The Online Executive Master of Public Administration from the #1-ranked Maxwell School at Syracuse University1

best grad schools U.S. News public affairs 2021

For 25 years, the Maxwell School has been consistently ranked in the top two by U.S. News & World Report for graduate education in public affairs.2 In the 2021 report released, the school is ranked #1 in the nation for best public affairs programs1 and #1 in the public management and leadership speciality area.3

Why Earn Your Executive MPA from Syracuse?

The online Executive MPA program from the #1-ranked Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University prepares its students to drive change in their communities from the highest levels of their organizations.

Students learn from acclaimed faculty who are leaders in the field of public affairs and build genuine connections with their classmates while discussing ways to solve public service challenges. The program is designed for experienced professionals, and students can earn a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School online in as few as fifteen months.


The Maxwell School’s online Executive MPA program is designed for professionals with demonstrated leadership experience.

To be considered for admission, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have at least five years of work experience in a managerial position with progressively greater levels of organizational responsibility. Common areas of experience include leading teams, financial management, and strategic planning.

No GMAT/GRE scores are required to apply.

Learn more about our admissions process.

Application Requirements

To apply to the online Executive MPA program, candidates must submit the following:

  • Online Application. Access the application here.
  • Application Fee. The nonrefundable application fee is $75. Applicants can contact an admissions counselor to find out if they qualify for an application fee waiver.
  • Personal Essay. Applicants must write one essay that discusses their background, professional goals, and reason for pursuing an Executive MPA.
  • Letters of Recommendation. Two letters of recommendations from academic or professional references are required.
  • Official Transcripts. All transcripts from degree-bearing institutions that an applicant attended must be submitted.
  • Resume or CV. Applicants are required to submit a resume or CV that outlines professional experience and accomplishments.

Admissions Deadlines

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Students can begin taking classes in January, April, July, or October. We encourage candidates to submit their application as early as possible to join the next cohort.

October 2020 Cohort

Early Priority Deadline:

Priority Deadline:

Final Deadline:
August 6, 2020

Join Our Community of Experienced Public Service Professionals

Learn how to navigate modern public administration challenges alongside a cohort of ambitious leaders in the Maxwell School’s online EMPA program.

Student Spotlight

Raissa Figueiredo has worked as a consultant for the departments of Homeland Security and Education. She aspires to advance into a leadership role in procurement policy, and the Maxwell School’s online EMPA has helped her develop the necessary skills in leadership and management to do so.

“Looking at other schools, I recognized Maxwell’s program as an ideal blend of coursework in leadership, management, and specialized public administration study. The school’s national ranking and reputation for cultivating top-notch leaders and administrators was proof of its value and effectiveness.”

Raissa Figueiredo, online Executive MPA student, class of 2018

A Curriculum for Experienced
Public Administration Leaders


Core Courses

Specialized Courses

Students in the online Executive MPA program learn to formulate, implement, and evaluate policy; lead and manage organizations; and use evidence-based analysis to make a positive impact on the public good.

Topics of study include challenges such as:

  • Integrating data analysis into management and policy making
  • Managing budgets within organizations and evaluating public expenditures
  • Upholding ethics and morality in sectors facing conflicting values
  • Leading teams and organizations collaboratively across boundaries

By assessing case studies and collaborating with other dedicated public servants, students can apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world settings and immediately begin developing solutions to public service issues in their current roles.

The program can be completed part time in as few as 15 months.

Learn more about our curriculum.

Core Courses

Core courses focus on leadership, management, and analytical skills.

Fundamentals of Policy Analysis

Study a combination of basic economic principles and policy analysis techniques. Use cost-benefit analysis as a way to discover the rationale for and limits to public sector policies.

Managerial Leadership

Develop a foundational understanding of leadership theories and apply them to managerial situations to improve managerial skills and competencies.

Master's Project Course

Integrate concepts from across the online EMPA curriculum to design an evidence-based master’s project paper that has practical application to a real-world organization. This capstone is generally taken at the end of the program.

Specialized Subject Area Courses

Specialized subject area courses cover topics that are relevant to current
public administration challenges
and are subject to change.

Public Administration and Democracy

Discover the social and political context of public administration by discussing the complex questions that surround the relationship between public administration and democracy.

Public Policy Process

Explore how the actions of elected officials, public managers, nongovernmental organizations, and contractors affect policy-making procedures in areas such as social, environmental, and security policy.

Ethics and Morality in Public Affairs

Understand the moral issues facing public service leaders and learn how to resolve conflicts in an ethically responsible manner. Analyze cases through normative concepts and ethics principles.

Public Budgeting

Learn fundamental concepts in financial management and public finance that are useful for managing budgets within public and nonprofit organizations and evaluating public expenditures.

Collaborative and Participatory Governance

Study theories that support collaborative and participatory governance, assess their effectiveness, and explore how current practice can be applied to a career in public administration.

Data-Driven Government

Explore how cities use data to inform policy, and integrate analysis-based decision making into effective policy making. Experience new software hands-on and perform simple analysis on real data.

Human Resources Management for the Public Sector

Learn the value of effective human resource management in achieving public administration goals. Examine how human resource management is changing from strategic, legal, and individual perspectives.

