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Master of Public Administration (MPA)

#45 Best Graduate Public Affairs Program

#15 Most Innovative Public Service School

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

The MPA is available for full and part-time students and is offered on three campuses: ArlingtonBlacksburg, and Richmond

MPA graduates pursue their careers in public service in a wide range of organizations:

  • federal goverment
  • state government
  • local government
  • nonprofits
  • private sector

Graduate Rates

Cohort Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting 
Fall 2013 19 10 14 16 16
Spring 2014 7 3 5 5 6
Total ARY-5 cohort 26 13 19 21 22


Main Campus

Cohort Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting to Graduation
Fall 2013 8 5 6 7 7
Spring 2014 3 2 3 3 3
Total ARY-5 cohort 11 7 9 10 10


National Capital Region

Cohort Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting to Graduation
Fall 2013 5 2 4 4 4
Spring 2014 2 0 1 1 2
Total ARY-5 7 2 5 5 6


Richmond VA

Cohort Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting to Graduation
Fall 2013 6 3 4 5 5
Spring 2014 2 1 1 1 1
Total ARY-5 cohort 8 4 5 6 6


Job Placement Statistics: 2017-18 Cohort

Campus Blacksburg NCR Richmond Total
Federal Government 2 2 0 4
State Government 5 1 2 8
Local Government 1 4 2 7
Non-US Government 0 0 0 0
Non Profit - Domestic 2 5 0 7
Non Profit - International  0 0 0 0
Private Sector - Research/Consulting 0 2 0 2
Private Sector - Other 3 2 0 5
Obtaining Further Education 0 0 0 0
Military Service 0 0 0 0
Unemployed - Not Seeking 0 0 0 0
Unemployed - Seeking 0 0 0 0
Unknown 1 7 2 10
Total 14 23 6 43


Full-time or part-time students are welcome!

Full-time students are able to complete the defree in two years. Part-time students myst 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.

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!

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.

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