Master of Public Administration Program

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MPA Mission Statement

The Master of Public Administration program at the University of Alabama develops leaders, managers, and analysts who excel in public service organizations. We provide pre-service and mid-career students with a comprehensive core curriculum in public affairs as well as a broad set of electives to prepare them to solve difficult administrative and policy problems in local, state, national, and global communities. Our program emphasizes public service values while facilitating intellectual and professional development through learning experiences that integrate theory with practice. We provide a culture that promotes integrity and diversity and advances governance while preparing students to reach standards of excellence in public service.

Why Pursue an MPA?

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is designed to prepare students for leadership and administrative roles in federal, state, and local government. It is directed at pre-career students seeking to enhance their employability and level of entry into public service, as well students already working in public service who desire to upgrade their skills, enhance promotion opportunities, or deepen their appreciation for the science and art of public administration.  Through exposure to a rich body of theoretical and applied knowledge, students develop talents for managing employees, formulating budgets, structuring organizations, analyzing policies, and evaluating programs.

Admission Requirements

The MPA is a professional degree program designed primarily for those who plan a career in federal, state, or local government. MPA courses are primarily in-person. That means the MPA degree cannot be completed online. Applicants for admission to the program must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. To be considered for regular admission, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or better However, students scoring below the standards on GPA will not be admitted unless they can demonstrate an ability to do well on graduate coursework that prepares them to lead and manage public service organizations.  Students can demonstrate such an ability if their GPA is significantly above 3.0 in their last 60 hours and/or they have significant work experience relevant to course material (e.g., long-term success in a nonprofit organization or government role).  Furthermore, we do not have separate GPA admissions criteria for any categories of traditional students, such as in-service or pre-service students

Applying for Admission

The application for admission is available online at the Graduate School’s website. Submit your resume, statement of purpose, academic transcripts, and the names and email addresses of three people willing to provide a letter of recommendation for admission.  Applications should be completed no later than the first week of May for Fall semester registration and no later than the third week of November for Spring semester registration. Click here to apply now.

MPA Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete 39 credit hours of coursework. Students complete 21 hours of required Public Administration core courses, 3 hours of required Quantitative Methods, 12 hours of electives, 3 Internship hours, and a Portfolio Project in the final semester. Students with substantial work experience in the public sector may request a waiver of the internship requirement and substitute an additional 3 credit hour elective.

Required Core Courses

Students are required to take each of the courses from the following list. Course descriptions may be found in the UA Graduate Catalog.

  • PSC 562 Public Personnel Administration
  • PSC 565 Foundations of Public Administration
  • PSC 662 Organization Theory (Leading & Managing Public Organizations)
  • PSC 664 Public Policy Analysis
  • PSC 665 Local Government Administration
  • PSC 667 Public Budgeting
  • PSC 668 Program Evaluation

Required Quantitative Methods Course

  • PSC 522 Quantitative Methods I for MPA Students

Elective Courses

The MPA Program offers electives within the Political Science Department, but we also work with other graduate programs on campus to provide our students cross-disciplinary opportunities. Each semester, prior to advising, the MPA Director distributes a list of pre-approved electives offered in the Political Science Department and in other graduate programs at UA. Students may also request approval for courses the MPA Director did not include on the list. In recent years, students have fulfilled some of their elective requirements by completing courses in the following departments: Community Health Sciences, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Gender and Race Studies, Geography, Higher Education Administration, Management, and Social Work.

Students have an opportunity through elective courses to pursue a Focused Area of Study in Public Policy or Global Affairs & Security. MPA students are not required to choose a focused area of study and may instead complete a variety of approved electives. Students who opt to pursue the focused area of study option will complete 12 hours of electives and an internship placement in the chosen area.

Internship Requirement

Internships provide an applied frame of reference for the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the academic classroom. They deepen insights, broaden perspectives, and build on the technical skills and critical thought processes developed in the classroom. They are an especially critical learning experience for pre-career students and students who do not have experience working in public agencies or nonprofit organizations. The MPA Program requires students to complete 300 hours of work in their internship for 3 credit hours. Students typically pursue an internship after completing 18 hours in the program, but exceptions to the 18-hour completion rule may be made by the MPA Director.  Internships may be completed during the semester or, more commonly, during the summer.

Internships can be performed in a variety of organizations. During the 2022-2023 school year, 3 students completed internships with the federal government, 5 with state governments, 5 with local governments (city and county), and 2 with nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, the internship requirement was not waived for any pre-career students. See the “MPA Student Handbook” below for more information regarding internships.

Helpful Information about Students in MPA Program

The MPA program currently has 49 students. Most students in our program attend full-time and are pre-career students, but we welcome part-time students as well. Students pursuing the MPA degree as a full-time student typically complete 9 to 12 credit hours a semester and graduate in 3 to 4 semesters. Of the 11 students who matriculated in the 2017-2018 academic year, 81.8% (9 students) graduated within two years, 90.9% (10 students) graduated within three years, and 90.9% (10) graduated within four years

Post-graduation job placement statistics are based on full- and part-time students who graduated in the 2021-2022 academic year. The job placement information displayed reflects their status within six months of graduation.

Students’ Job Placement

Number of StudentsPlacement
2State, Provincial, or Regional Government, in same country as the program
1City, County, or other Local Government, in the same country as the program
4Non-profit, domestic-oriented
1Private sector, research/consulting
8Private sector, not research/consulting
2Obtaining further education
2Status Unknown
20Total Students
Above: A table showing the number of students who found job placements in various fields.

The Cost of Attendance

Graduate school tuition rates for the University of Alabama’s MPA program can be found at, under the heading “Graduate Campus Student Tuition”. The University of Alabama also provides students with estimated budgets containing both direct and indirect costs for students living on and off campus. This information can be found at, Regarding funding opportunities, the “MPA Student Handbook” below contains detailed information about assistantships and scholarships. Furthermore, financial aid information can be found at

MPA Core Faculty

James Gerard Caillier, Professor and MPA Director

Hyunjung Ji, Associate Professor

Sungho Park, Associate Professor

Aislinn O’Donohoe Riley, Assistant Professor

Alessandro Del Ponte, Assistant Professor

More Information

Learn more about the MPA program by reading the MPA Student Handbook.

Additional information may be found in the Academic Policies section of the UA Graduate Catalog.

Contact the MPA Program Director, Dr. Gerard Caillier, with any additional questions.