Getting an MPA for Military Personnel and Veterans

Request More Information

Continuing a Career in Public Service — Why an MPA is Perfect for Military Service Members and Veterans

Veterans and current military service members are some of the most impactful, mission-driven contributors to our society today. These individuals make significant sacrifices in an effort to protect  our nation, freedom, and rights — working to make the world a better place.

Current and former military service members are ultimately in the business of public service — improving lives with a service-oriented mindset, strategic leadership experience, and an unparalleled work ethic. 

But what about veterans and military service members who want to continue a career in public service? What next steps can these individuals take to continue serving and improving lives?

The solution? A Master of Public Administration — a practical graduate degree for those with an idealistic mindset in a volatile world climate.

Keep reading to learn why Cornell University is a strategic, valuable choice for both veterans and current military service members who are looking to continue a career that has meaning and direction.

What is an MPA?

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a rigorous, professional graduate degree for mission-focused professionals who want to pursue a career in public affairs. Equipped with an MPA, these professionals are equipped to address pressing — even urgent — public policy issues including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Climate change and environmental instability
  • Public health challenges like the nationwide opioid epidemic
  • Lack of access to healthcare
  • Infrastructure erosion 
  • Social justice and human rights
  • Immigration business policy reform 
  • Victim advocacy and rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals

No matter what policy issue you are passionate about, one of the benefits of an MPA is that you will enter the workforce with the marketable skills needed to make a difference.

Discover the kinds of issues that MPA graduates tackle

Download the Guide

Educational Guide for Future Leaders in Public Affairs eBook Cover

Public Service Careers for Military Personnel and Veterans with an MPA

There is and always will be a critical need for skilled, driven public administration professionals who can use their knowledge and skills to enact tangible change in the world. Whatever you are passionate about  be it abortion rights, food insecurity, infrastructure policy, or countless other public affairs issues  an MPA degree will prepare you to impact change. 



 For former and current military servicemen in particular, the option to continue a career in public service is an opportunity that many do not want to pass up. After years of working in military service and developing valuable character qualities like resilience and integrity, many choose to pursue a formal education that will prepare them for a career in a different kind of service work — public service.

In other words, the challenges that military personnel regularly face provide excellent context for similar challenges encountered in the public sector making the MPA an incredible fit for future leaders in public affairs.

Continuing a Career in Public Service — Jobs for MPA Graduates

Because an MPA program builds upon the core values that the military upholds, professionals with military service experience are well suited to pursue an MPA and ultimately, secure a career in public service and public policy.

Jobs for MPA graduates in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, include roles, such as:

  • Management analyst 
  • Economist
  • Operations manager
  • Infrastructure analyst
  • Regional planner
  • Proposal coordinator
  • Development associate
  • Emergency management director
  • Research analyst
  • Public relations director
  • Foreign service officer
  • Budget analyst
  • Financial manager
  • Communication consultant

MPA graduates can also run for office and pursue critical roles at the local, state, and federal level.

Discover where an MPA can take you

Unlock the MPA Career Report


Scholarships for Veterans Seeking an MPA Degree (and Other Financial Aid Options)

As a veteran or current military member, you are uniquely qualified for specific financial aid options that will help you offset the cost of obtaining the Master of Public Administration at Cornell University. 

Here is what you need to know about paying for Cornell’s MPA program whether you are able to use the GI bill or need to take advantage of other funding options.

GI Bill

Brooks School is participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program ($10,000), which is then matched by the VA for any student who qualifies for full post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (instead of a fixed number of funded students). 

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for those who have served on active duty for 90 or more days after Sept. 10, 2001. In addition, the GI Bill issues a monthly housing allowance payable to the student from the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate based on the zip code where a majority of classes are taken. A yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1000 is also paid proportionately based on enrollment. 

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the law that created the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which is available for Institutions of Higher Learning in the U.S. The program allows approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post-9/11 GI Bill (VA, 2019). 

The amount of benefits payable depends on how much active duty time a service member has, a breakdown of which can be seen below:

Time on Active Duty
(Including Reserve and Guard)
Percentage of Maximum Benefit Payable
At least 36 months 100%
At lease 30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability 100%
30 months to 36 months 90%
24 months to 30 months 80%
18 months to 24 months 70%
12 months to 18 months 60%
6 months to 12 months 50%
90 days to 6 months 40%


Other Financial Aid and Scholarships

For veterans, reservists, and active duty members who do not qualify for 100% GI Bill benefits, there are myriad funding options available. Many of these opportunities are available on the basis of branch served, location, or program of study. 

