MPA Degree Requirements
The MPA program requires 36 semester credit hours of approved course work. Requirements for the MPA degree include:
- 21 credit hours of core courses;
- 3 credit hours of a culminating project, or 6 credit hours of thesis;
- 3 to 6 credit hours of internship (may be substituted with an elective for in-service); and
- approved elective courses for the remainder of the required credit hours.
MPA core courses develop an understanding of the dynamic metropolitan and global context in which public and nonprofit professionals operate. The broad range of knowledge and skills required for successful and ethical public/nonprofit management are reflected in the topical areas addressed in the core MPA courses: understanding the context and significance of public and nonprofit management and administration; effectively managing organizational behavior; developing and managing capital and operating budgets; thinking strategically and evaluating public policies and programs; managing human resources; developing and applying sound methods for conducting research and collecting information; analyzing, interpreting, managing data and information to guide decisions; and analyzing and prescribing meaningful solutions to social and organizational problems.
Elective courses supplement the broad range of knowledge and skills developed in the MPA core and strengthen students' knowledge and skills in their particular areas of professional interest. For these reasons, all MPA students are required to meet with their faculty advisor to discuss planning and selecting elective courses.
When completing the MPA culminating experience, students have the option of choosing the Capstone Project, the Applied Research Project, or the MPA Thesis. In each of these options, students apply sound research methodologies to study and analyze "real world" problems experienced by communities, public agencies, or nonprofit organizations and make recommendations to improve or solve the problems. The Capstone Project utilizes small student teams while the Applied Research Project and the MPA Thesis are performed individually. Advisors are available to help students choose the most appropriate option to satisfy their academic and professional needs.
The MPA curriculum combines theory and practice to enhance understanding of relevant public policies and their effects on administrative processes and outcomes. In most MPA courses, "real world" problems are examined to illuminate relevant legal and/or theoretical concepts and analyze potential solutions. In addition, some MPA courses utilize service-learning which allows students to apply learned concepts to analyze and potentially solve actual problems faced by public/nonprofit organizations and/or communities in the local region. This blend of theory and practice enhances students' understanding of and capacity for success in the environment in which public service professionals practice their craft.