Program Overview

Metropolitan State University's Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) program prepares you for the widest range of career opportunities in the public and nonprofit sectors. The state-of-the-art curriculum addresses the most critical challenges that public and nonprofit professionals face.

The MPNA program is available in three formats: regular classroom classes, a totally online format, and Web-enhanced classes which alternate meeting in the classroom and online . You can choose the format you prefer, depending on your individual preferences or circumstances, including a mix of all three formats.

The MPNA degree offers maximum flexibility in designing your studies to match your interests in public administration, nonprofit management, or a mix of both. Students begin by studying program fundamentals, then select courses in the public or nonprofit focus areas, supported by a set of strategic skills courses, electives, and a capstone seminar that all students complete.

  • Program Fundamentals: Fundamental concepts and skills that undergird the entire MPNA program.
  • Strategic Skills and Knowledge: Core competencies for all public and nonprofit professionals.
  • Focus Areas: Public Administration or Nonprofit Management tracks, plus electives in specific areas of practice.
  • Capstone seminar: Final project and MPNA program integration.

All MPNA students must complete 40 graduate credits.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the MPNA program should be able to:

  • Conduct critical analysis of complex issues faced by public and nonprofit leaders and professionals.
  • Provide leadership in developing and implementing organizational and professional codes of conduct, establishing ethical organizational culture and facilitating the pursuit of justice in the public arena.
  • Lead and manage employees, volunteers and teams ethically, strategically, effectively and efficiently.
  • Manage information, organizational learning and technology to support high quality decisions and evaluation.
  • Work effectively across sector, jurisdictional, organizational and professional boundaries.
  • Communicate effectively as appropriate to the audience in written and oral communication.
  • Manage financial and business resources, expenditures and accountabilities effectively.
  • Engage effectively, respectfully and competently with diverse cultures and stakeholders in community and workplace environments.
  • Advocate knowledgeably and effectively in the public arena to advance organizational and agency mission for the public good.

All MPNA students must complete 40 graduate credits.

More information about this program

Admissions Criteria

Applicants who have completed the GMAT or GRE may submit an official copy of these scores and by-pass the quantitative admissions assessment. Applicants who have not completed the GMAT or GRE must complete our free online quantitative tutorial/assessment in math and statistics, i.e. ALEKS .  All applicants are required to submit an admissions essay, which also serves as a writing assessment. The quantitative tutorial/assessment  and admissions essay must be completed before a final admission decision is made and before any graduate-level classes can be taken.

English and Quantitative Competence Assessment

All graduate students are expected to demonstrate English and quantitative competence at a level that ensures success in graduate studies. Applicants whose abilities are assessed to be inadequate for graduate study may be required to enroll in appropriate undergraduate courses until their skills have been brought to a satisfactory level. These undergraduate courses must be successfully completed prior to taking any graduate level courses.

Admission Decisions

The Graduate Admissions Committee evaluates applications for evidence of undergraduate scholarship, professional experience and demonstrated aptitude for successful graduate study. Applicants who meet all application requirements are given full admission to the MPNA program. Applicants who meet some, but not all admissions requirements, may be granted conditional admission to the program. Conditionally-admitted students must complete selected prerequisite courses prior to registering for any graduate course work.  Applicants denied admission may not take graduate level courses.

Reapplication for Denied Applicants

If an application for admission to the program is denied, the applicant may reapply for admission after a minimum of six months has passed since the denial. The applicant will need to demonstrate substantive improvements in the reapplication to be considered for admission.

Applicants who are denied admission may apply for another graduate program. A new application form must be accompanied by the application fee, a new goals essay, updated resume, two new references and test scores and/or assessment scores appropriate to the degree for which the applicant is applying. 

Application Requirements

Applicants should allow 7-10 business days for review once all required application materials are received and sent to the Graduate Admissions Committee.

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit:

  • Graduate Application
  • Non-refundable application fee (waived for graduates and veterans of Metropolitan State University)
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended
  • Quantitative assessment score  
  • Current resume
  • Goals essay
  • Two reference letters from professional or academic sources

See Applying to the Program for application packets, details on the requirements, deadlines and International Student application requirements.


Newly admitted students to the MPNA program will be invited to a new student orientation with all newly admitted students in the public and nonprofit administration programs (MNLM, MPA, and MPNA) at the beginning of their first semester of course work. This orientation will introduce them to other students, alumni, and faculty as well as provide important information to navigate University systems and succeed in their graduate studies. Students who are unable to attend the orientation will be provided with orientation information via the Internet and/or telephone. 

