Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
MPA
MPA Class of 2019

"Watson’s distinctive one-year MPA provides rigorous training in policy analysis, including economics, statistics, big data analysis, and program evaluation. At the same time, it gives students exceptional opportunities to learn and understand the global and political context in which governance occurs."

Eric Patashnik, MPA program director

Watson’s One-Year MPA Program Climbs in U.S. News Rankings of Graduate Public Affairs Degrees

April 8, 2021

For the second consecutive year, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs’ one-year Master of Public Affairs (MPA) – now only in its sixth year – ranked among the top 50 such programs in U.S. News Graduate School rankings, which were released March 30. Watson’s MPA tied for 48, a notch up from last year. The rankings are based on peer assessments from deans, directors, and department chairs representing 285 master’s programs in public affairs and administration, U.S. News reports. 

The MPA program fulfills the ever-increasing demand for an accelerated graduate degree preparing students for challenging and prestigious positions in the public and nonprofit sectors and consulting firms.

“We experienced a 31 percent increase in applications from high-quality individuals from 35 U.S. states or territories as well as very diverse international applicants representing nearly 50 countries,” said Olivia Whalen, MPA program associate director. “In light of COVID, students are recognizing the direct impact of public affairs and policies on their daily lives, and have seen what it means to have ineffective or effective public policies addressing public health. We are not surprised to also see the number of applications to our joint MPA/MPH option, with the School of Public Health, double this year. Our MPA program can enhance students’ knowledge and skills, enabling them to leave Brown prepared to impact real change and influence beneficial policy outcomes.”

The only one-year Master of Public Affairs program for young professionals in the Ivies, the Watson MPA also offers a unique approach in team-teaching Economics for Public Policy and Statistics for Public Policy in an intense summer session. “The program,” said Whalen, “allows students to more quickly advance academically and professionally. Too, our integrated model teaching the economics and statistics classes together provides students with a very strong toolkit for their evidence-based policy analysis.” 

Committed to continuous improvement, next year’s MPA program will include curricular enhancements. Having seen the remarkable effectiveness of integrated teaching, Watson faculty will use a similar model for Statistics for Program Evaluation and a new course, Economics of Government Intervention, the two other courses taught in the MPA’s summer session. “Given our increasingly complex and interconnected world, it’s essential that effective public policy leaders draw on multiple disciplines to analyze complex challenges and propose innovative solutions,” said Eric Patashnik, MPA program director, who is currently on sabbatical. 

A second change will expand Policy-in-Action consultancy from one-half semester to a full semester. The consultancy, which provides students real-world opportunities to apply their academic coursework, is truly beneficial. The consultancy, which builds students’ resumes, creates opportunities to work with a client representing a local, national, or international government or nonprofit entity. By expanding the consultancy to a full-semester, students can enroll in their spring semester electives offered by Watson and the rest of Brown University. Recent consultancy clients have included the Clinton Foundation, the World Bank, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

“Watson’s distinctive one-year MPA,” said Patashnik, “provides rigorous training in policy analysis, including economics, statistics, big data analysis, and program evaluation. At the same time, it gives students exceptional opportunities to learn and understand the global and political context in which governance occurs.”   

--Nancy Kirsch