PPIA Program

“Diversity & Leadership in Public Service”

Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Brown University


Master of Public Affairs

Home to the one-year Master of Public Affairs program, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University provides students with close access to renowned faculty, researchers, visiting scholars, and speakers. The Watson Institute seeks to promote a just and peaceful world through research, teaching, and public engagement. The Institute is a community of scholars and practitioners whose work aims to help us understand and address the world's great challenges, such as globalization, economic uncertainty, security threats, environmental degradation, and poverty.

Degrees Offered

Master of Public Affairs (MPA)

Fields of Specialization/Study Tracks

Comparative and Global Policy
Focuses on the policy settings where international rules and cross-national differences take a central place in decision making.

Data-Driven Policy
Builds quantitative, analytic, and computing skills through courses in behavioral economics, data science, computing, and econometrics. Students pursue their consultancy at the Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab, headquartered on campus.

Policy Analysis
Deepens skills in the application of economic analysis to questions of policy design, efficiency, and distribution. Cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and other applications of quantitative modeling and political economy models are studied.

Social Change and Advocacy Policy
Prioritizes social justice, diversity, and ethics by using the distance between the way things are and the way things ought to be to shape learning and to analyze policy and public interventions.

Design Your Own
In the spirit of Brown's Open Curriculum, students may work with a faculty advisor to design their own specialization. Students have focused on areas from cybersecurity, voter rights, and environmental advocacy to national intelligence and early childhood education.

Area Studies


Graduate Program Overview

1-Year Master of Public Affairs

With the recent launch of the one-year Master of Public Affairs program -- the only program of its kind in the Ivy League -- Brown University has begun an exciting new chapter in public policy education.

The MPA prepares students to be public policy leaders, analysts and advocates in government, politics, and the nonprofit and private sectors, both in the U.S. and abroad. In just one summer and two semesters, students gain problem-solving, quantitative, communication, and managerial skills.

An emphasis on experiential learning
In addition to a rigorous, multidisciplinary core curriculum and individualized career coaching, the Watson's MPA program has many distinctive features. The two-week Global Policy Experience (GPE) allows students to engage global policy leaders at an international site. Many students report that the GPE is a life-changing experience, providing powerful insights into governance in today's era of globalization and rapid technological change. All MPA students also engage in a 12-week domestic or international on-site consultancy with an organization aligned with their policy interests.

Innovative courses on implementation, systems dynamics, program evaluation, and advocacy equip students with the skills to diagnose political and organizational obstacles to designing and implementing effective policy and to identify effective leverage points. Students can also choose from several specialization areas, including comparative policy and data-driven policy. The latter allows students to gain coding skills and collaborate with data scientists at the Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab.

Join a diverse, vibrant community
With a small cohort numbering around 50, Brown's MPA program is a tight-knit community. Students come to the program from diverse backgrounds, but all share a desire to use knowledge to promote the common good. Students enjoy close access to MPA faculty, who include both distinguished policy practitioners and leading researchers producing cutting-edge studies of topics such as economic mobility and education reform.

Admissions Deadline

Early application deadline: December 18, 2017
Students who know that Brown is a top choice should apply as part of the MPA's early application program.

Regular application deadline: February 23, 2018

Admissions Overview

Applicants complete an online application and submit transcripts, GRE, resume, and letters of recommendation in addition to a personal statement detailing interest in the area of study, career goals, and why Brown's program is a good fit.

Contact Information

Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
111 Thayer Street
Providence, Rhode Island

Member of