Additional Information

Transfer Credits

Once admitted, students may transfer up to 16 graduate level credits into the MPNA program. A course may be considered for transfer only if it is an appropriate substitution for a required course or elective as outlined in the program curriculum, was not included in a previously granted degree, and was awarded a letter grade of B or better. Courses are accepted in transfer upon the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

Academic Standing

Students must remain in satisfactory academic standing to continue in the MPNA program. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is required for graduation, and only courses for which a letter grade of C (2.0) or better is received count toward degree requirements.  The option of a competence/no competence with a narrative transcript is not available to MPNA students. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and passing grades (i.e., C or better) for all required courses are required for graduation. Academic standing is calculated at the end of each semester.

Students receiving a letter grade of C+ or below in any graduate course, or who have a cumulative GPA that drops below 3.0, will be required to meet with their Faculty Advisor to address obstacles to completing high-quality coursework. Required courses for which a student receives an F must be repeated and passed in order to graduate. MPNA students may repeat courses if they receive a grade of C or C+, upon approval of the Graduate Program Director. No course may be taken more than three times.
Only the higher grade (if the course is repeated once) or highest grade (if the course is repeated twice) is used in computing the grade point average.  

Dismissal Due to Unsatisfactory Academic Standing

Students who receive a grade of F in a required course must re-take the course at their earliest opportunity and pass it with a grade of C or better in order to complete their program and graduate. This is normally expected within one calendar year, provided the course is offered during that year, or the next time the course is offered from the time an F was received, to re-take the course. Failure to do so may result in dismissal from the program. Students who received an F but cannot complete the course with a passing grade of C or better within the two allowable re-take opportunities will be dismissed from the program.

Appeal of Dismissal Due to Unsatisfactory Academic Standing

Students who are removed from the program may appeal their removal to the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Dean. The appeal must be made in writing and provide specific grounds for the appeal. The appeal is due to the Dean within 30 days of the date of the letter notifying them of the decision to remove them from the program. The Dean has 30 days to respond in writing to the appeal.  Appeals received after 30 days will not be considered.

Readmission after Dismissal

Students who have been dismissed from the MPNA program may apply for readmission no sooner than one calendar year after the last semester of study. To reapply, they have to complete the same process that was required for their initial admission and they must meet all the requirements of the program as of their time of readmission. Readmission decisions are made by the Graduate Admissions Committee and are not automatic.

Time to Completion

Students have five years from the first semester of graduate study to complete their degree program requirements. An extension of the time limit may be requested by writing to the Graduate Program Director. Such requests must be received prior to the expiration of the time limit. Requests for extensions should include the reason(s) for requesting the extension, a summary of the student's plan to finish graduation requirements, and a specific date for the extension to expire. Extension decisions are made by the Graduate Admissions Committee, are not automatic, and cannot be appealed.


Metropolitan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Higher Learning Commission

30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602-2504

The MPNA program curriculum is consistent with the guidelines of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC).


Resident faculty members are primarily:

  • Holders of doctoral degrees in their fields
  • Authors of applied and refereed publications
  • Experienced in their academic fields.

Additionally, the MPNA program has a strong community faculty fully committed to educational excellence in applied scholarship. All community faculty have either a master's or a doctorate in their area of instruction as well as professional expertise in their fields. Metropolitan State ensures the quality of its community faculty through a careful selection process, extensive training through our Center for Faculty Development, and regular student evaluations.

Additional Program Information

How Admissions Works

We are looking forward to you joining us. Take the first step by filling out this application.
Course List


Requirements ( 40 total credits)

Program Fundamentals (6 credits):

All MPNA students must complete MPNA 600 and either PADM 600 or NPM 600

  • MPNA 600 Practical Research for Public Administration and Non-profit Management
    2 credits

    MPNA 600 Practical Research for Public Administration and Non-profit Management is a two credit elective that prepares students in the MPNA program in writing, mathematics and statistical skills at the graduate level. These skills, as the title suggests, will serve as practical foundation for more rigorous efforts that students engage in all of the other courses taken throughout the Master's program.

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  • One of the following classes is required:
    • PADM 600 Public Administration Foundations
      4 credits

      This course familiarizes students with the historical and contemporary place of government institutions in the United States and the State of Minnesota. It provides an intellectual perspective on public administration that traces major theories associated with the field and the political, economic and social context within which they developed. The unique challenges of leadership and management in the public sector is also addressed.

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    • NPM 600 Nonprofit Governance and Management
      4 credits

      This foundational course explores the challenges of leading and working in today's nonprofit organizations. Topics include leadership, management, ethics and values, board governance, human resources management, and constituency building. It also includes an examination of the theory, history and development of nonprofit. Students examine in depth current issues confronting nonprofit organizations.

