The School of Public Affairs at American University

Why you should consider this program

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University is regarded as one of the nation’s top public affairs schools. SPA is positioned in Washington, D.C.—a location that is widely recognized as the epicenter of the public affairs field—and has set itself apart as a progressive and leading school committed to training leaders for our next generation as they pursue professions of purpose.

SPA offers:

  • Exceptional career outcomes for all of its master’s degrees detailed at “We Know Success”;
  • Distinguished faculty comprised of world-class scholar-teachers as well as practitioners who are experts in their fields;
  • Flexible degree programs that cater to both full- and part-time enrollment and an evening class schedule that enables students to directly articulate their classroom learning to the workplace;
  • Robust student services that include designated academic and career advisors; and
  • A close-knit, collaborative, and supportive student community.

Benefits for Coverdell Fellows

Tuition/fees for Complete Program Value of Coverdell Fellowship Net cost *
In state $ 66,693 $ 30,000 $ 36,693
Out of state $ 66,693 $ 30,000 $ 36,693
* Net cost is equal to tuition/fees minus fellowship value. For some universities, the fellowship value includes non-tuition/fee benefits such as health insurance or housing—see the first point below for more details.

Where the cost savings value of the Coverdell Fellowship comes from

Coverdell Fellows at The School of Public Affairs (SPA) receive an attractive merit aid package comprised of an application fee waiver and tuition remission totaling $7,500 a semester. This level of award requires full-time enrollment (9 credit hours per semester) and for the recipient to maintain good academic standing. Full-time Coverdell Fellows are eligible for additional merit aid in the form of assistantships and/or scholarships. All SPA master’s students also enjoy the additional benefit and flexibility of choosing to be full- or part-time (6 credit hours) in any given semester. Coverdell Fellows who choose to enroll part-time (6 credit hours) may still retain some of their tuition remission as part of their Coverdell award ($3,000 a semester).

Fellowships awarded per year (average)


Other benefits or opportunities

Fellows may request consideration for a graduate assistantship that could amount to an additional $4,500 to $9,000 in hourly pay annually for an average of 10-20 hours of work a week.

Annual cost of living (estimated)

$ 24,000

Application fee waived?



SPA’s internship requirement is extremely flexible. The Washington, D.C. location offers students abundant opportunities across all employment sectors. Coverdell Fellows will work with the coordinator of the Coverdell Program and SPA’s career services advisor in identifying an internship experience that aligns and supports the Fellow’s career interests. The internship may be pursued for academic credit by consulting with their academic advisor. Every SPA graduate student enjoys a class schedule that affords ample time to pursue professional opportunities throughout the day.

As a new Coverdell Fellows program, SPA looks forward to building a comprehensive list of internship examples. For now, prospective students may visit our “We Know Success” survey platform to review placement data as well as job and internship options pursued by our student community.

Jobs for program alumni

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) offers exceptional career outcomes! With nearly 700 graduate students across our advanced degrees, over 100 full-time faculty supplemented by a range of practitioners, and 26,000 alumni that span the globe, our students are uniquely positioned to network and advantage career advice and opportunities from a robust peer and professional network. We invite all prospective students to visit “We Know Success” to survey our real-time outcome data that includes overall placement rate, placement percentages by employment sector, and sample employers.

With our range of master’s degree options that span the public administration, public policy, political science, political communication, justice, law and criminology, as well as terrorism, and homeland security policy fields, it is difficult to offer an abbreviated list. SPA alumni work at all levels of government, lead nonprofits of all sizes and scope—both domestic and abroad—serve and contribute in many of the world’s leading think tanks and excel in private industry including the range of top consulting firms.

Other details

Program length

2 years

Application requirements

Information regarding SPA’s application requirements and FAQs may be found here.

Program begins

Mid- January and Late August

Non-traditional options

  • Option to pursue degree part time while receiving the Coverdell Fellowship

Most SPA students leverage being positioned in the epicenter of the Public Affairs field, Washington, D.C., by engaging in internships and/or full-time positions while going to school. With this, SPA promotes and encourages flexibility for all students in designing their academic plans. SPA Coverdell Fellows are also encouraged to take advantage of this benefit. With this, a Fellow may alter their enrollment from full- (3 courses) to part-time (2 courses) over the course of their degree program. The Coverdell Fellow may retain partial tuition remission as a part-time student ($7500 full-time award is reduced to a $3000 part-time award). 

Year Coverdell Fellows partnership started



Jennifer Forney, Assistant Dean of Graduate Enrollment

American University The School of Public Affairs Office of Graduate Admissions
Kerwin Hall, Suite 306 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20016