Key Program Information

Program Length: Two years (varies for students pursuing concurrent degrees)

Degree Awarded: Master in Public Administration

Admission Application Deadline: December 2024

Financial Aid Application Deadline: January 2025

Contact the MPA Program

Contact e-mai icon Email

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Littauer Building, Room 126
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Elevate your impact as a public leader

The Master in Public Administration Program is for aspiring leaders with real-world experience and graduate-level coursework in economics, public policy, or management.

The Master in Public Administration (MPA) curriculum is flexible. You create a study plan that reflects your academic interests, focuses on your personal and professional aspirations, and integrates across disciplines.

You may also decide to pursue a concurrent degree in business, law, medicine, or other professional fields. You’ll earn two degrees in less time and acquire even more skills you can use to make a difference in the world.

Korde Innis

“HKS provided opportunities for me to expand the narrative of what diversity looks like in foreign policy and foreign service.”

—Korde Innis MPA 2023

About the MPA Program

The MPA curriculum is flexible. You’ll create your own 64-credit study plan that reflects your academic interests and professional aspirations.

As an MPA student, you’ll take eight credits in a Policy Area of Concentration as well as four credits in each of these key areas:

  • Economics and Quantitative Analysis
  • Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences
  • Public Ethics and Political Institutions

You’ll select your remaining credits to support your unique intellectual and professional objectives. You can take classes across academic disciplines at HKS and cross-register into courses at other Harvard graduate schools as well as at MIT Sloan School of Management and The Fletcher School at Tufts University. 

Sample Courses

You might consider pursuing a second degree concurrently if you’re interested in how the world’s public challenges can be addressed at the intersection of business, law, medicine, design, or other fields.

Pursuing a concurrent degree reduces coursework and residency requirements and makes it possible to earn two degrees in a shorter amount of time.

Concurrent degree students complete 48 credits at HKS, including four credits in each of the key areas:

  • Economics and Quantitative Analysis
  • Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences
  • Public Ethics and Political Institutions

Concurrent degree students are not required to fulfill the Policy Area of Concentration requirement.

The MPA Program consists of four semesters of full-time coursework in residence at HKS.

To graduate, you must:

  • Earn at least 64 credits
  • Finish with a GPA of B or better
  • Earn a B- or higher in all courses counting towards the distribution requirements
  • Matriculate as a full-time, in-residence student and take between 12-20 credits per semester
  • Fulfill a Policy Area of Concentration requirement by taking eight credits in one of the policy areas at HKS
  • Satisfy the distribution requirements by completing at least one 4-credit course (or two 2-credit modules) in each of the following three areas from a pre-approved list: 
    • Economics and Quantitative Analysis
    • Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences
    • Public Ethics and Political Institutions

HKS faculty members are among the most influential leaders and thinkers in their fields. They have contributed vital research and scholarship to their fields. Served in U.S. administrations. Founded learning labs to assist local communities. Led negotiations to reduce nuclear stockpiles. Reported on human rights abuses. Led efforts to address climate change. Advised governments and companies on gender equality.

They are doers as well as thinkers, shaping public policy and devising entrepreneurial approaches to public problems at the local, national, and international levels.

MPA Faculty Chair

Kessely Hong Photo

Kessely Hong

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

MPA at a glance

Entering class size
Entering age
Years of work experience
International students

*Statistics are based on a five-year average.


Employment Snapshot: MPA Class of 2023 Employment Sectors

Graphic showing the sectors MPA graduates from the Class of 2023 entered after graduation: 21% public and IGO, 16% nonprofit and NGO, 59% private.

* The number of private sector jobs secured by MPA graduates is, in large part, a reflection of the program’s many concurrent degree graduates.


Featured MPA stories


Jamie Mittleman MPA 2022 launched her COVID-adapted dream job: a platform for women Olympians and Paralympians.


Clark Yuan MPA 2022 wants unique perspectives to have a seat at the table when critical decisions are being made.


For Ingrid Olea MPA 2020, a journey that started with a career change has led to remarkable achievements in education policymaking.

Applying to the MPA Program

There are specific academic and professional prerequisites required to apply to the MPA Program. You must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a strong academic record 
  • Three years of professional work experience by September 1 of the year you would enroll in the program
  • At least four graduate-level courses similar to those in the MPP core curriculum, including two courses that are quantitative in nature. Qualifying graduate-level courses may include: economics, financial management, international business, international development, management, mathematics, physical science involving math (chemistry or physics, for example), politics and advocacy, or quantitative analysis and statistics. Courses cannot have counted towards your undergraduate degree. If you already have a graduate degree, those that typically qualify for MPA consideration include:
    • Master of Business Administration
    • Master of International Business
    • Master of International Development
    • Master of International Economics
    • Master of Science in Engineering

A complete application to the MPA Program includes the following: 

  • Online application
  • Essays
  • Résumé/CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Standardized test scores
    • GRE or GMAT required
    • Non-native English speakers who did not earn an undergraduate degree conducted in English must submit results of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Cambridge English exam
  • Academic transcripts
  • $100 application fee or waiver

Read more about how to apply

The application for the 2025-2026 academic year will be available in September 2024. There is one admission application deadline and one start date for each degree program per year. You may apply to only one master's degree program per admissions cycle. 

The cost of attendance for the 2024-2025 academic year is outlined in Funding Your Masters Education to help you plan financially for our master’s degree programs. Living expense costs are based on residence in Cambridge. The 2025-2026 academic year rates will be published in March 2025. HKS tuition and fees are subject to change without notice. 

At HKS, we consider financing your education to be a partnership and are here to help guide you. We encourage you to explore all opportunities for funding.

Learn more about the HKS community

How to Apply
Apply to the MPA Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Now is the time.
Funding Your Master's Education
We encourage you to explore all opportunities for funding your master’s education at HKS.