Masters in Public Administration: Executive Track

Cole Neder

Cole Neder

Updated & Fact Checked: 05.22.2024

The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) is a specialized graduate degree designed for mid-career professionals working in or with public sector organizations who seek to advance their careers. Unlike traditional MPAs, the Executive MPA is tailored for individuals with professional experience who wish to enhance their leadership and analysis skills. Various institutions offer similar executive-level master’s degrees, such as the Mid-Career MPA, Executive Master of Public Policy, and Executive Master of Policy Management.

MPA Executive Track: Program Design

The Executive MPA program is distinct from traditional MPA programs in that it builds upon the extensive knowledge and experience of mid-career professionals. It offers a hands-on, in-depth curriculum that focuses on leadership, management, and analytical skills crucial for advanced public sector roles. Unlike traditional MPAs, which cater to pre-service professionals and early-career individuals, the Executive MPA encourages students to apply course concepts directly to their professional responsibilities. Some Executive MPA programs are separate tracks within traditional MPA programs, featuring unique schedules, curricula, and costs.

Typical candidates for the Executive MPA are college graduates with at least five to ten years of cumulative experience in public or non-profit organizations, including a minimum of three years in middle-to-upper level managerial positions. These professionals often hold titles such as directors, assistant directors, senior managers, high-level technical staff, or advisors. Each institution may have specific admissions criteria, so it’s advisable to check the program’s website or consult with admissions staff to determine eligibility.

Curriculum Format

Executive MPA classes are designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals in the public sector. They are often scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, or evenings to allow students to continue working full-time. Some programs also offer intensive weekend or summer sessions to expedite degree completion.

The duration of an Executive MPA program varies but typically ranges from 1 to 3 years, depending on the program’s structure (e.g., evening classes, weekend sessions). Despite the part-time nature of the program, the content and coverage are equivalent to a full-time academic year.

Experiential Learning

One of the key features of such programs is their focus on experiential learning, which allows students to apply theoretical concepts to real-world situations they encounter in their professional roles.

For example, in an executive track MPA program, students might participate in case studies based on actual public policy issues, where they analyze the problem, develop solutions, and present their recommendations. This hands-on approach helps them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are directly applicable to their work environment.

Another example of experiential learning in an executive track MPA program is through field experiences or internships. Students might work with a government agency, nonprofit organization, or consulting firm to gain practical experience in public administration, policy analysis, or program evaluation. This allows them to apply their classroom learning in a real-world setting, gaining valuable insights and skills that can benefit their careers.

Admission Requirements

Admission to Executive MPA programs is often based on professional experience, leadership potential, and academic qualifications. Application requirements may include personal statements, resumes, and recommendation letters. Many programs waive GRE test scores for applicants with extensive professional experience. For specific admission requirements, applicants should contact the Executive MPA programs directly.

MPA Executive Track Programs

University of Connecticut

  • Hartford, CT
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
School of Public Policy

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
This program offers a flexible schedule with virtual and in-person classes at UConn’s Hartford and Stamford campuses, as well as online options. The program is tailored to accommodate working professionals, with courses offered on Saturdays and evenings. Students can complete the degree in two years and receive an exceptional education from the only Connecticut school accredited by NASPAA, the global standard in public service education.

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University of New Hampshire

  • Durham, NH
  • Online

Program: 
School of Public Policy

Modality: Online

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The Carsey School’s online Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) program prepares students for strategic roles in public and nonprofit institutions. Students can join the online cohort in the fall or spring and complete the degree in as little as 12 months. The Executive MPA is available for midcareer professionals with at least 5 years of relevant experience, allowing them to reduce their credit load and earn their degree in 12 months while saving on tuition.

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North Carolina Central University

  • Durham, NC
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
Public Administration – Executive

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 42

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (E.M.P.A.) is a track within the M.P.A. program, designed for professionals with 4–5 years of full-time work experience. The program allows students to continue working while completing their studies over 18 months. The curriculum includes two online summer sessions and three hybrid semesters, with face-to-face classes on Saturdays. Students also participate in an international internship, included in tuition.

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Columbia University

  • New York, NY
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
School of International and Public Affairs

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 45

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at SIPA prepares graduates for executive roles in various sectors including government, nonprofits, international organizations, and the private sector. The program focuses on developing effective leadership skills, policy influence, organizational management, budgeting, and advocacy for public services. Graduates are equipped to contribute to the development of free market economies, enhance global security, and strengthen political bonds.

