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Unique Features

Practical Experience

The EMPA Program is intended for ambitious and talented individuals with substantial experience in public and nonprofit organizations. Courses make use of work experience to integrate theory and practice in the classroom.

Work-Centered Curriculum and Course Schedule

The curriculum has been designed to reflect the way problems realistically present themselves in the work setting. Students are encouraged to work closely with their supervisors and fellow employees to select course projects and papers that will benefit their own organization.

Courses have been sequenced across the academic year to even out the workload and enable degree completion within less than two years. Participants will advise the faculty in scheduling course electives that are most important to their career development. Class sessions are held on Saturdays (every 2-3 weeks) at Portland State University, Portland. See attached previous Cohorts' schedules for more details. The program requires 45 quarter hours of credit rather than the 60 hours required by our conventional MPA degree. It is designed to be completed in 21 months and to meet the unique needs of busy public sector professionals.

Cohort Learning Experience

Our Executive MPA is a selective program in which students are part of a cohort of seasoned and talented peers. Students move through the program requirements as a cohort, which is typically 15-20 students. The cohort experience provides program participants with both the opportunity and obligation to learn together and from each other. Students benefit from a high-level of peer camaraderie and the rich and varied experiences of their fellow cohort members. Each cohort also has a mentor and program coordinator to assist students throughout the program. 

Field Experiences - Washington, DC and International

All students participate in a week-long field experience in Washington, DC, during their first year, and a week-long field experience in an international setting in the second. Past locations include Seoul, South Korea, Hanoi, Vietnam, and Lanzhou, China. 

High Level of Student Support

Center for Public Service staff assist students with program-related issues including course registration, parking, book orders, and other issues to ensure a supportive learning environment.