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Master of Public Administration-Capstone Option




Program Description

This degree program provides a unique program of study in administrative theory, the program and policy development process, and specific case studies in public policy. The degree program is designed to offer graduates of various undergraduate programs an opportunity to obtain high levels of proficiency of technical and managerial skills to enhance public service work. It aims at broad-level understanding of the goals and challenges of public administration and the relationship of these to more specialized aspects of planning, organization, management, and analysis in the public sector at the national, state, and local levels. The degree program is designed to provide advanced study and prepare current and future government employees for management positions in government at all levels. Because of its focus on management and the expanding role of the private sector in providing traditional government services, the degree program is also applicable to industry and the non-profit sector.

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Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and degree level learning outcomes objectives, this degree also seeks the following specific learning outcomes of its graduates:

  • Apply leading theories and approaches to managing public organizations and administering federal, state, and local levels.
  • Test the concepts, theories, and methodologies to conduct research in the public sector.
  • Evaluate the philosophical and practical issues related to ethical decision-making in the public sector.
  • Formulate and articulate positions and issues that intersect the dynamics of politics, policy, economics, administration, and management in the public sector.
  • Compare and contrast the government and private sector budgeting process and the funding of specific government programs and activities.
  • Analyze the role of federal administrative organizations including Congress, the president, the courts, and interest groups in public policy development and implementation.
  • Assess the emerging trend and implications of the private and not-for-profit sectors providing government services.
  • Formulate a strategy for developing a needs assessment, outcome expectations, program outcome evaluation, impact assessment, and strategic plan.
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Students obtaining a Master of Public Administration obtain high levels of proficiency of technical and managerial skills to enhance public service work. Students are provided with a broad-level understanding of the goals and challenges of public administration and the relationship of these to more specialized aspects of planning, organization, management, and analysis in the public sector at the national, state and local levels. The degree program is designed to provide advanced study and prepare current and future government employees for management positions in government at all levels. With the program’s focus on management and the expanding role of the private sector in providing traditional government services, graduates will find that program is also applicable to industry and the non-profit sector.

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Useful Skills within the Public Administration Field

Complex Problem Solving - Ability to identify a problem, review related information, develop and evaluate options, and implement a solution

Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems

Decision Making - Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action

Listening - Paying attention to what other people are saying and taking time to understand the points being made

Management of Financial Resources - Determining how much money is required to get a job done, allocating those monies, and then accounting for all expenditures

Management of People - Assigning duties to others, motivating them, and evaluating their performance

Management of Physical Resources - The ability to make appropriate the use of equipment and materials to get a job done

Monitoring – Monitoring and assessing performance of oneself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action

Reading Comprehension - The ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports

Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of the reactions of others and understanding why they react the way they do

Speaking - Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions

Writing - Composing and communicating your ideas in written form


Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the public administration field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry in our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or speak with a career coach.

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.

Administrative Services Manager
Chief Executives
City and Regional Planning Aides
Compliance Managers
Environmental Compliance Inspectors
Financial Analysts
General and Operations Managers

Government Property Inspectors and Investigators
Labor Relations Specialists
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Public Relations Specialists
Regulatory Affairs Managers
Social and Community Services Managers
Urban and Regional Planners

Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships - they are organized by interest or by federal program.

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they will have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF.

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines


Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations
Conferences and Expositions
Get Connected: Social Media

American Evaluation Association - Facebook, LinkedIn
American Public Works Association - Facebook, LinkedIn
American Society for Public Administration - Facebook, LinkedIn
Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management - Facebook, LinkedIn
Children Defense Fund - Facebook
Council on Foundations - Facebook, LinkedIn
International City/County Management Association - Facebook, LinkedIn
International Institute of Administrative Sciences - Facebook, LinkedIn
National Academy of Public Administration - Facebook, LinkedIn
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration - Facebook, LinkedIn
National Forum for Black Public Administrators - Facebook, LinkedIn
National League of Cities - Facebook, LinkedIn
Public Administration and Security Management - Facebook

Quick Links
Disaster Management Total Credits - 36 Hours
Core Requirements
18 Hours
Applied Research Methods in Public Administration
3 hours

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the elements for building research projects and analyzing research in the public administration setting. Topics will include developing research questions, research hypotheses, use of theory in the research project, and the distinction between qualitative and quantitative methods. Students will learn how to select the best methods for the issue or problem being researched. Methods covered in the class include interviewing, survey research, focus groups, content analysis, case study methods, observations, and an overview of statistical methods focused on comprehending statistics. No prerequisite.

