Master of Public Administration MPA

About this program

Metropolitan State University's Master of Public Administration (MPA) program prepares you for a wide range of career and leadership opportunities in the field of public administration. The state-of-the-art curriculum addresses the most critical challenges that public administrators and their respective councils or boards face at all levels of government.

The MPA program is available in three formats: regular face-to-face classes, a totally online format, and hybrid 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 MPA program offers:

  • A broadly based professional degree that demonstrates your ability to lead and manage a broad range of public organizations and programs.
  • A practical education that equips you to design and manage new ways to address pressing social problems.
  • Preparation to provide ethical leadership within your organization and in the public arena.
  • A learning environment that is enriched by a highly diverse student body and outstanding practitioner scholars.
  • Preparation for work and careers that increasingly cross organizational and sector boundaries.
  • The choice to complete your degree completely on campus, completely online, or in a combination of online and on-campus courses.

The MPA degree is designed to give public administrators a broad-based education so they can pursue a wide range of opportunities in their chosen field within the public sector. This degree positions graduates to seek and succeed in leadership roles at all levels of local government, including city or county manager, program director, infrastructure management, and Council or Board leadership.

In a world where professionals are increasingly expected to make multiple job changes during their careers and work across the sectors, this degree is a very practical choice that integrates study of public administration and issues with non-profit and for-profit perspectives.

MPA students are required to complete these four sets of courses:

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

All MPA students must complete 40 graduate credits.

Program accreditation

The MPA program curriculum is consistent with the guidelines of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Faculty 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 MPA 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.

Student outcomes

Graduates of the MPA program should be able to:

  • Understand the historic, current, and evolving role of the public sector in shaping public policy, promoting civic negotiation, and advocating for the public good.
  • Apply practical research methods and techniques in information management, economics, public and organizational policy, human resource management, and organizational analysis to support the decisions of public sector professionals.
  • Understand the theories and best practices related to public service, including organizational behavior, strategic management, ethical leadership, and respectful engagement with diverse cultures.
  • Interpret and apply methods of budgeting and control, revenue diversification, financial management, and performance evaluation to achieve financially sustainable and accountable public agencies.

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

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 (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 MPA 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.

 

Application instructions

Deadlines

U.S. Citizens*

Jul 1 - Fall Semester
Nov 15 - Spring Semester
Mar 15 - Summer Term
*U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents International Students (outside U.S.) and International Students (in U.S.)

International Students (outside U.S.)

May 1 - Fall Semester
Oct 1 - Spring Semester
No Summer Admissions

Applications are complete once all requirements are met and fee received. Completed application files will be forwarded to the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Graduate Admission Committee for review, please allow 7-10 business days.

Late applications: applications will continue to be accepted beyond the deadline, however we cannot guarantee admission, though we can defer admission to the next available semester.

Incomplete applications will be moved to the next available semester for up to three terms total, giving applicants who need it, up to one year to complete their application file.

Application packet

A complete application file consists of two parts (three for international applicants.) Begin by completing the online graduate application. All application materials become the property of Metropolitan State University and are not returned.

Part one

  • Complete the Online Graduate Application – You will use your Minnesota State StarID to complete the application. If you don't have a Minnesota State StarID you will create one at the beginning of the application.
    • If you do not have or choose not to provide your Social Security number (SSN) please follow the No SSN instructions to activate your StarID.
    • If you encounter difficulty with the online application please email graduate.studies@metrostate.edu
  • $20 non-refundable application fee; pay online
    • Waived for graduates of Metropolitan State, certified veterans and active military.
  • Official transcripts
    • Transcript showing a baccalaureate degree or equivalent earned from a regionally accredited institution with grade-point average or narrative description describing courses completed.
    • Transcripts from any graduate or professional programs are required.
    • All transcripts from non-U.S. schools must be evaluated (course-by-course) by either ECE (preferred) or WES.
    • Electronic transcripts (preferred) should be sent to admissions@metrostate.edu.
    • Paper transcripts should be sent directly from the sending institution (preferred) to: Metropolitan State University
      Attn: Graduate Admissions
      700 East Seventh Street
      Saint Paul MN 55106

Part two

After you have submitted your online application, log in to the Applicant Portal using your StarID and password to upload application materials, and check on the status of your application.  The Applicant Portal will indicate missing application items.

