Skyline view of downtown Fort Collins


Learn in the world class city of Fort Collins, recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C.


Connect academic theory with hands-on experience through research opportunities, service-learning, and internships

Flags from all countries outside of the UN building


Engage with complex global challenges through the only international policy specialization in Colorado

Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA)

Program Overview

The world needs innovative, visionary leaders with a passion for serving the public good

International organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits are actively seeking skilled professionals to lead teams and develop policies that improve people’s lives. The Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) prepares students for public sector or nonprofit leadership through an interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates research-based academic theory with real-world experience.

With professionally focused students in mind, the MPPA program offers classes on weekday evenings or online. Students currently working in the field can maintain their career momentum while engaging with a diverse student cohort and MPPA faculty, leading researchers and educators who bring their firsthand public service experience to each class. Faculty will lead in-depth discussions, facilitate hands-on learning experiences, and connect students with the world class city of Fort Collins, recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Graduates of the MPPA program will be ready to work as executives, managers, analysts, and planners in a wide range of public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Which degree is right for you: an MPPA, MPA, MPP, or MBA?
View our degree comparison guide.

Why CSU?

Colorado State University’s MPPA offers a distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum with a focus on engaged work. Students can apply the knowledge gained in unique courses like Civic Engagement to the outstanding laboratory of Fort Collins local government, or connect their learning with international opportunities like internships abroad or the Peace Corps. With the only international policy and management specialization in Colorado, MPPA graduates will be prepared for public service leadership, locally, nationally, and globally.

Program at a Glance

In-person or online 

Fort Collins or online; internship can be completed locally, domestically, or abroad 

Two years (four semesters + internship)

Start Terms
Fall, Spring, and Summer (online program begins Fall 2021) 


GRE Required?

Priority Application Deadlines*
Fall: February 20
Spring: October 15
Summer: April 1

Final Deadlines 
Fall: July 15
Spring: December 1
Summer: April 20

Degree Awarded
Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA)

*Deadlines to be included in first application review and eligible for the Best and Brightest Management Fellowship.

Program Details

The MPPA is a professional degree that provides the academic knowledge and practical skills needed to excel in public service. The 39-credit-hour program consists of

  • 21 credit hours of core classes,
  • 12-15 credit hours of specialization credits,
  • an internship,
  • and a capstone project.

Through applied case studies, in-depth discussion, and service-learning, students will hone and apply their skills in research, analysis, and evaluation.

Colorado State University Administration Building in the fall


Students completing the MPPA degree will select one of three specializations: Public Management, Public Policy, and International Policy and Management. Each specialization provides students with in-depth expertise in a substantive area of public policy and administration.

Public Management

The public management specialization serves as a generalist focus on public sector organizations and management. Students are provided with the managerial and technical competencies to effectively and efficiently deliver and manage public services at the federal, state, or local levels of government.

Public Policy

The public policy specialization provides students with the foundational skills to understand how to appropriately structure policy problems in order to propose policy solutions and evaluate existing policies. Students completing this specialization will be well equipped to serve as a professional policy analyst or policy manager in public and nonprofit organizations across the world.

International Policy and Management

The international policy and management specialization equips students with a broad understanding of policy and management, both within and across countries. Students pursuing this specialization will be prepared to pursue careers in intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and United States foreign policy-making.

Accelerated Master's Program

Students earning a BA in Economics or a B.A. in International Studies at CSU may have the option to complete an MPPA in just one year. The accelerated master's program gives undergraduate students a jumpstart on their graduate coursework, allowing them to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in as little as five years.

Aerial view of European city

Graduate Certificate Program

Earn your graduate certificate in Public Policy Analysis in as little as two semesters. You'll advance your career by building skills like forecasting future impacts of new policy proposals and anticipating complications before they occur. This 12-credit program is offered exclusively online to help you balance your academic studies with professional obligations.

Man in politics

Student Experience

Hear from current faculty and students in the MPPA program at Colorado State University. Because classes are held in the evenings and at times outside of traditional business hours, our students are able to work full-time or intern at local municipalities and organizations to apply what they are learning in the classroom.


MPPA faculty are more than just leading researchers and educators, they are also current public servants who bring real-world experience and expertise to the classroom.