Ethics in Government
3 hours

One only has to pick up the newspaper (or click on the news feed on your mobile phone!) to see examples of the ethical minefields in public service. Sometimes these issues are easy to spot, at other times they are not. This course will look at the moral versus legal aspects of ethics in public administration. Organizational culture and its impact on ethical decision making will be emphasized at the local, state and federal levels. Political activities and the Hatch Act will be considered as well as other restrictions faced by public employees because of their unique requirement to uphold the public trust. Students will be asked to do an in-depth study on a governmental agency and report the findings to the class. Students will also critique and analyze real world case studies and examine current trends in distribution and enforcement of these policies. This course will culminate in the preparation of an ethics code for a hypothetical program. No prerequisite.

Public Administration in Society
3 hours

The study and practice of public administration is explored in its political context. The student is introduced to the environment within which public administration functions and the dynamics of behavior within large organizations. How choices are made among competing policies, factors affecting the implementation of policy, and the role of policy evaluation in shaping policy choices are examined. Managing large scale bureaucratic organizations is analyzed including the role of leadership, the management of personnel and finances, and the role of communication in inter- and intra-organizational relations.

Public Policy
3 hours

This course examines the way government policies emerge from the political process and are implemented through participating institutions. In this class students will investigate how good analysis can contribute to informed policy-making and review the factors that go into developing effective implementation strategies. In addition, today’s need for enhanced public accountability and the challenging problems of measuring program performance are examined.

Public Management
3 hours

This course examines a range of management issues and strategies within the context of managing public organizations. The core focus is on an enhanced understanding of the theoretical and practical approaches to public management, an examination of enduring and day-to-day dilemmas faced by competent public managers, and the application of relevant theories to public management within the United States.

Public Finance
3 hours

This course covers public budgeting from the public manager’s perspective. Whether you are currently or hope to be a manager for federal, state or local government or a local or national nonprofit, this course will give you a good overview of budgeting and how it relates to you. Topics include budgetary history, revenue and expenditure management, budgeting processes and operating techniques.

Major Requirements
6 Hours
Grant Writing for Government and Non Profit Agencies
3 hours

Due to the growing problem of budget cuts, non profit and government agencies have needed to seek additional funding through applying for grants from the federal government and private foundations. Because of this, the need to develop effective grant writing skills is essential to obtained grant funding in this extremely competitive market. This course will help to develop the skills necessary for students to have the knowledge to be able to develop a solid funding grant proposal. This course is ideal for students who are working for nonprofit and government agencies and are seeking to develop the skills needed to become an effective grant writer. Additionally this course is ideal for students who work with and/or supervise grant based programs or agencies and who wish to acquire the knowledge of how the grant process works.

Applied Statistics
3 hours

This is an interactive course designed to help students achieve a greater understanding of the statistical methods and models available to analyze data and to solve problems associated with making decisions and testing hypotheses in uncertain conditions. The course is designed for students seeking a thorough appreciation of how statistical tools can support sound decision making efforts in a wide range of situations. Topics covered include inferential statistics, averages, measures of variation, the Normal distribution and its uses, sampling distributions, hypothesis testing for large and small samples, regression and correlation, and Chi-Square distributions. The skills, tools and methodologies needed to analyze systems and to make decisions are provided. State of the art analytical tools and quantitative methods, including computer-based solutions are discussed. The emphasis of the course will be on the proper use of statistical techniques and their implementation rather than on mathematical proofs. However, some mathematics is necessary in order to understand the proper application of the techniques introduced and discussed during the course.

Administrative Theory
3 hours

This course covers the major administrative theories that drive macro-level public behavior. It will begin with a consideration of the broad significance of the study of public organizations for individuals in modern society. It will then examine how theorists and practitioners have sought to develop more formal perspectives on public management. It will examine those ideas that are of greatest relevance to the construction of an integrated theory of public organizations. The progression of the course follows the evolution of administrative theory from the pioneering work of Weber, Taylor and Woodrow Wilson to current theories regarding the “New Public Management.”

