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Pennsylvania Fels

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MPP and MPA Programs

University of Pennsylvania, Fels Institute of Government

Program Comparison Highlights

Institutional Structure: TO COME

Curriculum Design: TO COME

Professional Program Features: TO COME

Program Summary


University: The University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Degree: Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Marketing Approach: "The Fels MPA offers a broad-based education that prepares students for leadership roles in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private firms engaging in public sector work. If you are committed to public service, the Fels MPA program will help you acquire the tools and understanding needed to be successful throughout your career.” (At, accessed 4 September 2014). “Full-time students are admitted into a cohort of 30-35 individuals with diverse interests and experiences. The intimate size of the cohort quickly fosters a sense of community between classmates and allows students maximum access to Fels staff and faculty members. The full-time track can be completed in three or four semesters. Students focus on completing the core requirements in year 1 in preparation for electives in year 2, with the summer free to pursue full-time internships, travel, or other opportunities. Many complete internships during the academic year and get involved with civic, social, or service projects at Penn or in the Philadelphia community.” (At, accessed 4 September 2014).

Degrees Awarded per Year: "Full-time students are admitted into a cohort of 30-35 individuals" (at, accessed 17 May 2015.

Academic Unit within University: Fels Institute of Government, an independent school within the University.

Related Academic Units and Degrees: The school offers an Executive MPA, as well as combined degrees with the Penn Law School (MPA/JD), Graduate School of Education (MPA/MEP), School of Social Policy & Practice (MPA/MSP, MPA/MSW), School of Design (MPA/MCP), Liberal and Professional Studies (MPA/MES), School of Medicine (MPA/Master of Bioethics).

Posted Tuition: Tuition and fees for 2015-16 = $36,620 (not including health insurance). , at, accessed 17 May 2015.

Note 1: Tuition fees are assessed based on course load. Full-time (3 course) fee is $18,310 per semester. Part-time (2 course) is $11,648 per semester, and part-time (1 course) is $5,824 per semester. These figures do not include mandatory health insurance fee of approximately $1,667 per semester (mandatory only for full-time students).

Concentration/Curriculum Overview

MPA Degree Requirements

Summary:  Candidates complete 3 courses that comprised the “foundation” of their education, 4 courses in “core competencies”, a capstone course, and four electives (through which candidates can specialize to obtain a certificate in public finance, politics, nonprofit administration, economic development and growth; or take various other courses across the University).

Duration: 1.5-2 years.

Academic Prerequisite: Prior university study (baccalaureate degree).

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: 12

Note 2: The Fels MPA is unusual in its full-time course load of 3 course-units per semester. Most other North American programs on a semester system have 4 courses per semester. This raises the question of whether a Fels course has more content than the average course. Because Fels makes many of it syllabi public (see below) future research could generate such an assessment. In the meantime, here is what the University of Pennsylvania registrar says about course units and conversions (at xxx, accessed 17 May 2015): "Definition of a Course Unit: A course unit (CU) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A CU (or a fraction of a CU) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One CU is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course. A degree from one of Penn’s undergraduate programs requires the completion of 32 to 40 (or more) course units. Graduate and professional degrees vary in the number of years of study and the number of CUs required. Transfer Credit and Converting Credit Units/Hours: At the University of Pennsylvania, faculty in individual departments and schools make decisions about awarding credit for external courses (courses taken at a college or university other than Penn). Each school has policies and procedures for evaluating and awarding external credit. When undergraduate academic credit is awarded for courses taken at other institutions, typically courses worth 3, 4, or 5 semester hours or 5 quarter hours are awarded one course unit (CU) at Penn. Courses worth 1 semester credit hour are generally not awarded academic credit at Penn."

Number of Required Courses: 8

Number of Electives Typically Taken 4

Number of Electives Offered within Program: There appear to be 14 electives available for MPA candidates during Fall 2014 (at 2014, accessed 4 September 2014), but electives can be chosen from across the University.

Comprehensive Examination: No

Thesis Required: No

Internship Required: No

International Study Required: No

Co-curricular Activities Supportive to Degree

Professional Development and Career Support: Yes, but information about the program is restricted from public viewing.

Student-run Journal: No

Applied Projects: Available. Fels’ “Public Policy Challenge” is an interdisciplinary competition open to policy-minded Penn students with an interest in any issue area. Students present idea for policy reform (with an integrated campaign strategy) to a panel of public officials, and the winner receives funding for the program.

Pro Bono Consulting: Fels Consulting brings together proven leaders in the public sector with the schools top students to develop innovative solutions to the community’s most challenging issues (at, accessed 4 September 2014). It is unclear whether these consulting services are provided on a pro-bono basis.

Courses Offered: The list of courses taught can be found under Current MPA Class List at and most of the courses have syllabi.

Course Material Online: Full course descriptions including many syllabi included at

Instructional Distribution (PEACO Profile): The table below indicates the distribution of instruction offered, based on the course assignments to subjects in the Course Map below, weighted by estimated enrolment determined by the PEACO Algorithm.




