MPA Student Handbook
Welcome to the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs (MSPIA) at Baruch College. We are confident that this will be a life-changing experience that will give you a huge boost in your understanding of public affairs and in your professional career. The MPA seeks to produce effective administrative leaders and thoughtful policy analysts. Our graduates work in the public interest in government, nonprofits and the private sector.
This MPA Student Handbook is designed to provide students already enrolled in the part-time or full-time MPA program with the information needed to help smooth the journey through the degree. You should also consult the general Graduate Academic Advisement Handbook and regularly meet with your Academic Advisor.
Students in the Executive MPA should consult directly with the Executive MPA Faculty Director and Advisor.
If you are not yet an MPA student and are interested in applying, visit the Apply Now page: https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/apply-today/
The mission of the MPA program is to help our students develop the practical skills and deep understanding of public service they will need to lead government, nonprofit, and private sector organizations, and to foster effective and inclusive institutions that strive to further economic and social equity in New York City, the nation, and the world.
The MPA prepares students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds to excel in careers in public service. The MPA has two key objectives. First, through a set of core courses, the program provides a strong foundation of practical and theoretical training for professional work in public service. Second, through free electives or the selection of a concentration, the MPA program offers students the opportunity to fashion a curriculum linked directly to their individual career and academic interests.
The MSPIA MPA program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). MSPIA is the only nonprivate school of public affairs in New York City.
All students in the MPA program complete seven required courses and are required to earn a minimum grade point average of 3.0. This ensures that you achieve a basic understanding of fundamental public administration principles and practices together with a foundation in communication skills, economic analysis, and statistical analysis. In addition to the required courses, you must complete six elective courses chosen in consultation with an Academic Advisor. Students without prior professional experience must also complete an internship in a public, nonprofit, or private sector organization.
In your final semester, you will take the Capstone Seminar, which emphasizes the application of your MPA knowledge and skills to specific professional situations.
Full-time and part-time MPA students (except Executive MPA programs) may choose to focus 12 of their 18 credits of elective course work in one of the five specializations: urban development and sustainability, nonprofit administration, public management, policy analysis and evaluation, and health care policy. Students in all five specializations complete the same MPA core, which does not vary from specialization to specialization. Specializations must be chosen in consultation with an Academic Advisor.
PAF 9100 Introduction to Public Affairs
PAF 9103 Communication in Public Settings
PAF 9120 Public and Nonprofit Management I
PAF 9130 Economic Analysis and Public Policy
PAF 9140 Budgeting and Financial Analysis I
PAF 9170 Research and Analysis I
PAF 9172 Research and Analysis II
Final Capstone Requirement
PAF 9190 Public Affairs Capstone Seminar (3 credits)
PAF 9195 Public Affairs Internship (3 credits)
Required if less than one year of relevant work experience.
PAF 9198 Public Affairs Workshop (1 credit)
Option for students NOT required to complete an internship, but who need academic credit for an internship.
Students who choose a concentration need to complete 12 of 18 elective credits (i.e. 4 of 6 elective courses) within that concentration. The remaining 6 credits (2 courses) can be taken from other MSPIA graduate electives. For details of the required course and electives in the current MPA concentrations, see the relevant sections in the Baruch College Graduate Bulletin:
Students can request permission through Academic Advisement to substitute other appropriate courses as electives in Concentrations.
MPA students can choose their electives from all the PAF (Public Affairs) courses offered in any of the MSPIA degree programs. Each Fall and Spring semesters MSPIA offers around 20 elective courses, including innovative Selected Topics courses that address current and emerging issues. Additional electives are also offered in Winter and Summer semesters.
For details of the courses to be offered in the following semesters, consult CUNYFirst Class Search tab or the Schedule of Classes. You may add courses to your shopping cart prior to registration time.
The full list of PAF courses is available on CUNYFirst under the Browse Course Catalog tab or the Baruch College Course Description Search.
MPA students can also take elective courses in other Schools at Baruch College or at other CUNY campuses. If you are interested in taking courses outside the MSPIA you should consult with Academic Advisement.
The Capstone Seminar (PAF9190) is an advanced seminar in which you complete a semester-long project drawing from the full course of study towards the MPA. The project may involve policy research, intensive study of an organization, development of a rationale for new or changed service programs, or some combination of these. Special attention is placed on incorporating knowledge from the core curriculum. To enroll in the Capstone Seminar, you must have completed the MPA core plus 15 additional credit hours.
The Capstone Seminar project can be an academic research paper, or a practical organizational analysis or assessment. You can choose any Capstone topic that lends itself to rigorous research and analysis, but it is recommended that you identify a substantive policy or programmatic area that is of interest to you and/or, if you are currently working, is relevant to the sector in which you are employed. Within the area of interest that you select, you can focus on several types of policy or organizational problems:
- Clarification of a muddled policy area, identifying and reframing policy problems so that policymakers can take action;
- Identification of feasible alternatives for an organization that already has a policy problem, and needs help identifying how others have solved similar problems; or
- Assessing the capacity of an organization to meet its current goals, given its resources.
