Program Overview

The MPA program is designed to meet the needs of our students. Students can enroll full-time and complete the program in two years, or attend part-time and spread their studies out over as many as six years. All classes meet in the evening and/or on the weekends, to meet the needs of working adult students.

Core Courses (36 credits)

Core Courses (36 credits) - Two Core programs are required, one during the first year in the program and the other during the second. In each quarter of Core, students earn six credit hours, for a total of 36 credits for the completion of both Core sequences. Completion of both 1st and 2nd year Core courses is a requirement of the MPA Program for all concentrations. No portion of the Core requirement can be waived even if there appears to be some redundancy with the student’s previous work.

Year one: Foundations of Public Administration -- 6 credits each, 18 credits total

  • Fall quarter: Context of Public Administration
  • Winter quarter: Doing Democratic Public Administration
  • Spring quarter: Policy, Finance and Budgeting for Public Administration

Year two: Analytical Techniques for Public Service and Capstone -- 6 credits each, 18 credits total

  • Fall quarter: Analytical Techniques for Public Service I
  • Winter quarter: Analytical Techniques for Public Service II
  • Spring quarter - Capstone

The Core programs are team taught by MPA faculty. Each class admitted for the upcoming fall begins the Core programs as a cohort and continue together for the first two years. During the first year, Core examines: the foundations of public administration; the economic and political context of the public sector; concepts of democratic governance; policy, finance and budgeting; and additional practical knowledge and skills needed to run an organization in the public, nonprofit or tribal sectors. During the second year of Core coursework, students focus on analytic concepts and techniques, including research methods and the application of analytical techniques in administration (e.g., policy analysis, performance measurement, fiscal analysis, program evaluation, etc.) during the Fall and Winter quarters.

Students are expected to complete the entire first year of Core before beginning the second year of Core coursework. Under exceptional circumstances, a student may fail to complete one quarter of first year Core: by being on a leave of absence, withdrawing before completion, receiving an incomplete or not receiving credit (NCR). To complete the “missed” quarter, the student is expected to complete the missed quarter of first year Core during the next year, concurrently with the applicable quarter of second year Core.

The second year of Core coursework requires successive completion: each quarter of second year Core must be successfully completed before beginning the next quarter of second year Core coursework.

Only under exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the MPA Director, can a Core course be completed as an Individual Learning Contract.

No partial credit will be given for Core courses.


The second year of Core culminates in the Capstone course in the Spring quarter. In Capstone, students reflect on their work in the program, integrate experiences by looking at their work holistically and demonstrate what they have learned in the program through a demonstration project (usually with an applied focus, working with an agency, tribe, nonprofit organization or other organization doing public work). The Capstone course is only offered in the Spring term. Students must complete a minimum of 40 credits before taking Capstone. For those students wishing to finish the program in two years, Capstone is taken in the Spring quarter immediately following successful completion of the Winter quarter of Analytical Techniques for Public Service. Students taking more than two years to finish the MPA program should wait to complete Capstone until the Spring quarter before they plan to graduate.

Under exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the MPA Director, Capstone may be completed as an individual learning contract, during the Fall quarter only.

MPA Concentrations

The work that people do in the public service is vast. To meet this need, the MPA program offers three areas of concentration so students can tailor their learning to meet their particular requirements. The concentrations offered by the program are:

Public and Non-profit Administration

Students in this concentration are preparing for, or advancing in, careers as administrators in public or nonprofit organizations. Coursework covers the critical elements of administration—budgeting, strategic planning, human resources and information systems, public law, leadership and ethics, multicultural competencies, and more—as well as the unique nature and needs of nonprofit and government organizations.

Degree Requirements for Public and Non-profit Administration Concentration
1st and 2nd Year Core*36 credits
Electives24 credits
Total Credits60 credits

Public Policy

Students in this concentration are preparing for, or advancing in, positions as policy analysts, budget analysts, or evaluators. Students complete the two Public Policy concentration courses. Electives are offered in such areas as health policy, poverty policy, education policy, environmental policy and energy policy. Students with an interest in other policy areas may study them through individual learning contracts with MPA faculty. Students in other concentrations may enroll in Public Policy concentration courses as electives on a space-available basis. Public Policy concentration students are required to take Foundations of Public Policy and choose between Feminist Approaches to Measurement & Evaluation (FAME) or Advanced Research Methods (ARM) to fulfill their concentration requirement. Beginning Fall 2019, students will not receive additional credit if they take both FAME and ARM. Students will only receive credit for either FAME or ARM.


Degree Requirements for Public Policy Concentration
1st and 2nd Year Core*36 credits
Foundations of Public Policy 4 credits
Advanced Research Methods or Feminist Approaches to Measurement & Evaluation4 credits
Electives16 credits
Total Credits60 credits


Tribal Governance

Students in this concentration are preparing for, or advancing in, careers as administrators who can assist tribal governments and public agencies with which the tribes interact. Students in the Tribal Concentration go through the entire program as a cohort and finish in two years. Students take a Core course and a Concentration course each quarter. Courses are taught in an intensive format, meeting 4 weekend sessions each quarter (2 sessions for the Core course and 2 sessions for the Concentration course). Each session is 20 hours long and meets Friday afternoons and all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Students in this concentration complete a series of five 4-credit courses focusing on issues of critical importance to tribes. Other MPA students may enroll in these Tribal Concentration courses as electives on a space-available basis.


Degree Requirements for Tribal Governance Concentration
1st and 2nd Year Core*36 credits
Tribal Concentrations20 credits
Electives4 credits
Total Credits60 credits



*Pre-requisite Note: Before students are allowed to register for first year core courses, they must complete an MPA-approved 4 credit “Introduction to Statistics” course. The student must earn a minimum grade of “C,” and credit must have been earned within the previous five years.


Elective Courses

Elective course options for MPA students include: 2 credit MPA electives, 4 credit MPA electives, concentration courses for Public Policy and Tribal Governance (subject to space availability and instructor permission as applicable), 4 credit MES electives, graduate individual learning contracts and graduate internship contracts. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the variety of elective options.

Students may select from the wide range of MPA electives offered each term. Every attempt is made to rotate MPA elective offerings so students have an opportunity to take a wide variety of courses and to build their own specialties. For current elective course offerings, check the MPA Catalog for the current academic year -- under "Related Links" on the left navigation on any MPA webpage -- and look under the heading for the quarter that interests you.

MPA students may take a maximum of six of the 2 credit MPA elective courses – a total of twelve (12) credits – toward their MPA degree. These 2 credit courses are ideally suited to intensive, workshop-type learning experiences, which while valuable are only one component of the well-rounded, “robust” set of learning experiences essential for the MPA degree.

Students may not receive credit for taking the same course -- a course with the same name, an equivalent name and/or subject matter -- more than once. This issue may arise because MPA elective courses with the same name may be taught by different faculty and for varying credit amounts. For example, Education Policy as been taught as both a 2 credit and a 4 credit course in different years and with different faculty. However, only one of these can count towards the MPA degree.

If you need to drop an elective for any reason, you must complete the process yourself. Not going to class doesn't automatically drop you; telling your faculty doesn't automatically drop you. You need to complete the registration form and submit it to the Office of Registration & Records.