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Strategic Skills and Knowledge (18 credits):

All MPNA students must complete these five courses:

  • MGMT 620 Organizational Behavior
    0 credits

    This course focuses on behavior in organizations as influenced by individual differences, group processes and interactions, and organizational processes. Skills and abilities essential for effective management in changing organizational contexts are emphasized. Topics examined include motivation, diversity, group development team building, power and politics, leadership, job design and organizational culture. ** Note: this is a variable credit course with credit range of 3 - 4.

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  • ECON 635 Economics of Social Issues
    4 credits

    This course focuses on the application of fundamental concepts in macroeconomics and microeconomics to facilitate and inform managerial decision making in government and nonprofit fields. Students use microeconomic tools to understand and analyze the outcomes of the macroeconomic system. Topics include the role of government regulations and policies in decision making, policy analysis, cost-benefit analysis and project evaluation.

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  • MPNA 660 Strategic Human Resources Management: Public and Nonprofit
    4 credits

    Strategic human resource management includes the following major components, with specific attention to the unique environment and challenges facing public and nonprofit professionals: a strategic perspective that connects HR management with the organization's mission; labor relations; compensation; benefits management; recruitment and selection; performance management; and an additional focus on organizational/program/project management to align the organization's human resources with overall organization goals and priorities.

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  • MPNA 680 Information Management, Evaluation, and Public Accountability
    4 credits

    This course focuses on knowledge management, organizational learning, e-governance, accountability, and evaluation in the strategic management of information. Important themes include strategies for organizational learning and knowledge sharing-including communities of practice.

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  • MPNA 690 Public Ethics and the Common Good
    2 credits

    Public Ethics and the Common Good brings together into one course the four essential elements of ethical organizational management: development of a code of ethics and standards of professional conduct, instituting systematic training and enforcement on ethical expectations, ethical leadership to incorporate these expectations into the lived culture of the organization, and commitment to corporate responsibility for the common good that meets the demands of procedural and distributive justice.

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Focus Areas (12 credits)

All MPNA students must complete the following two courses, plus 4 credits in electives

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • NPM 650 Resource Development and Strategic Communications
      4 credits

      Resource Development and Strategic Communications combines fundraising and organizational communications as aspects of a strategic approach to funding and extending the reach of nonprofit and public organizations. Fundraising includes grant writing and the full range of other fund raising channels: events, donor campaigns, corporate partnerships, and other mechanisms. Communications strategy includes developing a corporate persona, establishing a corporate brand, and telling the story of the organization's contribution to the public good.

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    • PADM 650 Public Policy Analysis
      4 credits

      Policy analyses in the public sphere differs from the private because of the political context and process. Core of the course is understanding the importance of how a problem is defined and then comparing and evaluating alternative approaches to solve public problems. This course will help students to better understand, design, implement and evaluate policies and programs. Various forms of analyses are used including economic, quantitative, political and historical.

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  • One of the following classes is required:
    • NPM 675 Nonprofit Financial Management
      4 credits

      This course provides a comprehensive approach to successfully managing the finances of nonprofit organizations, with particular attention to the principles of budgeting (capital and operating), financial statements, cash management, basic accounting and auditing principles, and investment practices. Emphasis will be placed on the unique position of nonprofit organizations and their complex interrelationships with both the public and private sectors.

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    • PADM 675 Public Finance
      4 credits

      This course explores how the operations and services of public agencies are financially managed and paid for. Students examine taxes and government budgets from legal, economic and political perspectives. The main taxes of the American system-income, sales and property-as well as fees, intergovernmental transfers, economic development, education finance and public borrowing are covered on the tax side. On the spending side, students prepare and implement mock budgets. Current topics in government spending and taxation are also examined.

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Students can complete the 4 Elective credits by taking any of the following:

• Two MPNA Topics Courses (a different 2-credit MPNA 699 Topics course is scheduled for every term in the academic year)
• Any extra Public Administration or Nonprofit Management course
• A course in the Arts and Cultural Heritage Management (ACHM) Graduate Certificate Program or the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program
• An appropriate graduate course from elsewhere in the University (with Advisor’s approval)

  • MPNA 699 Topics in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management
    2 credits

    This course explores a variety of contemporary issues in public administration and nonprofit management in greater detail. The focus keeps changing to keep pace with new issues and new circumstances.

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Capstone seminar (4 credits):

All MPNA students must complete the capstone course.

  • MPNA 695 Capstone in Community Oriented Management
    4 credits

    The Capstone course for the MPNA program seeks to integrate learning from earlier course work and focus that learning on issues facing our diverse communities. Attention is given to the capacities of professionals in the government and nonprofit sectors to deal effectively with community issues, and the relationships between leadership/management practices and community development. The course includes both case studies as well as a major Capstone project, including direct community engagement for those who wish to have this opportunity.

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