The Executive MPA explained: A flexible programme

The Hertie School 2019 Executive MPA cohort in two rows on the steps in front of the Hertie School building. Dean Christine Reh and Programme Manager Juliane McCarty are in the front row, center.
Executive MPA Programme Manager Juliane McCarty and Dean of Graduate Programmes Christine Reh (front row, fifth and sixth from left) with the 2019 Executive MPA cohort

How flexible is the Executive Master of Public Administration? Programme Manager Juliane McCarty answered some common questions.

What do you do in your role as Executive MPA Programme Manager?

After you enrol as a student in the Executive MPA programme, I will be your first point of contact. I am responsible for the overall coordination of the programme, including course scheduling, course registration and academic advising. Additionally, I organise the onboarding process, the mandatory introductory course as well as Executive MPA networking events. You’ll be hearing a lot from me!

How can Executive MPA participants tailor the programme to their own needs?

There are several ways to individualise the programme to fit your own interests, schedules and circumstances.

First of all, you can complete the programme full time in one year or part time in two years. If your plans change, you can also apply to extend your studies or complete your courses sooner. In total, the programme requires 43 days of attendance, which you can spread out over a total of up to four years. It’s also not a problem if you are unable to study during a certain period of time (for example due to work commitments). You would just choose courses outside of this timeframe.

Course registration is also flexible. While students are expected to finalise their course plan before the start of the academic year, it is possible to change the overall plan during the year as well, depending on availability. Students select one of three areas of concentration – leading innovation and managing change, digitalisation and big data, or global governance challenges – and choose courses within each module based on what interests them most.

On the financial side, the Hertie School itself offers aid in the form of partial tuition waivers and profile-based full scholarships. You can also check with your employer to see if the costs for single or multiple courses (a certificate) can be covered as part of a professional training budget. Executive MPA courses can be booked individually, and credits earned for these single courses can be transferred to the full programme.

When does individualisation of the programme start, and when do students sign up for courses?

Enrolment for the Executive MPA begins in mid-July. In order to enrol, students must pay their tuition deposit and the first instalment of their tuition fees and also complete a mandatory online onboarding programme on our Moodle platform. Incoming students will receive more information about this closer to the start of enrolment. Course registration is on a first come, first served basis.

How do block courses allow participants to continue working while studying?

Block courses allow you to set aside only a few days in a given month to go to class instead of needing to be available every week. Courses on a certain topic are often grouped together, so you can sign up for a cluster of courses. Combining courses like this can also decrease travel costs significantly if you commute. For example, if you were interested in data, you could take three courses offered on this topic in a single academic year with just one trip to Berlin because they are scheduled one after the other. Some courses also take place on Saturdays, further reducing the number of days that you would need to take off if you’re also working.

If you’d like to see the Executive MPA course schedule and find out more about the programme in general, please send an e-mail to empa-admissions[at]hertie-school[dot]org.

What is the typical workload for an Executive MPA course? How many assignments can one expect on a weekly basis?

Workload can be quite subjective, as one person’s style of studying may be very different from another’s. Executive MPA courses are scheduled in block seminars, so there are no regular weekly assignments. You can expect to spend some time preparing for your seminar with reading materials and possibly a pre-course assignment that will become available to you online four weeks prior to the beginning of class. You will also have a final assignment due 8 weeks after the course.

More technically speaking: Since each core course, elective and workshop is credited with three ECTS points, and one ECTS point assumes a workload of about 25 hours, you might expect to dedicate about 75 hours to each class you take. You could break this down into the following:

  • 22 hours of actual in-class time (a few exceptions may apply)
  • Approximately 50 hours split between course preparation (reading and potential pre-assignments) and your final assignment

You do not need to prepare or complete assignments for skills courses, however.

Life happens, and plans certainly can change over the course of the programme. What happens if students need more time to finish their degree, or if they need to graduate sooner than expected?

If you start the Executive MPA programme with the intention of finishing it on year but later find you need more time, you can submit a request to extend your studies to complete the programme in up to four years. One-year students can switch to the two-year programme for free, but a fee of 500 euros will apply for each additional semester you take beyond two years.

For those who enter the Executive MPA part time on the two-year track but then need to finish the degree earlier than planned, I would suggest setting up an appointment with me to see which requirements you still need to fulfil and whether this would be feasible within the current academic year. You can certainly register for more courses to fulfil the programme requirements sooner, but keep in mind that signing up for classes after the initial course registration period would be subject to availability.


Curious about making the Executive MPA work for your schedule? Reach out to us at empa-admissions[at]hertie-school[dot]org.

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