Public Affairs (MA)

Graduate Program (MA)

Work with faculty, alumni, and community partners to understand and address today’s most pressing public policy challenges.


To be considered for admission as a degree-seeking graduate student, please submit the following to the Office of the Graduate Admission:

  • Completed application. Start your application by selecting "Arts and Sciences."
  • Official transcript of all undergraduate and graduate work. Applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Current and updated Resume/CV.
  • A 500-word minimum statement of purpose for graduate study.
  • Two letters of reference from individuals commenting on the applicant’s academic/ professional potential.
  • Official test scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test scores for all sections are required of all applicants whose native language is not English or whose four-year undergraduate degree program was not conducted in English.

Faculty review the pool of applications after the application deadline and invite selected candidates to an on-campus interview to continue the application process. Applicants are encouraged to attend an information session with the Program Director prior to completing the application process. Dates and times for information sessions can be arranged directly with the Program Director. Students have six years to complete the degree program. 

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The two-year program integrates perspectives from economics, political science, communications, innovation, technology, and philosophy and focus on developing technical skills using qualitative and quantitative research methods, communication and economic analysis.

In addition to traditional classroom work, students will integrate a field experience that brings theory to bear upon the specific challenges that surround private interest and public good.

This program fuses a critical and humanistic perspective with a command of a practical skill set necessary to be an effective agent in today’s complex public sphere. The two-year graduate curriculum is as follows:

Block Schedule

Year One

Summer Fall
Course Semester Hours Course Semester Hours
Total 3 Total 9
PAEA 501: Public & Environmental Affairs 3 PAEA 600: Philosophy and Public Affairs 3
PAEA 620: Economics and Public Policy 3
MAPA 650+ 3

Year Two

Spring Summer Fall
Course Semester Hours Course Semester Hours Course Semester Hours
Total 9 Total 6 Total 9
PAEA 602: Organizational Communication 3 PAEA 502: Public & Environmental Affairs 3 PAEA 640: Public Policy Capstone or PAEA 649 Thesis II 3
PAEA 622: Quantitative Methods 3 PAEA 630: Field Experience or PAEA 648: Thesis I 3 PAEA 624: Political Geography and GIS 3
MAPA 650+ 3 MAPA 650+ 3

Field Experience and Thesis

The second year of the PIPG program is   unique  among universities.

 Students will spend the entire second year applying analytical and research skills to specific issues and concerns in the ‘real world.’  The second year provides hands-on, immersive experience as well as flexibility.  The field experience requirement affords students the opportunity to complete the final year of the Master’s program off campus while actively engaged in an internship or pursuits of their own choosing.  Students will work under the supervision of a Faculty Advisor.

Placements for an internship may include but are not restricted to, a student’s current employer, the corporate and nonprofit sectors, political campaigns, economic development organizations, community organizations, think tanks, international organizations, and media outlets.  The rigorous coursework and the field experience are designed to inform a Master’s thesis focused on the challenges, problems, and issues that encompass private interests and public good.

Sample Courses

PAEA 501: - Public and Environmental Affairs I (3 hours)

PAEA 502: - Public and Environmental Affairs II (3 hours)

PAEA 600: - Philosophy and Public Affairs (3 hours)

PAEA 602: - Organizational Communication

PAEA 620: - Economic Theories and Application for Public Policy (3 hours)

PAEA 622: - Quantitative Analysis (3 hours)

PAEA 624: - Political Geography and GIS (3 hours)

PAEA 630: - Field Experience (3 – 6 hours)

PAEA 640: - Public Policy Capstone (3 hours)

MAPA 651: - History and Public Affairs (1-3 hours)

MAPA 652: - Public Cultures and Public Affairs (1-3 hours)

MAPA 653: - Policy and Political Economy (1-3 hours)

MAPA 654: - Comparative Public Affairs (1-3 hours)

MAPA 655: - Ethics and Public Policy (1-3 hours)

MAPA 656: - Public Administration and Democracy (1-3 hours)

MAPA 657: - Public Finance and Budgeting (1-3 hours)

MAPA 658: - Issues in State & Local Government (1-3 hours)

MAPA 659: - Issues in Public Affairs (1-3 hours)

Tuition & Fees

Tuition, per credit hour Cost
College of Arts & Sciences - MA $665
Student Fee, per semester
Graduate Student Association Fee, degree seeking full-time $8
Graduate Student Association Fee, degree seeking part-time $4

The amounts listed are for the 2020-2021 academic year, and include classes from Summer 2020 though Spring 2021. For the full, official listing, please visit Xavier University reserves the right to correct any computational or clerical errors.

$54k - $102k median salary range for lobbyists, political scientists and consultants, top government leaders (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).

$54k - $102k

median salary range for lobbyists, political scientists and consultants, top government leaders (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).

The Program


The Public Affairs program includes coursework from multiple disciplines, including economics, history, philosophy, political science, geographic information systems and statistics. Students gain the theoretical foundations and the practical skills that they need to become effective policy analysts and advocates.


The Public Affairs program is not just interdisciplinary, but interconnected. Summer immersions take students into the field to see the effects of policies firsthand and meet with the experts, political leaders and community groups who are working to address society’s most pressing public problems.


Public Affairs students engage their world through hands-on, in-depth field experiences. Our graduates are effective leaders and communicators who have the experience, skills and knowledge needed to navigate a range of public and private institutions.


Drawing from a diverse array of departments and specialties, the Public Affairs program consists of faculty who are actively engaged scholars and teachers dedicated to the study of public life.


Public Affairs Masters Program features the best of Xavier University's faculty. Although engaged in research and in an array of professional organizations, our faculty is first and foremost dedicated to teaching. With small classes, students have the opportunity to work closely with their teachers and to fully benefit from their expertise. Below is a complete list of participating faculty.

Founding Directors

Paul Colella, Philosophy

Amit Sen, Economics


Mack Mariani, Political Science

Liz Blume, Sustainability

Tim Brownlee, Philosophy

Suparna Chaterjee, History

John Fairfield, History

Gabe Gottlieb, Philosophy

Anas Malik, Political Science

Paul O'Hara, History

Leslie Rasmussen, Communications

James Snodgrass, Mathematics

Jennifer Tighe, Communications

Thomas Wagner, Communications

James Weaver, Sustainability

David Yi, Economics

Program History and Outcomes

Building on the foundation of the Private Interests and Public Good program, the M.A. in Public Affairs program engages students in the study of complex social problems so that they can go forward to articulate and implement original solutions to our most pressing common challenges.

Students who have studied in the public affairs graduate programs at Xavier have gone on to careers in law, politics, government, economic development, lobbying and advocacy, nonprofit management, education, international affairs, development, and academia.

Graduates of the M.A. in Public Affairs are:

  • proficient writers and speakers, tailoring specialized information to diverse audiences, in order to advocate for positive change in policy, organizational, and public context;
  • skilled interpreters of data, capable of building and analyzing data sets to study complex problems and recommend solutions;
  • able to articulate a philosophical and historical understanding of liberalism, criticisms of liberalism, and the relationship between policies and liberal ideals;
  • trained to cultivate habits of mind that draw on the insights of humanistic inquiry to frame problems, and to recommend humane solutions, working both within and outside organizations to address complex social and environmental problems;
  • effective at navigating formal and informal structures and systems in business, government, the nonprofit sector, and other relevant domains;
  • advocates for positive change at the intersection of private interests and the public good.


  • Political consulting and lobbying firms
  • Congressional offices
  • Nonprofits like Teach For America and the Peach Corps
  • U.S. Government
  • Foundations and think tanks
  • Journalism
  • Private business and industry