The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program consists of 40 semester hours (SH):

  • 28 semester hours of core courses (7 courses total)
  • 12 semester hours of electives

Full-time students can complete the requirements for graduation in as little as 1.5 years. For those who choose to complete optional cooperative education experience, they will graduate with a total of 41 or 42 semester hours based on the length of the co-op.

All core classes with the MPA curriculum are available online or offline, and students are welcome to move between modalities at their preferred home campus (Boston, Arlington, or Oakland). Both the online and on-campus courses reflect Northeastern University’s high standards for excellence and offer a dynamic, interactive experience.

All online courses are asynchronous, so that students can complete coursework on their own schedules, but all work must be completed by specified deadlines each week.

Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Co-op is a signature offering of Northeastern’s MPA program. This optional experience allows students to get credit for full-time employment (minimum 32 hours/week) in a role related to public policy.

To help students find placements, Northeastern partners with local organizations in Boston; Arlington, VA (National Capital Region); and Oakland, CA (and the San Francisco Bay Area); as well as with national partners and global employers. Throughout the co-op program, MPA faculty and staff are available to mentor students on their work experience.

Students can choose from the two co-op cycles: January–June or July–December. Co-op participants must take a required “Experiential Integration” course.

Recent co-op placements include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative
  • Massachusetts State Senate
  • Social Innovation Forum
  • Boston After School & Beyond, Inc.
  • Coalition for Social Justice
  • Town of Sharon, MA
  • Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC)
  • Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA)
  • Boston Public Schools (BPS)
  • American University in Cairo
  • Associates For International Research, Inc.
  • MassDOT (Massachusetts Department of Transportation)


MPA students are required to take an internship of at least 300 hours for 4 hours of course credit. However, students can waive this requirement if they have substantial experience or are fully employed in positions relevant to their careers.

Recent internships include:

  • Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
  • City of Richmond, VA
  • City of Central Falls, RI
  • Mayor’s Office, City of Quincy, MA
  • Steppingstone Foundation
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Boston Center for the Arts
  • U.S. Department of State (Virtual Student Federal Service)
  • Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
  • MA State House of Representatives

Concentrations and Certificates

Want to take your public administration career path in a specific direction? Tailor your degree coursework to your interests with a concentration or a certificate.

Many certificates can be completed online, while others are only available on the Boston campus. For more information about available modalities, please contact or call +1 877.377.2739 (toll-free).

Please note: Courses taken at Northeastern University outside of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities are subject to different tuition rates.

Optional Concentration: Healthcare Management and Policy

This concentration builds in-depth knowledge of health policy and health-sector management for students seeking careers in public health, community health, hospital administration, health-service management, healthcare policy development, and more. View these course options.

The Healthcare Management Policy concentration can be completed online or at our Boston campus.

Optional Graduate Certificates

Students can choose to earn a graduate certificate at the same time they are earning their Master of Public Administration degree. This is achieved by matching their electives with the courses required for a certificate. Choose from:

Many certificates can be completed online, while others are only available on the Boston campus. For more information about available modalities, please contact or call +1 877.377.2739 (toll-free).

Master of Public Administration Course Descriptions

Note: Course numbers and descriptions are updated regularly; however, please refer to the academic catalog for the most current information.


Quantitative Techniques

Studies the use of social science quantitative techniques, emphasizing applications of value to public-sector analysts and scholars alike. Introduces probability and statistical analysis. Topics include measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, sampling distributions and hypothesis testing, bivariate correlation, regression, and forecasting. Examines how to generate and interpret statistical analyses.


Provides a systematic approach to understanding the origins, formulation, implementation, and impact of government outputs. Reviews key analytical concepts and competing theoretical perspectives. Considers both the political dimensions of public policymaking and the technical aspects of program design within the natural history of the policymaking process. Draws on case materials from a spectrum of policy areas.
Introduces the fundamentals of macroeconomics and microeconomics as well as the role of key economic institutions, such as the Federal Reserve. Includes analysis of government’s role in a market economy and introduces methods of economic analysis.

Administration and Management

Introduces students to concepts and approaches to analyzing significant factors and relationships in government agencies and public-oriented nongovernmental organizations as they function in their environments. Examines the legal and constitutional foundations of public administration, bureaucratic structure and administrative power, managerial accountability and ethics, human resource management, economics of organization, decision making, budgeting, implementation and “street-level” bureaucrats, and more recent developments in public administration such as performance management and public management networks.
Surveys governmental budgeting at the federal, state, and local levels. Surveys major revenue sources and expenditure responsibilities. Discusses budgetary processes and politics, as well as resulting policies. Considers both proposed and implemented reforms. Also introduces financial management practices including cash management, fund accounting, debt financing, endowment spending and control, cost allocation procedures, and tax expenditures.
Examines the problems and techniques relevant to effective management of a public agency in a complicated and often turbulent political environment. Topics include legislative relations, media relations, role of the courts, unions and advocacy groups, policy implementation and evaluation, and setting and working with high standards of integrity.
Offers an opportunity for student teams, in partnership with a local, state, or federal agency or nonprofit institution, to assess an urban or regional problem, produce a thorough policy analysis, and present it and recommended solutions to the agency or institution. Course readings focus on materials needed to assess the problem and provide solutions. This is a faculty-guided team project for students completing course work in urban and regional policy studies. May be repeated without limit.


MPA students have 12 SH in free electives, which can be applied to earning one of several graduate certificates, concentrated in a particular focus area, or selected as desired from a broad array of courses offered by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, other graduate programs in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and most other graduate level programs at Northeastern University. The selection of electives is done in consultation with the student’s advisor.

*Course numbers and descriptions are updated regularly, however please refer to the course catalog for the most current information.


Provides eligible students with an opportunity for work experience. May be repeated without limit. Learn more about the co-op program in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Offers an integration course providing an opportunity for students on experiential placement to connect conceptual course material to experiential components. Students are expected to: interact with students from other disciplines, apply knowledge and skills across educational and experiential contexts; connect experiential components to different disciplines and domains of knowledge; and situate experiential components in the context of their own field and beyond. Requires department signature.

Master of Public Administration

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