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Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Top 20 Percent Graduate Public Affairs Program

#15 Most Innovative Public Service School

Limited Time! Application fee waivers are being provided to SPIA  graduate applicants. Use SPIA_2022 as the code for the Financial Assistance form when applying.

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) 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 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

Graduation Rates - Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 Cohorts

  Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting to Graduation
Total ARY-5 cohort 14 6 6 8 9
Blacksburg 6 3 3 3 3
National Capital Region 5 2 2 4 5
Richmond 2 1 1 1 1
Virtual 1 0 0 0 0


Job Placement Statistics: 2018-19 Cohort

Type of Employer # of Blacksburg Alumni # of Washington D.C. Alumni # of Richmond Alumni # of Total Alumni
Federal Government 1 9   10
State Government 8 5 8 21
Local Government 3 1 1 5
Non-US Government       0
Non Profit - Domestic 1     1
Non Profit - International       0
Private Sector -Research/Consulting 1 4   5
Private Sector - Other 1 4   5
Obtaining Further Education 2     2
Military Service       0
Unemployment - Not Seeking       0
Unemployment - Seeking       0
Unknown 3 4 0 7
Total 20 27 9 56

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.

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.

  • Bio Item
    David Bredenkamp
    David Bredenkamp , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Stephanie Davis
    Stephanie Davis , bio

    Collegiate Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Matthew Dull
    Matthew Dull , bio

    Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Adrienne Edisis
    Adrienne Edisis , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Jeffrey Glick
    Jeffery Glick , bio

    Professor of Practice, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA)

  • Bio Item
    Thomas Hickok
    Thomas Hickok , bio

    Professor of Practice, Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Karen Hult
    Karen Hult , bio

    Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Laura Jensen
    Laura Jensen , bio

    Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Sara Jordan
    Sara Jordan , bio

    Affiliated Faculty, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Leisha LaRiviere
    Leisha LaRiviere , bio

    Associate Director in Richmond, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) Adjunct Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) Director, The Virginia Management Fellows Program, Office of the Governor

  • Bio Item
    Eric Malczewski
    Eric Malczewski , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Dennis McBride
    Dennis McBride , bio

    Professor of Practice, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) Research Professor, Hume Center for National Security and Technology

  • Bio Item
    Joe Rees
    Joe Rees , bio

    Executive Committee Chair, Associate Professor, and Program Coordinator, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Patrick Roberts
    Patrick Roberts , bio

    Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • 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)

  • Bio Item
    Stephanie Smith
    Stephanie Smith , bio

    Ph.D. Program Chair and Associate Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

  • Bio Item
    Raymond Zuniga
    Raymond Zuinga , bio

    Assistant Professor, Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP)

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