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Professional Work Experience

The purpose of the MPA Professional Work Experience Practicum (PWE) is to provide students with an opportunity to apply theory learned through the six core MPA courses to practice while also gaining additional experiences for career and professional development.  Students become eligible after having successfully completed the six core MPA courses.   

There are two options to fulfill the Professional Work Experience Practicum Requirement

  • Complete an approved 400 hour-internship with a public service organization (see PWE Guide below) 
    • To complete an approved PWE you will follow the Guidlelines in the PWE Guide and have paperwork approved by the Associate Director of Alumni Relations and the Professional Work Experience, Kristin Pawlowski


  • By demonstrating prior, significant professional experience*
    • Students with prior experience in a professional or managerial level position in a government or nonprofit organization may seek to apply for a PWE Waiver  from the Professional Work Experience Practicum requirement.
  • The MPA Director will decide whether the applicant’s experience meets departmental requirements for a waiver.
    • For initial PWE waiver questions please contact the Associate Director of Career Services, Allison Binkley.

Following the PWE practicum, each student will take PUBA 745 Professional Work Experience Course, reflecting on and further developing those competencies from their practicum experience.

Those students who receive approval to waive the Professional Work Experience Practicum Requirement will still be required to take PUBA 745 – Professional Work Experience Course. Students will be eligible for the course upon waiver approval.

Five competencies are addressed in the course:

  1. Analyze organizations and their environments from multiple perspectives, and apply that analysis in assessing alternative courses of action.
  2. Know and apply public service values, legal, and ethical principles.
  3. Create and use project management and program plans.
  4. Read, listen, and think critically.
  5. Write and speak clearly, concisely, and unambiguously.