Program Overview

Description of the MPA Program

The MPA is a professional degree with elective concentrations in Nonprofit Administration and Public Management. . In addition, graduate certificates, which can be coupled with the MPA, are offered in a variety of other disciplines. Information regarding complimentary graduate certificates commonly pursued by MPA students can be found under the section Non-PPA Graduate Certificates in this Handbook. The degree is designed to equip students with the skills necessary to enhance the field of public service through positions both inside and outside of government in the nonprofit and even private sector, e.g., as consultants to governmental organizations or as governmental service providers. The MPA curriculum provides students with a foundation in the practice of public administration. Beyond that, students earning the degree will possess a high level of competency in administrative processes for the public sector.

The degree is designed for individuals with professional work experience who desire to enhance their administrative and public management skills as well as pre-service students who do not have professional experience. Students who lack work experience will incorporate a relevant internship (PPA 601) or professional development seminar (PPA 602) into their programs.

The curriculum consists of a required administrative core and elective courses, a professional internship or professional development seminar requirement for pre-service students with less than one year of relevant post-baccalaureate work experience, and a culminating capstone seminar. Pre-service students without relevant professional experience are required to complete thirty-nine (39) credit hours. Students with relevant professional experience, i.e., a minimum of one year’s leadership experience in the public sector, can request that the internship/professional development seminar requirement be waived. Requests for waivers should be submitted to the MPA Director accompanied by a current resume or curriculum vitae prior to registration for the student’s final semester in the program.

Course Delivery and Distance Education

Students can complete the MPA in-person, online or through a combination of in-person, online and hybrid course work. WCU utilizes the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system (LMS) and all MPA courses are administered through this platform. Instructional methods for online courses include synchronous lectures and/or discussion groups, pre-recorded video tutorials, web-based instructional tools (e.g., YouTube video clips, animations, required website, library resources, etc.), and collaborative group work. These pedagogical methods are designed to provide accessible instruction and meaningful interaction and participation opportunities. To prepare and successfully complete online and hybrid courses, students should consider: appropriate online communication and “netiquette” and technology expectations and requirements (provided in all distance education course syllabi).

Degree Requirements

The curriculum consists of twenty-one semester (21) hours in the public administration core, twelve (12) semester hours of electives or concentration requirements, a three-credit (3) internship experience or professional development seminar for pre-service students, and a three-credit (3) capstone (a total of 36-39 semester hours):

  1. Administrative core (required): PPA 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, and 506
  2. Areas of concentration
    1. Public Administration General (12 PPA elective credits, PPA 600 and 601* required)
    2. Nonprofit Administration (PPA 532, 533, 535, + a three-credit elective, 600 and 601* required)
    3. Public Management (PPA 513, 514, 515 + a three-credit elective, 600 and 601* required)

* PPA 601or 602 is only required for pre-service students with less than one year of relevant post-baccalaureate work experience

PPA Graduate Certificates

For students who do not wish to pursue a Master's degree but are seeking to specialize in a specific area, we offer graduate certificates in the following areas: Public Administration, Nonprofit Administration and Public Management. Certificates are designed for persons who desire to enhance their management and supervisory skills in these particular areas. To earn the certificate, students must complete twelve (12( semester hours with a minimum grade of "B" in each course. Those interested in the certificate option must follow and meet the same admissions criteria as master's degree students. Degree students also may apply for the certificates after completing the certificate course requirements with a minimum grade of "B" for each course.

Non-PPA Graduate Certificates

MPA students can complete all degree requirements within the PPA department; however, students interested in a complimentary graduate certificate can substitute approved courses from other graduate certificate programs. Completion of approved graduate certificates can satisfy MPA elective requirements. Common graduate certificates pursued include, but are not limited to:

The requirements for graduate certificates may exceed the twelve-credit (12) elective requirements of the MPA program. In such instances, students may need to complete more than the 36-39 credits required by the MPA for graduation.

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