Dr. Allison White

Dr. Allison White is the Interim Director of the Master of Public Policy and Administration program. Her academic work focuses on public policy, elections, and corruption in dictatorships. She has also worked alongside election monitoring organizations abroad. She teaches courses on international policy and management and is enthusiastic about helping students pursue careers in intergovernmental organizations, international non-governmental organizations, the U.S. foreign policy apparatus, and foreign governments. Read our Q&A to get to know Dr. White.

Martin Carcasson

Dr. Martín Carcasson is the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD). The CPD serves as an impartial resource for the community dedicated to enhancing local democracy in Northern Colorado through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. Read our Q&A to get to know Dr. Carcasson.

Alexis Kennedy

Dr. Alexis R. Kennedy is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration at CSU. Her research focuses on public management topics including the interactions between public, private, and nonprofit organizations in the pursuit of public outcomes, community engaged research, and social equity. Her articles have appeared in Administration and Society, Review of Public Personnel Administration, and Journal of International Development. In addition to her academic work, Kennedy has worked as a practitioner in the energy industry in New Jersey and as a public finance consultant for nonprofit and public entities in Colorado. Read our Q&A to get to know Dr. Kennedy.

Youngsung Kim

Dr. Youngsung Kim is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration at Colorado State University. His research focuses on public budgeting and finance, education finance, and local government management. He is particularly interested in understanding the accountable and efficient ways to allocate and manage financial resources for public organizations. His articles have appeared in Public Budgeting and FinanceLocal Government Studies, and State and Local Government Review. Read our Q&A to get to know Dr. Kim.

MPPA Advisory Board

The MPPA Advisory Board consults with the program director to ensure program curriculum and field experiences are relevant and prepare students for successful leadership in public policy and administration. 

Darin Atteberry

Darin Atteberry  
Former City Manager
City of Fort Collins 

Darin Atteberry was the City Manager for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, from December 2004 to August 2021. He is now the Market President Northern Colorado, SVP Government Affairs & Strategic Relationships for Elevations Credit Union.

As City Manager, Atteberry led the City government through a time of transformational change, moving the organization from a "trust us" model to one that uses a data-driven, performance-based approach. Atteberry is an advocate for community collaboration and has built strong relationships with both public and private sector partners. He serves as Vice Chair of the Alliance for Innovation and is a member of the Center for Public Safety Excellence Board of Directors. In 2013, Atteberry was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Colorado State University College of Business. In 2016 he was elected as a Fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration. Recently, Atteberry received the Colorado Governor’s Citizenship medal, recognizing him as a leader who serves the public with innovation, operational excellence and progressive vision.

Prior to coming to Fort Collins, Atteberry worked with cities in California, Washington, and Georgia. He attended Harvard University’s Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government. He holds a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and Master of City Planning at Georgia Institute of Technology. He received a Bachelor of Science in City and Regional Planning from California Polytechnic State University.

Lindsay Heger

Lindsay Heger 
Director of Impact, Learning, and Accountability
One Earth Future 

Lindsay Heger is the Director of Impact, Learning, and Accountability (ILA) for One Earth Future, an incubator of innovative peacebuilding programs. The ILA department develops the framework for measuring programmatic impact consistent with One Earth Future’s mission and core values. Additionally, ILA supports internal learning and accountability processes that enable programs to operate according to best practices and develop innovative multi-stakeholder governance solutions.

Heger is a political scientist by training and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. Prior to her current role, Heger was the Associate Director of One Earth Future's Research program. In that capacity, she wrote and worked on projects about non-state actor contributions to governance, intrastate conflict, and terrorism. Before arriving at OEF Heger was a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Global Cooperation and Conflict at the University of California and a lecturer at the Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver. She has conducted extensive field work on the Irish Republican Army and post-conflict stability in Northern Ireland. Her work has appeared in various journals including International Studies Quarterly, Cooperation and Conflict, and Terrorism and Political Violence. She also contributes to political blogs. In her spare time, Heger enjoys running, baking, the mountains, and mystery books.  