Each semester, numerous sections of the Capstone Seminar are offered, and different professors may vary the focus. Before enrolling in a Capstone Seminar, you should consult with Academic Advisement to check the focus of the section you are choosing.
Students who intend to do a Capstone Project with an international focus may request permission through Academic Advisement to substitute PAF 9490 International Affairs Capstone.
Students in the MPA degree program at MSPIA are expected to obtain knowledge and demonstrate skills associated with the following Program Learning Goals associated with the following Universal Competencies established by NASPAA.
- Competency 1: To lead and manage in the public interest.
- Competency 2: To participate in, and contribute to, the policy process.
- Competency 3: To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make evidence-informed decisions in a complex and dynamic environment.
- Competency 4: To articulate, apply, and advance a public service perspective.
- Competency 5: To communicate and interact productively.
For the full list of MPA Learning Goals see the MPA program page.
The MPA course content is assessed through a combination of written papers, oral presentations, applied projects and exams. For details about the assessment processes in each individual course, consult the course outline posted by the professor. For general information about assessment at MSPIA, see the Assessment page.
Students who have completed equivalent studies in other undergraduate or graduate programs may apply for either waivers or transfer credits. You should apply when you first enroll in the program.
Waivers for MPA core courses or required courses in concentrations are granted to students who have completed equivalent studies in undergraduate or graduate programs. Students who are granted waivers are not required to take the courses waived, but must still complete the equivalent credit hours in another course.
Transfer credits are available to students who have completed equivalent graduate-level courses in NASPAA-accredited or other equivalent institutions. Students may request to transfer up to 12 credits, which will be applied to the credits required for MPA graduation.
In special circumstances, you can substitute required courses with equivalents. For example:
- If you are having trouble completing concentrations, you can request permission to substitute other appropriate courses as electives in concentrations.
- If you intend to do a Capstone Project with an international focus you may request permission to substitute PAF 9490 International Affairs Capstone for PAF 9190 Capstone Seminar.
All requests for substitutions must be submitted through Academic Advisement
Teaching and learning in the MPA program take place in a variety of formats and follow a variety of schedules. Courses are offered at times and in formats that are responsive to the needs of students who are often juggling courses, job, and personal obligations, and they are offered in traditional and technology-assisted formats. Traditional, in-person courses typically meeting once a week, in the early evening, for three-hour sessions; hybrid courses consist of in-person meetings every other week, with online or individual work taking place at other times, and some courses are offered fully online. Baruch MPA students can expect to experience each of these different course formats. Click here, for a full descriptions of the In-Person, Hybrid and Online modes of instruction.
Courses are offered throughout the calendar year, with the largest concentrations of courses offered in Fall and Spring semesters, from late August through December and again from late January through May. Smaller numbers of courses are offered during a January Winter term, and two Summer terms.
It is possible for a full-time student to complete the program in 1½ calendar years, taking advantage of both January and Summer offerings. Most students, however, attend part-time and typically complete the program in 2 to 3 calendar years.
You should meet with your Academic Advisor during the first academic year to complete a program plan.
The MPA program offer multiple opportunities to complete part of the degree outside New York.
Each fall semester MPA students have the unique opportunity to reside, work, and study public affairs in Washington, D.C. https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/student-opportunities/the-washington-semester/
The best public affairs learning experiences can often be found beyond our borders. To this end, the MPA offers exciting exploration opportunities through Study Abroad programs in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America. These immersive experiences can impart lessons on other cultures’ approaches to policy issues. This not only develops a global perspective on policy, but also helps apply it to issues at the state and local levels.
To learn more about study abroad opportunities, visit MSPIA Study Abroad Opportunities.
To learn more about college-wide study abroad opportunities: Study Abroad Office
Often it is the time spent outside of the classroom that can add the most value to your university experience. MSPIA offers you many opportunities to gain work experience and network with classmates here in New York City and beyond. Do you want to be a graduate assistant or join a student organization? Explore these and many other ways to complement your education. To take advantage of everything MSPIA has to offer, visit the Student Opportunities page.
The MPA Club is dedicated to building community among graduate students pursuing MPA degrees at Baruch College. The Club hosts social and professional networking events throughout the year and raises awareness to social justice and public policy issues. All current MPA students are welcome and encouraged to get involved. Learn more at: facebook.com/groups/BaruchMPAClub/
Pi Alpha Alpha
Pi Alpha Alpha (PAA) is the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration and invites eligible graduate and undergraduate students in public affairs to apply each spring semester. All memberships are national with a local chapter affiliation. PAA is run by NASPAA and recognizes outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in public administration, public policy, and public affairs. Membership is open to both graduate and undergraduate students who meet the criteria for eligibility.
