Would you like to understand the European dimensions of governance? Do you hope to be a policymaker, tackling transnational problems and implementing transnational solutions? Or would you like to find new ways as a public affairs professional or lobbyist to get your issues on the agenda and influence policymakers? If you have the interest and the motivation, we can offer you the knowledge and the skills to succeed.
The master's program in European Public Affairs provides advanced professional training in both the theoretical and practical aspects of European policy-making. You will learn to think in European terms and will gain practical experience working in international teams to solve European policy problems from a multidisciplinary perspective. This will prepare you for an excellent career in European public affairs and public service.
Why this program?
The master's program in European Public Affairs (EPA) provides advanced professional training in both the theoretical and practical aspects of European policy-making. The policy context in the European Union is complex, and contemporary policy problems transcend national and disciplinary borders. You will therefore learn various academic concepts, theories, and research methods from disciplines such as political science, law, economics, cultural science, and public administration. You will use this knowledge to research, analyze and critically evaluate EU policy problems. You will also be encouraged to become familiar with national and regional differences within the European territory, and to search out commonalities and paths for integration. You will put this knowledge and these skills to work by teaming up with your fellow students to develop concrete solutions to real policy problems.
MultidisciplinaryEuropean developments can only be understood within a wide context, against a background of different disciplines. For instance, the financial crisis and the EU’s response – or lack of response – cannot be completely understood from merely an economic or financial perspective. The response of the EU can only be grasped by not only understanding the different national legal and institutional market and banking regulations, but also the various socio-economic and cultural perceptions. The European Public Affairs program will teach you to recognize and appreciate these differences, which will help you to formulate effective policy.
Practice-orientedEPA combines theory and practice. As an academic program, it is research-based. But it is still oriented towards professional practice, as you will develop the capacity to apply academic ideas. You will work in small teams with your fellow students to analyze real-life policy problems within their contexts. Together, you will learn to design and assess potential solutions that are applicable ‘on the ground’. This practical approach, which is further enhanced by our close collaboration with EU public affairs professionals, ensures there is a direct link between the ‘classroom’ and the ‘professional world’.
EPA combines theory and practice. As an academic program, it is research-based. But it is still oriented towards professional practice, as you will develop the capacity to apply academic ideas. You will work in small teams with your fellow students to analyze real-life policy problems within their contexts. Together, you will learn to design and assess potential solutions that are applicable ‘on the ground’. This practical approach, which is further enhanced by our close collaboration with EU public affairs professionals, ensures there is a direct link between the ‘classroom’ and the ‘professional world’.
What will you learn?
To understand and critically evaluate the complex system of European governance;
To understand and analyze contemporary EU policy problems;
To research and communicate solutions for policy problems;
To develop know-how that can strategically influence the EU policy process used to address policy problems.
Our master’s program is truly international. About 90% of our students come from abroad. On average, 10-15 different nationalities are represented in the program each year. The teaching staff is also composed of more than 10 different nationalities. From day one, you’ll be challenged with differing viewpoints and experiences as you interact with staff and students from all over the world. Your worldview will be enhanced by this interaction, bringing you closer to the program’s goal of teaching not only facts and concepts but also international accessibility and understanding. While researching, debating, and problem-solving within culturally diverse groups of fellow students, taking into account other opinions and other cultures will become second nature to you.
Ties with Brussels
Our location in Maastricht, just an hour’s drive from Brussels, allows us to make extensive use of our wide network of guest lecturers, professional contacts, and alumni who contribute to the program. You will have easy access to actors who are directly engaged in the EU policy process and will participate in our annual two-day trip to EU institutions and consultancy firms based in Brussels.
European Institute of Public Administration
One of the ways we provide real-life case studies is by working in close cooperation with the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA). EIPA carries out European affairs research and training, mainly for civil servants of the EU member states and applicant states. This cooperation with EIPA gives you up-to-date and in-depth insights into the practical aspects of EU policy processes.
As with many Maastricht University programs, EPA is taught using Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Most of your work will be done in workshops, where you work in small teams with your fellow students. Together, you will seek solutions to ‘problems’ taken from real-world situations in European public affairs. Instructors act as facilitators, giving help as it is needed. This allows you to build independence and develop problem-solving skills that you will need in the field.
You will be active professionally at a time of massive changes in the public sector. This means that the knowledge you acquire during your studies will become outdated during your professional career. Adapting to and participating in change requires the development of key competencies, such as communication skills, critical reasoning, logical and analytical approaches to problems, reasoned decision-making, and self-evaluation. Problem-Based Learning is an excellent tool for this, as it is designed for ‘learning to learn and for finding solutions to actual problems.
PBL in action
In the module ‘Implementation & Evaluation of EU Policy’, you will be asked to represent a consultancy firm and provide the European Commission with a strategy for overcoming problems with the implementation of specific EU legislation in the member states.
As discussions and debates are a critical feature of public affairs in the European Union, you will be trained to become a confident speaker and debater. You will participate in a team debate during each module, using a specific topic studied during that module or a topical issue highlighted by current events. We use the Oxford style of debates so you can learn to defend positions that are not necessarily your own and to build solid argumentation in a limited time period. You will also practice different debating roles, such as conducting opening speeches, reacting to the opposing messages, Q&A, and making a closing speech.
For or against?
You'll debate motions such as:
EU lobbying is well-regulated;
To counter rising nationalism, we need a federation of nation-states;
The EU rightfully won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.
