Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Sharpen the skills necessary to drive impact in public affairs

The Watson Institute’s Master of Public Affairs (MPA) equips students with frameworks to analyze today’s societal challenges and key professional skills to enact innovative solutions. Through our rigorous one-year program that runs from early June to May, students will sharpen their analytical, communication, and strategic leadership skills needed for an impactful career in public affairs.

The MPA curriculum is designed to provide students with skills to answer three core questions:

How do we know?
Training for empirical analysis

How do we do?
Training for management and leadership

How do we change?
Training for advocacy

The MPA required curriculum provides a foundation in data analytics, management and leadership, advocacy and change. Aligned with Brown’s commitment to intellectual exploration, MPA students may pursue a specialization aligned with our core questions or through elective coursework tailored to their policy interests, academic curiosity, and/or professional goals. The MPA curriculum also requires students to complete The Policy-in-Action Consultancy Project, a hands-on experience analyzing a policy issue with a client in the nonprofit, public, or private sector, resulting in a final professional deliverable.

The MPA curriculum will equip students with skills that include:

  • Quantitative analysis
  • Inclusive leadership
  • Strategic communication
  • Policy analysis
  • Global policy design and delivery
  • Policy writing
  • Data management
  • Project management
  • Public budgeting
  • Negotiation

MPA Curricular Structure and Course Breakdown




Summer Sequence 1    0.5 Economics for Public Policy
0.5 Statistics for Public Policy
Summer Sequence 2 0.5 Economics of Government Intervention
0.5 Statistics for Program Evaluation
Fall 1 Policy Analysis and Problem Solving
1 The Politics of Policymaking in Comparative Perspective
1 Elective 1
1 Elective 2
Spring 1 Policy Problems of the 21st Century
1 Management and Implementation in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
1 Policy in Action Project
1 Elective 3

Further Information

  1. Looking for the the latest MPA Program Schedule? Find it here
  2. Brown University 5th Year Master's applicants should read further details here on MPA pathway options