Nu Lambda Mu International Honor Society
Nu Lambda Mu International Honor Society was established by the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council to recognize students dedicated to the study of nonprofit management, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship/enterprise. Its mission is to advance the study of nonprofit organizations and their function in society, and to promote scholarly achievement among those who engage in these academic pursuits.
For more information, contact Graduate Academic Advisement.
You are responsible for regularly checking your Baruch College student email since it is the main form of official communication from the College. It is important to stay abreast and informed of any policy or academic updates such as schedule changes, scholarship information, advisement newsletters, new courses, etc.
The Schedule of Classes is available prior to each registration period for the upcoming semester on CUNYFirst for you to search for classes, instructor names, and course information. You may add courses to your shopping cart prior to registration time. To register for classes and be assured of a seat, click “Enroll” and “Finish Enrolling”. Neither instructors nor Academic Advisors can add seats to a closed class. MSPIA does not maintain waitlists or over tally closed courses.
You must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA (grade point average) of 3.0 to be in “good academic standing” and to graduate with a master’s degree.
If your cumulative GPA falls below a 3.0, you are automatically placed on academic probation. It is highly recommended you meet with your Academic Advisor to review your probationary terms and to create an academic plan that will help them succeed in the program.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF CHEATING AND PLAGIARISM
Academic dishonesty is not tolerated at Baruch College. Cheating, forgery, plagiarism and collusion in dishonest acts undermine the college’s educational mission and the students’ personal and intellectual growth. You are expected to bear individual responsibility for your work, to learn the rules and definitions that underline the practice of academic integrity, and to uphold its ideals. Ignorance of the rules is not an acceptable excuse for disobeying them. Any student who attempts to compromise or devalue the academic process will be sanctioned.
Do you need help with your quantitative and analytical coursework? Do you need help with your writing for your assignments? Are you looking for other support services for financial aid, counselling, etc. MSPIA and Baruch College offer a range of student resources to help MPA students solve any problems related to your course work and program participation. You can find a fall description of the resources available and the information on how to access them in the Student Resources section of the Graduate Academic Advisement page.
The list below summarizes some of the primary research interests of the full-time MSPIA faculty who teach classes available to MPA students. For full bios of the full-time faculty as well as part-time faculty and staff, see: https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/about/faculty-and-staff/
Desmond Arias Security and politics in Latin America and the Caribbean
Nancy Aries Health policy and management
Cristina Balboa International relations, comparative policy, and organization theory
Deborah Balk Spatial demography, urbanization, migration and population distribution, poverty and health
Neil G. Bennett Social demography
David Birdsell Communication, media, and information technology in politics, government, and nonprofit administration
William Casey Boland Impact of state and federal public policies on higher education-particularly minority serving institutions
Liza Bolitzer Higher education employees’ engagement in students’ socio-cultural identities, and the institutional policies and cultures that support those efforts
Hilary Botein Urban development, social politics of policies and programs underlying affordable housing and community development
John Casey Government-nongovernment relations, international nonprofits, immigration policy, policing, and university teaching
Bin Chen Cross-sectoral governance and inter-organizational collaboration in public policy implementation, government-nonprofit relations, regional networked governance, and comparative public administration and public policy
Greg Chen Traffic safety, injury prevention, school safety, comparative healthcare systems, public/corporate finance, public and nonprofit organization performance and management, research methodology, and program evaluation
Hector Cordero-Guzman Education, employment, poverty, race and inequality, nonprofit organizations, international migration, transnational processes, economic development, and social welfare policy
Marco DeSena Communication consulting, speechwriting and political consulting
Anna D’Souza Food security and nutrition and international trade
Jonathan Engel Historical evolution of U.S. health and social welfare policy
Michael Feller Professional development in the nonprofit sector
Diane Gibson Means-tested social program participation, nutrition and health outcomes, neighborhood food environments
Nicole A. Gordon Law, public policy, and public administration
Els de Graauw Immigration, citizenship and civil society organizations, urban and regional politics
Jessica Greene Health reform-related policies and strategies and consumer engagement
Frank Heiland Labor, health, demographic economics, retirement, housing wealth, obesity, child wellbeing, fertility preferences, and migration
Neil Hernandez Immigration policy and the reorganization of public agencies
David C. Hoffman Rhetoric, history, and politics
Sonia R. Jarvis Race, politics, and the media
Bryan Jones Urban sustainability and climate-resilient policy
Patria de Lancer Julnes Performance measurement, accountability, innovation in government, corruption in government, and citizen-driven governance, and health policy
Judith Kafka Educational policies and social and economic inequalities
Sanders D. Korenman Impact of health insurance benefits on poverty and the relationship between school engagement and teenage childbearing in NYC
Karl Kronebusch Health policy and the politics of health and social policy
Asli Leblebicioglu International macroeconomics, financial frictions, trade policy, and economic growth
Tiffany Lewis Rhetoric, advocacy, and social movements, the suffrage movement and leadership in political office during the progressive era
Thomas J. Main Liberal democracy, bureaucracy and public administration, urban politics, homelessness, and the American Constitution and founding
Zachariah Mampilly Political protest, civil war and peace making
James McCarthy Demographic and public health research in the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East
George Mitchell Transnational NGOs and nonprofit management, leadership, and strategy
Jerry Mitchell Animal rights, business associations and city parks
Joselyn Muhleisen International regimes, regulatory politics, and global governance with a specific focus on trade and financial regulation
Douglas Muzzio American public opinion, voting behavior and city politics
Rahul Pathak Intersection of public finance and social policy
Alexis F. Perrotta Intersection of urban transportation policy, planning and welfare
Dahlia Remler Health economics, medical care price indexes, managed care, health insurance and health care markets
Ideen Riahi Economic development and political economy
Carla Robbins National security and defense, American politics and foreign policy
Michael Seltzer Fund raising and resource mobilization for nonprofit organizations
Robert C. Smith Immigration, public sociology, identification of strategic sites of intervention
Ryan Alan Smith Workplace stratification and racial attitudes in U.S.
