The Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) offers students the opportunity to study public policy and program management from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Students gain an understanding of the political processes through which issues, problems, and policies are formulated; the economic basis for government action in a market economy; and the comparative and historical contexts of governmental programs. Students study public budgets, finance, and regulatory processes, as well as the behavior of both public and private organizations and their management. Students also gain competence in the qualitative and quantitative methods needed to analyze programs and policies, and develop sensitivity to the moral and ethical dimensions of policy issues.
The two-year Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) program consists of sixteen courses; students typically take four courses per term for four semesters. The M.P.A. program offers a basic structure for study, however, each CIPA Fellow (student) works closely with a faculty advisor to design an individualized program based on the student's specific area of interest. Elective courses and research opportunities may be taken through the program in any department or college in the university. Fellows have eight areas they may concentrate their studies in:
Finance and Fiscal Policy
Government, Politics, and Policy Studies
Human Rights and Social Justice
International Development Studies
Public and Non-Profit Management
Science and Technology Policy
CIPA Fellows are expected to engage in public affairs work related to their respective areas of concentration during the summer between their first and second years of study. As a culmination of studies in the M.P.A. program, all students are required to develop and complete a thesis. Typically, the thesis grows out of a Fellow's specific area of concentration, and often incorporates work done during the summer internship.