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University of Colorado Denver

School of Public Affairs

MPA, Executive Option


The School of Public Affairs Executive MPA is designed for mid-to-senior level professionals interested in enhancing their leadership skills and furthering their expertise in public or nonprofit policy and management. The Executive MPA option provides students an opportunity to earn a master degree targeted at improving their leadership competencies while also offering significant flexibility in customizing course work to fit students' individual needs and career objectives. The course formats --online and weekend or week-long intensive meetings -- enable students to fit their study into the framework of their busy lives.      


The Executive MPA is intended to serve managers of all sorts of public agencies -- federal, state, and local -- and those from the non-profit sector as well. It is designed for several types of managers:

  • Public or non-profit sector executives who seek the opportunity to engage in structured study and reflection on contemporary theory and issues in public management and policy
  • Senior professionals contemplating a career change who feel they might profit from acquiring an advanced degree and a deepened understanding of public affairs
  • Managers on the verge of promotion into senior ranks who wish to upgrade and bring current their analytic, managerial and leadership skills

Program Design & REQUIREMENTS

The Executive MPA option requires 30 semester hours of credit.

Initial Leadership Experience (3 credit hours): All students will enroll in the Rocky Mountain Program, a SPA residential leadership program. This is a six-day seminar typically held in Breckenridge that brings together public and non-profit professionals from across the country to collaborate on current management issues while honing leadership skills.                                       

Required Courses (15 credit hours): All students are required to complete two courses (6 credits) held on the Denver campus in an intensive format (1-2 weeks). Students complete two additional core courses (6 credits) in either an online, weekend intensive, or through the traditional campus based classroom setting. All students complete their program with a capstone project (3 credits). The capstone project allows students to synthesize the information learned during the program and put it into practice within a professional setting.

Elective Courses (12 credit hours): In consultation with an advisor, students select elective courses that best meet their professional goals. These may be taken online or in the classroom. An international experience (likely in Beijing) is optional for students on an annual basis for 3 credit hours. 

Class locations and Logistics

Classes at the School of Public Affairs are held on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, or at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. Students must make their own living arrangements for these courses.  Online classes are also available.


Total costs for the program are based on residency classification, the number of courses taken online, and participation in the international experience. We expect tuition for the entire degree program to cost approximately $25,000.   

Admission to the Executive MPA

Each year, a class of up to 20 students will be selected for the program. Selection will be on the basis of potential for academic success and on the applicant's level of managerial experience, as well as on their desire for and potential to profit from executive-level education and training. A baccalaureate degree is required.

For students with limited executive experience or lower undergraduate GPAs, test scores on a standardized test such as the GRE, GMAT or LSAT are an excellent way to strengthen a candidate's application.

Applications are accepted every semester (fall, spring, and summer) and follow the same preferred and final deadlines as the traditional MPA.  Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis and typically take 3-6 weeks to process.

Applicants for the Executive MPA Option must provide:

  •    Parts I and II of the Application for Graduate Admission
  •    Current resume
  •    Three letters of recommendation
  •    $50 application fee, payable to the University of Colorado
  •    Two official transcripts from all previous colleges attended

For further information please contact | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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