2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration, MPA

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Program Description

The mission of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program is to prepare students to be successful public and nonprofit administrators and leaders in our diverse and multicultural regional environment and beyond.  To achieve this mission, the program emphasizes critical thinking, professional writing, and analytical skills; balances theory and practice; exemplifies public service values through teaching, research, and community engagement; and promotes core public service values, including accountability, democratic participation, ethical behavior, fairness, equity, and transparency.

The program is designed to meet the needs of students seeking to begin professional public service careers (pre-service) and current public service practitioners seeking career advancement (in-service). Students may complete the MPA degree through part-time or full-time enrollment.

To best serve our MPA students we offer:

  • a blend of theory and practice in all MPA courses;
  • curriculum designed to develop and enhance core competencies;
  • and accommodating course schedules.

The MPA program offers students a choice of three tracks: general, criminal justice (CJ), and social issues (SI). Students will take the same core courses, and their electives, internships, and capstone topics will reflect their focus. 

Students pursuing the MPA may also choose to complete a certificate program in Foreign Service; Geographic Information Science; or Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dual degree options are offered in concert with the Master of Arts in International and Comparative Politics and the Master of Science in Social or Applied Economics programs.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation in the MPA program. Students who earned an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 or a GPA of at least 2.7 with a 3.2 GPA for the second half of their undergraduate course work may be granted Regular admission status. Those with an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.7 or a GPA of at least 2.5 with a GPA of 3.0 for the second half of their undergraduate course work may be granted Conditional admission status. Prospective applicants who do not meet these criteria for admission should review the policies of the WSU Graduate School for additional options.

Students are accepted into the program year-round to start in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms. If starting other than the fall term, students may enroll in electives only unless given prior approval.

Completed applications for the MPA program include: a) the WSU Application for Admission to Graduate Status; b) official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended (except WSU); c) three letters of recommendation signed and on letterhead from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic achievements and/or ability to meet the rigorous requirements of graduate studies; and d) a 400-word essay that explains how the MPA degree serves the applicant’s personal and professional goals.

Program Learning Outcomes

MPA graduates will be able to:  

  • Lead and manage in the public interest
  • Participate in and contribute to the policy process  
  • Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make evidence-informed decisions in a complex and dynamic environment 
  • Articulate, apply, and advance a public service perspective 
  • Communicate and interact productively and in culturally responsive ways with a diverse and changing workforce and society at large 

For More Information

Program Requirements:

The MPA program requires 36 semester credit hours of approved course work comprised of:

  • 21 credit hours in the MPA core
  • 3 credit hours of internship (The internship requirement is waived for students working in service or who meet the Prior Learning Assessment requirements.)
  • 9 to 12 credit hours of elective courses
  • 3 to 6 credit hours of culminating project or thesis work

MPA core courses develop an understanding of the dynamic context in which public and nonprofit professionals operate. 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, MPA students meet with their faculty advisor to discuss planning and selecting elective courses.

The MPA program offers students a choice of three tracks: general, criminal justice (CJ), and social issues (SI). Students will take the same core courses, and their electives, internships, and capstone topics will reflect their focus. 

When completing the degree program, MPA students have the option of participating in a capstone project or completing an applied research project. The capstone project utilizes small student teams while the applied research project is performed individually. In both forms of the culminating project, students apply sound research methodologies and techniques to analyze “real world” problems and make recommendations to improve or solve them. In lieu of these culminating project options, students may choose to complete a thesis.

Advisors are available to help students choose the most appropriate option for their culminating experience in the MPA program.

Internships are designed to meet the needs of students with no or limited prior experience in the public or nonprofit sectors and to assist with post-graduation job placement. In-service students may substitute an elective course for the internship requirement with advisor approval.

Students can also earn Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) course credit for the Master of Public Administration program. This PLA is designed to give students credit for the program’s internship course, URS 6950. Students can earn either three or six credits (one- or two-course equivalents) depending on how students meet the PLA requirements. For more information on the PLA, students should contact the MPA program directly.

For additional information about the Master of Public Administration, please visit the MPA program website at:


Course Requirements

II. Additional Requirements: 3-6 Hours

Select one from:

III. Internship: 3 Hours

The internship may be waived for students working in service or who meet the Prior Learning Assessment requirement. If internship waived, an additional elective is required to meet the 12 hours minimum.

IV. Electives: 9-12 Hours

Complete a minimum 9 credit hours from selected track. If internship waived, complete an additional 3 credit hours:

Total: 36 Hours

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