From scholarships to grants, from tuition assistance to interest-free loans, there are dozens of financial aid options available to qualified veterans, active duty service members, and in some cases, even military spouses and/or children.

Here are just a few of the many financial aid options available:

Veterans Benefits

Veteran education benefits are available to eligible full or part-time Cornell students or employees who are active duty or reserve military personnel, veterans, or in some cases, the child or spouse of a veteran. To determine eligibility, complete the online Application for VA Education Benefits (VA Form 22-1990).

Visit our graduate resource page for more information about Cornell’s resources and benefits for veterans; you can also check out our Veterans Benefits FAQ for more information.

Join Us

Explore Cornell's Military Community

The Cornell Difference: Getting an Ivy League MPA as Veteran or Current Service Member


Cornell is a university that really values the veteran’s perspective, that understands that they bring different experiences that are only going to enrich not only our classroom environment but the vibrancy of campus writ large. The Cornell ethos is one of selfless service, and when I look back at the history of Cornell, it permeates the entire university’s history, not just our military history. 

— Major Edwin Powers, USMC


As New York state’s land-grant mission institution, Cornell University is charged with advancing the lives and livelihoods of the state’s citizens through teaching, research and public service. Our mission as a land-grant university is to break down barriers and is rooted in the belief that education should be open to all qualified students, regardless of class, ethnicity, race, or gender; and must merge practical scientific and technical education with classical studies in history, philosophy, and literature.

Pro Tip: Learn more about how Cornell honors veterans with on-campus memorials.

Many veterans and active service members choose Cornell University for graduate school because of its long history of academic excellence and dedication to producing graduates who go on to make the world a better place

The MPA program is also attractive to veterans because of its customizable curriculum, hands-on approach to learning, and overall mission to prepare dedicated public servants.

Military History

Cornell University is incredibly rich with military history; a legacy of military leaders that spans all the way back to its founding in 1865. Cornell has produced some of the finest military officers our nation has ever seen and, at one point, was one of the finest institutions of higher learning that had a military focus.

Learn More about cornell's military history

Veterans Programs

Through the Yellow Ribbon Post 9/11 Program, Warrior-Scholar Project, the Veterans Colleague Network Group and a variety of campus organizations, Cornell supports veteran and military related resources, events, and programs across the University including:

New York State Division of Veterans Affairs provides a counselor who can help veterans at Cornell and in the community with state and federal benefits. The Veteran Counselor can also give advice on where to find support, counseling, and guidance on Cornell’s campus. 

Cornell is a proud host campus for the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP). This program offers immersive, academic workshops or “boot camps,” free of charge to enlisted veterans. WSP empowers enlisted military veterans by providing them with a skill bridge that enables a successful transition from the battlefield to the classroom.

The VCNG is a group of staff, faculty, and affiliates who work toward improving the climate for veterans at Cornell. They are a Cornell sponsored employee resource group founded to raise awareness of veteran and military personnel issues, and create a forum for veterans to network with all members of the campus community. The VCNG helps veterans connect with the over 400 veterans and military personnel at Cornell and participate in campus veteran’s events.  

Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. The Ithaca chapter actively hosts meetups at gyms, social events, runs, workouts, and community service events.  

The Graduate School hosts a Welcome Dinner for graduate and professional school veterans and their families every fall. 

The Cornell University Veterans Association (CUVA) was created to support the incredibly diverse community of United States Military veterans enrolled at Cornell University. Their chief mission is to provide a social support network for their unique group of non-traditional students and advocate for the veteran community. 

Webinar for Veterans and Military Personnel

An MPA is a practical degree for veterans and military personnel looking to continue a career in public service.

Watch Now


Career Management Opportunities

In Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy’s MPA program, the heart of our mission is to produce change-driven, exemplary, and marketable graduates who can enter the workforce ready to secure a career that is going to make a difference. 

As such, we place significant emphasis on professional development and career management — before, during, and after your time at Cornell University.

The Office of Career Management — in conjunction with Millie Reed, Assistant Director of the Office of Career Management — is committed to giving you the tools you need to put your MPA degree to work in the competitive job market, whether you’re a current student or a valued alum.

