Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

5th-Year Master of Public Affairs for Brown Undergraduates

Brown University undergraduates have the opportunity spend a fifth year at Brown to earn a Master of Public Affairs degree. The 5th-year MPA is an efficient way to gain the analytic, communication, and problem-solving skills desired by employers in the public policy sector.

Brown's MPA students have graduated to exciting careers in nonprofit organizations, consulting firms, social policy organizations, state and local government, and federal agencies.


Unique features of the Brown MPA include:

  • Condensed June-May schedule allows students to gain hard skills and professional experience in just one year.
  • A professional consultancy where students use the tools they gained in class at a policy organization aligned with their career interests.
  • Statistics and economics courses are integrated, using the same research and data sets to explore policy topics.

Pathway A: Tuition Savings with Approved Electives

Brown 5th-year students choose between two pathways to earn the MPA degree:

  • Pathway A
    Complete a total of 10 courses: 9 required courses + 1 elective course
    Students to count up to 2 electives (with approval of the Master of Public Affairs Program Director) toward the electives of the MPA degree. Pathway A reduces tuition by $7,406 per course (or a total of $14,812 for two courses, based on 2020-21 tuition). Pathway A students are required to take all 9 core MPA courses and are not are not eligible to pursue the Data-Driven Policy Track because they are permitted to take only one elective.
  • Pathway B (the standard one-year program)
    Complete a total of 12 courses: 10 required courses + 2 elective courses

    Students pay the regular tuition, and can explore a policy specialization through their three electives.

Application Process and Materials

  • Open to students from any undergraduate concentration; apply during senior year.
  • Application fee waived for Brown student applicants.
  • Students interested in receiving merit aid are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Required Materials for Brown 5th-Year Applicants

  • Unofficial transcript from Brown
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Personal statement 

Visit our Apply Page for more details on the application process.

Questions about the 5th-year MPA? Attend one of our information sessions, or schedule an admissions appointment by emailing us at watsonmpa@brown.edu.