Learning to solve tomorrow's problems shouldn't stop work on today's challenges. 

In an era defined by complex global challenges and rapid technological change, public affairs practitioners must continually update their skills and knowledge to remain effective in their field. The Duke MPA will help you realize your full potential by deepening your knowledge, updating your skills, and refreshing your commitment to serving the public good at a crucial point in your career.

Our executive hybrid curriculum is designed to give mid-career professionals the flexibility to continue working while also equipping them for professional growth. 

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Student Profile - 7+ Years Experience

Mid-Career Professionals - The Duke MPA is an executive program open to practitioners with at least 7 years of experience in government, non-profit or philanthropic organizations, or private sector professions such as consulting or government affairs—or for professionals in other sectors seeking a transition into public affairs.

Established or Emerging Leaders - With a concentration in leadership, management, and ethics, the degree helps equip leaders in all sectors and areas of policy with the knowledge, skills, and credentials to assume senior leadership positions.

The program is unsuited for early-career professionals or students seeking knowledge in a single policy area. 

What we look for

We welcome applicants with experience from a variety of professional backgrounds to apply by January 5 for priority admission for the following June.

Requirements: 

  • A copy of your resume or CV
  • 3 letters of recommendation including one from a current or former professional supervisor or colleague
  • Transcripts (unofficial) from all institutions of higher education from which you have previously earned a degree or certificate
  • 1 personal statement describing your motivation for applying to the program, your goals upon graduation, and the ways in which your personal, professional, and academic experiences have shaped who you are today
  • If English is not your first language, a copy of your TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo English Test score

Optional:
    •    GRE/LSAT/other professional school exam scores
    •    Video introduction (this is optional but strongly recommended) 
    •    Professional writing sample

Before applying

  1. Complete our inquiry form. It is a great first step and will allow you to connect with someone from our admissions team. You'll also receive news and upcoming event information from Sanford and the MPA program.
  2. Gather required materials and references. 

Questions? Contact Us!

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Mark Hart

Director, Digital Learning

Mark Hart is the Director of Digital Learning at Sanford and leads digital initiatives both on-campus and through specialized hybrid programs like the Master of National Security Policy and the Master of Public Affairs program. In addition to overseeing administrative efforts for the MNSP, Mark is instrumental in faculty professional development, optimizing the use of Duke's Learning Management System (Canvas), managing the recording studio, and providing instructional design support for all courses.

With a doctorate degree in Curriculum, Instruction & Educational Technology from the University of Florida, a master's degree in Liberal Studies from Loyola College in Maryland, and a bachelor's degree in History and Education from Indiana University, Mark's academic background greatly benefits the Sanford community. He served as the Director of Online Learning for the Masters and PhD in Public Health - Social Behavioral Sciences at the University of Florida for ten years, and in 2019 recognized for Faculty Excellence. Before working in High Education, Mark was a K-12 administrator and teacher for over 15 years.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Mark finds solace in walking, listening to podcasts and indulging in reading.

What is an Executive Master's Degree? 

Executive master’s degrees are designed to accommodate working professionals. Students will finish in 15 to 18 months and can work at their own pace for a portion of the curriculum. The program also aims to connect classroom work with your specific professional practice. Due to the backgrounds of the participants, classroom discussions are robust and the networking opportunities are unparalleled.

We combine in-person residencies with state-of-the-art online instruction, providing opportunities for networking and cohort development along with the flexibility of remote learning.

online instruction

Every course in our curriculum blends asynchronous activities, which allow you to learn at your own pace and synchronous activities that meet at scheduled times.

on-campus instruction

You'll join your cohort for four immersions throughout the program--two weeks during the summer and two long weekends during the academic year. Immersions will take place at both our main campus in Durham, North Carolina, and our Washington, D.C., facility, positioned between the White House and the United States Capitol.

Things to Consider

  • Receive individualized attention and support from our instructors and program staff. 
  • The Sanford School emphasizes collaboration over competition
  • Join an active and engaged network of alumni working in and outside of D.C., and across every sector

Duke Sanford faculty are ranked among the most research-productive of any public policy school in the world. They will be your mentors and advocates throughout your time in the program and beyond. 

There are 180,000 Duke alumni around the world, paving the way for unparalleled networking opportunities.

Sanford excels at graduate education, fostering skill development, enhanced critical thinking, and the deep expertise sought after by today's employers. 

As one of the consistently top-ranked public policy schools in the U.S., the Sanford School offers and unparalleled graduate education experience. Our custom-built hybrid curriculum affords flexibility, while dual campus offerings provide unique opportunities for networking and cohort development. 

Steps to Apply

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Create an Account

Visit Duke's application page to create an account or log in. 

Trouble entering the portal? Contact Duke's OIT Help Desk. Please include a screenshot or details of the error message you encounter. 

(919) 684-2200 | help@duke.edu

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Start an application

Once you've created an account, on the application page, click "Start a New Application" and select the right application cycle. (Ie "Spring 2024-Fall 2025 Application Cycle.")

Note: The application window for the 2025-2026 MPA cohort opens in August 2024 and closes in January 2025.

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Select Sanford

Make sure to choose "Sanford School of Public Policy" in the next drop-down tab. This will open Sanford School applications. 

Need help? Contact us! 

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On attending graduate school while working

“I found I was immediately applying the lessons from class to the challenges at work. Collaborating with my peers and professors was instrumental. I looked for "fly-wheel moments." I tailored my course load to add value to my career and found that work experiences further solidified my lessons."

- Reece Rios pursued dual graduate degrees (MBA/MPP) while working full-time at the AI semiconductor startup Tenstorrent

A Sound Investment

An MPA from Duke is a sound investment: between 2000 and 2020, the number of students earning master’s degrees in public affairs, policy, or administration increased by more than 80%, and employment growth in public affairs and related fields remains strong.

Tuition for Duke's MPA is $60,000 (additional student fees may apply for students who are in the program beyond one year).

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High STandards

“This program will be a next step in our offering of hybrid programs following our Master of National Security Policy (MNSP) degree, which has established high standards to provide purposeful digital programming, host campus immersions for students, reach mid-career professionals with practice-based education, and offer unique networking opportunities." - Dean Judith Kelley

More about Sanford's Dean
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Deepen, Refresh, Transition

"This program is designed for experienced public affairs professionals to deepen their knowledge, enhance their skills, and refresh their commitment to public service at a crucial moment in their careers. It is also an opportunity for mid-career professionals in other fields to transition into public service. For employers, it offers advanced training for established or emerging leaders within their organizations and a chance to support their employees’ professional development—all without any disruption to their workforce.” - MPA Program Director Asher Hildebrand

More about Asher Hildebrand
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Why Duke?

Duke University is one of the premier academic institutions in America, and the Sanford School ranks consistently as one of the nation’s leading graduate public policy programs. Our world-renowned faculty, diverse and engaged student body, historic campus, and convenient location make Duke an ideal place to pursue a graduate degree in public affairs.