Law and Public Policy
3 hours

This course provides an introduction to the law and legal system as it applies to public administration and policy. It covers the interrelation of norms, moral codes and formal laws. The attempt to address social concerns with new laws and regulations has created increased pressure in the courts and legislative chambers. This course examines the sources, influences, operation and consequences of law and public policy formation, and analyzes public policy initiatives from political and legal aspects as to their intentions, achievable aims, and intended and unintended outcomes.

Program Appraisal
3 hours

This course is designed to develop fundamental skills essential for students to evaluate public programs. Knowledge of the policy process and research methods is brought together in the ethical assessment of program needs, processes, and outcomes.

Local Political Administration
3 hours

This course is an analysis and provides research on legislatures, legislators, and the legislative process at national, state, and local levels. It focuses on legislative structures, decision making, and behavior among nations, U.S. states, and local governments.

The U.S. Presidency, Congress, & Bureaucracy
3 hours

The course covers a combination of theories and applications that will provide the student with basic tools required to understand, navigate, and communicate with the three administrative elements of the federal government. The emphasis of the course is based on a study of composing, legislating, implementing, and enforcing public policy set against a background of both historical and current elements.

Legislatures and Legislative Behavior
3 hours

This course focuses on legislative structure and decision-making. Through reading, studying, and reflecting upon legislatures, legislators, and legislative processes, students will examine the U.S. legislative structure and conduct an analysis of comparative legislative behavior.

Concentration Requirements
9 Hours
Emergency and Disaster Theory
3 hours

This course establishes the theoretical foundation that enables the study and understanding of what constitutes ‘disaster’ as a part of the human condition and experience. Students are given a basic understanding of scientific concepts such as fact, theory, and hypothesis. These are then illustrated by analysis and case studies provided by renowned thinkers and writers in the field of emergency and disaster management. Students leave the class with a quality theoretical foundation from which to conduct all of their future master’s-level work.

Emergency and Disaster Planning and Management
3 hours

This is a survey course that is designed to introduce students to the concepts of emergency management. Topics covered include the history of the field, hazard analysis, mitigation, planning, communication, response, recovery, and terrorism. Students conduct interview research with an emergency manager and conduct a site visit of an emergency operations center. Students can use this course to springboard into advanced topics within the field as offered by other courses, and is a great place for students to begin their emergency management degree programs.

Interagency Disaster Management
3 hours

This course deals with the interaction, coordination, and facilitation between federal, state, and local agencies during preparation, response, and recovery operations. The history of emergency response organizational development is explored, along with the current structural and operational design provided by the National Response Framework (NRF) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Finally, the potential for public-private partnerships in disaster response is examined. Students will achieve an understanding of how all of the various agencies work together to achieve emergency management and disaster response goals and objectives.

Economics of Disaster
3 hours

This course is a study of the economics associated with international, national, state, or local level disaster. Students will study, analyze, and conduct research on the direct and indirect economic losses associated with disaster. The course will cover the economics associated with both public and private institutions.

Final Program Requirement
3 Hours
Creative Project Capstone in Public Administration
3 hours

The Public Administration Creative Project Capstone course gives students the opportunity to address issues of public importance that are directly or closely related to their own career, occupation, profession or current position. Creative projects as program capstones may derive from a wide variety of organizationally defined formats such as legislative proposals (local, state or Federal), amicus briefs, standard operating procedures, training program manual, procedure manuals, organizational change proposals, communication plans, or recruitment plans to name but a few. The format will be proposed by the student and approved by the instructor. The creative project must demonstrate originality and will follow the style requirements set by the department currently the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual.

Public Administration Capstone
3 hours

The capstone for the Public Administration program is the final course in the MPA program and involves submission of a master’s thesis. This course may not be taken until all of your other courses are COMPLETED and you have a minimum 3.0 GPA. It is also mandatory to have an advising session with the Program Director of Public Administration prior to taking the place when you have 2 or 3 classes left.

Graduate Electives
0 Hours
Electives are typically courses available at your degree level that are not currently required as a part of your degree program/academic plan. Please visit the catalog to view a complete listing of courses.

Program Completion Rates, Median Debt and More

View more details regarding our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information.


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