Welcome to this website of the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, which will introduce you to Cornell University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program. This is a future-oriented and flexible program, with courses of study tailored to CIPA Fellows’ respective career objectives.
Our mission is to develop and support emerging leadership in public affairs across all sectors — government, the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors, journalism, philanthropy, and other bases for public service — and at all levels — from local to international.
In a world where private goods usually receive the most attention and support, CIPA faculty and staff undertake to help the next generation strengthen our societies’ capacities for production, distribution and improvement of ‘public goods.’ These are things — policies, programs, institutions, ideas, values — that enhance people’s quality of life, environmental sustainability, economic well-being and security, effective and responsive governance, efficient and equitable distribution of resources, social justice, human rights and other benefits that cannot be purchased and enjoyed simply on an individual basis.
CIPA operates differently from most other MPA programs in that it is a university-wide entity, not a school or department. During their two years of graduate study, CIPA Fellows can take courses offered anywhere across the Cornell campus (although I should note that there are also a number of off-campus study options). Cornell’s goal, enunciated by its founder Ezra Cornell, is to offer instruction in the widest range of subjects, and to excel in public service as an exemplary land-grant university.
Fellows are assisted in their choices by academic advisors who see their role as helping Fellows with leadership aspirations prepare themselves for a lifetime of engagement in public affairs addressing whatever problems of public interest they choose. There are, unfortunately, more than enough problems in the public realm to keep all of us busy for many lifetimes. Problems will not be solved or ameliorated just by individual actions, but through understanding them in their many aspects and by forging strategies for collective and cumulative action that make the apparently intractable tractable.
CIPA’s flexible curricular structure combines the breadth of foundational courses in three broad areas with some focus of study with a substantive concentration (there are eight options from which to choose), complemented by several ways of meeting the professional writing requirement, which intends to hone skills in analysis and presentation that are essential for effectiveness in public affairs.
Our graduates have found rewarding careers in public policy and public service in a wide range of government and nongovernmental agencies and organizations, including a variety of foreign assignments, which mirror the interests of CIPA Fellows. International experience within the structure of the CIPA program is favorably regarded and is supported by the CIPA core faculty.
We welcome inquiries and visits, and are especially pleased with the willingness of CIPA alumni and current Fellows to share their experiences with prospective Fellows. While our program of study has some degree of structure, it is a flexible one. This is an attraction for students over and above the resources and reputation of Cornell as a university. This website is designed to acquaint you with our program, to help you decide whether its goals, its philosophy, and its offerings are appropriate for you.
Norman Uphoff, Director
Professor of Government and International Agriculture