Offered primarily as an evening program, the Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA) provides a rigorous 40 unit curriculum that emphasizes the background and skills required to effectively analyze, formulate, and implement public policy in local, state, and national government, and to achieve similar programmatic goals in nonprofit agencies. The program recognizes a need for a strong combination of theoretical and practical learning. Students choose from two concentrations: 1) Public Management; or 2) Nonprofit Agency Management.
Each student is required to complete a 20-unit analytic core, a 16-unit concentration, 4 units of electives, and a culminating experience of either a comprehensive exam, a capstone project or master's thesis. If students choose the thesis or capstone option, they can apply those four units to the elective requirement. Students who choose the comprehensive exam must use regular coursework for the elective units, and register for an additional four units of Pols 596 Graduate Tutorial, in the semester they take the exam. Courses are based upon the professional curriculum established for public administration programs by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
Core courses include: organizational theory; fiscal and budget administration; research methods; program implementation; planning and evaluation; and nonprofit dynamics. The two concentrations include specialized courses oriented toward the operation and management of public and nonprofit agencies. Concentration courses typically include fiscal management; personnel administration; legal issues; public policy; labor relations; marketing and resource development for nonprofits; and grants and contract management. Electives cover a wide range of important topics, including: ethics; organizational computer usage; and internships. Electives are generally taken from the MPA curriculum.
Learning Goals and Objectives
As a professional degree program, the MPA emphasizes both the theoretical and practical aspects of public and nonprofit administration. Students are expected to develop an understanding of the theoretical principles informing the field, and the practical management techniques necessary to administer public and nonprofit organizations. The link between theory and technique is a special emphasis of the program. Students are trained in organization analysis, and in the research, analytical, and communications skills necessary to implement public policy and to become successful managers. The program strives to foster in students a commitment to social purpose and the public interest. Students are encouraged to take advantage of internship opportunities and to undertake course and masters thesis research in areas that directly affect their career interests or other objectives.