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MPA, Executive Option

Photo of Exec MPA class

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 structured for managers and directors of public sector and nonprofit organizations. It is designed to provide the education and credential for professional advancement for:​

  • Public or nonprofit 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 their analytic, managerial and leadership skills.

Program Design and Requirements

Students accepted into the Executive MPA are exempt from six credit hours of study required of traditional and accelerated MPA students, based on their professional experience. This brings the requirement for the degree to 30 semester hours of credit, rather than 36. Each course is three credit hours and Executive MPA students take a total of 10 courses. The curriculum includes:

Required Courses (15 credit hours)
Two courses (5001 and 5002) held on the Denver campus in an intensive format (1-2 weeks) at the first available opportunity. Students complete three additional core courses (9 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 (9 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 is optional for students.

Leadership Experience (3 credit hours)
Students can enroll for credit in either the Denver Community Leadership Forum (DCLF) or the Rocky Mountain Leadership Program (Rocky). DCLF is an annual forum that focuses on a new leadership topic each month for nine months, meeting once or twice monthly. Rocky is a six-day residential leadership program usually held each fall in Breckenridge. Students may enroll in the leadership experience at any point in the program, but it is preferred that students have taken the core courses 5001 and/or 5002 first. 

Class Locations and Logistics

School of Public Affairs classes are held on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver or provided online. Students are responsible for making their own living arrangements when in Denver. Expected time to degree completion is two years.


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. Tuition is the same for in- and out-of-state.​ 

Admi​ssion 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 and at least seven years of post-baccalaureate professional experience in the public or nonprofit sector with increasing career advancement are required.

Preference is given to applicants whose undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or higher and whose GRE scores are in the 50th percentile or higher.

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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