Kelly Houghteling

Kelly Houghteling 
Interim Town Administrator
Town of Wellington 

Kelly Houghteling is a forward-thinking public servant devoted to improving the quality of life for the community she serves. As the Interim Town Administrator for the Town of Wellington, Colorado, she is committed to leading an organization that delivers outstanding municipal services. She is guided by the principles of integrity, equity, engagement, and resiliency, and understands that local governments must have clarity of vision to achieve community goals.

Houghteling serves as the President of The League of Women in Government, a group dedicated to moving the needle forward on the number of women serving at the most senior and executive levels in all areas of local government. She is also the past Chair of Colorado Women Leading Government (CWLG) and helped launch the state’s first CWLG Conference. She is a former Board Member of the Colorado City & County Management Association. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Graduate Education for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). In 2018, Houghteling was awarded the Assistant Manager of the Year by the Colorado City/County Management Association. She was also recognized as one of the Top 100 local government influencers by Engaging Local Government Leaders and was a 2017 Northern Colorado BizWest 40 Under 40 recipient. Prior to her work in Wellington, Houghteling worked for the Town of Windsor, Colorado, City of Fort Collins, Colorado, and the City of Lawrence, Kansas, in the City Manager’s Office. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas.

Jacqueline Kozak Thiel

Jacqueline Kozak Thiel
Chief Sustainability Officer
City of Fort Collins 

Jacqueline Kozak Thiel serves as the Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Fort Collins. She leads a dynamic team, overseeing the Departments of Economic Health, Environmental Services and Social Sustainability for an innovative approach to elevate the triple bottom line for the community’s future. Her diverse portfolio includes interagency coordination, public policy, community engagement,  large and small business support, workforce development, redevelopment, response and recovery, climate action and adaptation, equity and inclusion, air quality, materials management and recycling, affordable housing, childcare, and human service impact investing.

Previously, she was appointed as the Governor’s State Sustainability Director in Hawaii.  She helped to launch the UN-recognized Aloha+ Challenge with Hawaii’s governor and all mayors committing to joint 2030 sustainability targets. She also represented the Governor on President Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience. She received her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning as an East West Center Fellow at the University of Hawaii, focusing on implementation theory from the public administration field and primary research from practitioners. She lives, works and plays in Fort Collins with her husband Mark, daughter Istria, and son Guthrie.  

Michael Montgomery

Michael Montgomery
(Political Science, ’12)

Deputy City Council Administrator
City of Colorado Springs 

Michael Montgomery earned a B.A. in political science from Colorado State University in 2012.  While at CSU, he fell in love with local government through his coursework and participation in the Center for Public Deliberation.  After leaving CSU, he completed a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Texas. 

Over the past eight years, Montgomery has served as the Assistant to the City Manager in Celina, Texas, and Town Administrator for Bartonville, Texas.  Now back in Colorado, he is currently the Deputy City Council Administrator for the City of Colorado Springs.

Michael Nye

Michael Nye
(Political Science
& Sociology, ’00)
Net Zero Program Manager
Environmental Protection agency 

Michael Nye graduated from CSU in 2000 with dual majors in political science and sociology. He went on to earn a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Dublin. His dissertation tracked policy evolution and social commitments in Irish Social Partnership Agreements. That work opened doors to a similarly-focused Ph.D. in geography at the University of Cambridge, looking at the evolution of the UK Carbon Trading Scheme. Nye did a postdoc in the Department of Geography at the London School of Economics, went on to University College London, and finally landed at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.

In 2008, Nye was faced with the difficult but happy choice between a permanent faculty position at UEA and a position as a social scientist in the British equivalent of the US EPA. Drawn to public service, Nye left academia somewhat reluctantly and determined to stay research active. His position and experience working at the UK Environment Agency eventually led to an opportunity in the US Environmental Protection Agency as a social scientist, which he took in the spring of 2011. In 2016, Nye began his current role managing EPA’s Net Zero program, a joint research program between the EPA, US Army, and Department of Defense that promotes sustainability, resilience, and resource security for military and civilian communities. He remains active in a number of research areas related to public health, community resilience, and community revitalization. Nye is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Sociology at CSU and serves in various advisory capacity for various organizations, including most recently the Interstate Technical and Regulatory Commission.

Career Opportunities

The outlook for careers in public policy and administration is strong, with higher than average job growth expected in both the public and nonprofit sectors. According to 2019 alumni survey from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)96% of graduates found employment or opportunities in the field within 6 months. 

