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Off Campus Study

At the MPA Program, you will find that we offer a graduate education spanning the globe. In addition to summer internships and a core faculty renowned for research and consulting beyond academia, the MPA Program offers options for off-campus study during the academic year. Each of these opportunities is designed to complement your studies at the MPA Program, and provide opportunities for networking and exposure to challenging professional environments. Students who participate in our off-campus semesters receive academic and professional support from faculty, staff, and alumni. In addition, if you plan your schedule strategically, you may be able to extend a six-month commitment to an internship by combining an off-campus study semester with a summer internship.

You may enroll in one semester of off-campus study as part of your MPA degree. You must be in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress toward your degree.

If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, you should begin planning this with your academic advisor as early as possible. Please note that all coursework taken at institutions other than Cornell must be approved by both your academic advisor and the MPA Program Director of Graduate Studies.

Information sessions on off-campus study opportunities are held during the fall semester. As each opportunity has its own application requirements and deadlines, you should carefully research each program before applying.

Download our internship & externship guide here


Opportunities for off-campus study include the following:

New York State Capital Semester

You can experience a paid internship in the New York State Legislature while earning a full semester of credits. Capital Semester students are full-time Assembly or Senate Interns who spend Spring semester working and living in Albany (the capital of NY State), a vibrant and student-centered city. Students learn through direct experience and formal instruction how the NY State Legislature functions.

Wherever your policy interests lie—higher education, healthcare, environmental conservation, economic development, or elsewhere— Cornell offers the unique opportunity to help students begin careers in public service, public policy, politics and government.

For more information, please visit: New York State Capital Semester.

Washington Externship Semester

The MPA Program offers a program-specific Externship Semester opportunity, through the Cornell in Washington program, which enables you to live and work in Washington, D.C. for a semester and take relevant coursework. Externship options allow you to gain professional experience in various government agencies, private sector firms, or non-government agencies.

While Washington, D.C. serves as the heart of the United States federal government, the city is also host to a staggering array of inter-governmental organizations, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations. As part of your graduate studies at the MPA Program, you have the opportunity to spend a semester living, studying, and working in the nation’s capital.

Through the MPA Program Externship Semester, you may undertake an externship for up to forty hours per week while completing professional development exercises through an intensive externship course. You also enroll in a colloquium course featuring alumni speakers (parallel to the MPA Program Colloquium series offered each semester in Ithaca) and enroll in elective coursework at the Graduate School, a professional education program established for federal managers.

Unlike other off-campus study programs, there is no residential opportunity through this program—Brooks MPA Students are responsible for securing their own accommodations. Cornell staff members remain in constant communication with you through written assignments, and periodically travel to Washington, D.C. during the semester to monitor your progress. The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, a public-service NGO in Washington, provides facilities for Brooks MPA Student meetings and activities. There is no additional tuition charge for participating in this program, and you retain insurance coverage under the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) for the duration of the semester.

Whether your interest is climate change, development finance, education or healthcare, Washington is the city for you!