The Master’s degree in Public Affairs is a professional degree with a focus on public management, policy analysis, and applied technology. The MPA program emphasizes the management analysis, implementation, and evaluation of public policies. The curriculum is intended to train students who ultimately will assume senior staff, managerial and leadership roles in public agencies, nonprofit organizations, consulting firms, and businesses significantly affected by public policies.
Students have access to the computing facilities in the School of Social Sciences and the University’s Computing Center. The School has two computing laboratories which have over 30 computers that are network linked and equipped with major social science software packages, including E-Views, R, Rats, SPSS and STATA. A computerized geographic information system, the Lexis Nexis Database, and WestLaw are also available for student use. The University’s Computing Center provides personal computers and UNIX Workstations. Many important data and reference materials are also available online via the McDermott Library and School’s memberships in numerous organizations.
The University’s general admission requirements are discussed here.
The Master of Public Affairs program seeks applications from students with a baccalaureate degree for an accredited university or college. A 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and a combined verbal and quantitative score of at least 1000 on the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or equivalent score on the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), are advisable. Students may also wish to consider submitting their score from the writing component of the GRE test as additional evidence of their writing skills. Standardized test scores are only one of the factors taken into account in determining admission. Students should also submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a one-page essay outlining the applicant’s background, education and professional objectives.
Some students may need to take courses that prepare them adequately for core coursework. In general, students who lack a background in mathematics or microcomputing may be required to take courses designed to prepare them for the material to which they will be exposed in these courses. Students should consult with the graduate advisor regarding specific courses to be taken.
Students who have previous graduate work pertinent to the requirements of a MPA may be given up to 15 hours of transfer credit, and the hours of coursework required for the degree will be reduced accordingly. Students desiring to transfer graduate courses thought to be equivalent to core courses may be required to demonstrate competency through examination. The award of such transfer credit must be consistent with the University’s “Transfer of Credit” policy.
The University’s general degree requirements are discussed here.
Students seeking a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree must complete at least 42 semester credit hours of work in the program. The program has four components: a 21 hour core, 9 hours in a professional specialization, together with 9 hours of directed electives, and 3 hours of internship or policy research workshop. Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in the core courses and an overall grade point average of 3.0 to graduate. Ph.D. students may obtain the MPA degree by completing the 21 hour core, plus an additional 21 hours of graduate-level coursework.
All MPA students should complete the core courses as soon as possible. A full-time student entering the program will normally take three core courses and one additional course each semester. The workshop or internship is usually undertaken when the student has completed most of the other degree requirements.
Students who specialize in public management take 9 hours from: PA 5323 Quality and Productivity Improvement in Government, PA 6320 Organizational Theory, PA 6326 Decision Tools for Managers, PA 6328 Management Process and Analysis, POEC 6336 Bureaucracy and Public Policy, PA 7322 Negotiation Strategies for Effective Management, PA 7343 Human Resources Management.
Students who choose policy analysis complete 9 hours from: POEC 5307 Economics for Public Policy, ECO 6361 Public Sector Economics, POEC 5316 Advanced Regression Analysis, POEC 6352 Evaluation Research Methods in the Social Sciences, POEC 7304 Cost-Benefit Analysis.
Students who specialize in applied technology take: GISC 6381 Geographic Information Systems Fundamentals (GIS), GISC 6382 Applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GISC 6383 GIS Management and Implementation.
Other courses may substitute for those listed in any specialization with the approval of the Associate Dean for Graduate Education or the Coordinator of the MPA degree.
Students in public management or policy analysis also select, in consultation with the MPA Coordinator, an additional 9 hours of appropriate coursework from the courses below. Students in applied technology also select another 9 hours, 6 of which are from appropriate electives described in the section on the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate.
The Policy Research Workshop applies the student’s knowledge and professional skills to a research project. Problem definition and project development occur in a team environment under faculty direction, sometimes in concert with an external client who is funding the research. The effort places the student in an environment where cooperative skills and timely product delivery are essential. The workshop is recommended for students specializing in policy analysis, for those who already have substantial professional experience, and for part-time students for whom an internship is not practical. GISC 6387 GIS Workshop fulfills the policy workshop requirement for students who specialize in applied technology; in addition, these students may choose to do an internship.
The internship involves work in a professional capacity in an organization, under the joint supervision of an experienced professional mentor at the internship site and a member of the faculty. The standard three hour internship requires approximately a one-quarter time commitment to the work experience. Six-hour internships normally are half-time appointments for a semester or the summer. The objective of the internship is to provide an introduction to professional life and to establish sound approaches to the practice of public affairs. Full-time students choosing public management will normally choose the internship.