Public Administration M.P.A. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Public Affairs

Program Description

The Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy offers students the opportunity to study public policy and program management from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Students gain an understanding of the political processes through which issues, problems, and policies are formulated; the economic basis for government action in a market economy; and the comparative and historical contexts of governmental programs. Students study public budgets, finance, and regulatory processes, as well as the behavior of both public and private organizations and their management. Students also gain competence in the qualitative and quantitative methods needed to analyze programs and policies, and develop sensitivity to the moral and ethical dimensions of policy issues.

M.P.A. Program The two-year Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) program consists of sixteen courses; students typically take four courses per term for four semesters. The M.P.A. program offers a basic  structure for study, however, each M.P.A. student designs an individualized program based on the student's specific area of interest. Elective courses and research opportunities may be taken through the program in relevant departments or colleges at the university. Students have eight areas they may concentrate their studies in:

  • Environmental Policy
  • Economic and Financial Policy
  • Government, Politics, and Policy Studies
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • International Development Studies
  • Public and Non-Profit Management
  • Science, Technology and Infrastructure Policy
  • Social Policy

M.P.A. students are expected to engage in public affairs work related to their respective areas of concentration during the summer between their first and second years of study. As a culmination of studies in the M.P.A. program, all students are required to develop and complete a professional writing project. This professional writing requirement may be fulfilled by writing a research thesis, a professional report based on work done during the summer internship, or by completing the MPA Capstone.  

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-8018

2201 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • economic and financial policy
  • environmental policy
  • government, politics, and policy studies
  • human rights and social justice
  • international development studies
  • public and nonprofit management
  • science, technology and infrastructure policy
  • social policy


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

The residential MPA program has a fixed application deadline and offers admission for the fall semester only. Applications for the residential MPA program are due on February 1st and decisions on admittance offers will be released in mid-March.

Requirements Summary:

Complete application information is available on the MPA Program website. Please review the application process before applying.

Applicants to the MPA Program must meet all Graduate School application requirements including the English Language Proficiency Requirement

The MPA Program does not require a GRE score for the MPA application. 

When applying, please submit a *statement of purpose (500-word maximum) that addresses the following points:

  • Why you are applying to the program?
  • Personal and/or professional experience that has led to your interest in Cornell's MPA program
  • Your future goals -- how you would put an MPA graduate education to use?
  • Examples of volunteer work, positions of responsibility, and any other life experiences that have contributed to your interest in public affairs

*Also submit an essay (1,000-word maximum) that:

  • Briefly describes an area of public affairs to which you would like to make a contribution
  • Discusses what you would like to see accomplished in this area
  • Explains how you would go about initiating, supporting and sustaining changes in this area so as to enhance public well-being and public services

MPA Application Requirements:

* See the program website for details.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Problem-Solving and Analytical Skills
    1. Economic Analysis and Public Finance
    2. Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis for Public Affairs
    3. Administrative, Political and Policy Processes
  2. Specialized Public Policy Subject Matter Competence
  3. Writing Skills
  4. Group Work, Management and Leadership Skills
  5. Communication and Presentation Skills