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 out 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 instrumental culture that promotes diversity and advances governance while preparing students to reach standards of excellence in the public service.
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.
MPA Degree Requirements
Students are required to complete 39 semester hours of coursework. The 39 hours is subdivided as follows: 18 hours of public policy and administration core courses, 3 hours of quantitative methods, 6 hours of public policy and administration electives, and 9 hours of specialization electives if a 3 hour internship is completed and 12 hours of specialization electives if an internship is not completed. An internship is strongly recommended for all pre-service students. In addition to the 39 hours of coursework, students are required to complete a written comprehensive exam.
Core Requirements: 18 Hours in Public Policy and Administration
Beyond the quantitative methods requirement (PSC 522), students are required to take each of the courses from the following lists:
- PSC 565 – Survey of Public Administration
- PSC 562 – Public Personnel
- PSC 664 – Public Policy Analysis
- PSC 662 – Leading & Managing Public Administration
- PSC 663 – Program Evaluation
- PSC 667 – Public Budgeting
Electives Requirements: 6 Hours in Public Policy and Administration
Students must take at least two electives from the following Public Policy and Administration courses:
- 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 requires.
Students who have never taken a course in public administration 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.
Specialization Electives: An Overview
Students are required to take 9 to 12 hours of specialization 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 concentration or to enroll in a broad cross section of courses that will enhance their generalist 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.
Concentrations and Electives: An Overview
Core courses and electives are organized into groups constituting concentrations or specializations. Enrolling in courses within a concentration is an option for students desiring to develop a particular set of skills that will enhance their marketability or satisfy personal interests. The concentrations are public organization management, public personnel and labor relations, policy and management analysis, and criminal justice administration. Students may also develop concentrations not on the list. To do so, consult faculty both inside and outside the Political Science Department in order to develop a list of courses that constitute a meaningful concentration. Then submit this list to the MPA director in the form or a petition to be approved by the public administration faculty.
Internships: An Overview
After completing 18 hours in the program, students may receive 3 hours of course credit for working in a public agency/nonprofit organization and completing an academic exercise relevant to the work. Students may receive 3 hours of credit for a minimum of 200 hours of work. We strongly encourage students to complete an internship if they have never worked in a public agency.
Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and three letters of recommendation. Minimum standards for unconditional admissions are a score of 300 on the GRA 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 returned 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!
For more information contact the MPA Program Director, Dr. James “Gerard” Caillier.