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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Compare MPA and EMPA Programs

Having trouble deciding which program is for you?

We’ve listed some of the key features and qualities of our residential and executive degree programs below. As always, please reach out to our Admissions Staff with any questions you may have.

MPA Program Comparison
Details MPA Executive MPA (EMPA)
Degree Conferred Cornell Master of Public Administration (MPA) Cornell Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Format Residential Asynchronous and synchronous online with three, 1-week residential sessions in Ithaca, New York
Who Should Apply Students and practicing professionals looking for a flexible curriculum and expansive concentrations. Applicants who are looking for a full-time degree and residential experience. Individuals considering a career change and requiring foundational knowledge, skills, and abilities in public administration. Mid-career, practicing professionals with 8 or more years of experience who need to balance a rigorous graduate education with the demands of a full-time job. Applicants with fewer than 8 years of experience may be considered if their experience is especially relevant and other qualifications are strong.
Program Length 2 Years 18 Months
Next Application Deadline  The residential MPA application for the 2023-2024 academic year opens in early September and is due on January 15, 2023. To receive consideration for funding, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. Applications for the May 2023 EMPA cohort will open in early August and the next application deadline is September 15.
Primary Instruction Method Faculty-led, in-person courses at Cornell’s Ithaca, New York campus. Some courses include hybrid modalities. Faculty-led online courses and 3 on-campus residency weeks on Cornell’s campus in beautiful Ithaca, New York
Curriculum Interdisciplinary, flexible curriculum with eight concentrations. With the help of your advisor, you can select courses tailored to your academic and professional interests. Within each of these concentrations, you may choose five courses that will give you the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue your interests and achieve your professional goals. MPA students may concentrate in:

  • Economic and Financial Policy
  • Environmental Policy
  • Government, Politics and Policy Studies
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • International Development Studies
  • Public and Nonprofit Management
  • Science, Technology and Infrastructure Policy
  • Social Policy

View full MPA curriculum details

An interdisciplinary, cohort-oriented curriculum.

  • You will take your core courses in a prescribed sequence, together with your cohort.
  • You will take your elective courses during the second year of the program

EMPA students develop competencies in five broad areas: communication skills; research and analytical problem-solving skills; institutional knowledge and organizational financial management; values; and specialized policy expertise. Tailor your program by choosing from two concentrations:

  • Public and Nonprofit Management, with elective courses in managing technology, managing personnel, decision analytics, and leadership and strategy
  • International Policy, with elective courses in frontiers of international policy, human rights, international management, and leadership and strategy

View the EMPA course schedule

Culminating Experience Capstone project, professional report, or thesis A substantial capstone project which unfolds over the duration of the program and culminates in a final presentation. The capstone project is expected to represent a strategic priority by your current employer.
Alumni Network A Cornellian for life. Graduates will join the 250,000+ members of the Cornell University Alumni Community. Cornell Brooks School MPA Alumni enjoy a wide variety of networking and social events. A Cornellian for life. Graduates will join the 250,000+ members of the Cornell University Alumni Community. Cornell Brooks School MPA Alumni enjoy a wide variety of networking and social events.
Eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Benefits Yes Yes
Career Services The Office of Career Management will provide career services as a current student or an alum. The Office of Career Management can provide networking support and other services upon request.
Funding Merit-based aid and fellowships supported by the MPA Program; students are eligible to apply for federal Stafford loans. There are no scholarships, fellowships, or grants awarded for the EMPA at this time; students are eligible to apply for federal Stafford loans.
Apply Learn how to apply for the MPA Learn how to apply for the EMPA
Program Questions Connect with our MPA Admissions Staff Connect with our EMPA Admissions Counselors
Request More Information Request more information about the MPA Request more information about the EMPA

Download the EMPA Information Sheet

Register for our next information session

Online Certificate Programs

The MPA Program also offers online programs for the following certificate programs:

  • Financial Success for Nonprofits
  • Systems Thinking
  • Public Sector Leadership
  • International Public and NGO Management

Learn more about all of our online certificate programs