  • Current Resume; upload via the Applicant Portal using your StarID.
    • One year of professional work experience is recommended for the program; volunteer experience will be considered in addition to employment.
  • Two Professional Letters of Recommendation; upload via the Applicant Portal using your StarID.
    • Two letters of recommendation from employers or others who can attest to the importance of the master's degree in enhancing your professional development and commenting on your ability to pursue and successfully complete a graduate program. Personal recommendations, including family, are not accepted.
  • Math Assessment: The MPA program recently teamed up with ALEKS to create a free, online math assessment specifically designed for our applicants. Essential Math Skills for Business is a free, online, self-paced math assessment that will teach you the skills you need to succeed. To register:
  • Apply to the MPNA first (see Part One) and submit your admission essay (see below).
  • Email your name and StarID to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu and request your assessment and individual access codes.
    • 85% of topics must be mastered in order to successfully complete the assessment.
    • You have 60 days to complete the assessment, and the assessment must be complete by the application deadline.
  • Admission Essay; upload via the Applicant Portal using your StarID. Your admission essay will serve as both a goals statement and a writing assessment. The admissions essay is extremely important to the application review process. Submit your essay in 600-700 words (about three pages) in 12-point font, double-spaced, clearly written, well-organized, with correct grammar, accurate spelling and punctuation, good sentence structure, and clear sub-headings. Make sure that you carefully address each of the following:
    • Pledge of Authorship: Please begin your admissions essay with the following statement: (Your essay will not be accepted if this is not included.) I, (complete name)____________________________________, verify that this admissions essay is my own work, and I am fully aware that discovery otherwise will invalidate my entire application.
    • Describe the kinds of responsibilities and positions you have held in your past work and professional experience (volunteer or employed).
    • Explain why you are pursuing a graduate degree at this time in public and nonprofit administration, nonprofit leadership and management, public administration, or arts and cultural heritage management. Give particular attention to the area of service in which you work or plan to work.
    • Describe the important features of a public issue, problem, or policy that you consider important to understand and address in your area of service.

Part three - international students only

In addition to parts one and two, international applicants in the U.S. or abroad, on any type of visa, are required to provide this information for admission to the university.

  • Required by the application deadline:
    • Official scores must be submitted, student copies are not acceptable. Metropolitan State University's school code for TOEFL is 6445.
  • Proof of English proficiency (Official TOEFL or IELTS score)
    • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT or IELTS 6.5
    • IBT=internet based; CBT=computer based; PBT=paper based
  • Required only if admitted to the program:
    • If you are offered and accept admission to the program, you are required to provide this information to the International Student Services Office to complete your admission to the university.
      • Financial statement (F1 visa only)
      • Immunization records
      • Copies of passport, visa, I-94, and international home address and phone numbers

Visit International Student Services graduate admissions for part three details.

Questions about applying to the MNLM?

Contact Gloria Eyer at gloria.eyer@metrostate.edu (preferred) or call 612-659-7258.

Office location
MEC Building
Office M4004
1300 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Mailing address
1501 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Program requirements

Orientation

Newly admitted students to the MPA program will be invited to a new student orientation with all newly admitted students in the public and nonprofit administration programs (MPA, MPNA, and MNLM) 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.

Transfer credits

Once admitted, students may transfer up to 16 graduate level credits into the MPA 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 MPA 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 MPA 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. MPA 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 MPA 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.

Course requirements

Requirements (40 credits)

Program fundamentals (6 credits)

All MPA students must complete MPNA 600 and PADM 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.

Full course description for Practical Research for Public Administration and Non-profit Management

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.

Full course description for Public Administration Foundations

Strategic skills and knowledge (18 credits)

All MPA students must complete these five courses

MGMT 620 Organizational Behavior

3-4 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.

Full course description for Organizational Behavior

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.

Full course description for Economics of Social Issues

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.

Full course description for Strategic Human Resources Management: Public and Nonprofit

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.

Full course description for Public Ethics and the Common Good

Focus areas (12 credits)

All MPA students must complete the following two courses, plus 4 credits in elective

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.

Full course description for Public Policy Analysis

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.

Full course description for Public Finance

Electives (4 credits)

Students can complete the four elective credits by taking any of the following: a-) Two MPNA Topics Courses (a different 2-credit MPNA 699 Topics course is scheduled for every term in the academic year) b-) Any nonprofit administration course (NPM 600, NPM 650, or NPM 675) c-) A course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program d-) An appropriate graduate course from elsewhere in the University (with Advisor’s approval)

Capstone seminar (4 credits)

All MPA 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.

Full course description for Capstone in Community Oriented Management