For a successful career in European public affairs, you'll need a thorough knowledge of the structure, history, functioning, and current affairs of the European integration machinery. Job competition is fierce, and up-to-date knowledge of European issues is a must, particularly if you plan to participate in the EU Concours. Therefore, each module has a ‘quiz’ of 20 questions. This will encourage you to make it part of your daily routine to become acquainted with current affairs and to follow political and policy developments.
Internship & thesis
As the EPA program aims to prepare you for a career in public administration or consultancy, the internship (12 weeks, 18 ECTS) is an essential component. As part of your internship, you will also complete a thesis of 9,000 words in which you reflect upon the actual work done in the internship using academic research. You will write your master's thesis on a topic related to European Public Affairs. You will receive guidance from our academic staff and will follow a thesis course devoted to developing your academic skills. This course will help you practice research design and methodology and you will receive individual feedback on your work.
The host institutions for the internship vary widely, depending on students’ personal preferences and ambitions. Students have conducted their internships at organizations, such as:
PA Europe Consultancy
Belgian/German Permanent Representation
US Chamber of Commerce to the EU
UN Office for Industrial Development
European Central Bank
Assistant to an MEP
European Environmental Bureau
Delegation of the European Commission to Thailand/Tanzania
European Public Affairs is a small, selective program of 30 students. This allows you to get to know your professors, who often operate more as mentors in our close-knit academic community. Their doors are always open, and they enjoy getting to know you both personally and professionally.
Our regular staff includes:
Dr. Paul Stephenson (program director, coordinator of module 3, thesis)
Dr. Christine Arnold (coordinator of module 1, thesis)
Dr. Iskander de Bruycker (coordinator of module 2, thesis)
Dr. Aneta Spendzharova (coordinator of Integrated Skills Track, thesis)
Dr. Sabine Lange (EIPA)
Prof. Phedon Nicolaides (EIPA)
Dr. Francesca Colli (thesis)
Dr. Anna Herranz Surralles (thesis)
Dr. Andreea Nastase (mentor, thesis)
Dr. Elissaveta Radulova (thesis)
Prof. Esther Versluis (module 3, thesis)
Dr. Soetkin Verhaegen (thesis)
You will also interact with our many guest lecturers, who include representatives from the European Institute of Public Affairs (EIPA), civil servants working in Brussels, and researchers and professionals from the world of European affairs.
Premium honors program
Want to gain that extra edge by getting real-world experience during your studies? The Premium honors program will help you gain the experience and develop the skills employers are looking for. As part of a team of students and under the guidance of our academic staff, you’ll spend about three months working on a real-world assignment for a company, NGO, or educational institution. You'll also work on a personal development plan, receive intensive individual coaching, and attend masterclasses and workshops. All of this will take about 250 hours, but it will give you a lifetime of benefits.
Focus on teamwork;
Cooperation with the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA);
Practical focus: prepares you for the labor market;
Uses concrete assignments that simulate the professional field of public affairs;
Truly international: 33 students in the 2019/20 program came from 16 different countries.
Courses & curriculum
Each module contains:
Workshops where you work in small, international teams to solve real-world policy problems.
Seminars in which an expert teaches about facts, concepts, or relevant theories.
Debates over a specific topic studied during that module or a topical issue highlighted by current events.
Quizzes over current affairs and follow political and policy developments.
Skills training, such as negotiation skills, research skills, and presentation skills, related to the theme of the module.
Master European Public Affairs
Mastering Academic Research Skills and Methods
Perspectives on European Governance
Lobbying in the EU EPA
Implementation and Evaluation of EU policy
Master EPA Internship
Researching and Writing the MA EPA Thesis
Internship Work and Report
As an EPA graduate, you will be well-qualified for the professional world, having acquired a thorough understanding of the complex EU policy-making processes and exceptional experience in identifying, analyzing, tackling, and communicating complex problems in an international environment.
You will be an academic professional who:
Can understand and critically evaluate the complex system of European governance;
Is capable of understanding and analyzing contemporary EU policy problems;
Is capable of researching and presenting solutions for such policy problems;
Has well-developed know-how for strategically influencing the EU policy process to address such policy problems.
Your practical skills will not be your only asset. Given that around 90% of EPA students and many staff members come from abroad, you will also be internationally orientated. In fact, about one-third of our graduates are offered a job at their internship organization before they've even graduated.
Of all EPA graduates 98% are employed, 1% are working as a Ph.D. Candidate and 1% is ding a second master elsewhere.
Most of our graduates go on to find work in:
Governmental institutions (Information Officer, Policy Advisor)
Private firms performing ‘privatized’ government functions (Project Manager, EU Affairs Officer)
Public affairs divisions of commercial corporations (Communications Consultant)
Organizations with European or transnational missions (Partnership manager, Political Administrator)
Non-profit organizations (Association manager)
Consulting and lobbying (International Consultant)
The admission requirements for the academic year 2021/22 for the master’s program European Public Affairs depend on your prior qualifications.
For the master’s program European Public Affairs selection takes place on the basis of your quality and suitability. For this your motivation, prior qualifications, and your (professional) experience are important.
Besides the general requirements:
A recent passport picture;
A copy of your valid passport or your EU/EEA identity card;
A copy of your most recent certified grades transcript and a copy of your certified diploma.
All candidates should also meet the additional requirements:
Submit proof of a bachelor's or master's degree;
Submit your curriculum vitae;
Write a letter of motivation;
Submit a writing sample;
Demonstrate proficiency in English.