The Master of Public Affairs at Sciences Po is grounded in analytical skills, applied to public affairs issues at local, national and global scales, with an emphasis on learning from a comparative perspective.

The MPA curriculum stresses the importance of institutions and organizations, as shaped by politics, economics and strategy:

  • institutions vary widely from place to place, and hence a global and comparative perspective on them enables us to see the strengths and weaknesses of different ways to solve policy problems, but also the multiple and different ways that problems can be solved in different contexts;
  • organizations, in the private, public, and para-public sectors, are the key sites where leadership and strategy are exercised to solve problems;
  • politics and economics define the constraints and contexts in which organizations and institutions evolve. Students in the MPA at Sciences Po will thus get training that draws on the key disciplines of economics, politics, and sociology, in addition to other more specialized fi elds. Quantitative analysis and qualitative methods are used to prepare, analyze and interpret information. It is expected that a successful student in the Sciences Po MPA will be able to:
    analyze public affairs problems successfully, especially in understanding why problems exist (why collective action generates problems), and what types of alternatives exist (and how to generate them by changing collective action);
  • use a critical perspective, thinking “out of the box,” in order to envisage alternatives. But a critical perspective is always subject to the test of realistic strategic action, itself based on analysis of collective action possibilities.

Main orientations and specific features

The MPA is a two-year program, comprising four semesters of full-time study plus a 3-4-month summer project between the first and second years.

The first year is dedicated to a core curriculum centered on the comparative and critical analysis of the principal theories and techniques associated with contemporary public policy. Emphasis is on development of students’ diagnostic capacities, using theories from the social sciences and professional disciplines, and analytical tools from statistics, observation and historical and contextual analysis.

Students choose from required and elective courses, do a study trip abroad, are required to take the French lessons offered by the MPA, and may in addition take another optional language available at the main Sciences Po campus.

During the summer, the students are required to carry out a summer project. A summer project is research work that can take the form of an internship, but this is not absolutely necessary. The summer project in all cases results in a paper.

In addition to one required course per semester, as well as a choice of electives, the second year provides students with their choice of a concentration in public affairs and hands-on experience in public policy analysis, evaluation and implementation through the capstone project. A capstone project is a client-based consultancy on a concrete policy issue. Undertaken in small groups, the capstone project is based on a series of parallel and complementary activities: research, tutoring, policy study visits, and a professional outcome or “deliverable.” The MPA offers the possibility, to a limited number of students who wish to continue with doctoral studies, to choose the thesis option, as an alternative to the capstone project. There are specific conditions to be fulfilled for choosing the thesis option that can be found in the curriculum document.

Career opportunities

The MPA opens doors to exciting professional trajectories in all sectors of Public Affairs. Our graduates work in both the public and private sectors, as well as in international organizations and NGOs. Institutions where our graduates work include the OECD, the World Bank, the WTO, the European Commission, the Central Bank of China, the Japanese Ministry of Finance, the US Department of State, Ernst & Young, etc.