Critical policy problems such as environmental degradation, spread of deadly viruses, and financial market instability increasingly require strategies of global governance that coordinate across nations the actions of governments, businesses, and non-governmental agencies.
Learn about our International Public Affairs program, how to apply, costs and paying for school, and careers in International Public Affairs.
Through rigorous professional training across several disciplines, the Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA) degree program prepares students from the United States and around the world to engage in governance in ways that meet the challenges of globalization.
The school admits about 50 students per year, approximately 15 to the Master of International Public Affairs Program and 35 to the MPA Program. The small class size enables students in the cohort to get to know each other and their faculty members well.
Students must complete 42 credits, including six core courses, a one-credit professional development seminar, plus eight elective courses. An internship can count for up to three elective credits. The program generally takes two years and you can find a detailed degree plan here.
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Selection into the program
Students are selected for the Master of International Public Affairs Program on the basis of:
- strong academic achievement
- relevant experience
- potential for success in the public affairs graduate programs
- evidence of commitment to an international public affairs career
- commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion
Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose entire undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL information can be found at www.ets.org. The La Follette School requires a TOEFL paper-based test score of 580 or above, TOEFL computer-based test score of 237 or above, TOEFL Internet-based test score of 92 or above, or an IELTS score of 7 or above. The UW–Madison institution code is 1846. Tests should be completed to ensure scores are received by January 1.
(A strong MIPA applicant has taken these courses or their equivalents and earned a B or above.) All prerequisite courses directly related to three required core courses taken in the first fall semester.
Introduction to microeconomics or course equivalent to Microeconomics 101 or Agricultural and Applied Economics 215
Introduction to macroeconomics or course equivalent to Macroeconomics 102
Introduction to statistics or calculus or course equivalent to Statistics 301 or Math 211 or Math 221 or Sociology 360 or Psychology 210
Comparative politics or international relations or course equivalent to Political Science 120 or Political Science 140
Three semesters of language study (or a year or more experience of living abroad)
- Introduction to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis develops competence with analytical tools for studying public affairs.
- Microeconomic Policy Analysis explores how to evaluate the implications of policies for efficiency and equity, and to employ statistical methods for interpreting and presenting quantitative data.
- International Governance provides students with the substantive framework for studying public affairs in the context of globalization.
- *Macroeconomic Policy and International Financial Regulation surveys international macroeconomics, with special reference to international monetary policy and international financial market architecture.
- *Trade, Competition, and Governance in a Global Economy provides students with an understanding of international trade theory, rules, politics, and institutions, and the major policy issues facing the global trading system.
- Introduction to Policy Analysis focuses on defining policy problems, determining goals, designing policy alternatives, and assessing trade-offs to make recommendations.
- Workshop in International Public Affairs, the capstone course taken in the final semester, gives students experience working in teams with a faculty supervisor on a real-world policy project. They apply conceptual and analytical tools to issues their clients face in public, private, and nonprofit sectors around the world.
* Students choose one of these
- Comparative and National Social Policy
- Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Global Environmental Governance
- International Development Policy
- International Program Evaluation
Students also may take courses from other highly regarded UW–Madison graduate programs, such as economics, political science, public health, urban and regional planning, social work, law, business, educational leadership and policy analysis, sociology, and environmental studies.
Regional focus fields
Students can develop broad expertise in a geographic region by clustering courses, including language courses, across several disciplines, typically emphasizing courses in the social sciences. In building regional focus fields, MIPA students take advantage of UW–Madison’s strong area studies centers, including:
The La Follette School of Public Affairs provides selected UW-Madison undergraduates an opportunity to jumpstart the Master of Public Affairs or Master of International Public Affairs program. Learn more about the accelerated program.
We offer established combined, double, and dual degrees in coordination with other university schools and departments.
Career development is an integral part of the La Follette School experience. Most graduates find employment three to six months after graduation. Our Career and Professional Development office helps prepare students to work in government, nonprofits, and private firms across the U.S. and the world. Career development offers:
- Career development events
- Employment and internship position postings
- Networking opportunities
- Visits with local employers as well as regular trips to Washington, D.C.
Applying and paying for school
Hear what our students say
Ben Vargas, MIPA
"I was drawn to the Accelerated MIPA program when I learned that I could gain skills and earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years by the age of 22."
Nichole Springer, MIPA
"One of the most rewarding experiences at La Follette is being surrounded by a great cohort. Their talent, passion, and hard work also lifts me up as I continue to study."
Jean Vilbert, MIPA, MA
"After two years as a Badger, I learned that the University of Wisconsin is not just another university but an institution with something different to offer."
- See more student profiles
Our multidisciplinary faculty are nationally recognized experts in public policy analysis, public management and administration, and specialized policy fields.
Capstone project helps Outrider Foundation investigate oceanic nuclear waste
A first-of-its-kind project conducted by La Follette students helped inform an Outrider Foundation investigation that looked at radioactive materials littering the Arctic seas.March 18, 2023
Checking in with La Follette alumni: Where are they now?
Alumni Ryan LeCloux and Hilary Shager share how their time at the La Follette School shaped their career paths and how they are affecting change in their current roles.February 20, 2023
Accelerated program offers opportunity to boost public policy skills
Selected UW undergraduates can jumpstart our MPA or MIPA program by taking graduate public affairs courses in the last year of their undergraduate program.January 15, 2023
- See more La Follette MIPA news
Talk to an advisor
Do you have questions, but aren’t sure where to look? We have advisors to talk to prospective students.
Frequently asked questions
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Does a student have to take both policy analysis and public administration courses?
La Follette School faculty believe that students need skills in public management and policy analysis to be effective administrators and policy analysts. After students take the core courses, they can choose to specialize more in management or in policy analysis depending on which electives they choose. A student who prefers to work in nonprofit or management might take electives such as Advanced Management, Performance Management, and Personnel Management. A student who plans to become an analyst can choose to take electives such as Program Evaluation, Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy, and Benefit-Cost Analysis.
Why does a student who wants to be an administrator or work in the nonprofit sector need to study statistical methods and microeconomic analysis?
Leaders in government agencies and nonprofit organizations are called upon to report on the performance of the programs that they manage. They have to be able to showcase the advantages and disadvantages of programs with regard to cost and social value. To make a compelling case for the relative effect of a particular program requires an understanding of basic statistical concepts. Such professional skills are badly needed in the nonprofit area, and La Follette School graduates have an advantage when competing for higher-level administrative positions.
Can I study a specific type of policy like education policy or environmental policy?
Students take the core required courses and acquire skills that will allow them to work in a variety of types of administration and policy. Students can tailor their studies to develop a focus on one or two types of policy such as health, education, social and poverty, environmental, trade and finance, security, and international development policy. They do this by carefully selecting electives offered by public affairs faculty and by other departments on campus.
Students considering applying to the La Follette School, are encouraged to check out our double- and dual-degree programs and graduate certificate options.