Master in Public Administration

Le palais du Luxembourg ©Michael Mulkens/ShutterstockEntitled the "Public Administration Policy Stream", this two-year Master’s programme is open to candidates with a previous undergraduate degree. It provides training for a wide range of positions across the public and private sector, as well as for careers in institutional relations or political professions at local, national, European or international level.

Description and aims of the Public Administration programme

The Public Administration policy stream is an option within the Master in Public Policy and the Master in European Affairs.

Both Master’s programmes are structured around core courses offering in-depth, comparative and interdisciplinary knowledge in the field of public affairs. They combine political, economic, legal, ethical, historical, managerial and digital approaches.

While the Master in Public Policy cultivates students’ expertise across all spheres of public affairs, the Master in European Affairs gives them the opportunity to gear their studies towards careers in Europe specifically.

Students of the Public Administration policy stream gain fundamental interdisciplinary knowledge of French and European public law, public finance, economic policy, social issues and, more generally, all aspects of public affairs. Beyond that, they are equipped indispensable professional skills in management, negotiation, project management, public innovation and design thinking.

The aim is to give future professionals working in both the public and the private or non-governmental sectors the knowledge, analytical tools and professional skills they need to understand the institutional, political, legal and economic challenges at stake in any issue. Our graduates are adept at making responsible and informed decisions, particularly in uncertain or evolving contexts.

> Read the full programme page for the Public Administration policy stream.

> Find out more about School of Public Affairs’ programmes.

Structure of the Master in Public Administration

Year 1 – Public Administration policy stream

In the first year of the programme, students take courses specific to the Public Administration policy stream (Public Law; Public Finance; Economic Policy), complemented by core courses for all Master’s students at the School of Public Affairs (Public Economics or European Law; Governance, Democracy and Public Policy; Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation or Management of Public and Private Bodies; Management, Project Management and Negotiations). They then choose additional options from a wide range of elective courses, optional courses and general academic training, along with language classes.

Year 2 – Public Administration policy stream

In the second year, students take courses in public European law and social issues. They also choose one case study to work on in small groups, which immerses them in a complex problem-solving scenario. These case studies require them to understand and evaluate processes of decision-making, public policy reform or policy implementation across different fields. Students then select additional courses from among a wide range of electives and have the option of gearing their studies towards preparation for competitive civil service recruitment exams via specialised classes (e.g. general knowledge, European issues, international issues).

In parallel to their Master’s studies, students in the second year can also choose to enrol in preparatory classes as part of Sciences Po’s Prépa Concours programme. During the fourth and final semester of the programme, known as the “off-campus semester”, students have the opportunity to put their professional skills into practice by completing an internship or deepening their expertise in a particular field by writing a Master’s thesis. They can also use this semester to complete an academic exchange at a partner university.

Finally, students who so wish may spend the second year of the Master’s completing an apprenticeship.

Throughout their studies, students have the option of participating in various programmes hosted at the School of Public Affairs’ Policy Lab. Programmes at the lab include the Public Policy Incubator, various simulations, the Gender Studies Certification and others, all of which use innovative teaching formats to train students in devising concrete solutions to improve the life of citizens and enhance the operations of administrative bodies or companies.

> Browse the curriculum structure for the Public Administration Master’s programme.

Specific courses relating to public affairs

  • Public Law (Year 1): The Public Law course gives students expertise in all major issues relating to public law. An introductory session addresses the central dynamics at the heart of public governance: public interest and fundamental rights, democracy and efficiency, modernisation and globalisation. The first part of the course is spent studying contemporary shifts affecting hierarchies of norms, whether in terms of constitutional law, international norms, or the normative power of the judiciary. The second and third parts address developments in administrative action: the emergence of regulatory authorities, local democracy, contractualisation, liability. The fourth and final part of the course examines administrative jurisdictions and the principal types of appeal: actions for annulment and summary proceedings.
  • Public Finance (Year 1): The Public Finance course is one of the key features of the policy stream. Structured around a core lecture (24 hours) and a methods lecture (24 hours) addressing taxation, state finance, local finance and social finance, the course aims to give Master’s students a broad and in-depth understanding of core concepts and mechanisms in the financial management of public authorities. In doing so, it prepares them for future managerial responsibilities within careers in the public or parapublic sectors.
  • Economic Policy (Year 1): The course examines key current issues in economic policy (aims and instruments of economic policy, budgetary policy, monetary policy, financial stability, international financial integration, taxation and income distribution, growth, employment). The course is unique is beginning with a consideration of concrete contemporary public policy issues and bringing recent findings from economic research to bear on these. Its aim is to supply students with the groundwork for a structured and up-to-date reflection on economic policy in the major developed countries.
  • Social Issues (Year 2): Mastery of key concepts and mechanisms in labour law, social protection and employment policy is now essential for understanding political, economic and social debate today. The Social Issues module aims to equip students with a broad base of core knowledge in each of these different domains, by embedding their technical training within a wider reflection on major issues in the evolution of social protection systems.
  • Public European Law (Year 2): The Public European Law course forms an extension of the Public Law course taught in the first year of the Master’s programme. Geared towards preparing students for the written tests of competitive civil service recruitment exams in France and Europe, this course also provides an effective training for work in legal professions in the private sector. The European Public Law course examines legislative competences, jurisdictional activities and litigation procedure and the activities and development of EU Law administration. Public law and administrative action are increasingly firmly anchored within the European and international framework.

Courses are led by academics from France and abroad and practitioners able to share insights from their practical experience in the field.

> Find out more about courses within the Public Administration policy stream.

Career opportunities after the Public Administration policy stream

This policy stream is aimed at students wishing to sit competitive civil service recruitment exams or apply for contracted positions in the senior civil service in France or abroad. The School of Public Affairs offers preparatory classes for around 15 recruitment exams, including the ENA (soon to be the ISP), the INET, France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Bank of France, the Paris City Hall, French Parliament and others.

It is also suitable for those looking to enter public affairs departments at French or international corporations, consultancy firms, or those interested in careers in politics (as parliamentary assistants, ministerial cabinet consultants or in local authorities).

> Find out more about career opportunities in public administration.

Tony Brando, class of 2019 and Technical advisor and parliamentary collaborator

"The School of Public Affairs has allowed me to acquire theoretical skills and a transdisciplinary approach that are essential to my current job. I use my courses in public law, political economy and public finance as much as those in the "Apprenticeship" year, in which I learned how to produce quality communication materials."

> Read Tony Brando’s testimonial

Admissions to the Public Administration policy stream after a Bachelor’s degree

The Public Administration policy stream offered within Master’s programmes at Sciences Po’s School of Public Affairs is open to candidates who hold a previous Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, or who can provide evidence of a VAE (Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience) certification.

Candidates are not required to have studied for their Batchelor’s degree at Sciences Po, nor to have completed an undergraduate degree in public administration or political science in order to apply to this Master’s programme.

The School of Public Affairs welcomes candidates from highly varied geographic, academic and professional backgrounds. Its graduates become the new champions of the public good at local, national and international level. To find out more, download our brochure.

> Find out more about Master’s admissions at Sciences Po.

Public administration training in the heart of Paris, France

All teaching for the public administration policy stream takes place in the various buildings of Sciences Po’s School of Public affairs, located in the historic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood (7th Arrondissement of Paris).

The campus is situated in the heart of Paris, just five minutes from the Louvre and the Latin Quarter and walking distance from numerous other French parliamentary buildings and monuments. This ideal location gives students a unique opportunity to enjoy the dynamism, international atmosphere and rich cultural offering of the French cap.

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