Step 3: Degree Requirements & Course Plans

Degree Requirements

Please review the degree requirements below. For quick reference in the future, bookmark the EMPA Public Service Leaders program checksheet.

For core course meeting patterns, see the course grids in Step 4 of this Getting Started Guide.

  1. EXEC-GP 1194 Strategic Leadership (3 credits) - You will take this intensive course in late August before your first semester, and will complete a final group project during the fall semester. This course counts towards your fall 2020 credit total.
  2. EXEC-GP 2141 Financial Decision Making and Management (3 credits) - You will take this during your first semester (fall 2020).
  3. EXEC-GP 3190 Leadership Confronted (3 credits) - You will take this during your second semester (spring 2021).

In addition to the 9 core course credits, you will earn 21 elective credits, yielding 30 total credits for the degree. Each Wagner course is valued at 3 or 1.5 credits, based on the course's contact hours, so you will have room to take 7 to 14 elective courses.

  • International students studying on a visa: you must maintain full-time status, unless approved for a full-time equivalency or a reduced course load. Following the full-time course plan below (12 credits/semester) will keep you in full-time status.
  • U.S. Federal Financial Aid recipients: enrollment in at least 9 credits/semester yields full-time status for federal financial aid, and enrollment in at least 4.5 credits/semester yields half-time status. For information about January and summer terms, as well as conditions for full- and half-time equivalencies if your enrollment is less than the standard credit amounts, please visit Wagner's page on enrollment status.

In accordance with Wagner's policies on academic progress and maintenance of matriculation, in order to graduate you must:

  • satisfy all degree requirements that were in place when you entered the program
  • be in good academic standing (cumulative GPA of 3.000 or higher)
  • complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment

Suggested Course Plans

Review the full-time course plan below if you intend to graduate in one year (September 2021) or less (May 2021). Note that you must complete degree requirements within one year if you are studying on a visa.

Review the part-time course plan below if you expect to be enrolled in the program for more than one year.

You are welcome to switch between part- and full-time enrollment each term, based on your schedule and preference, as long as you are not required to maintain full-time status due to visa regulations.

  • Update EMPA program advisor Scott Statland ( if your planned distribution of credits changes.
  • If you receive a Wagner scholarship, contact with any questions about how a change to your enrollment status might effect the distribution of your scholarship.

If you plan to complete the program in one year, we suggest:

First semester (fall 2020): 12 credits

  • EXEC-GP 1194 Strategic Leadership in late August (3 credits) 
  • EXEC-GP 2141 Financial Decision Making and Management (3 credits)
  • 6 elective credits

January 2021 (between fall & spring): 1.5 to 3 elective credits

Second semester (spring 2021): 12 credits

  • EXEC-GP 3190 Leadership Confronted (3 credits)
  • 9 elective credits

Summer 2021: 3 to 4.5 elective credits

  • 3 credits, if 3 earned in January
  • 4.5 credits, if 1.5 earned in January

If you complete degree requirements over the summer term, you will earn your degree in September 2021, but can still apply to participate in May 2021 graduation ceremonies.

If you would prefer to earn your degree in May, plan to take 13.5 credits/semester in fall 2020 and spring 2021, plus 3 credits in the January 2021 term.

Part-time students typically earn at least 6 credits/semester, and at least 3 credits in the summer term if taking coursework then. Enrolling in less than 4.5 credits in a fall/spring semester or less than 3 credits in a summer term without an approved half-time equivalency would impact your eligibility for financial aid.

First semester (Fall 2020): 6 credits

  • EXEC-GP 1194 Strategic Leadership in late August (3 credits)
  • EXEC-GP 2141 Financial Decision Making and Management (3 credits) 

Second semester (Spring 2021): 6 credits

  • EXEC-GP 3190 Leadership Confronted (3 credits)
  • 3 elective credits

January 2021 (between fall & spring) and/or Summer 2021 (after spring): 3 elective credits

Remaining elective credits to complete: 15 

Note: Part-time students wishing to earn more than 15 credits in their first year of study are welcome to do so. If you are working full-time, though, we generally do not recommend taking more than 7.5 credits in a fall/spring semester, 1.5 credits in a January term, and 3 credits in a summer term.