Program Overview

Tailor your MPA degree to meet your needs while exploring a core of critical materials for public service.

Orientation workshop

Faculty Member Doreen Swetkis leads a session on coming together as a learning community at the MPA orientation.

Evergreen's MPA program is designed to create a learning community by admitting a class (cohort) of students to explore core concepts of public administration together.

The MPA program has three cohorts:

  • Olympia - Open for Fall 2022, begins every fall
  • Tribal Governance - Open for Fall 2022, begins every two years (even years)
  • Tacoma - will be open again in Fall 2023, begins every two years (odd years)

MPA candidates select which cohort they would like to join during the application process. 

MPA cohorts start in the fall and attend their core program classes together. Students are required to complete the core program to graduate. Core consists of two years of classes; six credit hours are required each Fall, Winter, and Spring quarter for two school years, for a total of 36 credits.  Core classes are sequential and build upon skills learned in each quarter.

Spring quarter of your second year culminates in the Capstone core course. In Capstone, you will reflect on your work in the program, integrate experiences by looking at your work holistically, and demonstrate what you have learned in the program through a demonstration project.

Concentration Areas

You will be able to specialize in one of three areas:

  • Public & Nonprofit Administration
  • Public Policy
  • Tribal Governance

Each concentration has different credit requirements to fulfill—take a look at the table below:

Credit Requirements
Concentration Core Program Concentration Requirements Electives Total
Public & Nonprofit Administration 36 credits 0 credits 24 credits 60 credits
Public Policy 36 credits 8 credits 16 credits 60 credits
Tribal Governance 36 credits 20 credits 4 credits 60 credits

Public & Nonprofit Administration

This concentration prepares you for careers as administrators in public or nonprofit organizations.

As the most flexible concentration, you’ll take 24 credits of elective MPA courses that interest you, in addition to the Core program. All classes are held on evenings and weekends to accommodate working schedules.

Coursework covers the critical elements of administration, including budgeting, strategic planning, human resources and information systems, public law, leadership and ethics, and multicultural competencies.

Public Policy

This concentration prepares you for roles such as policy analyst, budget analyst, or evaluator.

You’ll examine various models of public policy, how to analyze current and proposed policies, and how to engage in policy development and advocacy. All classes are held on evenings and weekends to accommodate working schedules.

In addition to the Core program, you’ll complete 8 credits of public policy courses and 16 credits of MPA elective courses in public policy arenas and other aspects of public administration.

Analytical Techniques for Public Service

Students in the MPA Tribal Governance concentration attend a class for the program Analytical Techniques for Public Service.

Tribal Governance

As the only program of its kind in the United States, the Tribal Governance MPA at Evergreen was developed in coordination with tribal leaders to offer credentials that reflect in-depth specialization in contemporary Tribal governance subject areas.

In this concentration, you’ll complete 20 credits focusing on issues of critical importance to tribal sovereignty, including:

  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Tribal policy
  • Economic development

Additionally, you’ll complete the required MPA Core program, as well as four credits of electives of your choice.

This concentration is designed to serve working adults, especially students traveling from locations farther away from Olympia or Washington state. To serve these students, the courses in this concentration are taught in an intensive weekend format.  Students must be admitted to the Tribal Governance cohort.


Develop your interests by selecting from a range of relevant elective offerings. Students may choose elective courses from the MPA or Master of Environmental Studies offerings. Courses are offered during the regular academic year as well as in the summer. Course offerings change annually. See the current catalog for available offerings.

In addition, students may design their own courses through Individual Learning Contracts and internships.

Get A Head Start On Your Degree

If you have a bachelor’s degree and are considering applying to the MPA program, you may register for open electives. You may take up to 8 MPA elective credits per quarter. A maximum of 12 credits will be applied to your degree if you are admitted to the program.

See the Test Drive the MPA Program page for more information.

Affiliations and Accreditation

Evergreen's MPA program is a member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and subscribes to NASPAA's Code of Good Practice.

The Evergreen State College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).