Graduate Studies

Master of Public Administration Program

logo and accreditation statement for the NASPAAMPA Mission Statement

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 integrates 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.

About the Program

Currently, 23 students are enrolled in the MPA program. MPA classes are delivered in-person. Consequently, there are no online MPA courses. Most students complete the program within 3 years, and the completion percentage of students 5 years prior to Self-Study year (2016-2017) was 87.5 percent. And, our recent graduates have earned employment in such organizations as US Census Bureau, AmeriCorps, Southlake Public Works Department, City of Tuscaloosa, Selma County Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Builders Association, Vulcan Park and Museum of Birmingham, Education Corporation of America, and Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce.

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 semester hours of coursework. The 39 hours is subdivided as follows: 21 hours of public policy and administration core courses, 6 hours of public policy and administration electives, and 9 hours of general electives if a 3 hour internship is completed and 12 hours of general electives if an internship is not completed. An internship is required for all pre-service students. In addition to the 39 hours of coursework, students must pass a portfolio project.

Core Requirements: 21 Hours in Public Policy and Administration

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

  • PSC 565 Survey of Public Administration
  • PSC 562 Public Personnel
  • PSC 664 Public Policy Analysis
  • PSC 662 Leading & Managing Public Organizations
  • PSC 667 Public Budgeting
  • PSC 663 Program Evaluation
  • PSC 522 Quantitative Methods

Public Policy and Administration Electives Requirements: 6 hours

Students must take at least two electives from the following Public Policy and Administration courses. Course descriptions may be found in the UA Graduate Catalog.

  • PSC 561 Administrative Regulation-
  • PSC 621 Quantitative Methods II
  • PSC 663 Selected Problems in Public Administration
  • PSC 665 Local Government Administration
  • PSC 666 Political Economy and Public Policy

With permission from the MPA director, some of the Public Policy and Administration elective courses can be used to fulfill the Core Requirements. That means students will have to take 6 hours of additional courses from the public policy and administration electives. Students can also use courses outside of the ones listed above to fulfill both the core and elective requirements. Similarly, permission from the MPA director is required.

All newly admitted students should enroll in Survey of Public Administration (PSC 565) as soon as possible. This course provides students with an overview of the general field of public administration and an introduction to the subfields of public administration. 

General Electives

Students are required to take 9 to 12 hours of general electives, depending on whether one completes a 3-hour internship.  Electives can be taken in the Department of Political Science or any other department offering a course relevant to public administration. Students are encouraged to enroll in elective courses within a broad cross section of courses that will enhance their skills. Although a list of approved electives is provided below, students interested in taking courses not on this list may do so with approval of the MPA director.


After completing 18 hours in the program, students may receive 3 hours of course credit for working in an agency/nonprofit organization and completing an academic exercise relevant to the work. Students may receive 3 hours of credit for a minimum of 300 hours of work. We require students to complete an internship if they have never worked in a public agency.

Helpful Information about Students in MPA Program

Most students who enter the MPA program do so as full-time students. The program is designed to be a two-year program (four semesters total) for full-time students. We also admit students, however, who complete the program part-time. 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


More Information

Learn more about the MPA program by reading the MPA Guidebook.

For more information contact the MPA Program Director, Dr. Dana Patton.