Neil J. Sullivan Business of major league baseball and its relationship to government, public financing of stadiums
Rubia R. Valente Public policies on inequalities due to race, class, and gender in social, political, religious, educational institutions, quality of life of minority groups in Latin America and Brazil
Don Waisanen Communication and how it promotes or hinder the force of citizens’ voices
Mitchel B. Wallerstein Higher education, public policy, international affairs, and global philanthropy
Daniel W. Williams Budgeting, performance measurement, and the history of public administration
Na Yin Social security aging and disability policies in the United States and Europe
What are the next steps in your career after finishing the MPA? Graduates of the MPA program have moved on to very successful careers in a variety of government, nonprofit and private sector settings, as well as to further study at the doctoral level.
Detailed information on the regular workshops and career fairs as well as the individual assistance in job searches, provided by Marxe Career Services and the career outcomes and trajectories of MPA Graduates can be found at: https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/student-opportunities/career-services/
What GPA do I need to maintain to stay in the program?
You must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA to remain in the MPA program.
Do I need to stick with a concentration for my MPA?
No, you can change your concentration in consultation with advisement. Concentrations are not required for the MPA program.
What types of professional organizations can I join in the Public Administration field?
You are encouraged to join professional organizations like NASPAA, ASPA, APPAM and many others. See: https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/student-opportunities/.
Can I study abroad as a Master’s student?
Yes, to learn more about study abroad opportunities, see: https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/global-initiatives/for-marxe-students/
To learn more about college-wide study abroad opportunities: Study Abroad Office
What is it like to attend the Washington Semester?
The Washington Semester gives you the opportunity to gain unique insight into the public policy process through academic coursework and an intensive internship in legislative offices on Capitol Hill, federal agencies, or nonprofit organizations. See: https://marxe.baruch.cuny.edu/student-opportunities/the-washington-semester/
Can I take courses in Zicklin (marketing, social entrepreneurship) or Weissman (communications or arts administration)?
Yes, you may take electives at either school with pre-approval from Student Advisement. You can also take other approved courses at any CUNY campus through the ePermit system.
Can I present an original research paper at a conference, using my capstone paper or a paper for another class?
Yes. You are encouraged to use your MPA papers for other academic and professional purposes. You should be gathering your work in the MPA program into a portfolio that you can use to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in future research and employment applications.
What classes should I take to prepare myself for a Ph.D. or other doctoral program in Public Administration, Public Affairs or other areas in the social sciences?
We encourage MPA students to continue onto further studies. If you plan to do a research-based doctoral program, you should be taking advanced research, analysis and evaluation courses to prepare you for your higher degree studies.
What is the difference between the types of classes: online, hybrid, web-enhanced, etc.?
In Spring 2020 the definitions of the modes of instruction changed to respond to the shift to online instruction. For the most current definitions, see: https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2020/06/Revised-Modes-of-Instruction-Courses-June-20201.pdf
What classes should I take to help prepare me for a career in city or state government or to take and succeed on the civil service Exams?
The MPA program can be a pathway for a wide range of government jobs but there are no specific courses you should take. You should consult city and state government websites to explore internships, fellowships and career opportunities. City of New York: https://www1.nyc.gov/jobs/index.page; State of New York: https://www.ny.gov/services/employment
What types of classes should I take if I want to prepare for a career in philanthropy?
You should complete the Nonprofit Administration concentration.
You are encouraged to contact Student Advisement or Career Services about any questions you have about the program and your future career.