Master's in Public Administration (MPA)

Gain a comprehensive understanding of how leadership, management, policy, and politics intersect with a Master's in Public Administration (MPA) degree.

Sound leadership and management are vital to organizational and governmental effectiveness. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government puts you on a path toward senior-level positions in organizations that implement and manage public policies. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of how leadership, management, policy, and politics intersect, along with the tools to enhance your communication, budgeting, and analytic skills. As a graduate of one of the largest MPA programs in the country, you will join thousands of Schar School alumni working in various roles in local, state, and national government, nonprofit management, and many other careers.


A Top-Ranked MPA Program

According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as the ShanghaiRanking, the Schar School's Master of Public Administration program is No. 16 among U.S. public colleges, and No. 1 in the Washington D.C. region. Some 200 programs around the globe were studied for the ranking. The MPA program is additionally ranked No. 39 for best public affairs programs and No. 24 for public policy analysis, according to the most recent U.S. News & World Ranking.

Academic Ranking of World Universities logo

The MPA program is also accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), recognizing the quality and rigor of the degree.


A Degree That Works With Your Schedule

You can earn this degree:

  • On-campus
  • Entirely online in a synchronous format
  • Through a combination of on-campus and online classes
  • Part-time or full-time

Classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working students.

What You'll Study

The curriculum requirements of the MPA program include eight required courses and four elective courses. As a student in the MPA program, you can tailor your degree to your interests with one of the following concentrations (or you may design your own concentration, with approval from your Schar School advisor):

  • Administration of Justice
  • Emergency Management and Homeland Security
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy
  • Human Resource Management
  • International Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Finance
  • Policy Studies
  • State and Local Government
  • Managing Across Sectors

Learn more about the differences between the MPA and MPP degrees.

Photo of MPA Aumna Stella Hanly

“I decided to get my master’s degree to show that I was dedicated to a career change. The teaching staff at the Schar School has real-world experience, and they provided me with a solid understanding of how the nonprofit sector works.”
—Stella Hanly, Master’s in Public Administration '13

Photo of MPA student Alumnus John Salamone

“Without my degree I would not have been able to get into the [Presidential Management Fellowship] program…I knew I had an interest in management and I knew I had an interest in policy, but for me it was more about making organizations work more effectively.”
—John Salamone, Master’s in Public Administration '98

Meet Our Faculty

With George Mason University's prime location in the Washington, D.C. area, Schar School students gain access to leading scholars and practitioners closely connected to the epicenter of policymaking and public service, and the hub of the nonprofit sector.

The MPA program faculty includes 9+ renowned scholars and practitioners who focus their teaching and research on a diverse range of public administration topics in both domestic and international contexts. Public administration courses address key issues in administrative law, organization theory, emergency management, homeland security, global civic society, privacy policy, public policy, program evaluation, urban politics, race and gender politics, Virginia politics and government, technology leadership, and more. The Schar School as a whole has 80+ faculty members, as well as hundreds of adjunct faculty, allowing students to gain access to a variety of perspectives and subjects through elective courses.

Where You'll Work

The Master of Public Administration program prepares students for a range of industries and roles in the public and private sectors. In a recent graduating class career outcomes survey, the following were the top employers of MPA program graduates:

  • Arlington County Government
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • Fairfax County Government
  • FBI
  • IBM
  • ICF International
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
  • Pan American Development Foundation
  • Peace Corps
  • Social Security Administration
  • SRA International
  • Vanguard Communications
  • World Bank

Career Development Services

At the Schar School, we develop a career success plan for students from the moment they step foot on campus until graduation and continue to provide coaching and career services to students as alumni. In addition to university-wide resources, Schar School's career advisors will help you explore career and internship opportunities, define your goals, and develop the skills needed for a successful job search, including crafting a resume and cover letter that stand out.

Our graduates continue to have access to these services after they graduate —whenever they need them. 

Contact Career Development Services

Current students and alumni can reach out to our career team at any time.

Duane Bradshaw
Director of Career Development
Phone: 703-993-3188
Fax: 703-993-4876

Brian Bar 
Associate Director for Career Development and Alumni Relations
Phone: 703-993-8559 

Program News

Masters in Public Administration student Darcy Kim

On the Front Lines: Continuing Public Mental Health Care Amid COVID-19

What does it mean to be a public servant during the COVID-19 pandemic? Master's in Public Administration student Darcy Kim discusses her line of work at a crucial time when individuals may need support the most.


Schar students in front of the Captiol building Masters in Public Administration MPA

Master of Public Administration Students Hear Policy in Action During Special Capitol Hill Session

The classroom for the day was the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, across the white marble hall from the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The five “professors” were not academics but active practitioners in legislative affairs, representing federal agencies, congressional offices, and lobbying firms.


Photo of Professor James Burroughs and Professor James Conant

Northern Virginia MPA Fellows: A History of Success for Graduates—and the Region

The Northern Virginia Public Service Fellows Program is a competitive cohort-based program in which local government students take classes together, study in groups, and finish the program with hands-on capstone projects.


crowd funding image

Is Crowdfunding Set to Become "Fundraising 3.0"?

The share of private giving and philanthropy is continuously on the decline. Have nonprofits and social enterprises gained a foothold in the crowdfunding market, or are they lacking behind in exploring a potentially exciting new form of revenue generation?