MPA Curriculum

Our curriculum is developed and updated to make sure it is reflective of the student body we serve, as well as the challenges they may face as public administrators. The Master of Public Administration program aims to prepare students to successfully navigate an ever-changing public service environment. Graduates of our program are able to incorporate different leadership strategies that support organizational success and create positive, effective working environments. Our core courses, and electives taught within the department, are offered in the evenings in order to accommodate our many students who wish to work full time while pursuing their degree. 

To further ensure our students’ success after graduation, our curriculum includes a Capstone Project that requires students to engage in administrative projects and evaluations, while remaining under the guidance of our extensive professional and academic faculty. The Capstone project takes place during the final semester of study to allow all classroom and internship knowledge to be incorporated into the experience. Our graduates are qualified to enter the nonprofit, government or public agency workforce, fully equipped for success!

MPA Curriculum

The two-year (full-time) course of study for the Master of Public Administration includes 42 required unit hours divided among four components: core, electives, internship, and capstone.

Please note that we have listed the semesters in which courses are typically taught to aid in planning, but that these are subject to change at departmental discretion. 

Core Courses (24 units)

Courses typically taught in fall semesters:

This course focuses on understanding and analyzing interactions, effectiveness, and complexities of organization structures.

This course focuses on the various theories of how public policy is formulated.

This course provides a graduate-level introduction to statistical and data analysis for public and nonprofit managers, which emphasizes both the practical and theoretical aspects of statistical analysis as it relates to the administration of public and nonprofit organizations. 

The course covers basic statistical concepts such as descriptive statistics, probability theory, inference, sampling and distributions, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis.

The overarching goal of the course is to provide students with a set of decision-making tools to use throughout their careers as public administrators and nonprofit managers.

This course is designed to provide an overview of the human resource issues that affect managers in public and nonprofit organizations.  It will also address strategies in which volunteer leaders, managers, and human resource professionals can use to manage their organizations within the constraints of state and federal laws.


Courses typically taught in spring semesters:

This course focuses on micro-economic theory and applications for public policy.

This course focuses on techniques for evaluating processes and outcomes of public sector and non-profit programs.

This course focuses on the financial management and budgeting in the public and nonprofit sectors, as well as techniques and organizational issues.

This course will examine leadership and ethical questions encountered by managers and leaders in the management of nonprofit and government organizations.  The study of leadership and ethical principles will be combined through the examination of case studies regarding problems in the management of nonprofit and government organizations.

Elective Courses (12 units)

Electives are available from a variety os concentrations in public administration. Students are welcome to take all 12 units of elective coursework from one or multiple concentrations.

Any coursework taken outside of SGPP will need approval from the Program Director and Graduate Programs Manager prior to enrollment. No more than 12 units of elective coursework may be taken outside of the School of Government & Public Policy and must be at the graduate level. Students are responsible for adhering to this policy even if a course is approved by the department. Please note that courses may not be offered every semester or academic year, and some courses may not award you 3 units.

Faculty members who have expertise in specific areas are also listed for students to contact to further discuss course options based on specific career goals. 

See Electives

Internship (3 units)

All MPA students are required to complete a 3 credit/135 hour on-the-job internship experience (PA 593: Internship). Internship Waivers are available for career students with managerial experience, military affiliated students, and Coverdell Fellows. Students have been placed in internship positions at the municipal, state and federal government, with nonprofit organization and international agencies.

MPA internship

Capstone Course/Project (3 units)

  • The MPA Capstone Course (PA 594) is taught during the Spring semester by Mike Letcher.
  • Students should be in good academic standing for capstone enrollment.
  • 6 of 8 core courses should be completed prior to enrollment in the Capstone Course.
  • ALL Capstone Course projects are done in groups.
  • Students must submit a Master's Plan of Study in GradPath and have it approved by all reviewers prior to enrollment in Capstone Course. See the Graduation Checklist for more information.