In the Cornell Brooks School MPA program, we will help you assemble an individualized career plan and provide you with the tools you need to succeed, from how to write a compelling resume and cover letter, intentionally network, and conduct yourself during a job interview.


Learn more about the career management and professional development opportunities available through our MPA program; download our guide:

Unlock the Professional Development Guide


Other Program Offerings at the Brooks School of Public Policy

Within the Master of Public Administration program, students may opt to pursue an online graduate certificate or a dual degree program. 

Graduate Certificate Programs:

MPA students who want to pair their field of study with another respected graduate degree may choose from the following two options:

  • Complementary degree: MBA/MPA
  • Dual Degree: MPA/MHA

In addition to the traditional, resident Master of Public Administration, the Brooks School of Public Policy offers an Executive Master of Public Administration.  The EMPA allows students to choose from one of two concentrations:

  • Public and Nonprofit Management
  • International Policy

Admissions for veterans

Here are the steps you need to take to apply to Cornell’s MPA and EMPA programs:

Residential MPA Executive MPA
Complete online graduate school application Complete online Graduate School application
Submit unofficial copies of your college and university transcripts Submit unofficial copies of your college and university transcripts
Submit resume and three letters of recommendation Submit resume and two letters of recommendation
TOEFL or IELTS scores from international students whom English is not your first language TOEFL or IELTS scores from international students whom English is not your first language
Statement of purpose and an essay Statement of purpose
Online, recorded interview Live Zoom interview with Executive Director


When you apply for admissions to Cornell, you should also submit Cornell’s Yellow Ribbon Application immediately. In submitting the Yellow Ribbon application, you are indicating your intent to utilize your Post-9/11 GI Bill® and Yellow Ribbon eligibility. Cornell offers aid based on financial need. 

Note: On the last page of the online application, you can indicate that you are a military service person or veteran to receive an application fee waiver ($105) and deposit waiver.

Need-to-Know Questions that Veterans Should Ask

At Cornell University, we want to be your one-stop shop for getting your questions answered about choosing graduate school at Cornell as a veteran or current servicemen. As such, we encourage you to come equipped with a variety of specific questions to ask. Some of the best questions could include:

Questions to Ask:
  • How will Cornell support me as a veteran and/or current service member?
  • Why is Cornell such an incredible choice for those with military experience?
  • What will Cornell do to help me achieve an MPA with regards to financial assistance?
Questions to Ask
  • How can I tailor my MPA to my specific interests?
  • What kind of concentration options do you offer?
  • What kinds of experiential learning opportunities does your MPA program offer?
Questions to Ask
  • What is the job placement rate for MPA graduates?
  • Where do your MPA graduates tend to work?
  • What kind of career services are available to MPA students?
Questions to Ask
  • How can I be sure that I craft an incredible application?
  • Will the rolling admissions policy affect the application deadline?
  • What's life in Ithaca, New York like

Student Ambassador Interview: Is Getting an MPA Worth It for Those with Military Experience?

Hear from a couple of veterans pursuing the mpa at cornell university:

  • Student Spotlight: William LaRose2

    Will LaRose

    MPA Candidate

    Will LaRose is a masters candidate in public administration with a concentration in public and non-profit management. He comes to Cornell after having served four years in the Army, and is currently serving with the New York National Guard while completing his degree. This article was originally published on the Cornell Graduate School website.

    Read Interview

  • Mauricio Cortes_2017-1

    Mauricio Cortes

    MPA Graduate

    Mauricio Cortes is a military veteran, a graduate of Cornell University's Master of Public Administration program, and is currently employed at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.

    Read Interview

Training Leaders, Improving Lives at the Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy — Contact Us Today


Are you a veteran or current service member looking to continue a career in public service? Are you ready to take on some of the world’s most complex policy challenges? You are in the right place.

At the Ivy League Cornell Brooks School MPA program, we are looking for students of exceptional quality who have the analytical, leadership, and communication skills necessary to succeed in a career serving the public in government, nonprofit, or for-profit sectors. 

Take the first step; start building a career that is going to equip you to transform the world.

Connect With Us Today


More Information


Webinar Library


MPA Stories


Explore Cornell


Resource Library

Join Us

Apply Today