Preparing Present and Future Leaders

The nationally accredited and nationally high-ranked Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is a 36-credit professional degree program that equips students to become effective, accountable, and compassionate public policy leaders in an ever-more complex and interconnected world.

The demand for professionals with a transdisciplinary perspective is paramount to fostering a resilient and sustainable society. Housed within the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, MPA faculty and students are advancing research and community partnerships with an economic, social, and environmental lens. Vermont’s small size, open local and state government, and wealth of nonprofits make an ideal laboratory for engaging with the public administration field.

Through its diverse array of core and elective courses, a professional internship requirement, and the development of a professional portfolio, the MPA program prepares students to lead in the public, nonprofit, and even for-profit sectors as program managers, executive directors, policy experts, budget analysts, and more. The program’s mix of full-time students, mid-career professionals studying part-time, and accelerated master’s students creates a unique learning environment that fosters rich discussion and cooperative learning. The MPA degree offers a flexible class schedule to accommodate the needs of working professionals.

UVM MPA alumni speak proudly of their time in the program and often reach out to support current students and recent alumni in their job searches, professional development, networking need and partnership opportunities. Many alumni are serving in high-level positions throughout Vermont, the United States, and internationally. The MPA Program has been a catalyst to their personal and professional development in many ways.

Maura Collins, (MPA ‘07) is currently the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA). When asked how her MPA degree has helped elevate her into her current role, she observes “… each year when our Agency’s auditors ask me where I learned about corporate ethics and accountability, I think of specific lectures, readings and discussions on the topic when I answer that question. Other times the MPA program has helped me in more subtle ways, like when I formed a connection with the chair of a legislative committee because we were both UVM MPA alumnae.” 

Ben Goldhaber (MPA ‘99) is presently the Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ben comments, “An invaluable element of my experience with the MPA program was the focus on critical and independent thinking. Creativity and innovation are essential to successful leadership and management…. What excites me most at this point in my career is supporting a next generation of federal employees to look at challenges in new ways, take risks, and have opportunities to lead early on in their careers.” 

Recent MPA graduate Sarah Anders (MPA ‘19) serves as the Communications Director for NY State Senator Andrew Gounardes. Reflecting on her MPA experiences, she found that her MPA coursework “helped on a number of levels, ranging from the theoretical (how to understand my role in a policy system as I work to create change) to the practical (how to write a good memo). I think about at least one concept I learned in the MPA program almost every day.” 

In Ian Davis’ (MPA ‘16) current role as the Director of Financial Services for the Vermont Department of Economic Development, he is responsible for the marketing and business development of Vermont’s captive insurance industry. He credits the MPA Program with “helping me develop the necessary skills, knowledge and network to be an effective advocate and communicator in an industry that bridges both public and private sectors.”


Christopher J. Koliba