Prospective Student FAQs

Thank you for your interest in the MPA Program. The information that follows has been prepared to address questions frequently asked by applicants to the MPA Program. If you have additional questions,

please email us

or call 610-436-2438.

How long does it take to complete the MPA program?

The program consists of 36 credit hours (39 if you need to complete the internship), and it depends on how many credits you pursue each semester.  Students relying on federal financial aid must be enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester. Most students complete the degree in two to three years.

Will I be able to work full-time and still succeed in the program?

Yes! Our program is structured to accommodate professionals who work full-time and want to enhance their professional credentials on a part-time basis. All classes are scheduled online or in the evening hours. Students employed full-time usually take one or two courses per semester (part-time student) and sometimes three courses per semester (full-time student). The program is designed to allow a part-time student to earn the MPA degree in two to three years.

It has been a long time since I was in school. Will I feel out of place?

No! At least half of our students have already gained full-time professional work experience prior to entering the program and are currently working full-time.

How does the MPA differ from the MBA?

While both degrees focus on developing an administrative skill set, the MPA is more oriented toward enhancing the practice of these skills within the field of public service. The MPA program is most suitable for those whose interests primarily lie with operating in public service, organizational development and "people management."

Individuals who are currently in the private sector will also find the skills learned in the MPA program to be applicable and highly valuable, especially for those in administration.

Is the MPA degree recommended for someone who wants to earn a DPA or Ph.D.?

Absolutely! There have been several WCU MPA graduates who go on to receive their DPA from us as well, and currently have some of our former West Chester University MPA graduates enrolled in our Doctorate of Public Administration program. If you would like additional information, please contact

Dr. Kristen Crossney.


I have already earned a master's degree from another institution, do I need to meet the MPA application requirements?

Individuals with graduate degrees in other areas have gone on to also attain an MPA degree and are required to fulfill our admissions criteria. Upon admittance to the program, the student will complete just twenty-four credits in order to earn the MPA degree. Note that more credits may be required depending on the student's background and intended concentration.

What should I include in my personal statement and how long should it be?

This is a critical part of the MPA application. Your statement should explain your personal and/or professional motivation for pursuing graduate study in public administration and include short-term and long-term career objectives. Your personal statement should be no more than two (2) pages. Please be specific about career goals as this information will be used for advisement purposes. Further, the applicant must include a recent resume.

How does the Certificate in Public Administration compare to the MPA degree?

In addition to the MPA degree, we also offer a Certificate in Public Administration. Applicants must meet the same entrance requirements as for the MPA degree and complete 12 credits chosen from the seven administrative core courses. We also offer certificates in Nonprofit Administration and Public Management.

Can I take courses as a non-degree student?

Non-degree students may, with approval from the MPA director, take up to nine credits without formally applying to the MPA Program. Use these links for more information or to complete a non-degree application

Are there prerequisite courses for the MPA program?

No, there are no prerequisite courses for starting the MPA program. Many applicants are routinely admitted whose academic credentials are in an area different than public administration. The career goal statement in the graduate application should address this connection to pursuing an MPA degree.

May I earn a second master's degree from West Chester University?

Absolutely. Students wishing to attain a second master's degree from WCU will meet all admissions requirements set by the The Graduate School and the MPA program. They must earn a minimum of twenty-four credits beyond the credits applied toward the first master's degree.

As a student in another program, may I take MPA courses?

Absolutely! Students majoring in other graduate degree programs may, under advisement, enroll in MPA courses on a space available basis. Approval is needed both from the student's advisor and the MPA Director. Class priority is given to MPA degree and certificate students.

Should I be employed in the same area as I choose for my MPA concentration?

Many students in the program are already employed in the same field as their concentration, but this is also not an admission requirement. The MPA Program is designed to serve those seeking a career change, as well as those hoping to enhance their present employment. Along with earning a formal degree, students are advised to also "build a resume" to support their intended career change and to plan to take an internship, or otherwise acquire appropriate experience, in the career area into which they intend to transition.

My undergraduate major is in the same area as my MPA concentration. Will I have to repeat courses?

Yes, even though the course titles may be similar, courses at the graduate level are qualitatively and quantitatively different from those offered at the undergraduate level.  Students with an especially strong background in a particular area are encouraged to discuss alternative concentration courses with their advisor. Students have been able to broaden their backgrounds by substituting alternative courses for those required in the concentration; approval to do so must be granted by a student's advisor.

What courses are required for each program plan?

For all inquiries regarding program plans, please refer to the Graduate Catalog.

How often are the courses offered in the MPA program?

All Public Administration (PPA) core courses (PPA500 through PPA506 plus the capstone) are offered every academic year and some in the summer. The schedule for concentration electives varies, but most are offered at least once a year. If you are seeking to graduate with a specific concentration degree or a certificate, it is suggested that you work with your advisor to map out your curriculum so that you meet your expected graduation date. The same applies if you aim to enroll in all online or in-class courses, as we try to best accommodate our students by alternating class delivery methods.

Can I transfer credit for courses taken at other colleges that are comparable to the courses in the MPA program at WCU?

Yes, if approved by the department chair three to twelve credits may be transferred. The credits submitted for possible transfer must have been earned at an accredited institution and completed within the previous six years with a grade of "B" or better. Requests for transfer credits to substitute for PPA core courses will not be approved once a student starts the MPA program.

Do I need a math/accounting/finance background for the Public Finance and Budgeting course?

No, these courses do not focus heavily on "technical" matters but are designed to provide the future administrator the opportunity to become knowledgeable about these fields from a management perspective. 

Is a thesis required for this degree?

The research requirements are all contained within the capstone project.