PPIA Program

“Diversity & Leadership in Public Service”

University of Pennsylvania

Fels Institute of Government


At Penn's Fels Institute of Government, we have been educating students committed to making a difference in the world for more than 75 years. Our approach is distinctive - our small size and unique setting make the Fels program incredibly personal, and our context, analysis, practice-based (CAP) curriculum, taught by practitioners and some of Penn's most distinguished faculty, keeps us closely focused on the tough but critical questions of how to get things done, how to achieve real world results, in challenging political environments.


Degrees Offered

MPA - Masters of Public Administration/Exec
MPA - Executive Masters of Public Administration
Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership
Certificate in Public Finance

Fields of Specialization/Study Tracks

Our broad-based MPA (Master of Public Administration) curriculum in analysis, management, finance, and politics provides the framework for understanding today's challenges and allows you the flexibility to move between sectors.

Seven core classes cover the fundamental competencies needed for effective public leadership, a capstone will grant you the opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills, and perspectives you have mastered in the program, and four electives provide you the opportunity to study a particular policy topic or sector.

The Foundation (3 Courses):
Public Economics
Statistics for Public Policy
Public Management

The Core Competencies (4 Courses):
Policy Making and Public Institutions
Program Evaluation and Data Analysis
Financial Management and Government and Nonprofit Institutions
Public Communication

The Capstone (1 course):

The completion of a capstone project is one of the academic requirements for the Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. The capstone project represents a way for graduate students to apply their multi-disciplinary learning from the program to a specific public administration challenge(s) or issue(s). To successfully complete a capstone project, a student must receive a passing grade for her capstone paper and the associated briefing.

The student's capstone paper resembles a policy memo that an administrative staff writes to decision makers and stakeholders. The paper integrates and deepens the student’s learning from the program. More importantly, the capstone paper provides a way for a student to bring her/his learning and knowledge from the program back into their chosen career. The research focus should be one that is of great interest to the students as well as one a potential organization will benefit from.

The Electives (4 courses): Students can use their four electives to specialize in public finance, politics, nonprofit administration, or economic development and growth. Students may also take advantage of courses offered at other Penn programs, such as public finance courses at Wharton, social welfare courses at the School of Social Policy and Practice, education policy courses at the Graduate School of Education, or any other relevant courses offered in one of Penn\'s twelve graduate schools.

Area Studies

See specializations listed above

Graduate Program Overview

The Experience

Full-time students are admitted into a cohort of 25-30 individuals with diverse interests and experiences. The intimate size of the cohort quickly fosters a sense of community between classmates and allows students maximum access to Fels staff and faculty members. The full-time track can be completed in four semesters. Students focus on completing the core requirements in year 1 in preparation for electives in year 2, with the summer free to pursue full-time internships, travel, or other opportunities. Many complete internships during the academic year and get involved with civic, social, or service projects at Penn or in the Philadelphia community.

The Students

Most students bring at least 2 years of full-time work experience prior to coming to Fels working on campaigns, in government, and for nonprofits. They have served in national service programs such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps or have spent time in the private sector. Our international students comprise approximately 30 percent of the class and include Fulbright Fellows, Thouron Fellows, and seasoned government employees.

Admissions Deadline

Full-time MPA - Jan 10
Executive MPA - May 15 for Fall start, Sept 15
for Spring start
Certificates - July 1 for Fall start, Nov 1 for Spring Start

Admissions Overview

Want to learn more about Fels and our holistic admissions process? For answers to commonly asked questions and updates about the application process, check out our admissions and financial aid information pages on fels.upenn.edu. Want to speak with a member of the Fels team? Call us at 215-898-2600 or email felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu.

Contact Information

University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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