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


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


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 holds classes on weekday evenings. Students currently working in the field can maintain their career momentum while engaging face-to-face with a diverse student cohort and MPPA faculty, leading researchers and educators who bring their firsthand public service experience to the classroom. 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.

Colorado State University Administration Building in the fall

Connect with the MPPA

Program at a Glance


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

Two years (four semesters + internship)

Start Terms
Fall, Spring, and Summer (beginning Fall 2020)


GRE Required?

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

Final Deadlines (space available)
Fall: July 15
Spring: December 1
Summer: April 20

Degree Awarded
Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA)

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.

Core Curriculum

PPA 660 - Theories of the Policy Process
PPA 553 - Public Organizational Theory
PPA 500 - Research Methods for Public Policy and Administration
PPA 501 - Program Evaluation and Quantitative Methods
PPA 551 - Public Personnel Administration
PPA 552 - Public Budgeting and Finance
PPA 530 - Civic Engagement
PPA 587 - Internship
PPA 670 - Capstone in Public Policy and Administration


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.


PPA 550 - Advanced Public Administration

Plus pick from:
POLS 463 - Urban Policy and Management
PPA 558 - Administrative Law
PPA 543 - Evidence Based Decision Making
PPA 592 - Special Topics
CIVE 578 - Infrastructure and Utility Management
Others as approved by the MPPA advisor

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.


PPA 665 - Public Policy Analysis

Plus pick from:
PPA 555 - Environmental Law and Policy
PPA 543 - Evidence Based Decision Making
PPA 592 - Special topics
LEAP 600 - Arts Policy and Advocacy
CIVE 578 - Infrastructure and Utility Management
Others as approved by the MPPA advisor

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.


PPA 544 - Ethics and Efficacy: Policymaking Across Borders
PPA 542 - Policymaking and Accountability in Non-Democratic Regimes
PPA 540 - Toolkit for International Policy Practitioners
PPA 541 - Principles and Processes of International Management


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.

Susan Opp

Dr. Susan Opp focuses her work on bridging the divide between the University and the public sector.  Over the course of her career she has worked with numerous public sector partners, including the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

Wade Troxell

Dr. Wade O. Troxell has been the mayor of Fort Collins since 2015. As mayor, he is committed to an innovative approach to a sustainable future impacting the digital economy, energy, water, mobility, and environmental leadership. Mayor Troxell is also a faculty member in the Walter Scott Jr. College of Engineering at CSU.

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.

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 2017-2018 data from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), 95% of graduates have 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

How to Apply

The MPPA program will be offered beginning in Fall 2020. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and are considered on a space-available basis after the priority deadline.

Priority Application Deadlines

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

Final Deadlines (space available)

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

Step 1: Submit the graduate school application online

Complete the Colorado State University online graduate application

  • Under "Select an application type," choose the term you would like to begin
  • Under "Program," choose Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA)
  • As soon as you have completed the required information, submit your application. You do not need to wait for recommendations, scores, or transcripts to move your application forward.
Step 2: Upload application materials

Most documents can be uploaded by the applicant directly to the online application system. For documents that cannot be submitted through the application system, such as official transcripts and test scores, request the documents be sent to the Office of Admissions:

Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Domestic Students: Electronic transcripts may be sent from your school through an official electronic transcript clearinghouse to

Step 3: Pay the application fee

Use a credit card to pay your application fee ($60 for domestic applicants, $70 for international applicants).

Application fees may be waived for military veterans and service members. Complete a fee waiver request if eligible.

Step 4: Check your status

Check your application status to make sure your application is complete and watch for updates. You will receive a confirmation email once your application is complete.

Sam Houghteling speaking to political science students

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