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Public Affairs and Public Policy

Brown University offers a one-year Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program with an accelerated schedule (summer – fall – spring) for full-time students. Our MPA program provides students with the analytical foundations, policy domain knowledge, field experience, interdisciplinary tools and leadership skills they need to tackle today's most intractable problems. The Brown University program prepares students for careers spanning public service, all levels of government, NGOs, foundations, and the private sector.

Distinct features of our program include:

  • Rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum that includes international travel and study
  • Small class size and accessible faculty
  • Full time consultancy project with leading policy organizations
  • High-touch learning experience with dedicated career planning and professional coaching support
  • Faculty comprised of world- renowned researchers and experienced practitioners
  • Merit-based aid available
  • Only one-year MPA degree program from an Ivy League institution 

In addition to a common core that is designed to equip students with the key analytical tools and theoretical foundations needed to understand and address some of the world's most pressing problems, students are required to pursue a specialized course of study to gain proficiency in specific issue areas. Students will also engage in a three-month consultancy project, and a 2.5 week global policy experience that pairs them with policymakers in France, Brazil, China or India.  

Program of Study: For degree completion, students must complete at least 13 courses (10 credits), including a one-credit action learning consultancy project. The curriculum is comprised of required eight core courses, three electives within a policy specialization/track, one consultancy project, and one course in advanced tools and topics in policymaking.

  • Core and required coursework include: Public Policy, Quantitative Analysis, Financial Management, Economics, Policy Implementation, Policy Evaluation and Analysis, Organizational Management & Behavior, and Systems Dynamics. 
  • Specializations: Students will take a minimum of three graduate electives in one of the following specialization/tracks: Development; Environmental Policy & Sustainability; Governance, Law and Ethics; Health Policy; and International Security. Students will also have the opportunity to design their own track in consultation with their faculty advisor and Director of Graduate Studies. Through specialization, our students will have the opportunity to take courses at various departments across Brown, including the Schools of Engineering, Public Health, Medicine and other departments including Watson, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, History, Computer Science, etc.
  • Advanced tools and topics in policymaking: Students can also take advanced courses in policy, including Research Methods, Stats II; Econ II; GIS; Law and Ethics; Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA); Strategic Thinking and Planning; Mediation, Negotiation and Arbitration Strategies; and Social Science Data Technologies, among others.
  • Action-Learning Consultancy: Recognizing that students learn as much through real-world experience as they do in traditional classroom settings, the Public Affairs program provides all students with an in-depth action-learning experience in which they work with policy-focused organizations/agencies located in both the U.S. and abroad on real-world problems and solutions. These intensive consultancy projects are central to our approach to learning, focused on promoting the interplay between theory and practice and providing students with opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge they acquire in the classroom to real-world settings. 

Tution and fees:  In addition to tuition and customary student fees, there is a program fee; please see details on this Watson Institute page on program costs

Admission requirements: a personal statement outlining professional goals and supporting background is required for admission.

GRE General: Required; no other tests may be substituted. (Note that current Brown undergraduates pursuing a 5th-year MPA option do not have to take the GRE.) 
GRE Subject: Not required
Resume: Required
Transcripts: Required
Letters of Recommendation: Submit 3 letters of recommendation (at least one academic)
TOEFL: Required for any international applicant whose undergraduate curriculum was not taught in English.

Financial aid: Merit-based scholarships are awarded to qualified, eligible candidates who submit their application for admission by December 15. Student loans are available through our Office of Financial Aid to eligible applicants who submit the FAFSA.

Application deadline: April 15

Learn more about the program and get answers to frequently asked questions by clicking here.

Note: The Master in Public Policy program is not accepting applications for 2016-17. Students currently enrolled in this program should refer to the completion requirements provided in the Student Handbook. An online version of the handbook can be found here