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Master of Public Administration

MPA Areas of Concentration

Each student constructs his or her area of concentration, suited to individual career goals. Some areas of concentration offer an optional focus field—an additional layer of specialization—for interested students.

Students who follow established concentrations may have the concentration listed on their final transcript (for example, "Master of Public Administration with concentration in Public Management"). 

These concentrations are:

Students should consult department faculty and academic advisors for helping selecting courses. Interviews with alumni and practitioners may also help students identify suitable subjects. Some students select established concentrations; others assemble courses around their own special needs. Students should plan their areas of concentration early in their programs, since some of the course may be offered only once or twice during the overall period of study.

MPA students may also develop a customized concentration with the approval of an academic advisor and the program director. In the past, students have developed such concentrations as Justice, Law, and Society; Homeland Security; and Information Systems Management. In addition, the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area offers a number of opportunities for the development of the other specializations not offered at AU. For additional information, consult your academic advisor.

Policy Forum Series

SPA Policy Forum

The Forum is an SPA initiative, highlighting new and innovative solutions to old public policy problems through strategic collaboration between the private sector, NGOs, and government agencies.

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Applied Politics

The Applied Politics concentration incorporates two fields offered through the school’s Department of Government. The first field covers politics, campaign management, and lobbying and serves students aiming to involve themselves as managers in the effort to influence the course of government through the electoral or political process. The second field encourages students to think strategically about the challenges confronted by policymakers concerned with women’s issues by addressing women, public policy, and political leadership.

International Management

The international management concentration helps students understand the nature of management responsibilities that bridge different cultures, including those involving foreign relations, international organizations (including NGOs), and social and economic development.

Nonprofit Management

This concentration educates students in the many administrative challenges faced by small community-based or large professionalized organizations in today’s “networked economy” where organizations increasingly interact, compete, and collaborate with other service providers, policy-makers and regulators.

Arts Management: This focus prepares students for the administrative work associated with the presentation of music, theater, and other arts.

Policy Analysis

By merging required MPA management courses with selected courses from MPP degree, this concentration combines knowledge about the administrative functions essential to policy analysis with the skills necessary to conduct the actual studies.

Policy and Management

This concentration combines the management and leadership strengths of the MPA program with policy courses for students interested in general policy or a particular policy area.

  • Social Policy: This focus teaches students how to utilize governmental and nongovernmental tools to address challenges imposed by poverty, hunger, educational deficiencies, unemployment, and discrimination.
  • Health Policy: This focus allows students to gain an appreciation for the issues confronting policymakers and analysts working on health and related issues.
  • Environmental Policy: This focus allows students to gain an appreciation for the issues confronting policymakers and analysts working on environmental issues.
  • Science and Technology: This focus allows students to gain an appreciation for the issues confronting policymakers and analysts working on scientific and technological issues.

Public Financial Management

The financial management concentration helps to prepare students for the many responsibilities involved with the management of public programs, operations and funds.

Public Management

This concentration strengthens the knowledge and skills of people called upon to work as line managers or administrative support staff in public service organizations.

  • Management Consulting: This focus helps students exercise the responsibilities associated with management consulting and institutional change.
  • Human Resources: This focus helps students to understand the strategic role of human resource planning, develop skills to prepare employees for change, and improve management and employee relationships.

State and Local Administration

The State and Local Management concentration prepares students for the political and administrative intricacies of delivering public services in an increasingly intergovernmental context.