Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Frequently Asked Questions

Master of Public Affairs (MPA)

What is the difference between the Berkeley Master of Public Affairs (MPA) and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) offered by the Goldman School?

The Berkeley MPA is a one-year degree program that prepares mid-career professionals to act as strategic and visionary leaders.  It is intended for mid-career professionals who have a strong track record of work experience, including in leadership and managerial positions.  The MPA curriculum emphasizes leadership skills, strategic thinking and multidisciplinary analysis in order to advance participants in their careers and expand their professional horizons.  

The MPP is a two-year, full-time, in-residence degree program that emphasizes practical and applied dimensions of policy-making and implementation.  For more information on the MPP please consult the MPP page on the GSPP website.

A detailed comparison of the two degree programs can be found here.

Is there a strict requirement for the amount of work experience one must have in order to apply?

The MPA curriculum is designed to build upon your work experience.  As such, we look closely at your career progression and level when making an admissions decision. Students in the current cohort admitted to the program have an average of 11 years of work experience with a range of 5 to 18 years. In addition, they held positions that demonstrated leadership, management, and a fit with the degree and their public affairs goals.

What type of quantitative background should MPA students have before starting the program?

The MPA program includes a rigorous quantitative curriculum. To ensure success, students should be versed in applying advanced arithmetic and algebraic concepts in public sector situations and be at least comfortable with methods of statistics.

How many students will be enrolled?

We expect to enroll between 35 to 40 students for the next upcoming MPA class.

Is there an advantage to applying for Round 1 vs. Round 2 or Round 3?

Applicants are advised to apply early. With each round, the class fills and later round applicants are competing for fewer seats in the cohort. Additionally, the limited fellowships awarded by the School are often exhausted in the early rounds.

Will the Goldman School sponsor student visas for participants in the MPA program?

Yes. As long as international students apply no later than our posted February deadline their application will be reviewed and considered for admission. If an offer of admission is extended, then UC Berkeley will assist the individual in obtaining a student visa.

How many hours do MPA students spend on the program?

Students can expect to be full-time in the summer term with a rigorous load of outside classwork.  During the fall and spring terms, students in a minimum load of courses can expect 6 hours of in class time and 10-20 hours per week of outside classwork.

Can students give special attention to a specific policy area?

Absolutely. In addition to the core curriculum, which provides basic analytical approaches and skills, students in the MPA program are able to choose from among the rich offerings of the academic disciplines and professional programs on the Berkeley campus as well as from GSPP.

Depending on individual preferences, students elect courses to deepen or extend their analytical skills and/or to familiarize themselves with the substance of a specific policy area (energy, health, income redistribution, international affairs, environmental protection, education, racial or gender policy, etc.). In addition, the student’s Capstone project during the spring semester addresses a policy problem of the student’s own preference.

Are there concurrent degree programs with the MPA?

No concurrent degree programs have been developed for the MPA, and at present, none are envisioned.

Can MPA students take classes in the MPP program?

A component of the MPA degree program is taking electives during the fall and spring terms. Students who choose to be in residence during the fall and spring terms may choose among the courses offered within GSPP and the greater UC Berkeley campus for their electives. 

Who are the faculty for the MPA program?

We draw from the same faculty pool for the Masters of Public Policy (MPP) and the MPA. The faculty will be a combination of ladder track and professional faculty, chosen specifically for their ability to effectively teach to professionals.

What career management services are available to MPA students?

The GSPP Career Services provides a wide variety of services for MPA students including, but not limited to: individual coaching, job listings and job search services, resume posting, career fairs and networking events, career management workshops and webinars.

Still have questions?

Please send us an email at mpa@berkeley.edu.