Knowledge and Skills

The BYU MPA program is deeply committed to skill development. In addition to gaining a broad conceptual understanding of the public sector, our students learn concrete quantitative and interpersonal skills that allow them to contribute to organizations that seek to improve society.

Program of Study

First year

The first-year MPA curriculum is designed to strengthen concrete skills in areas such as communications, teamwork, decision analysis, accounting, statistics, economics, financial management, and navigating the public sector in general. Students participate in teamwork, research projects, job shadowing, and professional development workshops—while carrying a 16 credit-hour class load. Classes are spread throughout the week during mornings and afternoons, with some options for evening courses. Students also spend time preparing and interviewing for summer internships.

Because of the demanding schedule, MPA students are strongly discouraged from overburdening themselves during the first year of the program. Ideally first-year MPA students will not hold part-time jobs or have extensive extracurricular commitments.


Students complete an internship between the first and second years of the program. The Marriott School’s Career Center and faculty provide assistance in finding internships in each student’s field of interest. During their internships students hone their skills by gaining real-world experience and by building a network of contacts.

“At first, I was overwhelmed by all the responsibility that was given to me…but as I lunged into the projects, I was surprised by how much I did know. There wasn’t one class I had taken in the program that I did not apply during my internship. The MPA program really does offer a no-nonsense education.”

—Ifo Pili, class of 2007
Eagle Mountain city administrator

Second Year

Returning to the program with enhanced perspective after their internships, second-year MPA students pursue a more tailored program of study to help them prepare for their specific field of endeavor. Required courses include human resources, ethics, and law. Students also choose up to 21 elective credits to develop specialized knowledge in a specific area. Elective offerings change according to interests and the needs of the public sector in general.