Other Elective Course Options

In addition to the specialized subject area courses, students can choose electives based on their particular interests. Options include connecting remotely to main campus classes, taking short courses, and attending other online classes offered through partner Syracuse programs.

Ready to Become a Well-Rounded Public Service Leader?

Learn how to drive effective policy change with an online EMPA from the Maxwell School.

Collaborative Online Learning

The online Executive MPA program delivers a learning experience that expands on the quality of the Maxwell School’s renowned on-campus programs. By learning through our online platform, students can meet in real time to share diverse insights and collaborate on solutions to public service issues that they face in their own communities. Find out more about the online student experience.

Live Online Classes

Webcam-enabled classes bring students face to face with their classmates and faculty.

Self-Paced Coursework

Assignments reinforce classroom discussion and are available 24/7 online and via the mobile app.

Technical Support

Our team is available to help students acclimate to the online platform or resolve any technical difficulties they encounter.

Professional Development at the Maxwell School

At the Maxwell School, we are dedicated to helping our students succeed throughout their academic career and long after graduation. Students can take advantage of a variety of professional development resources, including:

One-on-One Advising

Meet with a career advisor in face-to-face online sessions to discuss career development strategies and job search needs. Get personalized feedback on resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles.

Career Development

Discover exclusive internship, job, and fellowship opportunities on our job board, OrangeLink. Explore strategies for career advancement, employer information sessions, and industry advice in our virtual career-building course.

Maxwell Alumni Community

Connect with our diverse alumni network of over 30,000 public service professionals. Access the community through in-person events, exclusive social networks, and alumni groups.

Faculty Spotlight

Tina Nabatchi, recently named the inaugural Joseph A. Strasser Endowed Professor in Public Administration, has taught at the Maxwell School since 2007. Her academic interests include citizen participation, collaborative governance, conflict resolution, and challenges in public administration.

“Maxwell has an incredible legacy in the [public service] field. We teach you a range of skills to excel in any organization, from policy, data, and budget analysis to effectively navigating interpersonal relationships.”

Professor Tina Nabatchi, Maxwell School Faculty

Degree Comparison

Earning an Executive MPA can have similar benefits to earning an MPA or Master of Business Administration (MBA), but the online Executive MPA degree from Syracuse gives experienced public service professionals the resources to be effective leaders, wherever they’re located. Our program prepares students to take the next step toward executive leadership in government, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations.

Students will graduate from our Executive MPA program ready to:

  • Effectively manage employees and financial resources
  • Use analytical thinking to assess and implement policy
  • Make ethical decisions and resolve conflicts

See how the EMPA, MPA, and MBA degrees compare.

Completion time: ~15 months

Degree Earned: Master of Public Administration

Experience level: Professionals with more than five years of experience with progressively greater levels of responsibility

Skills Acquired: Public managerial leadership competencies, including managing human, financial, and information resources; analyzing and evaluating social and political systems; and planning and coordinating executive actions


Completion time: ~2 years

Degree Earned: Master of Public Administration

Experience level: Early to midcareer public servants (1–5 years of experience)

Skills Acquired: Basic public management skills, including strategizing for public policy, sociology and law; writing grant requests and public policy outcomes; and community development


Completion time: ~2 years

Degree Earned: Master of Business Administration

Experience level: Professionals in the private sector

Skills Acquired: Foundational business practices, such as analytical thinking; managing people, finances, and projects; marketing; and business communications

Careers in Public Administration for Executives

Graduates of our Executive MPA program are able to enact change through efficient project management and analytical decision making. They can use their Executive MPA degree to advance their career in the following areas:

Nonprofit Sector

With a public administration background, professionals can meet the needs of diverse organizations by overseeing budgets, directing fundraising efforts, and motivating teams. Students can use their EMPA to work in a variety of nonprofit areas, including:

  • Foundations and philanthropic organizations
  • Higher education institutions
  • Research institutions and think tanks
  • United Nations NGOs

Public Sector

Many of our students pursue leadership roles in the public sector and use their leadership skills to head government initiatives and analyze and implement effective policy. EMPA students can seek positions across the public sector, including:

  • Federal government
  • Local and state government
  • Military organizations

Private Sector

Students who pursue careers in the private sector are able to act as a liaison between public and private organizations and ensure that their organization supports the public good. EMPA students develop a skill set that is relevant in the following areas:

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • International banks
  • Public finance
  • Public sector consulting

In these roles and others, students can use their Executive MPA to drive positive change. Learn more about public administration careers.

The Maxwell Community Responds to COVID-19

Our students and graduates have stepped up at all levels of government and private industry to support communities across the country in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read about our incredible students bringing true meaning to the Maxwell School's commitment to citizenship below.

  • As Commander of his California city’s police department, Rafael is dedicated to providing security to hospitals battling the virus and ensuring that the city’s homeless population is being properly cared for.
  • In Boston, Brandi is a vice president at a catastrophe modeling firm, working to develop modeling tools to track and predict the impact of this pandemic.
  • Many current EMPA online students, including Christopher in North Carolina and Natalie in California, are leading health centers across the country.
  • Stephanie serves in the Minnesota Army National Guard and is working tirelessly to plan their response to support their communities across the state.

Ready to Become a Leader Who Influences Positive Change?

Take the next step toward advancing your public service career in the Maxwell School’s online Executive MPA program. Request more information today.