The Master's in Public Policy and Administration

Build the analytical, administrative, and leadership skills needed to make an impact. Northwestern’s MPPA curriculum offers a unique and comprehensive opportunity to delve into both the administrative and analytical sides of policy. This holistic approach is grounded in the perspective that policy challenges are fluid, interconnected, and global. This perspective gives graduates the tools needed to rise in the field and drive change at the local, national, and international levels.

Earn your master's degree from Northwestern entirely online or with a blend of online and on-campus courses on Northwestern's Chicago campus.

A Versatile Degree in Policy and Administration

s an MPPA student you’ll build skills that are relevant to a variety of fields — public and private. You'll earn your master’s degree in one of the only programs that focuses on both policy and administration and build the leadership, administrative, and analytical expertise needed to drive change at the local, national, and international levels.

Highlights from this degree are listed below:

A Global Perspective

The MPPA program helps students put their analytic skills and administrative knowledge together into a new, synergistic perspective and understand how these connect to achieve global solutions in an increasingly interdependent world. The program prepares students to do the following:



Choose the pace that's right for you

Accelerated full-time and part-time options

The MPPA program is offered in part-time and accelerated full-time formats. The part-time option offers a flexible curriculum with five specializations and a wide range of electives that enable you to create the course of study you need to meet your career goals while maintaining full-time commitments through part-time study. The full-time option offers a curated curriculum with three specializations comprising mostly on-campus courses. You can complete your degree through part-time, nonresidential study or the one-year accelerated option. Whatever you choose, you will learn from experienced, engaged faculty who are thought leaders in their fields.

Please note: the part-time program cannot satisfy any visa eligibility requirements; only students in the full-time, accelerated option may use the program for visa eligibility.


(The MPPA) gives you an opportunity to study public administration and public policy. If you want to be an effective agent of change, I think you need both skills.”

Santiago Ernesto Castrillon, MPPA student

Law is reactive. If you want change, you have to effect it at the policy level.”

Sherrell Pyatt Harrison, (MPPA '15) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Sherrell Pyatt Harrison

I loved my time at Northwestern. The people that I've met and the resources that I've been able to connect to will serve me well throughout my career.”

Nick Mathiowdis (MPPA '17) Housing Authority of Cook County

Not only was [behavioral economics] interesting to me academically, but those ideas have helped inform my professional work. In the world of politics, a lot of the questions are about how people are going to react to situations.”

JC Kibbey (MPPA '14), Outreach and Policy Advocate at Union of Concerned Scientists
JC Kibbey

More about the MA in Public Policy and Administration

Master's in Public Policy and Administration Program Goals

After successful completion of this interdisciplinary professional program, MPPA graduates will possess the knowledge, skills and aptitude to do the following:

  • Evaluate the collaborative inter-organizational, inter-governmental, and international public policy and administrative environment
  • Apply a standard of ethics to policy and administrative context
  • Design public policies and programs
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of public policies and programs
  • Communicate relevant policy or program information to diverse stakeholders
  • Lead public organizations to implement policy decisions with respect and understanding for the broader institutional, societal, economic and political environment
  • Manage public resources to achieve organizational goals

Public Policy and Administration Curriculum

Review curriculum details and elective choices while you consider applying to this program. The MPPA program requires the successful completion of 13 courses. The curriculum covers nine core courses, three elective courses corresponding to a declared specialization, and a capstone (498) or thesis (590) project. 

  • MPPA 401 Research Methods
  • MPPA 402 Public Finance and Budgeting
  • MPPA 403 Fundamentals of Public Administration
  • MPPA 404 Microeconomics for Public Policy and Administration
  • MPPA 405 Statistics for Research
  • MPPA 406 Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis
  • MPPA 407 Scope and Theory of Public Policy
  • MPPA 408 Public Organization Theory and Management
  • MPPA 418 Ethics and Leadership
  • Three specialization courses
  • MPPA 498 Capstone Project or MPPA 590 Thesis Research
Current students should refer to the curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program.


MA in Public Policy and Administration Areas of Specialization

Students can focus on a particular area of interest by selecting one of the MA in Public Policy and Administration Specializations as part of the application process. Students can also choose the "generalist" designation, which allows them to take their electives from different specializations.

Public Policy and Administration Course Schedule

Explore the Public Policy and Administration course schedule. You can narrow your course search by day, location or instructor.

Master's in Public Policy and Administration Admission

A variety of factors are considered when your application is reviewed. Background and experience vary from student to student. For a complete list of requirements, see the Admission page for SPS graduate programs.

MPPA Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition for the Master's in Public Policy and Administration program at Northwestern is comparable to similar US programs. Financial aid opportunities exist for students at Northwestern. Complete details can be found on the MPPA Tuition and Financial Aid pages.

Registration Information for Public Policy and Administration

Already accepted into the Master's in Public Policy and Administration program? Get ahead and register for your classes as soon as possible.


Public Policy and Administration Careers

Professional opportunities for graduates of Northwestern's MPPA program are as broad and varied as the field of public policy and administration itself. With five concentrations to choose from, MPPA graduates set their sights on leadership roles in government at the local, regional and federal levels, in nonprofit organizations or in private enterprise.  For details visit the Public Policy and Administration Career Options page.

Public Policy and Administration Faculty

Instructors in the Master's in Public Policy and Administration program at Northwestern are leading scholars and practitioners in their field. They bring real-world experiences to the  classroom and engage with students on a personal level. Get to know the instructors on our Public Policy and Administration Faculty page. 

MPPA Student Leadership Council

Learn about the MPPA Student Leadership Council and their efforts to create and host network events for the program.

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