Master's in Public Administration (MPA)

Gain a comprehensive understanding of how leadership, management, policy, and politics intersect with a Master's in Public Administration (MPA) degree.

2020 U.S. News and World badge ranking for public affairs, national security and emergency management

Sound leadership and management are vital to organizational and governmental effectiveness. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government puts you on a path toward senior-level positions in organizations that implement and manage public policies. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of how leadership, management, policy, and politics intersect, along with the tools to enhance your communication, budgeting, and analytic skills. As a graduate of one of the largest MPA programs in the country, you will join thousands of Schar School alumni working in various roles in local, state, and national government, nonprofit management, and many other careers.



According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as the ShanghaiRanking, theSchar School's Master of Public Administration program is No. 16 among U.S. public colleges, and No. 1 in the Washington D.C. region. Some 200 programs around the globe were studied for the ranking. The MPA program is additionally ranked No. 48 for best public affairs programs and No. 23 for public policy analysis, according to the 2021 U.S. News & World Ranking.

Academic Ranking of World Universities logo

The MPA program is also accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), recognizing the quality and rigor of the degree.



The curriculum requirements of the MPA program include eight required courses and four elective courses. As a student in the MPA program, you can tailor your degree to your interests with one of the following concentrations (or you may design your own concentration, with approval from your Schar School advisor):

  • Administration of Justice
  • Emergency Management and Homeland Security
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy
  • Human Resource Management
  • International Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Finance
  • Policy Studies
  • State and Local Government
  • Managing Across Sectors

For detailed curriculum and concentration information, click here.

To learn more about the differences between the MPA and MPP degrees, click here.


The MPA program is offered on both George Mason's Fairfax and Arlington campuses, conveniently located within accessible transportation. The Schar School graduate experience is designed with flexibility in mind, allowing students to continue to add to their professional resumes while earning their degree. Classes are offered in the evenings on weekdays, and students can alternate between part-time and full-time studies each semester.

Photo of MPA Aumna Stella Hanly

“I decided to get my master’s degree to show that I was dedicated to a career change. The teaching staff at the Schar School has real-world experience, and they provided me with a solid understanding of how the nonprofit sector works.”
—Stella Hanly, Master’s in Public Administration '13

Photo of MPA student Alumnus John Salamone

“Without my degree I would not have been able to get into the [Presidential Management Fellowship] program…I knew I had an interest in management and I knew I had an interest in policy, but for me it was more about making organizations work more effectively.”
—John Salamone, Master’s in Public Administration '98


With George Mason University's prime location in the Washington, D.C. area, Schar School students gain access to leading scholars and practitioners closely connected to the epicenter of policymaking and public service, and the hub of the nonprofit sector.

The MPA program faculty includes 9+ renowned scholars and practitioners who focus their teaching and research on a diverse range of public administration topics in both domestic and international contexts. Public administration courses address key issues in administrative law, organization theory, emergency management, homeland security, global civic society, privacy policy, public policy, program evaluation, urban politics, race and gender politics, Virginia politics and government, technology leadership, and more. The Schar School as a whole has 80+ faculty members, as well as hundreds of adjunct faculty, allowing students to gain access to a variety of perspectives and subjects through elective courses.


In addition to university-wide resources, the Schar School has a dedicated team of student services and career development advisors to assist you in your academic and professional plans. The Master of Public Administration program prepares students for a range of industries and roles in the public and private sectors. In a recent graduating class career outcomes survey, the following were the top employers of MPA program graduates:


  • Arlington County Government
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • Fairfax County Government
  • FBI
  • IBM
  • ICF International
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
  • Pan American Development Foundation
  • Peace Corps
  • Social Security Administration
  • SRA International
  • Vanguard Communications
  • World Bank



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