Experiential Learning

Hands-on experience provided through the Grantwell program, community partnerships, Marriott On-Board, the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance, and study abroad programs in Ghana and China give our students the practical skills necessary to be competitive as they enter the workforce.


The Grantwell program allows students to advise donors in their philanthropic giving. In the past seven years, 250 students have helped donors give nearly $30 million in grants. Grantwell clients have included the Walmart Foundation, Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, Paul Mitchell Schools Foundation, and Forever Young Foundation. Together, Grantwell’s clients manage more than $1 billion in philanthropic assets. As a student-run organization, Grantwell fills senior, executive, and board positions with current students, giving them firsthand managerial experience.

3. Grantwell

“Grantwell first attracted me to the MPA program, propelled me through it, and launched me into my career. In my job interviews, my ability to speak fluently about nonprofit management, share leadership experience, and identify meaningful results all greatly boosted my credibility. The team building, leadership, and nonprofit management experience from Grantwell has come into play daily in my current work.”

—Andrew Marshall, a Grantwell alum

Community Partners

As part of their studies, MPA students provide program evaluation planning and statistical analysis services to nonprofit and government partners in the community. Each semester students serve at the federal, state, and local levels to develop a broad understanding of how quantitative skills can be applied in organizations of any size and in any policy area. Through these programs, we have served more than one hundred community partners, including the following organizations:

  • American Red Cross (local chapters and national headquarters)
  • Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands
  • Utah Division of Drinking Water
  • HELP international
  • HEAL international
  • various city governments

These experiences gives our students a distinct edge in the current climate of performance management and evidence-based practice. One recent alumnus writes, “I can confidently say that the program evaluation class alone has already set me apart as an employee who has the skill set necessary to make the organization function more effectively.”

Community partner applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Click here to become a partner for the program evaluation class or click here to become a partner for the statistics class. For more information about the program, contact Eva Witesman at eva_witesman@byu.edu.

Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance

Learn how the world’s most vexing social problems are being solved at BYU’s Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance. The center pairs students with worthwhile educational experiences that lead to a meaningful life of doing good.

Enhance your impact on the world today by signing up for one of the following Ballard Center opportunities:

  • Attend the center’s events and club meetings to learn how to make your philanthropy smarter.
  • The center’s classes provide frameworks for social change and teach students how to leverage their skills.
  • On- and off-campus internships offered through the center can help build your résumé and solve social problems.
  • Competitions, such as the Social Venture Academy, provide students coaching and funding to make their socially-minded business ideas become a reality.

Whether it’s for one hour a semester or several, there’s a place for you at the Ballard Center. Students from any major can set up an advisement session to construct a personalized plan for incorporating the center’s programs into their BYU experience. Sign up here.

Marriott On-Board

Marriott On-Board is a unique program that provides Marriott School graduate students the opportunity to serve on local nonprofit boards as non-voting student members. Graduate students gain valuable experience serving on these decision making bodies and enjoy opportunities to apply their management skills.

Ghana Study Abroad

Each spring the BYU MPA program leads Marriott School graduate students to Ghana for a three-week, intensive study abroad program. In Ghana students get firsthand experience in international development by meeting with an array of nonprofit professionals (past visits have included USAID, World Bank, the West Africa AIDS Foundation, and many other small nonprofits and social ventures). Students also conduct an in-country consulting project with a non-governmental organization (NGO) client. The program provides opportunities to travel to various regions of Ghana and learn about the history of the slave trade and Western influence. The program, now in its tenth year, continues to be a life-changing and career-enhancing experience for our students.


China Study Abroad


A group of BYU MPA students regularly travel to China for four to six weeks with a BYU MPA faculty member. The faculty member teaches a joint course for BYU MPAs as well as students from Xiamen University. This unique classroom experience gives students an opportunity to learn about public management alongside students from another culture.

The program also includes travel to other cities in China. These experiences supplement the classroom learning. Students visit historically significant sites, participate in cultural experiences, and enjoy spectacular scenery. Through these experiences, students gain a greater appreciation of the culture and history of China.