    Chair and Professor, Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) | Email:

  • Bio Item
    Joe Rees
    Joe Rees , bio

    Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Richmond | Email: | Phone: (540)-250-5632

  • Bio Item
    Patrick Roberts
    Patrick Roberts , bio

    Associate Chair and Director, Master of Public Administration (MPA) program | Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 5-184 | Email: |

  • Bio Item
    Stephanie Smith
    Stephanie Smith , bio

    Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 6-042 | Email: |

  • Bio Item
    Raymond Zuniga
    Raymond Zuniga , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-5133

  • Bio Item
    Jeffrey Glick
    Jeffery Glick , bio

    Professor of Practice, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) | Office: Arlington | Email:

  • Bio Item
    Cecily Rodriguez
    Cecily Rodriguez , bio

    Manager of Applied Research, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) Adjunct Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) | Office: Richmond | Phone: (804)-556-1703

  • Brian Cook, Professor Emeritus
  • Larkin Dudley, Associate Professor Emerita
  • Charles Goodsell, Professor Emeritus
  • Philip Kronenberg, Professor Emeritus
  • John Rohr, Professor Emeritus
  • Gary Wamsley, Professor Emeritus
  • Orion White, Professor Emeritus
  • James Wolf, Professor Emeritus
  • Renee Loeffler, Afiliated Faculty Professor Emerita

CPAP Policy Guide

CPAP Policy Guide Page 1


The mission of the Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) is to promote good governance and the advancement of capable and ethical public service by providing outstanding education, research, and outreach in the theory and practice of public administration, management, and policy.

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