About CDAE and the MPA Program

The challenges affecting our communities and world are complex, interconnected and ever changing, fueling the demand for professionals with a unique set of knowledge and skills. The Department of Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) uses economic, social, and environmental principles to identify community needs, analyze problems and advance sustainable solutions in partnership with organizations and communities.

The Department of Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) supports sustainable local and international community development through interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach that serves the public interest. Faculty expertise includes economics (both ecological and neoclassical), ecological design and renewable energy, public policy, community entrepreneurship, cross-cultural communication, consumer affairs, food systems, and political process. CDAE's research and outreach is both global and local (e.g., dairy farming and farmers' markets in Vermont) and graduate students benefit from close affiliation with other research institutions at the University of Vermont and beyond.

MPA Overview

The Master of Public Administration Program at the University of Vermont joins vigorous study of the foundations of public administration with the practice of public administration in the real world. Vermont's small size, open local and state government, and wealth of nonprofit organizations make for an ideal environment in which to directly engage with the public administration field.

A typical full time student can complete the program within two years. Of the six students that matriculated in the 2014-15 cohort, 17 students (77%) graduated within the typical degree program length of two years. One student (5%) graduated within four years. Four students did not complete the program.

We had 13 graduates in 2018/2019. They are employed in the following sectors:

8% - National government

54% - State government

8% - City or local government

8% - Nonprofit, domestic-oriented

8% - Nonprofit/NGOs, internationally-oriented

0% - Unknown


The UVM MPA Program inspires, equips, and elevates action-oriented leaders with the attitude, knowledge, and skills needed to foster a resilient, sustainable society by drawing on the traditions and innovative spirit of Vermont communities.


The MPA Program at UVM capitalizes on these unique traditions that have direct implications to Vermont and beyond to the public administration needs of a changing nation and world.

  • The recognition and importance of community building
  • The tradition of grassroots democracy
  • A history of strong local governance with citizen input
  • A record of fiscal conservatism combined with "progressive" positive change
  • A citizen legislature with limited staff support
  • An emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, and sustainability
  • Administrators serving their publics as "reflective practitioners"
  • A history of cooperation between private and public sectors for the public good
  • A vigorous non-profit sector, supported by citizens and organizations
  • A deep commitment to inclusion and cultural diversity

Vision: Community Engagement

To become the country's preeminent small, comprehensive MPA program through the articulation of our strengths in teaching, research, and service to resilient communities.

UVM is a land grant institution, and as such has a long and rich history of serving the needs of the state's citizens. While the Land Grant colleges may have started out primarily as agricultural in nature, UVM, among many others, has grown into a large and diverse public university. As a symbol of that rich history of teaching, research, and public outreach, and as an example of modern education in practice, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UVM is an appropriate host for the MPA Program.

The placement of the MPA Program in the Community Development and Applied Economics Department (CDAE), a department with strong ties to UVM's Extension System, provides an excellent opportunity for collaboration between program faculty and students, state and local government, and civic associations and non-profit organizations. CDAE is home to the Center for Rural Studies, which houses and analyzes the state's census data, conducts program evaluation for state and local government and non-profits, promotes technology transfer issues for towns and organizations, and engages in a variety of applied research projects. The department also supports the development of the Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning (CUPS), initially funded through seed money from HUD, and sees it evolving into a comprehensive office for community partnership and service-learning for the entire campus. Drawing upon these resources, the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, and other UVM-based research and outreach centers of activity, the MPA Program is working to support the professional development and policy research needs of state and local government officials.

We draw upon the expertise of colleagues from across the campus and respond to the charge of our Provost to build a model interdisciplinary graduate program. In addition to the domestic and international community development focus of CDAE, we are working with colleagues in health care and environmental disciplines to further develop a bundle of high quality elective courses in these areas in an effort to provide our students with more opportunities to advance their expertise in one of these areas of concentration. We work with the Snelling Center for Government, a respected non-profit statewide, to support the growth and development of a high quality internship program grounded in service-learning principles and substantive policy research projects. This internship program compliments the emphasis that our core faculty have to bringing a measure of rigor to experiential learning opportunities and applied research.

Although practitioners comprise most of our student nucleus, we appeal to out-of-state students looking for an opportunity to study within the laboratory of the State of Vermont, a state known for its strong communities, high density of social capital, one of the largest concentrations of non-profit organizations per capita in the country, progressive state health care, advanced social service and environmental policies, and relatively easy access to state and local government officials and departments. We aim to prepare students in resiliency, devoted to exposing students to the values of sustainable community development and social responsibility.