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Program: 
Public Administration – Executive

Modality: Online

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Program is tailored for working professionals with 5+ years of experience in the public, nonprofit, or private sectors seeking career advancement. The 36-credit program can be completed in two years by taking 2 classes each semester, including summer. It offers affordable tuition and flexible scheduling options, with opportunities for professional development and networking. The program features renowned faculty with both research and professional experience.

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New York University – Wagner

  • New York, NY
  • Campus

Program: 
Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA)

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program is tailored for passionate and experienced professionals seeking to enhance their skills and networks to make a greater impact. Designed to complement your existing leadership experience, the EMPA program provides a professionally-focused education to advance your career and drive social impact at a higher level.

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Texas A&M University

  • College Station, TX
  • Online

Program: 
School of Government and Public Service

Modality: Online

Credits: 39

Program Overview:
The Online Executive Master of Public Service & Administration (EMPSA) program offers a flexible and comprehensive learning experience. The program includes one week of residency each year, totaling two weeks, and allows students to choose from tracks in Homeland Security, Nonprofit Management, or Public Management. A culminating applied capstone project with governmental or nonprofit partners is a key component of the program. Courses are 100% online, except for the residency weeks.

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University of Utah

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Campus

Program: 
College of Social and Behavioral Science

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 39

Program Overview:
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Utah is designed for working adults and offers flexible scheduling with evening classes. Students can choose their own concentration and set their own pace, completing the degree in as little as two years or up to four years. The program benefits both experienced administrators and those starting their careers in public or nonprofit management, providing enhanced general management skills and specialized knowledge in a particular area.

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Program: 
School of Education and Human Development

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at CU Denver is designed for experienced professionals in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors who are seeking to advance their careers. The program offers a flexible schedule with evening and weekend classes, allowing students to continue working while completing their degree. The EMPA curriculum covers a range of topics, including public management, policy analysis, budgeting, and leadership.

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University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
Fels Institute of Government

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The Fels Executive Master of Public Administration (Executive MPA) program is tailored for professionals with at least five years of experience seeking advancement or transition into the public and nonprofit sectors without interrupting their careers. The program features weekly synchronous online classes and monthly on-campus Executive Weekends, allowing students to complete the Ivy League degree in less than two years while working full time.

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Ohio University

  • Athens, OH
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
Public Administration – Executive

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program is designed for early to mid-career professionals seeking to advance their careers in public leadership. This 36-credit program offers a hybrid curriculum that covers research in public affairs, organizational outcomes measurement, and social justice. Students develop career-focused skills through elective courses and workshops.

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Syracuse University

  • Syracuse, NY
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
This specialized program focuses on building leadership, managerial, and organizational skills while preparing students for future policy challenges. The program requires 30 credits, with nine credits dedicated to core courses such as Executive Education Seminar: Managerial Leadership, Fundamentals of Policy Analysis, and a Master’s Project Course.

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Portland State University

  • Portland, OR
  • Campus

Program: 
School of Government

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 45

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program is designed for experienced public service professionals, offering a 21-month course sequence with classes held approximately every other Saturday. The program features a cohort learning model that fosters community and builds leadership skills. Students learn from distinguished faculty with real-world experience and benefit from a legacy of leadership development spanning over 20 years.

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Indiana University

  • Bloomington, IN

Program: 
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Credits: 39

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Affairs (EMPA) is a 39-credit-hour program that expands on the Executive Public Management Certificate. It offers a management concentration and aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to manage public agencies and nonprofit organizations effectively. The program covers a range of topics, including social, political, legal, global, and administrative issues in public affairs.

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Rutgers University – Newark

  • Newark, NJ
  • Online

Program: 
School of Public Affairs and Administration

Modality: Online

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at Rutgers SPAA is designed for experienced professionals in the public, nonprofit, or government sectors. It offers online coursework with a two-day summer residency. The program focuses on leadership, management, policy processes, evidence-based decision-making, and public service values. It follows a part-time, cohort model and consists of 10 courses totaling 30 credits.

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Brigham Young University

  • Provo, UT
  • Campus

Program: 
Marriott School of Business

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 42

Program Overview:
The Executive Master in Public Administration (EMPA) program is a 3-year, 42-credit-hour program designed for working professionals with at least four years of relevant work experience. It focuses on developing practical skills to navigate work environments and advance careers. The program is structured to be feasible yet rigorous, with students typically spending 15 to 20 hours a week on program-related activities.

