School of Public Service

Master of Public Administration

Degree Chair: John Ronquillo, Ph.D.

Program Description
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is designed for students wanting government careers. This degree, like the others in the School of Public Service, can boast of passionate students, an exceptional faculty, and a relevant, fresh curriculum.

Admission Requirements

  • A completed online application
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and/or universitites attended
  • Two-page personal statement describing your educational and career goals, relevant work or volunteer experience, and any special circumstances affecting past or prospective academic performance
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae 

Pre-service students (those without at least 12 months of continuous paid work experience in government or government-related activities following their undergraduate degree) are required to take an additional 4 credit hour internship (MPS 601 or MPS 610) as part of their degree program.

Program Profile
To graduate, a student must successfully complete a minimum of 52 credit hours of graduate credit. Each course carries four credit hours. Required core courses account for 40 credit hours and electives account for 12 credit hours. 
There are currently 182 students enrolled in the MPA degree program.
Currently, 10 full-time professors make up the nucleus faculty for the MPA program.

How long does it typically take to complete the program?
52 credit hours are required to complete the program. The length of time varies according to student need. Some students pursuing the degree full-time (2 courses per quarter) finish in two years. Others take one course a quarter and complete their program requirements in three to four years. Students often switch between full and part time status throughout their academic careers at SPS, dependent on their personal and professional duties.
In 2013, the most recent year in which graduation rates were reported to NASPAA, for the cohort of students that began their MPA degree five years earlier, 22% graduated in 2 years, 60% graduated in 3 years and 78% graduated in 4 years.

Mission Statement

The Master in Public Administration educates ethical leaders to work in local, state, and federal government. Through our cross-sectoral approach to learning, research, and service we help government leaders to connect domestic and global issues, alleviate poverty, and build responsive government. We promote compassion for marginalized communities and service to all people with accountability, justice, professionalism, sensitivity, and transparency.

Program Requirements:
All Specializations: Internship Requirement
Pre-service students must complete MPS 601 Internship or MPS 610 International Internship consisting of 200 hours at an approved site. Visit the internship site for more information about the process.

Required Courses
(40 credit hours)
MPS 500 Introduction to Public Service Management
MPS 501 Cross Sector Analysis
MPS 514 Government Financial Administration
MPS 522 Human Resource Management
*MPS 541 Economic Foundations of Public Service
MPS 542 Policy Design and Analysis (pre-requisites: MPS 501 & MPS 514)
MPS 586 Research Methods I, Introduction to Applied Research and Statistics (pre-requisites: MPS 501 & MPS 514)
MPS 587 Research Methods II, Advanced Applied Research and Statistics (pre-requisite: MPS 586)
MPS 593 Integrative Seminar (pre-requisites: MPS 586 & MPS 587)
MPS 594 Ethical Leadership in Public Service (pre-requisite: MPS 586)

Thesis Option
MPS 598 Thesis Research
Students with a grade point average of 3.5 or above may choose the thesis option and replace MPS 593 with MPS 598.

Current students may visit Campus Connection for current course information. Prospective students may log on as a guest. Once on Campus Connection please select Course Descriptions followed by the department.

Students in this program are required to choose a specialization among the following three options:


For those who aspire to become city managers, chief administrative officers, department directors, and senior project managers, this specialization focuses on the roles, requirements, challenges, and processes of running a public organization. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to work successfully with professional staff, an elected governing board, consultants, and the public in the implementation of broad policy decisions. Legal issues of interest to public managers are also included.

Required Courses
MPS 526 Local Government Administration
MPS 560 Administrative Law

And one of the following electives:
MPS 520 Values Centered Leadership
MPS 529 Strategic Planning
MPS 543 Policy Implementation
MPS 546 Advocacy and Lobbying
MPS 573 Urban and Community Development
MPS 575 Seminar European Union and NATO (Brussels)
MPS 597 Public Service Fellows Seminar


This specialization is for students wanting to work in land use, transportation, economic development, zoning, housing, and other areas of community development. Coursework emphasizes the technical skills of public administration and the tools of analyses and development as applied in a broad public setting. Students study best practices to illustrate the effectiveness of alternative designs and models.

Required Courses
MPS 571 Metropolitan Planning
MPS 573 Urban and Community Analysis

And one of the following electives:
MPS 526 Local Government Administration
MPS 560 Administrative Law
MPS 572 Urban Poverty Seminar
MPS 575 Seminar in the European Union and NATO (Brussels)
MPS 597 Public Service Fellows Seminar
MPS 604 Special Topics (GIS)  


Students intending to work in international organizations require a special understanding of how public and non-profit institutional structures and managerial processes vary around the world. This concentration emphasizes the interdependence of government and non-government organizations (NGOs), while addressing a variety of management, ethics, and policy issues.

Required Courses
MPS 612 International Political Economy
MPS 616 International Relations and Conflict Management

And one of the following electives:
MPS 511 Sustainable Development and NGOs
MPS 573 Urban and Community Development (Curitiba)
MPS 575 Seminar in the European Union and NATO (Brussels)
MPS 597 Public Service Fellows Seminar
MPS 611 Management of International NGOs
MPS 615 Intercultural Communication in Organizations 

Based on our 2013 MPA survey, here is a list of current or most recent job titles our graduates held:

Department of Veteran Affairs
Administrative Support Specialist
Senior Policy Research and Analyst
PhD Student/Teaching Assistant for undergraduate statistics
Workforce Development Specialist
Recruiting Manager
Special Assistant to the Director of Governmental Affairs/Division Coordinator
Vice President for Student Affairs
Revenue Investigator
Consultant for the Chicago Community Trust
Crew Leader, Census Bureau US Dept. Of Commerce
Administrative Associate
Public Policy & Communications Manager
Police Lieutenant
Management Fellow
Law school graduate sitting for the bar exam
Information Systems Manager
Assistant Director of Development for Knowledge Management
Administrative Coordinator
Program Development Internship
Office Manager
Contract Outcomes Analyst
Client Relationship Manager
Program & Research Manager
Program Analyst
Field Interviewer
Division Manager, Local Planning & Programs
Contractor Operations Supervisor
Executive Director