American University Public Policy

The American University School of Public Affairs (SPA), located in scenic northwest Washington, D.C., offers a Master of Public Policy program that prepares leaders for careers in public service. The program features renowned faculty with real-world connections, a strong curriculum, small classes and proximity to institutions and people who are forming and influencing the policy of the nation. The School of Public Affairs at American University provides the skills needed for public policy careers in government, nonprofit and private sectors.

Most of American University’s MPP curriculum is offered through evening classes, allowing mid-career professionals to complete their degree without sacrificing their full-time job. The evening schedule also allows pre-career students to complete daytime internships while enrolled in the program.

The School of Public Affairs originated in 1934 as a training program for federal workers hired to implement FDR’s New Deal legislation. American University won a Rockefeller grant that enabled the purchase of a house that became the home of the training program. This was the beginning of the School of Public Affairs, which by 1937 had enrolled more than 1,000 federal employees. Following World War II, SPA was inundated with ex-servicemen looking for training for a peacetime career in public service.

The social idealism of the 1960s and President Johnson’s Great Society vision led to further growth of the school. SPA students who were interning on Capitol Hill played a role in the birth and development of Medicare, Medicaid, the National Endowment for the Arts and other important programs. Today, the school’s faculty and administrators recognize the sophisticated changes that have taken place in Congress in regards to advocacy and the growing role of government agencies in the formulation of public policy and enactment of laws. SPA’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies is on the cutting edge of the business of politics, while its Women and Politics Institute has links to some of the most prominent women in American politics.

The American University SPA MPP program emphasizes the application of quantitative and analytical skills to real world policy issues. Areas of policy concentration include environment, energy, national health care, global health, families and international relations. Students gain an understanding of the organizational, political and social contexts of public policy, then put their knowledge to use in their final semester in a practicum course that includes a client-driven project.