MPA Internship Program


MPA Internship Policy

According to NASPAA, accredited MPA degree programs shall have a primary focus, “of preparing students to be leaders, managers, and analysts in the professions of public affairs, public administration, and public policy and only master's degree programs engaged in educating and training professionals for the aforementioned professions are eligible for accreditation.” Furthermore, NASPAA accredited programs will, “ensure that students learn to apply their education, such as through experiential exercises and interactions with practitioners across the broad range of public affairs, administration, and policy professions and sectors.” 

While all students entering the degree program acquire professional competency through a number of applied and experiential exercises, pre-service students, those with less than one year of relevant post-baccalaureate work experience, are at such an early stage in their professional development that an internship is necessary to provide a sufficient link between theory and practice.  In light of this, the internship program is designed so that students acquire public sector work experience that prepares students to lead and manage across boundaries of the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

Based on the universal purpose of MPA programs, which is to prepare students for careers in public affairs, public administration, and public policy, the internship requirement may be waived for students who can demonstrate more than one year of relevant post-baccalaureate work experience.  Relevant work experience is defined as a professional position in the public, nonprofit, and/or private sectors that required significant leadership and independent decision making.  Because we are a program committed to educating and training professionals for careers in public service, we find that the public service values found throughout the curriculum provides individuals with private sector experiences as leaders, mangers and analysts with sufficient training to make those private sector experiences relevant and therefore warrant waiver of the internship experience.

For pre-service students requiring an internship, a minimum of 20 hours per week of work for 15 weeks, or 300 hours, is required to successfully complete the required three-credit (3) hour internship course.  Because our mission is to provide a high quality accessible public service education, we recognize that not all students will be able to complete a traditional internship where the entirety of work is completed onsite at the placement organization. On the recommendation of the MPA Internship Coordinator and the approval of the MPA Director, students whose work schedules or personal obligations prohibit them from completing a traditional onsite internship, may obtain permission to complete a project based internship where work is conducted off-site.  Students seeking this alternative assignment must demonstrate that the project will prepare them for leadership roles in the public sector as well as fulfilling all required internship hours.

Additionally, the PPA 602 Professional Development Seminar in Public Administration, can be completed as an alternative to PPA 601. This course is designed to provide students with an equivalent experience to that of an internship in the public sector. Students will interact with practicing public administrators and nonprofit professionals on a weekly basis and engage in assigned readings of case studies focused on the practice of public administrations. Students are required to spend an intensive two to three-day period of time with a selected public sector or nonprofit organization, and complete a public service project over the course of a semester. Students, however, are strongly encouraged to complete PPA 601 and enrollment in this course requires the permission the MPA director.

With the assistance of the MPA Internship Coordinator, students should secure their internship prior to the start of the semester. Throughout the semester, the MPA Internship Coordinator will have regular contact with the student and host site to facilitate a productive internship experience. All students will be required to complete an internship portfolio. The portfolio shall consist of an activity log that documents the student’s activities and progress on meeting the goals of the internship program. The portfolio will also require students construct an essay that links theory and practice, with an emphasis on demonstrating the ability to apply public service values.

Upon the successful completion of PPA 601, Public Policy and Administration Internship, students will have:

  • Gained experience working in the public or nonprofit sector,
  • Made the connection between theory and practice by applying concepts and knowledge learned in the, MPA program during the internship, and
  • Developed a professional report to their internship organization outlining a recommendation on how to incorporate public service values into their operations.

Students with one year of management/supervisory experience may apply to the MPA Director to have their internship waived.

Previous and Current MPA Internship Placement Sites

WCU MPA students have completed internships at a variety of public and nonprofit organizations, including, but not limited to, the following organizations.

  • Borough of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania
  • Borough of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
  • Chester County Fund for Women & Girls
  • Chester County Historical Society
  • Chester County Recorder of Deeds
  • City of Chester Department of Health
  • Decade to Doorways
  • Department of Training & Organizational Development at West Chester University
  • Easttown Township
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Fair Acres Geriatric Center
  • Fleck Consulting, Inc.
  • Girls on the Run
  • Harrisburg Healthy Start Health Needs Analysis Project
  • Home Helpers
  • iWorkwell, Inc.
  • Philadelphia Housing Authority
  • Philadelphia Police Department
  • Phoenixville Area High School Summer Bridge Program
  • Resources for Human Development
  • RISE-West Philadelphia After School Program
  • SAP America
  • West Chester University Foundation
  • West Chester University Office of Residence Life and Housing Services
  • West Whiteland Township
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