The mission of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at The University of Alabama is to prepare students to lead and manage public service organizations. We strive to develop critical thinking skills enabling our graduates to formulate policies and approaches to management while ensuring the integrity of the public service. Our program emphasizes public service values while facilitating intellectual and professional development through learning experiences that integrate theory with practice. We provide an institutional culture that promotes diversity and advances governance while preparing students to reach standards of excellence in the 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.
The MPA is a professional degree program designed primarily for those who plan a career in federal, state, or local government. Applicants for admission to the program must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test. Scores from the Miller Analogies Test may be submitted as supplementary information, but not as a substitute for the GRE. Additional information may be found in the Academic Policies section of the UA Graduate Catalog.
Admission to the program also requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and three letters of recommendation. Minimum standards for unconditional admission are a score 300 on the GRE and a 3.2 GPA in one’s last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. Applicants failing to meet these requirements can be considered for a conditional (probationary) admission if their undergraduate grade point is above a 2.5.
Applications for admission are available online at the Graduate School’s website and should be completed online. Applications should be completed no later than the first week of July 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 Public Administration 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
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.
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.
Helpful Information about Students in MPA Program
The MPA program currently has 43 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 6 students who matriculated in the 2013-2014 academic year, 66.7% (4 students) graduated within two years and 100% (6 students) graduated within three years.
Post-graduation job placement statistics are based on full- and part-time students who graduated in the 2017-2018 academic year. The job placement information displayed reflects their status within six months of graduation.
Students Job Placement
1 National or Central Government, in same country as the program
6 State, Provincial, or Regional Government, in same country as the program
0 City, County, or other Local Government, in the same country as the program
1 Government (any level), not in the same country as the program
3 Non-profit, domestic-oriented
0 Nonprofit/NGOs, international-oriented
0 Private sector, research/consulting
2 Private sector, not research/consulting
3 Obtaining further education
1 Unemployed, not seeking employment
0 Unemployed, seeking employment
0 Status Unknown
17 Total Students
Learn more about the MPA program by reading the MPA Student Handbook.
For more information contact the MPA Program Director, Dr. Dana Patton.