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Cornell University

  • Ithaca, NY
  • Campus

Program: 
Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy is a part-time hybrid program designed for working professionals seeking to advance their careers in public affairs. The program, which typically takes 18 months to complete, offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares students for executive roles in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. With an average of 16 years of professional experience, students in the EMPA program come from 17 different states, creating a diverse and enriching learning environment.

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Southern University

  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Online

Program: 
College of Government and Social Science

Modality: Online

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
This program focuses on addressing community-based, local, state, national, and global issues. The faculty is dedicated to providing learning opportunities that blend applied and theoretical frameworks, advancing knowledge in public management. The program emphasizes ethics and accountability in public management. Courses are delivered fully online in eight-week sessions, allowing for flexibility in scheduling. The online EMPA program at Southern University is designed for working professionals, offering an accelerated one-year completion option.

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Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • Online + Campus

Program: 
School of International and Public Affairs

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The FIU Master of Public Administration (MPA) program prepares students for careers in public service. The Executive track of the MPA program is designed for current managers and executives seeking additional skills for the public and non-profit sectors. The program has over 3,000 graduates in management positions across various sectors. The MPA is offered at three locations and online, with specialization options including Public Finance, Homeland Security, and Community Development.

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Arizona State University

  • Tempe, AZ
  • Online

Program: 
College of Public Service and Community Solutions

Modality: Online

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The EMPA program is designed for experienced public sector leaders worldwide, offering a 19-month online degree with three-day executive sessions in Phoenix and Washington, D.C. Students work in cohorts, taking one course at a time for balance. The program begins with an orientation in Phoenix, followed by a session in D.C. and concluding in Phoenix for project presentations. It fosters a diverse network and deeper relationships among students.

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Georgia Southern University

  • Statesboro, GA
  • Online

Program: 
Department of Public and Nonprofit Studies

Modality: Online

Credits: 39

Program Overview:
The Executive Track is tailored for candidates with at least three years of pertinent experience in the public, nonprofit, or related sectors. This online, cohort-based program is structured for completion in 18 months, starting with cohorts admitted each spring. The curriculum offers concentrated courses in public and nonprofit management to equip students with advanced skills and current concepts in the field.

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University of Miami

  • Coral Gables, FL
  • Online

Program: 
College of Arts and Sciences

Modality: Online

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The curriculum covers essential topics such as planning, budgeting, political analysis, and personnel administration, as well as contemporary subjects like ethics, digital governance, NGOs, and global governance. UOnline students and alumni are positioned at the forefront of the evolving public sector, equipped with a valuable skill set, reputation, and access to industry leaders. This program offers a path to advance your career and contribute to the future of public service.

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University of South Dakota

  • Vermillion, SD
  • Online

Program: 
College of Arts and Sciences

Modality: Online

Credits: 30

Program Overview:
The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program is designed for experienced public service professionals seeking to advance their understanding of administration in public and nonprofit organizations. This 100% online program prepares leaders to manage organizations, participate in the public policy process, analyze and solve problems, and collaborate effectively. The flexible program consists of 30 credit hours delivered through an online platform, allowing students to immediately apply their new skills to their careers.

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Harvard University

  • Cambridge, MA
  • Campus

Program: 
Harvard Kennedy School

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) program at Harvard Kennedy School offers established professionals the opportunity to design their own study plan, pursue intellectual interests, develop new capabilities, and advance their careers. Students join a diverse community of peers from around the world, benefiting from the expertise of renowned faculty and the wisdom of classmates. The program includes a five-week summer program in Cambridge, providing opportunities to build connections, learn core methodologies, develop skills, and explore resources in the area.

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Baruch College (CUNY)

  • New York, NY
  • Campus

Program: 
School of Public and International Affairs

Modality: On-Campus

Credits: 42

Program Overview:
The program emphasizes a cohort model, providing students with opportunities for networking, team-building, and lifelong connections. Exclusive amenities include small classes, an international study away program, academic and practitioner instruction, leadership orientation, specialized academic services, professional development, networking events, a dedicated advisor, and meals on campus. The faculty consists of experienced professionals and scholars who bring a wealth of knowledge and practical insights to the program.

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Texas Southern University

  • Houston, TX
  • Online

Program: 
Political Science and Public Administration

Modality: Online

Credits: 36

Program Overview:
The online Executive Master of Public Administration (eMPA) program caters to mid-career professionals in the public sector who wish to pursue an MPA but cannot attend classes in person. The program focuses on delivering advanced skill concepts to prepare professionals and administrators to lead and manage organizations as public servants. The program is primarily online, utilizing platforms like Blackboard Academic Suites and Course Compass for live chats, online lectures, virtual classrooms, and teleconferencing.

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