I. Courses Required and Offered

a. Number of one-semester courses required for degree


b. Number of required courses


c. Number of elective courses taken (a - b)


d. Number of elective courses offered


e. Enrolment weight of elective courses (c/d)


II. Distribution of Courses (Enrolment-Adjusted) among Atlas

     Domains and Subjects

Tools and Skills


  - Strategy and Structure


  - Economic Analysis



  - Quantitative Methods and Management Sciences


  - Leadership, Communication, Professional Practice


Institutions and Context


  - Democratic Institutions and Policy Process


  - Ethics and Accountability


  - Socioeconomic, Political, and Global Contexts


Management Functions


  - Public Financial Management


  - Evaluation and Performance Measurement


  - Other Management Functions


Policy Sectors


  - Fiscal, Monetary and Tax Policy


  - International Development


  - Health


  - Other Policy Sectors




III. Number of Courses in "NASPAA-required Subjects" taken by

      Typical Student in NASPAA Required Competency Domains

Lead and Manage in Public Governance


Participate and Contribute to the Policy Process


Analyze, Synthesize, Solve Problems and Make Decisions


Articulate and Apply Public Service Perspectives


Communicate and Interact with Workforce and Citizenry


Total Course Equivalents taken in Required Competencies


IV. Ratio of Courses in "NASPAA-required Subjects" taken by

      Typical Student to Estimated Requirement for Competency

Lead and Manage in Public Governance


Participate and Contribute to the Policy Process


Analyze, Synthesize, Solve Problems and Make Decisions


Articulate and Apply Public Service Perspectives


Communicate and Interact with Workforce and Citizenry


Ratio of Total Instruction in Competencies to Amount Needed


V. Number of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics or Quantitative

      Methods Courses taken by Typical Student

Economic Analysis


Fiscal, Monetary and Tax Policy


Quantitative Methods




Source: At and related sites (accessed 5 September 2014).

Page Created By: Dave Marshall on 5 September 2014 and updated by Ian Clark on 21 September 2014 and Dave Marshall on 3 April 2015. Updating and editing may consist of substantive and/or formatting changes. Unless otherwise noted, however, information regarding a program's structure, curricular offerings and PEACO score is based on the program as it was on the date of page creation. The content presented on this page, except for the assignments of courses to Atlas subjects, the Instructional Distribution analysis, and the Commentary is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.

Pennsylvania Fels MPA Course Map
 C o u r s e s  O f f e r e d,  l i s t e d  b y  P u b l i c  P o l i c y  a n d  M a n a g e m e n t  S u b j e c t

Analysis and Skills

 Policy and Management Analysis

  Public Management (R)
  Policy Development (R/2)
  Social and Public Innovations
  Social Innovations Lab
  The Art of Politics (Executive MPA)
  Understanding and Managing Complex Organizations

 Economic Analysis

  Economic Analysis in the Public Sector (R)
  Economic Principles of Public Policy (Executive MPA)

 Quantitative Methods

  Statistics for Public Leadership (R)
  Quantitative Tools for Consulting (R/6)
  Statistics for Public Leadership
  Statistics Lab Section

 Management Sciences

  Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations
  Managing Project Risk

 Leadership Skills

  Leading Nonprofits

 Communication Skills

  Dealing with the Media
  Public Speaking
  Speech Writing
  Grant Writing

 Professional Practice

  Capstone (R)

Institutions and Context

 Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

  Politics and Public Leadership (R)
  Ancient and Modern Constitutionmaking
  Policy Process: Effecting Organizational Change
  The Classics and American Government
  The Practice of Legislative Politics
  Topics in Government

 Social and Political Context

  Local Elective Politics

 Ethics, Rights and Accountability

 Intergovernmental and Global Context

Management Functions

 Public Financial Management

  Public Financial Management (R)
  Advanced Budgeting (R/6)
  Financial Management of Nonprofit Institutions
  Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations
  Managing Public Funds: The Treasury Function
  The Business of Public Finance Investment Banking

 Evaluation and Performance Measurement

  Auditing Government Performance
  Performance Management (R/2)

 Human Resource Management

  The Talent Toolbox: Managing people in complex organizations

 Information Management and Technology

 Program and Service Delivery

  Contracting for Public Services (R/6)
  Social Impact Bonds

 Regulatory Policy and Management

 Nonprofit Management and Advocacy


Policy Sectors

 Macroeconomic Policy

  Special Topics in Public Finance: Global Financial Crises and International Policy Responses

 International Development

  Women Leaders and Emerging Democracies

 Social Policy and Welfare



 Employment, Labour and Immigration

 Cities, Urban and Regional Development

  Development Projects in Cities
  Downtown Development
  The Politics of Housing and Urban Development
  Urban Policy Issues

 Environment and Sustainability

 Agriculture and Resources

 Science, Technology and Innovation

 Industry, Trade and Investment

  Encouraging Economic Growth: The Record and the Controversy
  Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
  Infrastructure Investment and Economic Growth: Why, How and When (R/6)

 Energy, Transport and Infrastructure

 Defence, Security and Foreign Relations

 Policing and Justice Administration

 Arts and Culture

 Financial Markets

 Other Policy Sectors

Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance