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MPA Public Administration - International Development (online)

Globally recognised qualification in public services management with a focus on international development

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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The Masters of Public Administration is an internationally recognised qualification acting as the public service equivalent of an MBA.

This interdisciplinary online course equips professionals with the knowledge and skills to analyse, influence and implement development policies and programmes. Drawing from approaches used in different countries, you will learn how to analyse and influence multi-stakeholder policy processes; and lead development projects, programmes and organisation. 

Designed for development practitioners in governmental, non-governmental and international organisations this online course prepares you to meet the challenges of development in complex and demanding contexts. Throughout your time studying with us, you'll benefit from our strong and comprehensive support. 

The design of the course and the support provided mean that you will be able to balance the requirements of your studies with your work and other responsibilities.  

Global learning community

Our online mode of study means you will be working alongside your peers working in similar organisations around the world

The opportunity to study this course has been life changing for me, at least professionally, and has also impacted positively on my organisation.
Edwin, MPA International Development (online)


Course content

Our MPA in International Development will enhance your capacity to influence and lead the development agenda at a national, regional or international level. You will develop your capacity for critical analysis of the complex problems that you tackle in your work. You will also develop your skills as a manager or leader in your field.

During Year 1 you will explore the foundations of development theory, policy and practice. In Year 2 you will combine studying further core content with a choice of topics to match your interests or area of work.

As you progress through this two year course you will apply your learning in the workplace. We will encourage your development as a reflective practitioner throughout this process, with support from a dedicated personal supervisor.

Towards the end of the course you will begin your dissertation which will allow you to explore an area of particular interest.

You can also study for a shorter period of time and graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma. 


To graduate with an MPA degree you will need to take 140 credits of taught modules and complete a dissertation worth 40 credits.

You will study these modules to a schedule. This will allow you to participate online with academics and fellow students from around the world.

Year 1: foundation

In the first year you will study 80 credits with these core modules:

Year 2: specialisation and dissertation

In your second year you will study a combination of taught modules and work on your dissertation. You will start the year studying one core module:

You will then have a choice of studying one of the following modules:

You will also need to complete a dissertation, as well as modules designed to develop your professional and research skills:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


As you progress your assignments will help you apply theory to practice. You will be able to combine academic work with case studies or examples relevant to your work.

Building on these experiences, your dissertation will be an individual project that explores a topic of your choice under guidance from a dissertation supervisor.

One of your taught modules, the Dissertation Workshop, will help you prepare for your dissertation. You will learn how to plan and schedule your independent literature-based research project. With the help of your designated dissertation supervisor you will work on finding the appropriate scope and focus for your project, and develop a workable structure. You will also receive feedback on draft chapters and guidance on conducting your literature review and research.

Your dissertation is worth 40 credits and will be 12,000 words long.

Previous dissertation titles have included:

  • The role of culture in organisational learning: an evaluation of the culture change programme in [specified] organisation
  • Is good governance achievable in fragile states? The role of civil society organisations in promoting good governance in South Sudan
  • Planning for stability or learning to innovate? A critical evaluation of strategic planning within [specified] council
  • Has engagement with communities in Ghana had a positive effect on the health of the targeted population?
  • The enabling and constraining factors that influence knowledge sharing in public organisations.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Critically analyse socio-political issues and challenges that characterise international development practice
  • Examine complex multi-stakeholders systems of governance and apply relevant analytical tools to function effectively within the contemporary structures of international development
  • Explore and assess the performance of international development practices across socio-political contexts. Students acquire an in-depth understanding of intervention designs and implementation mechanisms
  • Lead organisational change and promote learning within international, domestic and local development agencies
  • Reflect and communicate on their professional role and experience, both individually and collaboratively, within a digital networked context
  • Independently research, critically analyse and communicate findings from interdisciplinary scholarship relevant to their professional context and interests
My current position has really been the highlight of my career, and the educational background my Masters degree provided me with was exactly what I needed to be successful in this position.
Rachel, Canada

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home) / International and EU
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
Higher band fee. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
This lower band fee applies to student based in developing countries, employers sponsoring more than one student per cohort, CIMA certified applicants, CIPFA members, City of York Council employees and Ministry of Defence personnel. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

All reading materials are available via the course’s Virtual Learning Environment and the university’s extensive online Library.

There are five Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships available for 2020 entry.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You will study online and can therefore study from wherever you are. It takes about 15 hours per week to complete all your readings and tasks. You can decide when you work on these weekly tasks, as all the activities can be completed around your schedule.

The three main kinds of activity you will be asked to do are:

  • reading the module texts written by our academic team and selected core articles (journal articles, book chapters, case studies)
  • joining online discussions with fellow students and the module tutor
  • working on individual tasks such as written exercises to receive feedback from your tutor or to contribute to group work.

There is also an opportunity in each module to take part in an optional 'live' seminar session with the module tutor and fellow students, to explore the module content or prepare for the assignment.

You will be supported by:

  • a module tutor who will facilitate the online discussion and offer individual support
  • a personal supervisor who will provide ongoing academic and pastoral support; you can approach your supervisor with queries on study skills and your progress
  • a dedicated support team who will be able to help you with administrative or technical enquiries.

Our distinctive approach.

Assessment and feedback

You will take part in exercises and other tasks as you progress through each module. This will allow you to receive feedback on your progress and understanding.

At the end of each 20 credit module you will complete an assignment. Normally this will be a 3,000 word assessment. For the 10 credit modules you will work on a shorter written piece or journal, or will complete a dissertation plan.

It's cool how the technology really personalises the learning. I feel very connected to a class and that I am not alone. I really value the participation in unit discussions; it keeps our minds thinking about the material we have learnt, and allows us to put it into our own context. Also I find myself always looking forward to the feedback of others, so it really keeps students engaged.
Hedy, MPA International Development (online)


Careers and skills

This course is ideal if you have some experience of working in international development and seek professional development to work towards your career goals. It's also ideal if you're working in the social or public sector and would like to work in international development. A key strength of the course lies in allowing you to develop your skills while continuing to gain experience in a relevant professional field.

Career opportunities

Our current students and alumni work in roles in: 

  • Local and national governments and their departments
  • International organisations and donor agencies
  • Other publicly funded organisations in areas such as education and healthcare
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities.

Many of our alumni have progressed in their careers either during or after their studies.

Transferable skills

  • Policy analysis
  • Leadership skills
  • Designing, leading and managing change
  • Project management
  • Public services management
  • Decision-making
  • Influencing and managing networks and partnerships
  • Reflective practice for ongoing professional development.

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other qualifications and experience If you don't have experience of undergraduate study we may consider your application if you have a suitable professional background
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You should have professional experience in the public service field. This could be in roles in local or national government, or in non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the voluntary and charitable sector, and private sector roles which support or deliver public services.

You will also need to have:

  • A computer in your home with an internet connection (minimum 0.5Mbps)
  • An office software suite compatible with Word and Excel formats.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components

For more information see our English language requirements.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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