Student bikes toward bus on campus

Professional Careers with a Degree from SPAA

The Foundation for Building Strong Communities, and Serving Them with Integrity.

Professional Degrees: 

The School of Public Affairs and Administration offers two professional master's degrees that feature the education and skills for graduates to succeed in the public sector.

  • The MPA and MUP are offered on the Lawrence main campus. 
  • The MPA is also offered at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park.
  • Learn more about the career paths and employment opportunities. 
  • When you're ready to take the next step toward your career in public service, join us.

MPA and MUP graduates can be found in the following areas of the employment sector and more:

Local, State, or Federal Government 

MPA graduates typically work with various departments of state government and can include counties, townships, and school districts or within various federal departments and agencies.  MUP graduates typically work in planning, community development, housing, transportation, sustainability, public works, recreation, environmental, natural resources, or similar departments and agencies within city, county, state, tribal, or federal governments in the U.S. or abroad.

Nonprofit Organizations

MPA graduates also work with local and national non-profit agencies and/or foundations.  These can include charitable organizations, research organizations, and educational institutions.  MUP graduates also work with local, national, or international non-profits and focus on advocating for issues, such as, sustainability, affordable housing, social justice, human rights, bicycle and pedestrian accessibility, the environment, indigenous communities, public health, and community well-being.

Private Sector

Working in the private sector with an MPA or MUP can involve working in consulting firms, association management firms and other businesses in a variety of areas including personnel management, budget analysis, and public relations.  MUPs commonly work in planning, architecture, engineering, financial, or economic development consulting firms and provide services to local/state/federal governments requiring specialized skills in sustainability, public engagement, housing, or transportation. Sometimes, MUP graduates also work in the real estate development field often in affordable housing or historic preservation.

International Relations

MPAs can work with US government agencies and international non-profit organizations to inform and enhance relations between countries through foreign diplomacy, intelligence, policy, and law.

