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About the Key Executive Leadership MPA

Using executive education models, the Key Executive Leadership MPA prepares public servants to become more effective organizational leaders. Begun in 1975, the Key Executive Leadership Program is a graduate course of study in the skills, knowledge, and values needed by top-level public executives and offers participants the perspectives and competencies necessary for effective performance in high level executive work. The curriculum includes the major activity areas used in certifying candidates for career positions in the Senior Executive Service. Classes are held on selected Fridays and weekends. Participants continue to work at their jobs while completing their studies.

Admission to the Key Executive Leadership MPA Program is competitive and restricted to those at the GS-12s or above) level or equivalent at a NGO, in the private sector, or have other leadership experience. The program is oriented to civilian personnel in the federal government, military or other uniformed personnel, state and local officials, and personnel in the nonprofit sector.

With the expectation that graduates of the program will move from managerial to leadership roles within their organizations, the executive MPA curriculum encompasses the principal components of public service education: the leadership of public service organizations, the public policy and organizational environment, and the analysis of issues.

The Key Distinguishing Factors

Action Learning

In lieu of a Master's Thesis, students identify a difficult, long-standing unresolved problem in their workplace; sign a contract with their supervisor to work on the issue; recruit five-seven persons to work with them on the issue; teach their colleagues the action learning process; apply the process to the issue and create recommendations for resolution; present the recommendations to the agency; write a paper identifying what they have learned about the process, what they learned about themselves and the persons on the action learning team, what public administration concepts they applied to their work; and what they learned about leading change; and present their paper to their colleagues in the cohort and the faculty of the program. Learn more and view sample projects.


Immediate Application

The Program is not theoretical;rather, students are challenged to immediately apply what they learn in their workplace and report the results for discussion in the classroom.

Time to Learn, and Time to Choose to Initiate Changed Behavior

Because the Program consists of 32 class days and goes over several months, students have an opportunity to learn new ideas in the classroom, seek to apply them, come back to class and discuss the results, and continue the experimental cycle. 

Alignment with ECQs

Each of the eight courses is linked to an Office of Personnel Management Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) required for Senior Executive Service (SES) consideration.