Career Pathways

  • City and local government management
  • Federal government agency leadership
  • Urban planning
  • Public policy analysis
  • International policy management
  • Nonprofit administration
  • Community development
  • Congressional office support

Job Functions

  • Advise elected and appointed leaders
  • Evaluate projects and programs
  • Assess organizational performance
  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Project policy outcomes
  • Estimate economic impacts
  • Oversee organizational change

Potential employers

  • Local/State government
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • World Bank
  • United Nations
  • Nonprofit organizations

Degree Comparison Guide: MPPA | MPA | MPP | MBA

With so many leadership opportunities available in government, nonprofit, and private organizations, it can be a challenge to decide which graduate degree to pursue: a Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA), a Master of Public Administration (MPA), a Master of Public Policy (MPP), or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

While each of these professional programs strengthen students’ skill sets in interpersonal communication, effective management, and organizational behavior, there are key differences in the focus and outcomes of the degrees.


For students seeking leadership roles in public service, administration, and policy; combines aspects of a traditional MPA and MPP

Typical courses

  • Theories of the Policy Process
  • Public Organizational Theory
  • Public Personnel Administration

Career Pathways

  • Public agency management
  • Domestic or foreign policy analysis
  • Policy management


For students seeking leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors

Typical courses

  • Public Organization Management
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Finance

Career Pathways

  • Public agency management
  • Nonprofit leadership
  • Government affairs


For students interested in analyzing and evaluating aspects of policy in the public and nonprofit sectors

Typical courses

  • Public Policy
  • Statistics and Data Analysis
  • Public Finance

Career Pathways

  • Research and budget analysis
  • Policy advising
  • Consulting


For students seeking leadership roles in economics, finance, and management

Typical courses

  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management

Career Pathways

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial advising
  • Management consulting

Cost of Attendance

Tuition and fees are calculated based on your academic status, Colorado residency, and program of study. MPPA students from qualifying states may be eligible for reduced tuition through the WICHE Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). Additional scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available. Explore your options below.

Best and Brightest Management Fellowship

The Master of Public Policy and Administration has partnered with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to offer the Best and Brightest Management Fellowship to MPPA students. The Best and Brightest Fellowship Program partners with counties, municipalities and universities across the state to meet the needs of communities, engage future leaders, and connect students to community work that sparks their curiosity and leads them to work in public service. The program connects local governments, students and educators through two-year paid fellowships.

Fellowship program objectives:

  • To provide a unique opportunity for students to complete their graduate degree while gaining invaluable real world learning experiences
  • To develop potential local government managers, planners, economic and community development directors
  • To provide a way for DOLA to support small and/or rural jurisdictions in meeting their administrative staffing needs in the most cost effective way possible

Upon completion of the two-year program, students will have completed all of the requirements for the MPPA while, at the same time, having gained two years of invaluable applied experiences. Students will receive an annual salary and benefits package totaling at minimum $42,000 and may be eligible for tuition reimbursement once they are formally admitted into the program or after successfully completing the Fellowship. For more information about participating in the program, please contact Alexis Kennedy.

Best and Brightest Management Fellow Q&A

Emily MylerLearn more about Emily Myler and how she is applying her MPPA degree while working for the town of Avon.

How to Apply

To be included in the first application review of the term and eligible to apply for the Best and Brightest Management Fellowship, apply by the priority application deadline. Applications received after the priority application deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis and admitted as space is available through the final deadline. The MPPA is currently offered on the Fort Collins campus and will be offered online beginning in Fall 2021.

Priority Application Deadlines

Fall: February 20
Spring: October 15
Summer: April 1

Final Deadlines

Fall: July 15
Spring: December 1
Summer: April 20

Admission Requirements

In general, MPPA applicants should have a cumulative 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree awarded prior to beginning the MPPA program as well as evidence of public service motivation. Students are not required to submit a standardized exam score.

The MPPA program requires the following materials when applying:

  1. Transcripts from all previous universities attended
  2. A statement of application outlining the motivation for pursuing the MPPA degree (300-500 words)
  3. A current resume
  4. Three letters of recommendation

Application Process

Sam Houghteling speaking to political science students

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