  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Consulting Firms
  • Educational Organizations
  • Federal Government Agencies, including: Departments of Commerce, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Justice, General Services Administration. Office of Personnel Management, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • International Relief Agencies
  • Local Government Departments, including: city management offices, financial administration, budget offices, social services, urban planning
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Political Parties
  • Public Interest Groups
  • Research Institutes and Foundations
  • State Government Departments, including: legislative agencies, state supreme courts, state representatives/legislators
  • Think Tanks
  • Trade and Professional Organizations
  • Administrative Officer
  • Auditor
  • Budget/Fiscal Analyst
  • City/County Manager
  • City Housing Manager
  • College Administrator
  • Community Development Director
  • Community Relations Specialist
  • Comptroller
  • Contract Negotiator/Compliance Officer
  • Diplomat
  • Employee Development Director
  • Environmental Planner
  • Financial Examiner
  • Fiscal Analyst
  • Foreign Affairs Specialist
  • Grants Specialist
  • Human Resource Manager
  • International Relations Specialist
  • Labor Management Specialist
  • Legislative Aide
  • Lobbyist
  • Mayor/Politician
  • Non-Profit Agency Director
  • Ombudsman
  • Personnel Management Specialist
  • Policy Analyst
  • Political Consultant
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Public Health Administrator
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Public Utilities Manager
  • Transportation Commissioner
  • Urban and Regional Planner
  • City Governments
  • County Governments
  • State Governments
  • Housing Authorities
  • Federal Government agencies
  • Consulting Firms
  • Educational Organizations
  • Non-Profit/Advocacy Groups
  • International Relief Agencies
  • Data Analysis/Mapping/Visualization Firms
  • Real Estate Firms
  • Financial Institutions
  • Community Development Director
  • Neighborhood Planner
  • Innovation & Transportation Manager
  • City Housing Manager
  • Public Involvement Innovator
  • Consultant
  • Environmental Planner
  • Multimodal Planner
  • Urban and Regional Planner
  • Transportation Planner
  • Director Planning & Development
  • Long Range Planning Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Development Analyst
  • Water Resources Planner
  • Transit Manager
  • GIS Analyst
  • Sr. Vice President, Consulting Firm
  • Master Planning Branch Manager
  • Project Planner
  • Director of Technical Programs
  • Community Programs Loan Specialist
  • Co-Founder, Consulting Firm
  • Economic Development Consultant
  • Community Development Planner
  • Owner/Founder, Consulting Firm
  • Founder, Advocacy Non-profit
  • Site Acquisition Specialist
  • CEO, Consulting Firm
  • Founding Principal, Consulting Firm
  • Non-Profit Agency Director
  • Division Manager, Long Range Planning & Preservation
  • Professor
  • Business and IT Consultant
  • Research Analyst
  • Planner Specialist
  • Nationwide Project Manager
  • Planning Team Leader
  • Real Estate Attorney
  • Transit and Parking Manager
  • Operational Performance and Innovation Manager
  • Director of Sourcing
  • Director Transit Development
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Grant Professional
  • Imagineer
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Consulting Firms
  • Educational Organizations
  • Federal Government Agencies, including: Departments of Commerce, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Justice, General Services Administration. Office of Personnel Management, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • International Relief Agencies
  • Local Government Departments, including: city management offices, financial administration, budget offices, social services, urban planning
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Political Parties
  • Public Interest Groups
  • Research Institutes and Foundations
  • State Government Departments, including: legislative agencies, state supreme courts, state representatives/legislators
  • Think Tanks
  • Trade and Professional Organizations
  • Administrative Officer
  • Auditor
  • Budget/Fiscal Analyst
  • City/County Manager
  • City Housing Manager
  • College Administrator
  • Community Development Director
  • Community Relations Specialist
  • Comptroller
  • Contract Negotiator/Compliance Officer
  • Diplomat
  • Employee Development Director
  • Environmental Planner
  • Financial Examiner
  • Fiscal Analyst
  • Foreign Affairs Specialist
  • Grants Specialist
  • Human Resource Manager
  • International Relations Specialist
  • Labor Management Specialist
  • Legislative Aide
  • Lobbyist
  • Mayor/Politician
  • Non-Profit Agency Director
  • Ombudsman
  • Personnel Management Specialist
  • Policy Analyst
  • Political Consultant
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Public Health Administrator
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Public Utilities Manager
  • Transportation Commissioner
  • Urban and Regional Planner
  • City Governments
  • County Governments
  • State Governments
  • Housing Authorities
  • Federal Government agencies
  • Consulting Firms
  • Educational Organizations
  • Non-Profit/Advocacy Groups
  • International Relief Agencies
  • Data Analysis/Mapping/Visualization Firms
  • Real Estate Firms
  • Financial Institutions
  • Community Development Director
  • Neighborhood Planner
  • Innovation & Transportation Manager
  • City Housing Manager
  • Public Involvement Innovator
  • Consultant
  • Environmental Planner
  • Multimodal Planner
  • Urban and Regional Planner
  • Transportation Planner
  • Director Planning & Development
  • Long Range Planning Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Development Analyst
  • Water Resources Planner
  • Transit Manager
  • GIS Analyst
  • Sr. Vice President, Consulting Firm
  • Master Planning Branch Manager
  • Project Planner
  • Director of Technical Programs
  • Community Programs Loan Specialist
  • Co-Founder, Consulting Firm
  • Economic Development Consultant
  • Community Development Planner
  • Owner/Founder, Consulting Firm
  • Founder, Advocacy Non-profit
  • Site Acquisition Specialist
  • CEO, Consulting Firm
  • Founding Principal, Consulting Firm
  • Non-Profit Agency Director
  • Division Manager, Long Range Planning & Preservation
  • Professor
  • Business and IT Consultant
  • Research Analyst
  • Planner Specialist
  • Nationwide Project Manager
  • Planning Team Leader
  • Real Estate Attorney
  • Transit and Parking Manager
  • Operational Performance and Innovation Manager
  • Director of Sourcing
  • Director Transit Development
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Grant Professional
  • Imagineer

Professional Program Placement Statistics

Graduation Rate

Of the 39 students who were admitted and enrolled for the 2015-2016 academic year, 33% graduated within 2 years; 56% graduated within 3 years; and 74% graduated within 4 years.  The total percentage of students who completed the program is 87%. This percentage rate should be viewed in the perspective of the small number of students admitted and enrolled. Of the students who did not complete, some moved away, had personal obligations that took precedence, or found that the program was not a right fit for them.

Employment Statistics

As an example of where our graduates are employed, here is the information for MPA students who graduated in the 2019-2020 academic year:

  • Total number of graduates: 36
  • Federal government: 3
  • State government: 5
  • Local government: 15
  • Government outside the U.S.: 2
  • Nonprofit (domestic): 4
  • Nonprofit (internationally-oriented): 0
  • Private sector (research/consulting): 1
  • Private sector (not research/consulting): 3
  • Obtaining further education: 1
  • Military service: 0
  • Retired: 1
  • Unknown: 1

Graduation Rate

100% of the entering class of 2016 graduated within 4 years. Twenty-one degrees were awarded for the 2019 - 2020 Academic Year.          

Employment Statistics

83% of the graduating class of 2019 obtained a professional planning, planning-related or other, positions within 12 months of graduation. 


Questions? - MPA

Program Details/Application Process
Cari Ann Kreienhop, MPA Program Manager
cak@ku.edu
785-864-3665