The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy is launching a new degree in the 2019-20 academic year geared toward students with some professional work experience who are passionate about public affairs and looking to deepen their skills to enhance their careers.

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The nine-month, 33-credit Master of Public Affairs program will build upon students’ previous work experience of at least five years in government, the non-profit sector, military service, or government or regulatory affairs in the private sector, either in the United States or abroad.

Students in the program will develop rigorous analytic skills for objective policy analysis, sharpen their communication and management skills, broaden their expertise in a broad range of public affairs issues globally, and actively engage in leadership development.

Because of the professional focus, applicants are not required to provide GRE test scores.

The degree culminates in a unique learning experience for the small cohort: a capstone project for a real-life client. It’s an opportunity for students to gain additional experience and have a professional product to add to their portfolio.

“The projects are going to be a great benefit to the organizations that are lucky enough to take on a University of Michigan Ford School student,” said Paula Lantz, associate dean for academic affairs at the Ford School.

Further, students can take advantage of the wide array of coursework options across the university. This option, coupled with the highly marketable skillset the program offers, makes it a good fit for students earning other graduate degrees at U-M, who are looking to further develop policy-oriented communication and leadership skills.

The program is designed to launch graduates’ careers to new heights in leadership roles and senior-level positions in any sector.

In the vein of the Ford School’s other degrees, the MPA program will emphasize research and empirical evidence in policy design and evaluation processes.

“The Ford School is renowned for our emphasis on data and evidence along with values and political processes in its approach to public policy, and the MPA students will gain strong analytic skills so that they can be even more effective in the next phase of their careers,” said Lantz.

The Ford School is now accepting applications through Jan. 15 for the first MPA cohort.